Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reading List

Conversations By Themselves, 2010

I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s latest novel, The Lacuna. Kingsolver is probably best known for her novels The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, Prodigal Summer, Pigs in Heaven and the recent non-fiction account of eating only locally grown food for an entire year, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, written with her husband and daughter.

The story of The Lacuna is too complicated to recount here. The central character is a young man coming of age while attending to various chores in the households of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky. (If you saw the Julie Taymor's gorgeous film, Frida, you’ll remember how the three relate.

Like the work of Larry McMurtry, the beauty of Barbara Kingsolver’s books is not just in the story, but in the writing itself. It seems like every other page of The Lacuna has a passage that stops me in my tracks. For example, this one describing a young boy following Freda Kahlo:

“Following behind her was a whole conversation by itself: her swilling skirts, her short legs walking as fast as a little dog’s, her proud head crowned with a circle of braids.”

Or this, reflecting on the state of the Trotsky house and the disparate band of people who once served and protected him, but are now cut loose in the aftermath of his murder:

“This household is like a pocketful of coins that jingled together for a time, but now have been slapped on the counter to pay a price. The pocket empties out, the coins venture back into the infinite circulation of current, separate, invisible, and untraceable.”

I mean, really, can you beat that?


  1. Wonderful descriptions. I've read a number of her books, but haven't read that yet. Thanks for the preview. Love the photo--I don't know what you did with it, but it's glorious, swilling skirts and all.

  2. You've led me here from your flog page, and I'm glad I arrived to be reminded of the book and the good writing therein. All bests,