It’s rare that I read a novel for pleasure. I try not to be one of those people who says things like, “oh…I read mostly non-fiction…not grocery store trash.” Not only are these people pretentious and in need of a swift kick in the pants, but they are also wrong.
As someone wise once told me, there is truth to be found in the story. Just think of Jesus’ parables.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy novels, I just feel guilty reading something I enjoy when there is so much else to read. I recognize this is not healthy, so this vacation I’ve allowed myself one non-history/non-theology book…(depending on how you define non-history/non-theology).
Who didn’t love Barbara Kingsolver’s powerful critique of hegemonic missionaries in Africa? Her newest book, Lacuna, is no less a masterpiece. Reading it is like a slow stretch after a hard night’s sleep, and I can’t get enough.
The term “Lacuna” means missing part, or hole. Written in memoir form, the main character is a regular guy (half gringo) who finds himself inadvertently affecting big moments in twentieth century Mexico and United States, and he keeps a journal throughout. That’s all I’m going to say.
Even though NPR gave it a bad review, it blends together many things I love; stylistically it has an undercurrent of Latin American literature, and there are subtle yet powerful meanings…as well as beautiful prose. Here’s one of my favorite paragraphs.
“This household is like a pocket full of coins that jingled together for a time, but now have been slapped on the counter to pay a price. The pocket empties out, the coins venture back into infinite circulations of currency, separate, invisible, and untraceable. That particular handful of coins had no special meaning together, it seems, except to pay a particular price. It might remain real, if someone had written everything in a notebook. No such record now exists.”
The book flap says (who writes these things, and why is no author cited?)
“With deeply compelling characters, a vivid sense of place, and a clear grasp of how history and public opinion can shape a life, Kingsolver has created an unforgettable portrait of the artist—and of art itself.”
I’m not quite finished, but already I’m plotting my next read, a biography of Leon Trotsky (The socialist revolutionary Stalin beat out for control of Russia after Stalin died) or Frida perhaps? Shoot, that’s not fiction…