A totally uneven book. Unusual for Kingsolver. The first third of the book was good, telling the story of the protagonist, Harrison William Shepherd as a boy. Shepherd was born in the states but grew up in Mexico with his hispanic mother. Mom is surviving on her feminine “wiles”. Shepherd attains a job mixing plaster for the great Mexican artist Diego Rivera’s murals.
The second third of Lacuna reads as if Shepherd didn’t exist. It is about Rivera, his wife Frida Kahlo, and Leon Trotsky. A lot of politics. Shepherd works for Trotsky as a cook, secretary and typist. Thank you to Wikipedia for articles on these three and the Russian Revolution. This part of the book was weak, very weak. It took massive skimming to keep me engaged.
In the last third, Shepherd becomes a most successful American novelist. But then the timeline runs into McCarthy and his committee on Unamerican Activities. And this section was some of the best fiction about that time that I have read. I was happy that I persevered and read the entire novel. Great enigmatic ending.
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TWISTED RIVER could have been called the Fugitives, or John Irving on Writing.
Twisted River is about the relationships among three men: Dominic Baciagalupo, an Italian-American cook with a warm heart and a bad limp; his son, Danny, who resembles his father, save for the limp; and the outdoorsy, hard-drinking Ketchum, their friend and protector. In 1954, after an inadvertent tragedy, Dominic and Danny flee the rural New Hampshire logging camp where they lived in order to escape the wrath of a vengeful cop.bad cop named Constable Carl.
It is yet another excellent book that could have used serious editing. It did not need over 550 page to convey these themes.
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The Position is about family relationships and dysfunction. The parents write a Joy of Sex type book, Pleasuring: One Couples Journey to Fulfillment which included explicit drawings of them ”engaged in sexual practices both common and obscure, Western and Eastern, ancient and modern, freehand and apparatus-aided.” The book was an instant best seller. The parents were hot on talk show, interviews and book signings. The children were horrified and felt that this would scar them for life. ”Once we’ve seen it,” Holly, the oldest, cautions, ”then we can never unsee it. It will stay in our minds.”
Most of the book takes place thirty years later. The publishing house wants to rerelease a celebratory anniversary edition. The children have matured into variously maladjusted adults. Michael, a brilliant and worry-prone do-gooder dot-commer, is on antidepressants that have made him anorgasmic, he can no longer climax during sex. His sister Holly is ”a strange hologram” of a person, out in California with her doctor husband, opting for an isolation from her parents and siblings that’s ”almost religious.” The doctor and their son have finally given her a reason to clean up and become drug free. Claudia, a film student who lives alone in the East Village, thinks her body looks ”like a garbage bag full of leaves.” Dashiell, a political speechwriter, suffers from a liberal family’s most severe pathology: gay Republicanism. Clearly, each son and daughter has a burden, and they’re certainly all victims of the once-sexy excesses of the 70′s.
A must read! I think I will seek out some of her other books.
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