“An imperfectly remembered life is a useless treachery. Every day, more fragments of the past roll around heavily in the chambers of an empty brain, shedding bits of color, a sentence or a fragrance, something that changes and then disappears. It drops like a stone to the bottom of the cave.”
When was the last time you fell madly in love with a novel? The last time the story was as good as the writing as good as the structure as good as almost every single sentence on the pages? The last time you — completely unawares — brought your fist to your chest or held your breath while reading?
I’ve picked up (and put aside) Barbara Kingsolver’s THE LACUNA so many times this past year. Should I buy this book? What’s it about? The title was off-putting: what is a “lacuna?” The description on the back cover was too short and too vague to give me a reason to buy it: 500 pages of what? At Book Club last week, my neighbor picked this book with the strongest endorsement I’ve heard in a long time. She didn’t want to tell us too much, didn’t want to spoil the story, just that it’s one of the best books she’s ever read, better than Kingsolver’s masterpiece THE POISONWOOD BIBLE, so good she can’t wait to read it again.
My heart went boom boom pow.
“The most important part of a story is the piece you don’t know.” This sentence is a key throughout the book, and it’s about all I want to tell you. You deserve to experience it for yourself.
Admittedly, for the first 30 or so pages, I wavered. I thought about putting it aside. I’m glad I kept on. The seemingly nebulous beginning will gain it’s heat and gravitas by the end — Barbara Kingsolver, you are brilliant — and I beg you to stick with it.
I finished THE LACUNA yesterday while sitting in the airport waiting for my flight. After the last page, I closed the covers with care and looked up, looked around me, certain that so many strangers could see it: the important part of the story, the piece they don’t know.
i got to see barbara read from the lacuna at an event she did in louisville last year. (or the year before. i like her so much, not just her writing, but who she is.)
i remember afterward, i was with my aunt, and she ran in to a friend and we stood and talked to her about books and she said her son worked at the agency that reps david sedaris and my aunt said, “amy’s a writer,” and i immediately said that i wasn’t nearly the writer anybody rep’ing david sedaris would want to read. i wish i had that moment over.
I’m glad to hear this story, AmyG
Yippeee!!! That’s how I feel inside when I receive a wholehearted (whole bodied, right?? you feel it all the way through) book recommendation. Consider it added to my list.
I take your recommendations seriously. This one just got bumped to the tippity top.
For me, too. Teri has never steered me wrong.
The last book that took my breath away was Lolita. Have I mentioned Lolita?
You’re faster than me, Averil. LOLITA took me 2 times through over a 10 yr span to love it. And I do. Love it. So damned smart.
Thanks, Oma! What a story this is. And I’m not usually one for the diary entry versions of things, but this one knocked my socks off.
Teri, that’s EXACTLY how I was with Olive Kitteridge–it was touch and go for the first 25-30 pages and then, wow. I was going through a spell of not sleeping and I swear to God, that book kept me sane those hours–it was that spell-binding, that engrossing. My mother has been begging me to read THE POISONWOOD BIBLE for as long as I can remember (it is one of her very favorites) so I’m overdue to experience the magic of Ms. Kingsolver’s writing.
Ooooh, Erika, THE POISONWOOD BIBLE is a treat. Your mother is right. There’s nothing else quite like it. Loved it.
You’re the second friend in a very short span of time to recommend this book. It’s always on hold at the library. I buy only a few books due to you know what. This will be one of them.
How can I possibly get any work done when you keep doing this to me? It isn’t right. No, it isn’t.
Kitty Noir is coming. No work for you!
I’m so excited about your new baby.
I read La Lacuna in a matter of days while on holidays by the lake but while it was a thrashing read I loved The Poisonwood Bible much more. Maybe I had a Congo obsession at the time. I thought the problem was that I already had so many images of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in my head from books and exhibitions that the book didn’t come alive in the right way for me. The first part was brilliant though.
I see exactly what your saying, Cat. I think I loved the last half so much because of my lack of familiarity with Kahlo and Rivera. I know her work (not really his) but knew just the basics of their complex personal lives. And I knew nothing, zero, about Trotsky.
And yes, there’s nothing quite like THE POISONWOOD BIBLE. An all-time favorite.