Sunday, August 14, 2011

These Books Will Change Your Life - Freight, Nothing or Next to Nothing and Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone.

Vacation. Read. More read. Word. Many. We were off. Off of work. Off of the grid. Just off. There were a number of books we were reading as we left and now they are read. It's always tough to know if authors are up to what you feel like they're up to in their work, especially as you read a number of books at one time, and try to tease through your own biases, filters, and projections, tangling and unpacking your own stuff. This is probably even more the case as you wander from beach to porch to beach again, thinking and reading and thinking and unencumbered by office stuff and web distractions. Which leads to and leaves us with Freight by Mel Bosworth, Nothing or Next to Nothing by Barry Graham and Harry Potter, yes that Harry Potter, and The Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling.

We suppose that on the face of it these books may or may not seem to have much in common, and yet despite the various differences a foot, that's what it felt like at week's end. Start with Freight, a novel that reflects Bosworth's ongoing search for answers, completeness and love, and yes as always the Bosworth is love. The Bosworth is also about movement though, and Freight is about movement, and about trying to move forward by unpacking, and understanding, the past, the good, bad, the violent, and naked, all of it. There is always an undercurrent of pain and trauma in his process, coping, usually poorly, and the desire to resolve any and all of it, so the protagonist can somehow be something and somewhere he is not yet, whole, happy, healthy and intertwined with some girl if not the larger world itself. Nothing or Next to Nothing also continues Graham's efforts to capture characters who are searching for something as well, usually a way out of things that are ugly and contorted, though unlike Bosworth's characters, nothing good ever awaits them, their pasts too traumatic, too violent and messed-up, the poverty too grinding, and in Nothing or Next to Nothing as the character pukes, smokes and sexes his way forward, he is always moving as well, though we know the motion will end badly with the same certainty that we know Bosworth's will not, still incomplete as Bosworth's characters' lives may be. We would add, that it didn't escape our attention that as we chilled on the beach in South Haven, Michigan, the people Graham channels and writes about were somewhere close by, getting high, working in Taco Bell and mostly ignored, by most everyone, ourselves included. Finally, for the moment, The Sorcerer's Stone, such a pleasant surprise in all the ways it captures a character at the start of his life, trauma lurking in the past and present, secrets still to be uncovered, and violence long established, but hopeful, the protagonist more courageous than anticipated, and also moving forward, always, a whole life ahead of him, and the center of a book we would have absolutely absorbed via literary osmosis when were the age of our older son, nine, if you are interested, and who is the only reason, though a most appreciated one, that we are even reading it in the first place.

And in conclusion, if you will then, a coda of sorts. Books. Read. Words. And stories, stories about movement and possibility, or lack there of. But also stories that in many ways coalesce around relationships, those lost in Bosworth's work, though maybe, just maybe with some understanding, showing a path forward; relationships twisted and dirtied in Graham's work, hopeless, though endlessly present; and with Rowling, relationships still forming and firming, but real and true and present as something great begins. Movement. Violence. Trauma. Relationships. Word.

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