Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fall on Your Knees: Review

I went to my first book club meetup tonight. To be honest, I've as much to review about the book club as I have about the book, but ... first things first.

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When I first signed up, thanks to SC2's suggestion, for the book club meetup group, I thought I recognized this month's designated book as one I've already read. I scanned through my past 'reading' posts to see if I could remind myself what I'd thought the first time through, but I didn't see it there. That means that either I read it prior to 2005 when I started blog reviewing the books I read, or that I read it and merely forgot to blog about it. Either is equally likely.

The book in question is Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall On Your Knees, a depressing, dark, relentlessly uredeeming tale of one Cape Breton's family's insistance on being really really messed up. It is also a brilliant, poetic, bouyant story of harsh landscapes with the edges worn off by the sea, and imaginative, resilient children who make the inadequacies of their parents sparkle. As I re-read the book, I couldn't remember what was coming next, which is a huge testament to MacDonald's writing, since with most books I can anticipate much of the plot even on a first reading.

The main family of characters are almost without exception people you wouldn't want your child dating. But most of them also have depth and humour and creativity and spirit that makes them someone you want to cheer for. And passages such as

Following the ocean a good part of the way, James discovered that there is nothing so congenial to lucid thought as a clear view of the sea. It aired his mind, tunes his nerves and scoured his soul. He determined always to live in sight of it.
have a rhythm and beauty that keep you reading even when sometimes you don't want to. It wouldn't be unfair to compare this novel to the proverbial trainwreck - you don't want to keep looking, but you just can't tear yourself away.

I can't say whether I'd recommend this book to a friend. The writing is undeniably beautiful, but there were times when the story literally made me feel a bit sick. There's enough nastiness in the world - I don't think it's necessary to make up more.

1 comment:

  1. excellent review - pretty much sums up my thoughts too. :)


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