Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Two books I've read lately, one just published, Louise Erdrich's Future Home of the Living God and one published 50 years ago, Cormac McCarthy's Outer Dark.

The Future Home of the Living God is a post-apolyptic novel that reminded me of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, currently a movie.  That was the first Atwood novel I read and it really captured me with her word play.  The Future Home was a surprise to me as it seemed quite a departure from Erdrich's usual novels.  Told in the form of a diary to an unborn child in a dystopian future, it has a very narrow emotional focus which contrasted with her usual more realistic and often funny writing that brings out the quirks of human nature.  I found this novel somewhat of a slog at first, but became more interested in terms of finally meeting this unborn child.  The heroine (?) goes through horrendous experiences, but perseveres for the sake of her child.  I found the ending very anticlimactic, which is perhaps what she intended.  I'd love to have a discussion with her about this book, about how different it is from her usual writing.  I had bought this new hardcover as my reading matter on our trip home from AZ but just finished it a few days ago.

Outer Dark was in the bookshelf downstairs and I picked it up because I was out of books to read and the library was closed for the long weekend.  This is a situation that I try hard to avoid, but there are always some books downstairs that I haven't read, books that one of the kids left there.  I had read this book a long time ago, but not so recent that I couldn't reread it.  It's a short novel about an illiterate and super impoverished brother and sister, Culla and Rinthy Holme, living a long time ago (pre motorized vehicle era) in a miserable rural cabin.  Rinthy gives birth to a son (Culla's) and Culla immediately takes the baby and abandons it in the woods.  A tinker finds the child and takes it.  The rest of the story is about Rinthy's search for the child and Culla's search for her, and the extreme hardships and dangers they both undergo.

McCarthy's prose is so lush and his characters and events are so dark!  It makes me wonder if there really are such people and such events.  I suppose so, and I wonder how he knows them.  They, the characters and events both, are not something in my world, and for that I am thankful.

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