Saturday, August 23, 2014

100 Book Project: Book #63: Creativity, Despair, Brilliance

The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst

After I finished The Virgin Suicides and wrote it up for you I sat quietly and .... and.... I didn't know what to do with myself.   I took the dog outside, all the way to my 50 step broken-foot limit.

I did laundry and dishes and things moms HAVE to do and when that was all done I sat quietly again and wondered how to fill the rest of my day.

I looked at the books I'd brought home from my office and picked the fattest one,  peeked at who assigned it to me and put it back. His endorsement didn't bring much weight in my world, and besides that this book looked suspiciously new and unread.

Next to the book was one a former student sent me. I trust her. She's a military mom who's been working her way through college for years and finally sees graduation on the horizon. Any woman who can work as hard as she does earns my respect; the fact she reads more books than I do keeps me humble.

 I pick her book and sit down on the swing behind my house.

Immediately I can tell this is the right book to read after Virgin Suicides.

The book opens with puzzlement over sudden death, just like Virgin Suicides, and tells the story of a bereaved husband who desperately wants to understand if his wife Lexy committed suicide or if her death was an accident. The only witness to Lexy's death was their dog, so the protagonist takes himself on an year long academic journey to learn how to teach the dog to speak so that the true story can be known.

The story is told through the present voice and flashbacks, recollecting how they met (square eggs were involved) and their first date (I won't ruin the story for you) and the ensuing dance of bringing their lives together.

Through the flashbacks the narrator admits to himself and the readers that his free spirited artist wife has a mood disorder which sends her into flashes of creativity, despair and brilliance.

If I told you I couldn't put this book down, I would be lying, and we have gone too far along this journey for me to lose your trust, so here is the truth.

I put this book down for about 20 minutes so that I could film my son getting ice poured on his head. The first "take" didn't work out, so he had to dry off and do it AGAIN.

After that I had the pleasure of filming my son pouring ice on his friend's head.

When they were satisfied they had joined the movement that was sweeping the country, I handed them towels and headed back for my chair to follow this wisdom journey through Disney World and Mardi Gras and around people who were good bad and ugly to it's graceful poetic climax.

Read this book, then (if you can part with it) lend it to a smart wise friend who has great taste in books and authors.

I can't follow my own advice -- I love this book so much I'm sending my mom a new copy than mailing her mine.