Take Two

I had written a really charming post - it was clever, it was witty, endearing even. It had personal details, embarrassing reveals - and then, someone tried to facetime me (thanks Dad) and my computer froze and all that language was lost. I'd consider it a sacrifice to the gods of creativity or writing or just the internet, but. It wasn't that good. 

I was writing (and will again write) reviews of the two books I've read in the last two weeks. One was a recommendation from my mother-in-law, and she is a font of good knowledge. The other is a book I revisited after reading it years before. Both are timely. Both are also worth your time.

Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid

I want to tell you this book is poetic without being flowery, only the most essential and beautiful language possible brings Nadia and Saeed's story to stark relief. The magical realism surprised me but those elements don't detract from the truths revealed in the story. The book partly covers national crises and global tragedy, nationalism and fear, while focusing on this young couple navigating their own identities as individuals and as a family.  The story begins in an unnamed middle eastern country consumed by civil war and unrest, and the characters' subsequent escape to Greece, England, and finally the United States.  This short book is consuming - I read it in its entirety while flying over the Rockies (truly - my husband was pointing out canyons and rock formations in real time) and I worry that by reading it so fast, the story will not stay with me for quite as long.  There's a lot this book demands we ask (by that I mean - I can see book clubs having a ton to talk about with this, from the micro to the macro levels) - so when you get around to it, let me know. I'll bring the wine.

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

I had to revisit this - the casting for the Starz show and the hype around putting this cinematic, made-for-the-Golden-Age-of-Television novel was too real. Without hesitation I am here to tell you that American Gods created a world that is so encompassing that I can't get my head out of it and while my friends and family might be over it, I am loving it.  The book imagines a world where a battle is brewing: a battle for survival and dominance between the old gods - gods and heroes brought over to America from Vikings, immigrants, slaves, born from Native American tribes indigenous clans and generations of folklore - and the new gods of Technology, Media, the American Car, Highways....you name it. Anything we sacrifice blood, money, time, attention, energy towards - it may be part of a New Religion.  

Long after I finished this book (and I tore through it), I was still thinking about the characters and the conceit. I kept talking about these obscure Norse gods and putting together pieces of mythology and metaphor that Neil Gaiman wove into his story seamlessly. The best part of this book in terms of its translation to the small screen is that the world he created is so juicy for modernization and re-interpretation and extrapolation. There is room for more gods, new and old. Room for more detail and more backstories and everything. I'm psyched on this.  I am here for this.