Sunday, February 24, 2008

Red Leaves Leaves Me Cold

Red Leaves by Thomas H. Cook is a devastating book. Excellent writing. Careful, trim plotting. Clearly drawn characters. Terrible suspense. It has all the elements and follows through to its chilling conclusion keeping every promise. It is this mastery of the craft that defeats the reader and leaves him cold and sorrowing with the protagonist.

I picture Rod Serling with his clipped, analytical voice: "Enter Eric Moore, family man..." , and then we watch this perfect life dissolve into a horrible unreality come true. His teenage son is suspected of kidnapping, molesting, and murdering an 8 year old girl, and the father-narrator takes us through the corrosive suspicions that splay out from this accusation to touch his father, mother, sister, brother, wife, lawyer-friend, and child.

What is going on inside of you? The story takes us to the larger question we all must grapple with if we hope to live in peace with those we love. We can never know what is happening in the minds of others, even those to whom we have the closest ties. The author leaves us with the realization that when trust is gone, it doesn't matter what is happening behind those closed doors--good or evil, lack of trust destroys it all.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A (Yawn) Round-Heeled Woman

Jane Juska has written an account of her life and times as a (see title) round-heeled woman and she means the title just as it sounds. Tired of a sexless life after her divorce and nearing 70, she posts a singles ad with the blatant assertion that she wants sex and a lot of it. She will not go gentle into that good night.

The book is an exploration of the trauma of aging and, as a 60+ female, I identified strongly with her emotions and character; however, this book is non-fiction and couldn't be tied neatly at the end with a satisfying finish. Life is never that; it's just what it is and we cope.

She copes.

I wish she had done so in about 50 fewer pages. It's a good read with much more going on than sex, and even the sexy bits are handled graciously. 60+ women with husbands will recognize the mechanics, but it all gets a little tiresome toward the end.

She gets what she wants, but what she wants isn't what she gets.