Just finished reading both A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness and We the Animals, by Justin Torres, both of which could not be more opposite each other on the literary spectrum. I really liked the Witches book, liked how thoroughly Deborah Harkness created several complex worlds of witches, daemons, vampires, etc., and it seemed more mature than the normal drek a la Twilight. Then the witch and the vampire went to a yoga class and my head popped off my shoulders. I gave it one more shot late at night after reading a few chapters of Moneyball. (Does the uber-hyped author need to be listed here? Ok, Michael Lewis.) The minute the vampire picked her up and carried her up the steps of a turreted castle, I closed it, no bookmark. I’m all for the adult fantasy but does it really need to be about being literally carried? Or maybe I missed an important class in girl lessons. Maybe I should learn how to swoon. Can’t imagine what Mr. Halfstory would do if I did, in fact, faint at his side. Maybe I’d score more jewelry.
We the Animals, on the other hand, was powerful, disturbing, a lyrical long poem. It surprised me even though when I picked it up I knew I was in for something…profound and upsetting. I felt that vibration when I picked up McCarthy’s The Road, too, and I still can’t get some of those images out of my mind. This book digs deep into family love and how it is inevitably tied to hate and heartache and need. It also shows how poverty can erase within families strength and dignity, leaving them with insurmountable despair. It’s a tremendous victory when people make it out. And that is an understatement.
Speaking of families, much as I love them to pieces, our girls are aging us. Unruly and powerful, they chew us up and spit us out on shore like unworthy sailors. Whenever one is in a terrible mood (even for fabricated reasons), the other instinctively climbs the sunny ladder and becomes so delightful, it’s almost comedy. “Why are they always like that?” my son asks innocently. Maybe this is strictly a twin thing; I have no idea. I had to stop reading the twin books because they made me feel like I gave birth to freaks. I only know we now refer to one of them as Ramona “Everybody Dies” Townsend. And Yvette can always call up “The Scream.” You can extrapolate from there.