Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Concurrence Redux

Again with the coincidence that two books I'm reading fall together. It's like the universe is a grand tapestry revealing itself to me through books. How spiritual, how kabbalah.

Anyway. I was reading a book about recovered memory, Suggestions of Abuse, by a Dr. Yapko (Richard, maybe? With a last name like that, I've forgotten his first name). I reserved this ages ago, after listening to an episode of This American Life about recovered memory syndrome.

Simultaneously and unexpectedly, Michelle thrust Vanishing Acts upon me. I have been barrelling through the work of Jodi Picoult--too fast, in my own opinion.

To end my anecdote anticlimacticly, I don't want to give away the book. Suffice to say that the topic of what a person might accurately remember from when they are 4 years old is quite relevant to both volumes.

Speaking of Jodi Picoult, I'm going to have to take a break from her, just because so many of her books are so very similar. They're all family dramas based around a court case. I think the structure of the legal system is a useful one in narrative--it allows information to be parcelled out in certain ways, and for people to tell their stories and argue about different angles on the same factual information. But I think she overuses it in some ways. The lawyer is always a player in the case, even in cases where it's a very bad idea, even when they're acting extremely unprofessionally as a lawyer.

It's a strength that there's always a certain amount of obscurity to what's going on--either the facts of the case are obscure, or (as in My Sister's Keeper, her strongest), there really is no right or wrong answer--everyone is right, and everyone suffers for it. But there's the added obscurity of people who withhold information--not just key information for good reasons, or painful information for emotionally understandable if not "good" reasons, but useful information for NO reason. Seriously. It really seemed like the lawyer didn't interview the father at all in Vanishing Acts, and the father kept saying things that summed everything up instead of explaining "I had to take her because her mother was a drunk. Ask anyone." It took like four interviews to get to that.

Okay, I'm done about Jodi. It's really a good book--if I hadn't just finished The Pact a week ago, I would have liked it even more than I did. Next up: well, I haven't decided yet. I'll let you know.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, Jodi Picoult is best taken in small doses, although I do enjoy her. I seem to remember feeling some of the same frustrations w/ Vanishing Acts that you did. And isn't that the one where the long-suffering best friend finally gets the woman/heroine? And I agree My Sister's Keeper is her best.

Have you read any Chris Bohjalian? I think he's pretty good at prsenting that whole two-sides-of-an-argument-where-no-one's-really-right scenario.

--LibraryLady in PA

LibraryHungry said...

Yes, I LOVE Chris Bohjalian! Midwives is my favorite, though I think that Before You Know Kindness is really excellent at the "both sides of the story" thing.

I'm glad it's not just me thinking this about Jodi. I like her a lot, but you can only take so much. Amy Tan is like that--each book is great, but in many ways it's the same story over and over. It makes you feel like you really know the inner life of the author, and what drives her.