Monday, January 03, 2005

Farm Tragedy Books

Well, looks like I've found a new genre of books that's almost unbearably painful for me: farm tragedy. I'm reading the excellent book A Thousand Acres, by Jane Smiley. It's very well written, an excellent portrait of a woman who's spent her whole life working to keep her head down and happy with that. I know about keeping a low profile as a way to fend off bad things, and I know about the way farm people work--always moving, always looking a few hours ahead to the next piece of land to take care of, the next rainstorm, next year. I'm hurt by the fact of farms vanishing, and watching this successful farm go under in the book--as it clearly must--makes me squirm.

The father, too--Lear, Larry--is that person whose existance I can't tolerate. The person who doesn't acknowledge the real existence of others, the fact that they have, as he sarcastically puts it, a "point of view." The physical abuse in the book is more tolerable to me, because it's just mean, twisted. It doesn't deny the very fact of the daughters.

This might not make sense if you haven't read the book. I'm a little distracted. It's a wonderful book, but in the painful way of so many great stories.

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