24 January 2009

A chilling read

I brought home a novel -- a door prize -- from the library-sponsored spa day the week between Christmas and New Years (see 30 December 2008). Having a list of tasks that I really wanted to accomplish this month, I'd not picked up the book. But, Thursday afternoon, another grey day in this long string of grey days, wearying of being productive, I curled up on the sofa (which I had to share with the dogs, who were warm, by the way) with the gas logs adding cheer to the room and opened the front cover. Whoa ...

Entitled The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold (who also wrote The Lovely Bones), it's a story about a daughter and her mother. It's also a wild and overwhelming read, the time frame a terrible, catastrophic 24-hour period. Not able to sleep last night I got up to read for a little while and ended up not going back to bed until I'd finished the book, whose story didn't end as the back cover closed.

I am in awe of Sebold's skill. The story is one thing, but the writing, the daughter's layered, strange interior landscape, is so mesmerizing that somehow I found myself experiencing a disconcerting unbalance, the daughter's disconcerting unbalance. I shudder thinking about it now.

I'm glad I read it; I'm more glad it's over. Sleeplessness, it seems to me, needs reading material easier on the nerves -- like articles about the economy, or Wall Street, or the legislative and executive branches of government to name a few.

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