Monday, 20 February 2012

People of the Book

Around the World in 52 Books - 7/52 (Bosnia)

People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks

Click for my Goodread's Review

3 out of 5 stars

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It occurs to me that I should include the description of these books since I don't do a review of the book.  So here goes (from Goodreads):

  In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding - an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair - she begins to unlock the book's mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book's journey from its salvation back to its creation.

I liked the premise of this novel - tracing back the stories that make up the history of an artifact.  It made me think about other objects that have a history.  We see them in a museum, and admire them, but don't really consider what their stories are. 

I recall going to a display of Titanic artifacts when we were in Vegas a few years back.  We already knew part of each item's history.  They had been recovered from the ocean floor from the wreckage of the horrific sinking of the Titanic.   In James Cameron's "Titanic", we were told the story of two items.   One was the sketches of Rose done by Jack.  The other was the necklace. 

What great fodder for authors!  Take an artifact, any artifact, and create a story about its past.  The Indian headdress, replete in colourful feathers and beads, could have an amazing story of the coming of the white man and the subsequent destruction of a culture.  A white christening gown could tell the story of the settlers crossing the prairies. 

It piques my imagination.  When my son was younger, and we were travelling, we created stories around names on sign posts.  How could you not when you encounter a sign that reads, "Pickle jar Creek" or "Bent Pipe Creek"?

One of the things that irked me in "People of the Book" was that the reader was privy to the stories of the people who handled it and the main protagonist was not.  In the end of the story, the protagonist did discover the name of the illustrator, but did not know the depth of their involvement.  I would have liked it to be a shared journey.  I know, it's a weird preference.

Even though I only gave the book 3 stars (part of that was the confusion I felt because of the timeline), I'm still thinking about it and looking up information on the Sarajevo Haggadah.  Maybe I need to rethink the star rating and bump it up to a 4.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Long Interlude

It's been a while.  I've been reading, just not for the Around the World in 52 Books Challenge.  I've read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Woman in Black (the classic, not the one in theatres), Contempt, and The World's Most Haunted Places since I posted last.

I should be finished one of the books for the challenge soon.  I've been listening to People of the Book for the last few weeks.  Since I only listen for an hour a day on my commute, finishing a book can take a long time.  Stephen King's book The Stand just came out in audiobook, all 47 hours of it.  That would be 47 days of driving.  At 5 days a week, I'd be looking at 9+ weeks.  That would seem like living the novel.

When am I going to listen when I don't have that commute any more?  I'll have to listen at home.  I do have some quilts that I can bind while I listen.  That means I'll have to cut back on my internet time.

I think that's going to happen on its own anyway.  Right now, the amount of time I spend on the internet is largely diversion.  When I no longer need that diversion, who knows what I may get up to.  Maybe I'll start baking again.

I've been so very tired lately.  Not only is work keeping me busy, but this other is all consuming.  I think about it all day long.  I dream about it at night.  I'm getting impatient with the process.

My therapist wants me to take the high road.  My friends all tell me screw the high road.  "You've taken the high road for so many years.  Now it's time to just take the road."

I so excited!  And yet, I'm terrified.  It's a strange mix of emotions.  But for the rest of the evening, I'll try to shovel my thinking to the background and get on with my diversions.  Anne Rice's new book, The Wolf Gift" has its teeth into me and I shall go and indulge.