Friday, February 29, 2008

reading challenge #4

A simple truth about my book reviews: besides their brevity, they will all be positive. This is because my reading time is too precious to waste on a book I am not enjoying. Mostly I read before bed, borrowing time from my dreams, closing the book around 1am (which really isn't smart considering when I get up and how packed each day is). And I never have regrets if and when I abandon a novel.

The Tree Tattoo by Karen Rivers is an unusual exception. I would struggle to continue and then find myself giving it one more chance. This actually happened five times in total - and I even had another BC author ready to go - but on the fifth try I stayed with it, and I'm still surprised I got through it.

The prose is very poetic, which I usually love, but in the beginning I was too distracted by it. I imagine it must have been the story that brought me back each time, or how the story might resolve itself. In a nutshell, a 50-something family man and an alarmingly haunted 23 year old have a sexually charged affair. Unique? Yes. Hard to imagine? Yes. Worth the read? Undecided, but there were certainly notable phrases, and striking passages. For instance:

Marriage is so many unasked, unanswered questions, a tidal wave of unsaid words - do they ever crash down? Can people be crushed under that kind of weight?

The characters wrestle with familiar demons but the language doesn't soften the carnage, and this I did appreciate. As for the knitting comparison: The Tree Tatoo is like a pair of socks, in particular a pair I referred to as the "Forever Socks" because they took so long to knit and yet I never gave up on them. Socks are a unique knit anyway, and magical at moments - like when you turn the heel - but in the end you don't wear them often and you have to remind yourself that at least they got finished. Next time I knit socks, perhaps I'll call them The Tree Tatoo socks...that sounds much better.


Karen said... [Reply to comment]

Well, I'm glad you stuck with it, although sorry it took five tries. The Tree Tattoo was my first book, so it will always have a special place in my heart as the book I wrote and wrote and was so afraid to show anyone. But then, when I did, my whole life changed. Not that it was a runaway bestseller, but it opened the doors for me to make a living at this strange and amazing job of writing books.

So I'm proud and delighted that you found something poetic, at least, in my baby. And next time you knit some socks, I'd be really happy to know that they are The Tree Tattoo socks!

Teddy Rose said... [Reply to comment]

5 trys and you stuck with it. I'm impressed. I don't think I could endure that long.