Monday, January 12, 2015

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

And . . . she’s back!

Over the holidays I had a head cold and two weeks off to do nothing but blow my nose and read up in the bed. Except I could find NOTHING that held my attention. I tried to self-diagnose if it was because of the Dayquil or my clogged sinuses—yet I told myself I read with my eyes and not my nose.

I started 5 books and couldn’t get past the first 50 pages of each.

I also worried if perhaps culture ie the Internet had impacted my attention span—was I no longer capable of reading 3 or 4 paragraphs strung together without closing a book and turning on my Kindle?

Finally, I wondered if perhaps I was getting too old for fiction. Would I end up like several old people I once knew dozing off in the middle of a page, or succumbing entirely to non-fiction because of the ability to skip massive uninteresting sections and still feel like you’ve “read” a whole book.

Imagine my delight then when I started reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. I’d had this book on hold at the library—possibly off of a list of recent award winners (I tell you—I cannot remember half the time why I put a book on hold). I picked it up on Wednesday and was immediately sucked in—by Saturday I’d finished it.

It’s the VOICE. Fowler immediately brings the reader in—and then twists us up with plot turns and finally with emotional content that caused me to start to worry about the characters I was reading about.

I cannot go into the plot at any length without giving away stuff best left for the reader to discover. I even asked myself at a certain point—did I not see this coming, or, should I have known what this book was truly about? I had no idea—since I couldn’t even remember why I’d put a hold on it. From a NY Times book review: “a novel so readably juicy and surreptitiously smart, it deserves all the attention it can get.”

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2014, winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award, and winner of the 2014 California Book Award for Fiction. I’m not going to say who else endorses this book because that might give something away.

Anyway, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves had restored my faith in my sense of reading. That I can indeed fall in love with words and care deeply about characters, that my imagination did not get blown out of my nose during Christmas vacation.

What a relief!

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