Friday, January 23, 2009

Two parts of one whole (Books - I See You Everywhere by Julia Glass)

I have finished I See You Everywhere, which I wrote about here. I don't want to say much more about it so as not to ruin your own reading of it, except to say that I found it a warm and nourishing read. The chapters of alternating point of view serve the story well, adding some surprises that wouldn't have been accomplished by a conventional narrative. I found myself invested in the two sisters - two parts of the same whole, really, and consequently as I read the book, I could find different parts of myself in each of them. I wonder if creating these two characters was the same for the writer, that is to say, were they each in some way her? The last section creates an epilogue, letting a greater amount of time elapse before revisiting one of the two narrators. Staying with my theme of philosophy for today (see my other post), this section muses more broadly on life's pleasures and hurts, and particularly on the use of creating art in the context of loss. This epilogue had the feeling of pulling back the camera, after numerous scenes filmed in close-up. It had a more distant feeling, but appropriately so. It did not leave me cold as epilogues often do. It succeeded in concluding the but not by rushing through fifty years to tie every last plot point up with a bow.

Glass's writing is fluid and elegant, but also contemporary. I'll leave you with a paragraph:
When Ray came into my life, he was just that: a shaft of sunlight invading a murky room. I had been married for too long to a genteel but oblivious man whose still waters hid many things but not, after all, an undertow of passion. At first, the decorum and calm in my marriage had been such a relief that I thought, So this is it. But then I met Ray, and I knew, thought it made me sadder than I had every been, This is it. He called me Miss Fever, Miss Open Flame, Miss Hundred and Ten in the Shade - and, once, Miss Bases Loaded Tying Run on Third No outs. One day our illicit gymnastics left his handprints in the new gray carpet of my office; that night, I locked the door so the cleaning lady couldn't remove them. Next morning, when I walked in and saw again the image of his hands, ghostly as petroglyphs, I began to shake. I locked the door for another hour. I was certain that my life as lived (so cautiously) was over.

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