Sunday, December 20, 2009


Am I the only one who gets a hangover of sorts after they finish a good book?  Spent the day reading and finishing Carolyn Jourdain's Heart in the Right Place.  Enjoyed it too.  Laughed out loud in spots, read parts aloud and related to a lot of it in a lot of ways.

It is interesting reading the Morrison book alongside Jourain's.  They are quite different in many many ways.  There is the obvious element that Morrison is writing fiction while Jourain's is a memoir, or creative non-fiction as they call it sometimes, in that it uses techniques of creative writing to build and maintain narrative interest while still working with non-fictional material.

Elements of the Jourain book rang particularly clearly for me.  She writes about the changes wrought in individuals when they change their lifestyles significantly.  Their place of living, their style and manner of living, their employment and income.  The people they spend time with.

I can relate to this.  Am I the same person here as I am in Canada, or as I was on the boat?  The short and  obvious answer is yes....I haven't been issued a new passport with a new photo or anything, but at the same time I am changed by experiences and languages and cultures, and there are elements of myself that I prefer about myself that emerge when I am in other places; and which I am happy when they have a chance to appear here as well.  And there.  Wherever there happens to be.

The Morrison book's theme is much broader and while both books speak to universal rather than individual realities there is a significant difference.  I cannot relate as directly to the characters in Morrison's book, as a white resonably priviledged Canadian living in Europe who was lucky enough to have a pretty ideal upbringing, I share little but my gender with the protagonists.  Superficially.  The Jourain book?  I have spent enough time in enough parts of the world to be able to relate to folks on both sides of the cultural divide she describes, the power-hungry and ambitious world of Washington and the world of upland Tenessee.

The Morrison book talks about the cultural and systemic destruction of individuals on every level of their being.  Individuals who are not perceived as worthy.  There is a lot to be learned and understood here.  This is the section that does relate to everyone, that is universal about the book.  We can all of us, in some manner or other, relate to the sensation that we are insufficient, for whatever reason. Our circumstances and background and personality drive us to solve it, or like the central character in Morrison's book, give way and believe.

What is it that makes some people believe that they are unworthy and give up, some to believe they are unworthy and fight on and some to not believe it at all either because they are correct or they are self-deceptively maintaining a skim coat of belief in their own competency and worth.

This book isn't done with me yet.

They do also talk about the dance of belonging and not belonging.  Something I have been thinking about here a lot, and working my way through here.  There are aspects of my life here, when I feel that I do fit in very very well, and areas where I simply don't, and may never.  Ho hum.


The cure? Hair of the dog.

Got out Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson, House of Daughters by Sarah Kate Lynch, which frankly looks like a beach read and a book in Catalan, Amb Ulls Americans (With American Eyes) by Carme Riere.

Let's see if that helps...along with a good cup of tea!


hulagirlatheart said...

Oh, I can't wait to start reading again. The holidays are keeping me from reading, and it's driving me crazy.

Beth said...

I don’t call it a book-over - I call it a book-haunting or a book-high!
May Santa bring you many more books & lots of time to read them - but only if you’ve been good. ;)

oreneta said...

Hula, something is wrong with your definition if the hoidays are keeping you from reading. Or maybe we just have different definitions.

Beth, good names too....I hope I've been good enough!