Monday, October 13, 2008

Object Lessons by Anna Quindlen

From the dust jacket: Young Maggie Scanlon begins to sense that, beneath the calm, everyday surface of her peaceful suburban life, everything is going mysteriously wrong. Her all-powerful grandfather is reduced to a shadow by a stroke, and to Maggie's astonishment this causes her usually unemotional father to burst into tears. And Connie, her lushly beautiful mother, who Maggie could always be sure of finding at home, is now rarely there. Her street smart cousin Monica and her best friend, Debbie, start doing things that leave her frightened about sex and sin. All theses shifts become so linked in Maggie's mind to the building of a housing development behind her home that, years later, whenever she smells "the peculiar odor of new construction, of pine planking and plastic plumbing pipes," Maggie will think back to this summer.
Anna Quindlen is a favorite but this book isn’t my favorite Anna Quindlen. In fact, this is a book that I have read before and it was so NOT memorable that I had forgotten I had read it. I started it right after Gravedigger’s Daughter and thought, “Wow, another book about the daughter of a grave digger, what a coincidence.” Then, more and more of it started to feel familiar and before you know it, I was in that “Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah” state - where you remember each scene as soon as you start reading it but you don’t remember it well enough to remember how things turn out or what happens next. It’s an annoying state to be in! (Just think, with aging, at some point that will be my whole life – vaguely familiar but sketchy on the details.) But it certainly made for a quick read – I just kind of skimmed right through and that was that. It’s done – again! I better ship it off to Goodwill before it goes back on another list by mistake!

As I came back to add the dust jacket notes to this post, I thought that I have many interesting parallels in my own life now. We have a housing development going up in our backyard - rather than being worried about it we are pretty excited - new houses mean possible playmates - the boys would like kids to move in! Bookworm is learning how to drive - but we're going the route of paying a stranger to teach her not seeking out an old flame! And, sadly, my father-in-law's failing health has reduced him in many ways. Well..interesting to me in a "hmm...imagine that" kind of way - probably not at all interesting to you! But maybe these parallels were another reason I had that - been here, read this feeling - you know other than the reason that I actually HAD read the book before!

1 comment:

Beth F said...

I used to read Anna Quindlen's columns when she wrote for the New York Times. I enjoyed her writing, but for some reason I've not read her fiction. I'll have to check it out.