Saturday, February 20, 2010

Offered for your attention...

I've just finished reading another book that I would like to recommend to you. It is The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver and it is a wonderful book.

It's the story of a man of the early 20th century, Harrison William Shepherd, born in 1917 near Washington, D.C. to a Mexican mother and American father. His father is a government employee, whom his mother soon tires of, and when Harrison is 12 years old, she ditches the father and takes the son with her to Mexico, following an oilman to his estate on Isla Pixol. There the mother and son encounter howler monkeys which terrify them. They believe they are carnivorous demons. Howlers will be a recurring theme in Harrison's life.

The mother continues to chase love and adventure in the form of various men throughout Mexico. Finally, in Mexico City, Harrison meets Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and starts working for their household. There he later meets the exiled Communist leader Lev (Leon) Trotsky. Through it all, he keeps diaries of events and of his impressions and he starts his first novel. Harrison is a born writer. It is what he was meant to do.

When Trotsky moves to another house, Harrison goes with him and continues his diaries. Trotsky becomes mentor and friend, almost the father that Harrison never really had. When Trotsky is killed, Harrison returns to America on a mission to deliever paintings for Frida Kahlo and to escape the "howlers" of the Mexican press.

In America, he finds that his father has died and left him a small inheritance. He moves to Asheville, N.C., and that is where Harrison becomes a published writer and where he finds two friends, his stenographer Violet Brown and his lawyer Arthur Gold.

By now, we are into the 1940s and the House Un-American Activities committee is coming to the height of its power. Because of his fame as a writer and his former associations in Mexico, Harrison comes to their attention. The "howlers" are after him once more.

I don't want to give away any important details of this book because I hope you will read it for yourself. Kingsolver has written a historical novel that resonates with today's headlines. She has woven together details of history, archaeology, food, and nature to make a powerful statement about modern America and how we came to be the people that we are. It is a call to recognize the truth of our history and to respond to the stirrings of our conscience. It is an important book.

Read it!

2 comments:

  1. I think you're becoming a Kingsolver-a-holic :)

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  2. I admit that I haven't read anything by her that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. Of course, I haven't read everything she's written, but I hope to include most of it in my reading, eventually. She's just an excellent writer.

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