Sunday, April 01, 2012

Books on the Brain, part 2

Another week, more books to think about.

Carry the One
by Carol Anshaw

From the publisher: Carry the One begins in the hours following Carmen’s wedding reception, when a car filled with stoned, drunk, and sleepy guests accidently hits and kills a girl on a dark, country road. For the next twenty-five years, those involved, including Carmen and her brother and sister, connect and disconnect and reconnect with each other and their victim. As one character says, “When you add us up, you always have to carry the one.”

Through friendships and love affairs; marriage and divorce; parenthood, holidays, and the modest tragedies and joys of ordinary days, Carry the One shows how one life affects another and how those who thrive and those who self-destruct are closer to each other than we’d expect. Deceptively short and simple in its premise, this novel derives its power and appeal from the author’s beautifully precise use of language; her sympathy for her very recognizable, flawed characters; and her persuasive belief in the transforming forces of time and love.

Why it caught my eye: I pinned this book a few months ago, but it was featured in the New York Times Book Review just last weekend and it fed my desire to read this book, like, yesterday.

I hope that this doesn't sound too gruesome, but I am interested in tragedy. I'm interested in how different people cope with the tragedies that scar their lives. I guess it’s because I have plenty of my own scars that creep into my present life as seemingly random intervals. Striking when I don’t expect them to strike.

Just this week, The Coach told me one of his tragedies. It’s a big one. And I can’t stop thinking about it. About how that experienced must have changed him, must have shaped the person who he is. He insists that it didn’t traumatize him; I think he’s full of shit.

After Mandela: The Struggle for Freedom in Post-Apartheid South Africa
by Douglas Foster

From the publisher: A brutally honest exposé, After Mandela provides a sobering portrait of a country caught between a democratic future and a political meltdown. Recent works have focused primarily on Nelson Mandela's transcendent story. But Douglas Foster, a leading South Africa authority with early, unprecedented access to President Zuma and to the next generation in the Mandela family, traces the nation's entire post-apartheid arc, from its celebrated beginnings under "Madiba" to Thabo Mbeki's tumultuous rule to the ferocious battle between Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. Foster tells this story not only from the point of view of the emerging black elite but also, drawing on hundreds of rare interviews over a six-year period, from the perspectives of ordinary citizens, including an HIV-infected teenager living outside Johannesburg and a homeless orphan in Cape Town. This is the long-awaited, revisionist account of a country whose recent history has been not just neglected but largely ignored by the West.

Why it caught my eye: It's no secret that - after traveling to South Africa in 2010 - I am fascinated by all things South African. I've been meaning to get my hands on a book about the current political and social climate in South Africa, and I think this is my winner. I read a review on this book and it gave me the impression that this book has a good narrative quality to it, too, which is always a big selling point for me. I have really come to appreciate non-fiction books, but I appreciate a non-fiction title so much more if it reads smoothly and chronologically, instead of just fact! fact! fact!


Kari said...

These both look great -- may even spend one of my chapters cards on after mandela!
I love these book recommends that you are doing!

A said...

Glad to hear it, girlie. It was a great idea some really cool reader suggested. Hope it gives you some good ideas!

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