Thursday, July 1, 2010

Book Buzz

I just finished Little Bee, a novel recommended to me by my dear coworker, Kori. I like this book more than I can say (but, of course, that won't stop me from trying to articulate myself nonetheless). Kori said that it's the kind of book she just wants to read to everyone (part of it, that is) because it has so many beautiful moments in it.

If I were to outline the plot—which I never would because I try to never give away a story—it would read as a horribly sad book. Instead, the optimism of the narrator, Little Bee, and the excellence of the writing cover all manner of sins and sadnesses. Please take a moment to read this excerpt; you won't be sorry you did:

"On the girls brown legs there were many small white scars. I was thinking, Do those scars cover the whole of you, like the stars and the moons on your dress? I thought that would be pretty too, and I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.

In a few breaths time I will speak some sad words to you. But you must hear them the same way we have agreed to see scars now. Sad words are just another beauty. A sad story means, this storyteller is alive. The next thing you know, something fine will happen to her, something marvelous, and then she will turn around and smile.

Also, the plot could have been drawn from a grab bag of ideas at a writer's semniar: a nigerian refugee, a suicide, a four-year-old boy who refuses to take off his batman costume, an affair, a fashion magazine editor—it shouldn't work, but Chris Cleave ensures that it does. Cleave has given us a better-than-most sample of the new style of writing which, like most new things, points back to a more classic way of story telling that had almost been lost.

Don't read this if you truly can't tolerate sad things, but I'm pretty wimpy and impatient with sad books (no Oprah picks here, my friends) and I loved it.

Cleave is also the man who brought us Incendiary, a book set in England about a wife and mother who is making love to another man while the television in her apartment broadcasts a soccer match when both activities are interrupted by a terrorist act at the soccer stadium, the TV screen obscured by thick grey smoke and the wife and mother's horrible realization that her husband and son were surely at the scene of the attack during her indescretion. This book is famous for eerily predicting the bombings on the London Tube in 2005, the book hit British bookstores that same day. A coincidence which lead to a fair amount of criticism for Cleave.

What I'm reading next: People of the Book.

1 comment:

tiffany said...

What a beautiful except, Meg! I may snatch it for my blog. I'm definitely reading this book when I finish my current.