Friday, June 03, 2011

First Summer Read

T's booklist led me to this first novel of the summer.  I read it the week we went to the beach.  It is long (850 pages) and not a light beach book, but I sat for hours as the waves washed over my feet, reading. I had the sunburn to prove it.  In the morning, I was first out on the porch, reading.  At night, by lamplight on the roll-away bed in the back room, I was reading:

"This morning I confessed my ongoing struggle to love my enemies, even those who are beyond reach - separated as we are by innumerable years and by a wide ocean.  He told me that all the sufferings in my past are a gift....

Would I like to have the gift rescinded?  Of course! Yet, in the strangest level of my self I know that it is a gift nonetheless.  How else do we know God's rescue unless we have been drowning?  Can healing be demonstrated without injury, or love be proven without trial?  Still, there is an ache in me that cries out: what of those who were not protected, who are left unhealed, who do not know love."

I read that on a windy beach afternoon to Jenn, who has trans-oceanic struggles and the gift of hardships but knows God's rescue and healing.

"He will leave in a moment, after just one more cuplet of coffee.  Europeans know how to make it right!  This is the best in the world, better than the specialty the delicatessens on Fifth Avenue.  Europeans understand that flavor is not about sensory stimulation, it is about evocation.  It is art and memory.  It is reunion with exalted moments, and such moments are never solitary ones.  In short, life without coffee is not really life.  The waiter brings it to him and tells him it's on the house!

With our toes in the water and the sound of waves as a backdrop, I read that to Andrew, who drank coffee last fall in Brussels, Paris, Madrid and other European cities.

"'We are so blind, so blind!' he groans, flailing his arms for emphasis, his face flushing, his voice intense with the excitement of his new discovery. 'It's as if heaven is raining miracles upon us, but we cannot see because we do not look.  It's as if fabulous birds fall unceasingly from the skies!'

'Peacocks and ostriches?' she laughs.

'No, no, I mean fabulous because they exist'..."

I read that and thought of some of my students whose eyes began to be opened this year to the miracles raining down.

I haven't told you anything about the story.  For that, I'll send you here.  Then you decide if you want to spend 850 pages of time with this beautiful and harrowing book.  If you do, I hope you will feel, as I did, that it was time well spent, that this is a book to savour, that your trek with the "walker of the world" was a journey well worth taking.


Scotty and Lisa said...

Oooh- I might be ordering that for you to bring down. I'm hooked from your descriptions and Amazon's! I have been in search of a good novel lately.

Elena said...

Found you from Ann Voskamp's link and couldn't resist commenting when I saw Michael's book. If you haven't already, read all of his. He is a wonderful man and sits two pews ahead of me at mass and his youngest daughter is a wonderful babysitter;). Small, small world.

Beth said...

Thanks. I look forward to reading more of his books. I emailed Mr. O'Brien about his artwork and received a very kind email back from him promptly. I'm sure he is a very wonderful man. How fortunate you are to know him personally.

And welcome...