Saturday, January 30, 2010

Colored Lights Can Hypnotize


I've been inspired by Howard's End Is On The Landing. Even thought I think that as a Reader I don't hold on to nearly as many books as my fellow Reader's do I still have too many. I have to have less to dust. I have to. So I have instituted a Read It Or Remove It policy. This policy will be strictly enforced unless I as benevolent Public Authority Chairwoman of Read Or Remove It I decide otherwise for reasons that may or may not be divulged.

The plan of attack? Act Casual. It's more insidious that way. As I come across the books that fall into R.I.O.R.I. category I will decide then and there if they move to the To Be Read (TBR) area or depart from chez Happy to some other chez. It's a kind of field operation. There will be no large scale sorting maneuvers. I must have the element of surprise on my side.

Any results yet? Yes indeed my friend. Two books were pulled out of a yarn only book case and immediate decisions were made. One, American Woman, I read and the other Nine Horses was dispatched. Why did I even have Nine Horses? I am not a poetry reader unless you count Dr Seuss.

American Woman is by Susan Choi and was published by HarperCollins about 5/6 years ago. I do remember bringing the book home, being excited to read it and then? It's all a blank. Now? Consider that blank filled and me wondering what took me so long to read such a good book. I'm also wondering about who my neighbors might really be after reading American Woman. That isn't a question that has ever occurred to me before. I've lived here forever. My neighbors have lived here a long time and a half. What could I not know by now, right?

Choi has taken one of our most famous kidnapping cases, transplanted it, explored it and turned it in to an achingly jarring novel. A young American terrorist is given 3 younger terrorists to care for while they hide out from authorities. The way love and loyalties get danced around within these characters lives is like looking at an Escher print. There is no way to find a place to land and then a way out. Normal life is the jumping off point in this novel and psychologically unsettling is where you're headed.

This is no sensationalized E True Hollywood Story in book form. This is a page turner where the action and the ideas vie for your attention. Choi does a magnificent job of keeping any moral judgments out of American Woman. You are left to either go with or re-examine your own prejudices. That makes this a great read and an excellent book club choice.

Happy and yet concerned about that guy who keeps to himself across the street.

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