Monday, January 14, 2008

reading challenge #2

Same photo, second book. Though, to be honest, this is the first book I read, and since time has passed I'm a little foggy about it. But here goes, Consumption by Kevin Patterson. An excerpt:

"You act as if you've never had an unfortunate outcome before."
"No. I'm not inexperienced in losing patients. Especially Victoria's family members. I don't know what's got into me."
The priest smiled ruefully. "If you had faith, I could prescribe a penance."
"You make it sound tempting, somehow."
The priest looked at the kettle. "It is a kind of egotism, self-flagellation such as this. The time for fervour is in the approach to God, not in response to his reversals."

It's hard to know where to begin. The characters? The relationships? The tragedies? The landscape? There is so much to sink into with this novel - as long as you can keep your head above the tragic waters. One thing is for sure: the story is epic, but that's why it is so hard to describe.

Consumption is such a wonderful title, and the lingering thread of this insidious disease is clever. I read somewhere that TB could be characterized by "long, relentless wasting" and in many ways this description fits certain characters and storylines perfectly. And I don't mean to make the novel sound relentless, quite the opposite - the story is riveting, sweeping and tragic in all the right ways.

The relationships, brought out through dialogue and key character insights, were powerful. The excerpt above is between two of my favourite characters, the doctor and priest of the remote Nunavut town the entire novel stems from. Their exchanges over the years while listening to jazz recordings were always profound, opening a window into the growth of friendship between an unlikely pair. But even small characters have intriguing relationships, such as the high school teacher and her estranged husband, whose infrequent phone calls spoke volumes, not to mention their ravenous sex scene that left me, quite frankly, breathless. I could go on and on, because there is no shortage of compelling characters and I never once tired of their stories, even as the novel spanned decades.

As for the knitting equivalent: Consumption is like a pieced and cabled sweater, something I have never knit but know would take commitment. Every new stitch would excite and engage on a deep level and there is no easy finish to the sweater - just as much effort would go into seaming the pieces together. In the end, it would be wholly satisfying, as both an experience and for its' lasting usefulness.

And come on, the first line is "Storms are sex." Bring on the tundra! (and thanks to Ragdoll for the recommendation).


John Mutford said... [Reply to comment]

You certainly seem to have enjoyed the book much more than I. Not surprising since I didn't enjoy it at all! My review, in pieces, can be found here and here. But that's been one of the things I've been enjoying about the Canadian Book Challenge; the often wildly varying opinions. Another thing I've been enjoying is your knitting analogies.

Sincerity said... [Reply to comment]

Hello! Reading new books and finding that they suck you into their world is such a great experience! There's really nothing like it. You have a nice blog here.