Friday, December 23, 2011

Bookworm Time with Bebb...Part Four

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!I don't quite feel like I'm on holidays yet as I've had so much to do in the lead up to hosting Christmas lunch for the first time. I'm looking forwards to spending the day with family, but also having time to just do nothing in particular once it's all over. Saturday is Book Review day here at Bebb and the Bubs so I'm taking a break from cleaning/making Christmas crackers/making cauliflower cheese/making sorbet and ice cream cake/marinating salmon to bring you another of my favourite books. (One day I'll review some crappy books to keep it fair...but right now I'm enjoying sharing books that I love.)

by Barbara Gowdy

This collection of short stories from Canadian novelist Barbara Gowdy is populated by an assortment of highly unusual characters. Siamese twins, necrophiles, transsexuals, exhibitionists...they all find their way onto the pages. We meet Sylvie, who shares a body with her twin sister Sue, who is nothing but a pair of legs, and works as a circus freak. There is blind Terry and mentally handicapped Julie and their foster carer Aunt Bea. We peek inside the life of Ali, married to a wealthy doctor, dissatisfied with life and an exhibitionist. We see inside the mind of a young, beautiful, female necrophile in the titular story. All that is strange, out of the ordinary, disturbing and shocking are presented in this book, and it is easy to fall into.

Written skillfully and powerfully, this is a highly original collection of short stories that exerts a strong grip on the reader. Even while describing things that may sicken or disturb, the prose is elegant and beautiful and it is hard to stop reading. It is not for the faint of heart, for taboo topics are laid bare in devastating, yet straightforward fashion.

The stories are more than eye-opening, bizarre and disturbing, however- they are full of moments of poignant humour and often quite moving. Who would have thought that a tender love story concerning a necrophile could exist? Some stories are uplifting, others heartbreaking, and all are unexpected. While surreal, her stories are grounded in realism as we are shown the many different people that make up humankind, and the secret desires and character quirks that may only exist behind closed doors are brought into the light.

This is not a book to be read once, put aside and forgotten. Rather, it is a book to be returned to again and again, to be captivated by, thought over and not forgotten. Powerful, unsettling, and ultimately remarkable,

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I hope you enjoyed another book review. Let me know if you read any of my recommendations. Off to keep getting organised for Christmas now. We're all feeling the pressure of the Christmas preparations here in the house of Bebb and the Bubs...

Some of us more than others, it would seem. Merry Christmas, everyone.

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