That Vacation-y Feeling (and some vacation-y reading)

I’m going to be a little less consistent about blogging in the next week or so, except when I have the urge to pop in and share a cartoon about one of my more amusing neuroses (coming soon: fear of jack-in-the-boxes–or are they “jacks-in-the-box, like “attorneys general?”) or a link to something I’ve written that’s gone up elsewhere.

Meanwhile, here is my recommendation for a great summer read. (I read it back in December, but whatever.) It’s beach reading material, except better. Not only does it have a really engaging story–the kind of book that you can’t wait to get back to in order to find out what’s happening to the characters you grow to love–it also has some important themes. And it escapes some of the cardboard-like stock characters that were flaws in Kingsolver’s earlier novels (eg. the utterly hate-able Nathan Price in The Poisonwood Bible.

Anyway, more about why you should read Flight Behavior:

I’ve enjoyed Kingsolver’s work ever since I read The Bean Trees for English class in high school and then headed straight for the library to find Pigs in Heaven and Animal Dreams. One college summer afternoon I started reading the first chapter of The Poisonwood Bible and found myself unable to do anything else until I’d finished. Even when Kingsolver gets on my nerves by being a heavy-handed in making a point, political, religious, or philosophical, she can sure turn a phrase and weave a plot.

This new novel has all the charms (if also the usual shortcomings) of Kingsolver’s earlier books; I was a little worried that she would be excessively pushy with the “issue” of this one–climate change–but she kept it pretty real.

Speaking of “real,” climate change is, and it’s so apparent in Malawi that everyone from university professors to brickmakers will tell you about it. Most people in Malawi grow their own staple food–corn that’s pounded and cooked into a doughy paste called nsima–and so when the weather goes weird and the rains are late or too scant, they feel it in their empty bellies: people who have never owned a car, never had electricity, never bought a computer, suffering the worst effects of a climate problem that they didn’t create.

Is this not close to the definition of “unfair”?

I don’t want to give any exciting plot details away, but a similar (yet, of course, very different) injustice forms something of a theme in Flight Behavior. There’s also a lot in there on faith and science. I recommend it!


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