Third Down

Time for another chunk of literary pick-aparts. I’ve got three under my belt that I’ve read recently, and another one in process. By the way, I heart my Kindle and the public library. Woop woop.

First up, Jodi Picoult’s Handle With Care. Before I go in-depth with this one, let me just say that I love the way Picoult writes. She is poetic, eloquent, descriptive, and thought-provoking. With that said, I am starting to get mad at her. Her stories are always beautifully crafted and tragically heart-wrenching, but she never gives her characters a happy ending. Like, ever. And there always seems to be a “twist” that is no longer surprising because it happens, oh, every time.

In this particular book, she tells the story of a family with a special needs child, Willow, who is born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or “brittle bone disease.” The mother ends up filing a malpractice lawsuit against her OB, a.k.a. her BFF, in order to have the money to fund Willow’s mounting medical costs. The catch is she has to testify before the courts (and her daughter) that she would have terminated the pregnancy, had she known early enough that her daughter would be born with said disease. Yeah, I know. Heart-wrenching in true form.

But Barbara Kingsolver made up for it with Prodigal Summer. I love her writing form as well, and I love how many of her novels are based in our Appalachian backyards. She tells three interlacing stories set in Appalachia, and all three are intricate and real. One involves two feuding geriatric neighbors, one stars a young city girl who went from farmer’s wife to bewildered widow stuck with a fledgling tobacco farm, and the last is my favorite, a mountain ranger on the hot trail of a family of coyotes. Kingsolver is a word-wizard.

Simply put, these two ladies make me want to write gooder.

Then, thanks to my dad’s extensive archive on his Kindle, I registered mine under his email (with permission, haters) and checked out Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, along with the rest of America. It took me awhile to get into it – he’s very (very) descriptive of mundane, irrelevant things, and I thought, I have limited free time to read, do I really want to spend it stuck in this world? I do like a good conspiracy novel, and I’ve been conditioned to try to find clues in the seemingly disjointed details. Impossible with Larsson’s. Just don’t do it. There is literally nothing there in a fairly decent amount of text, other than background information you will never need to know.

But my dad insisted I would enjoy it once I sloughed through (or skipped over) the unrelated blips, and, surprisingly, I did. Once I finished it, I immediately started his second installment, so, you know. I’m a convert. I’ve gotten better at distinguishing the pulp that doesn’t pertain to the story at hand and give it more or a less a half-hearted skim, but the overall juice is good. It’s your basic suspense/financial thriller/unsolved mystery formula starring a kick-ass sleuth who does indeed have a dragon tattoo…but don’t let that fool you. The dragon tattoo has no relevance to the story. That’s like titling the next best-seller, This Guy Has a Head: Right Above His Neck. (Before you get any ideas, I’m copyrighting that title. So boo-yah.)


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