My mom got me some books while she was here…probably to counteract all the whining she hears about me not having anything new to read. I chose, after some deliberation, a book I had read before – because nothing is more disappointing than buying a book only to find it isn’t any good.
I chose Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, which I had listened to on tape during those long hours of nightly loneliness in the first few months of our marriage when Devo was at meetings or classes. I remember enough to know that I loved it, and not enough to spoil the fun when Devo and I start reading it together one of these days.
I also chose another of Kingsolver’s books which I had not read before. Small Wonder is a book of essays. She writes, among many things, about her reasons for staying and living in monolithic, wasteful America (vs. living in a commune or some such). She writes that she has chosen to live in America, “poking at its belly from the inside with my one little life and the small, pointed sword of my pen.”
This appeals to me.
She also has a letter to her 13 year old daughter, and a letter to her mother that I find to be very illuminating for my path as mother and daughter.
All of her books that I’ve read seem to paint the biological picture as both amazing and bleak.
And then yesterday at Costco, what should I see but her newest book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It chronicles a year of food life…a ‘food sabbatical’ her family took to see if they could, for one year, feed themselves from locally grown food. It’s part story, part social commentary, part biological commentary. An excerpt for your enjoyment, the last paragraph I read today (on page 27), where she’s talking about their asparagus patch:
Older, healthier asparagus plants produce chunkier, more multiple shootss. Underneath lies an octopus-shaped affair of chubby roots (called a crown) that stores enough starch through the winter to arrange the phallic send-up when winter starts to break. The effect is rather sexy, if you’re the type to see things that way. Europeans of the Renaissance swore by it as an aphrodisiac, and the church banned it from nunneries.
Barbara Kingsolver writes about many of the themes I keep coming back to in my own life. How to live responsibly in an irresponsible world. Responsibly, and with joy and enjoyment. I find her to be an unparalleled writer…I often stop just to admire her craft of turning sentences. I always seem to come away from reading one of her books inspired. And disturbed.