Friday, January 20, 2012

Who Would I be Without Books?

Sometimes I wonder who I would be if I wasn't a reader.  Decidedly less dimensional, and probably more bored with life, I've decided.

Where would my mind wander if I wasn't immersed in the safe world of others' drama (without the messy drawback of being emotionally tied to them in real life)?  When the game is on TV or conversation lags, my brain flits back to the unfinished story in my car or by my bed, working the plot pieces like a puzzle, happy both when I figure out that I was indeed right about what happens next or if it turns out I was clueless.

Right now I am fully involved in two plot lines.  (Three, if you count Discordia, which I am reading with my son.)  As usual these days, when reading something really good, I think, "I should blog about this book."  Problem is, I am often on to another book right away and my interest in sharing with you what I just experienced fades into memory.  So why wait until the stories are over before telling you about them?  I am excited about the plots right now.  Maybe I'll write more to you when I've finished the books, but probably not.  Maybe they will seem even more enticing to you with little clue as to the finale.

Right now in my truck, I am on disk 10 of the 20 disk audio version of The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall.  Who isn't fascinated by the world of polygamy?   As a person who loves books with intricate characters and their interactions with what life has in store for them, this book rocks.  Goldie (short for Golden) has 4 wives (and is being pressured to take on a 5th), 28 children (not counting the 4 stillborn or the daughter who died young and tragically), and is attracted to his boss's wife.  (This may make him sound like a scandalous scoundrel, but he is isn't.)  Raised by a chronically depressed mother who was abandoned by her fortune hunting husband, Goldie grew up overly tall for his age and decidedly less social than those around him.  (The school authorities let his mother keep him out of school because she was very difficult to deal with.)  When Goldie is about 17, he discovers letters from his dad, including money and a plane ticket to Vegas.  Innocent and awkward, he leaves mom without notice and goes to live with dad, who is now very rich and has survived booze and too many women and has become Mormon. 

The plot zig-zags back and forth in time, filling in the blanks of the Goldie's life.  Other chapters are from the point of view of 11-year-old Rusty, one of Goldie's son's, who is so desperate for attention and physical contact that he acts out in a myriad of ways.  Goldie's fourth wife, Trish, also has a voice in the story.  Lonely and feeling like she has not done her wifely duty, Trish is aching from 3 miscarriages and resentful of the amount of time she has to sacrifice her "Goldie" time with the other wives and their children.

Goldie is awkward, sincere, and a bit socially inept, despite, his huge family.  His attraction for the wife of his boss seems to stem from his need for a calmer and simpler life.  Alternately amusing and heart-wrenching, The Lonely Polygamist is making my commute a pleasure.

During my lunches and free time at home, I am thoroughly enjoying The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.  Written for young adults, this hauntingly beautiful story is again, written alternately in chapters by the point of view of different characters.  Kate Connolly (Puck) is reminiscent of an older Scout (To Kill A Mockingbird with her unflinching look at life, sense of humor, adult observations, and gritty spunk.  Puck and her two brothers are recently orphaned and barely managing to keep food in their bellies.  They live on an island that is known for The Scorpio Races, which are like horse races held on the beach, but the horses are capaill uisce (pronounced copple ooshka), which are wild, blood-thirsty beasts who live in the sea and are often captured when they come up to the beach to feed on whatever flesh they can  find.  Sean Patrick, also orphaned, is a strong boy, older than his years, whose gift is to understand the capaill uisce like no-one else can.  When Puck's big brother tells his siblings that he plans to move to the mainland, she impulsively decides to enter into the races, knowing that it will buy her more time with her brother, plus win them some much needed money if she wins.  I am not even halfway through with this book and already it is among my favorites.  The feeling of dangerous foreboding in my stomach at the possible bloody fate of Puck or Sean is offset by humor and witty phrasing.  I know without a doubt that this book will sit on the rack labeled "Mrs. E's Favorites" when it is back in the Library.

I like TV and movies, don't get me wrong.  I get all caught up in plot lines and impatient when I have to wait a week to see the next episode of something that has caught my eye and attention for a time.  But what I think books have done for me and my personality is open my mind the infinite and varied personalities and circumstances that exist.  I know that things are seldom as they seem.  The students in my school who are "acting out" are dealing with so many factors, they themselves are probably not aware of them all, from family dynamics and friendships, to hormones and unexpressed emotions.  Not just the kids, mind you, everyone is so very, very complex, and being a reader has helped me to appreciate it all.

Thanks for listening.