Friday, January 23, 2015

A Dirty Dozen

It was my first full week of work and the first full week of Girl Scout season and I didn’t think I would get to finish a book, let alone find time to write about it. But I did. So I will.

#12 – House of Sand and Fog – Andre Dubus III
Recommended b: AA

This is the description on the back of the book and I couldn't say it any better:
In this riveting work of almost unbearable suspense, three fragile yet determined people become dangerously entangled in a relentlessly escalating crisis.

I have read books where I fly through the pages, rushing to see what happens next. I have read books where I am mildly interested and just want to get to the end. I have read books where every word is a jewel, every sentence a perfect necklace that I want to admire. But this is the first book I have ever read where I could hardly turn the page because I almost couldn’t bear to read what happened next.

I loved this book.

Every character was so fully realized, so clearly written, that you couldn’t help but understand their motivations – even while cringing at some of the choices that they make. I normally hate when characters make poor choices. I have put books down because the characters were stupid and did stupid things. Yet, somehow, with these characters, I could empathize with their motivation. That is some damn good writing. This book is just breathtaking. The location is a fully realized part of the story. The house everyone is fighting over is its own character, its subtle presence watching over all. I’ve read books that have changed narrator and without being told, the reader would never have known the difference. In this book, each character has a different inflection, syntax, and style. There is never any doubt who is speaking. There is never any doubt on what motivates them.

I realize that I am talking about this book like I am writing an essay for an English lit class, but so few writers miss the basics and just coast along on story, that when you find an author that manages to nail every detail of plot, location, and character, it’s like winning the Kentucky Derby of reading. This book was already on my shelf before the 40/40 project began, but who knows how long it would have sat there, languishing, collecting dust. I’m so glad it was recommended to me. I have great respect for the person who did so and even more now that I know she has excellent taste in books. 

If you haven’t read it, do so. Immediately.  

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