Bedrock Faith Live Show Discussion

 

Bedrock Faith by Eric Charles May – 432 pages – Akashic Books

Rating – 4,5 stars

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Out Stealing Horses

I finished Out Stealing Horses on Saturday morning, before meeting with my book club in the afternoon. I was relieved it was over.  I’d dragged 9 days to read such a short book and couldn’t believe it.  So, how come big books get the bad rap so much?

I was expecting something different than what I got.  Actually, the description on the back cover is slightly misleading.  In spite of that, it was good for me but not great. It’s the story of a 67 year old retiree who is living out in the countryside in an old run down house that he’s just bought and is renovating himself.  The story takes place in Norway and the glacially cold landscapes and dark silent nights develop into a story that is both surprising and very melancholy. I can’t say more than that. The little you know about the plot the better off your reading experience. Speaking of the reading experience, Petterson’s writing is simple and undeviating, from his descriptions of the landscape to Trond’s personal feelings. It is perfectly written from the first person, while interchanging with flashbacks.  However, I had a problem with the quiet, slow pace, and depressing tone of this book. There were several times when I started out reading and wound up falling asleep.  Yes there were some slow areas.

Having not read much Scandinavian literature, reading this one made we wonder about the way Scandinavian authors tell stories.  It seems to be very different from the anglo-saxon way.  It’s intriguing and seems to be very much like a puzzle and emotionally charged.  I’m interested in continuing on to read Knausgaard’s My Struggle: Book 1 or Skomsvold’s The Faster I Walk.  If anybody has read either and wants to encourage me to read one or both of them, down below is where you need to tell me all about it.

As my book club discussed the book, we wondered how well it had been translated.  There were some parts that just seemed to have nothing special happen in them and we discussed in depth the utilization of the word “special” in one part of the book.  The book is only 264 pages but even so the plot thickens and makes you wonder because Petterson doesn’t give you all the details.  His writing resembles his protagonist’s personality.  He refuses to fill in the blanks.  We as readers have to do that.  This can either drive you mad, keep you confused, or titillate your imagination.  If anything this book will spark meaningful conversation and much speculation on the different characters – why they do what they do, the outcome of their actions, and oh all the what ifs….

Favorite passage:  “The face there is no different from the one I had expected to see at age sixty-seven.  In that way I am in time with myself.  Whether I like what I see is a different question.  But it is of no importance.  There are not many people I am going to show myself to, and I only have the one mirror. To tell the truth, I have nothing against the face in the mirror. I acknowledge it, I recognise myself. I cannot ask for more.” (Out Stealing Horses, p. 98-99)

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28. The Senator's Wife

This is the very first novel that I’ve read by Sue Miller.   I think she’s known for writing about women and relationships.  I was really surprised to say the least.  There was a scene that knocked me off my seat.  I just couldn’t believe it.  I would have never thought of it.  In spite of everything, the first half of the book was a bit of a bore.  There was a lot of character development, which was useful but slowed the story down.  Around the middle of the story I became more interested.  I didn’t like any of the characters because they are all extremely flawed.  Meri is a snoop and very unsure of herself.  Delia is overly confident but naive in love.  Nathan is insensitive and arrogant.  Tom the senator is self-centered, egotistical philanderer.

Meri and Nathan are a young couple house hunting for their new home.  They decide to buy the old house that they are looking at and it happens to be connected to Delia’s house who is the senator’s wife.  From the moment the couple moves in, their lives connect with  Delia’s to transform each other forever.

I’m not sure I understand what Sue Miller is trying to say in this book but it’s not very feminist if she is.  Actually, I suspect she is just trying to give a point of view about relationships.  For one thing, the novel is very well written.  I learned a few new vocabulary words.  I’ll be cautious to choose another Sue Miller book though.  I’ll ask my avid reader friends to steer me to a really good one or just read The Good Mother (the one that’s often mentioned).

Sue Miller published her first novel in 1986, The Good Mother.  Since she was a single mother, she didn’t have much time to devote to writing; although now she’s made up for that after publishing ten books and two of them have been adapted to film – The Good Mother (1988) and Inventing the Abbotts (1997).  She is now a professor teaching creative writing classes at Smith College.

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