Monday, May 11, 2015

The Pleasure of Books

My cold hangs on. Went to my physician a week ago; he says my ear problem and hearing loss is beyond his ability so referred me to a specialist---ear/nose/throat. Problem is that no one in that large conglomerate is available until late June. I agreed to see a physician's assistant in the same building, hoping that at least something will finally be determined. My family doctor said, after spending some time checking me out, that I might have to have tubes in my ears. Anything to get my hearing back---though I'm certainly not deaf (though John must think I am). I did some gardening today and worked hard at the business on Saturday---the busiest day so far this year---wishing I were back up to full strength. Carlton joined us for church yesterday and then came to the house with a nice meal and we had a good Mothers' Day.

My loss of energy has not meant less reading. I just finished The Rapture of Canaan, a novel by Sheri Reynolds. It was in many ways similar but also very different from the book John read to me over the last few weeks, over 600 pages but it flew by quickly: The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall. Both books are about cultic groups. Canaan about a very abusive and extreme Pentecostal commune. The story is told by a young girls who is questioning the awful things perpetrated by her grandfather, the religious leader. It was difficult to identify with many of the characters who go along with the dictates of the leader, but a very interesting book.

The much better book is Lonely Polygamist. Brady Udall is part of the big LDS Udall clan, though he is half-hearted at best. No Mormon in good standing could have written this book and gotten by with it. He tells a very thoughtful story of a polygamous family of a generation ago. Golden is the main character and he is navigating life with his 4 wives who more-or-less get along with each other but are all struggling in their relationship with him. The story goes from funny to heart-breaking within a matter of paragraphs. And in the end you feel like you know this family and you care about their struggles but are not really seeing them as wierd at all. They're normal people with a lot of difficulties and sadness. The book unfolds with more twists and turns than any other book I can remember reading. Udall, as one reviewer wrote, has written the "great American novel." I envy his skill as a writer.

John is now reading to me Hissing Cousins: The Untold Story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth. We're enjoying it thoroughly. We've long loved Eleanor and are now just getting to know her crazy cousin Alice, daughter of President Teddy Roosevelt.