Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Blue Book

Two books finished in one week.  Phew.  I'm a reading machine.

A.L. Kennedy is an all-time favorite of mine.  Her writing is unlike anyone else out there.  Her story ideas, truly unique.  If you haven't read her, you're not reading the right things.  The Blue Book is great, while not my favorite of hers, it's right up there (Day is my it, NOW).

I would tell you a little about it, but that's hard to do without giving too much away, or diminishing it and making it sound much more mundane than it is.  I will say, it takes place on a boat shuttling retirees from Britain to America, present dayish.  The novel follows the strangely misplaced, younger passengers Beth and mysterious Arthur, and explores the murky past between them...all this happening while Beth's better half suffers from a fiendish bout of sea sickness.  Throw in some psychic mediums, dead mothers, and disappointing fathers along the way, and you have what turns out to be a surprisingly touching, humorous, and heartbreaking novel.  (UGH, would someone please give me a better word for heartbreaking, blech).

Other things about this book:
-The book talks to you, the reader, all while acknowledging that it is a book.
-Beth is the perfect protagonist, because she is you and she is me in all her messed up, selfish, glory.
-And the page numbers skip around in a strange dance that is both exhilarating and unsettling (I never knew how important it was for me to have page numbers in the right order).

I know none of this makes much sense, and it might not make much sense for you even after you read the book.  For me, it didn't seem to matter.  How tidy and sensical (just invented that word, opposite of nonsensical...duh) are our lives anyway?

A.L. Kennedy is not a gentle writer.  She's raw, cunning, and crude.  Most of her books are complete mindfucks, and this one is no exception.  But her acrobatic writing will leave you dizzy and breathless and hooked.  She's phenomenal, like I said, if you haven't read her, you're not reading the right things.
And you're a reader- clearly- here you are reading your book, which is what it was made for.  It loves when you look, wakes when you look, and then it listens and it speaks.  It was built to welcome your attention and reciprocate with this: the sound it lifts inside you.  It gives you the signs for the shapes of the names of the thoughts in your mouth and in your mind and this is where they sing, here at the point where you both meet.
Which is where you might imagine, might even elicit, the tremble of paper, that unmistakable flinch.  It moves for you, your book, and it will always show you all it can.
Just take a moment, read that out loud, and tell me you didn't get shivers.  And that's just from the first page!