Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

This is an emotionally riveting book; an epic tale, brilliantly written and deeply affecting.  Weaving together the threads of numerous storylines into a beautiful tapestry of history and landscape, love, betrayal, and forgiveness, and brimming with wisdom about the human condition.

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa.  Orphaned by their mother's death in childbirth and their father's disappearance they come of age in Ethiopia which is on the brink of revolution.  Their passion for the same woman  will tear them apart and force Marion to flee his homeland and take refuge as an intern in an overcrowded New York City hospital.  Then the past catches up to him, nearly destroying him. 

The title "Cutting for Stone" refers to a line from the Hippocratic Oath that stems from a time when kidney and bladder stones were epidemic (and deadly).  There were some surgeons who could cut for stone, but then they'd wipe their blades on their pants and head off to the next village.  It was extremely dangerous (because of infections).  The phrase implies, "Leave that for people who know what they're doing."

Loss is a theme that runs strongly through the book.  The language used is beautiful.  An imaginative and luminous masterpiece.

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

I've been hearing good things about Wiley Cash as an author for awhile now, because I love southern literature with an Appalachian setting.  I finally decided to try this first novel of his before I tackled his latest book, and I was not disappointed.

The title of this book comes from the final lines of "You Can't Go Home Again" by Thomas Wolfe.  It has a strong sense of place (like most good southern literature) and is tragic, gut wrenching, and dark.

The story is told by three characters, Jess (a young boy growing up in the town of Marshall), Adelaide (the town midwife and moral conscience), and Clem Barefield (a Sheriff with his own painful past).  A thriller that highlights good versus evil and has elements of carnal sin, faith versus reason, fathers and sons, grief, guilt, and snake handling told with strong narrative voices.  Haunting and atmospheric.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Dark and lyrically written, this book celebrates all the things that make us human:  art, love, literature, and theater in a moving and haunting post pandemic landscape.

This book is so different from the usual variety of post apocalyptic fiction, and well worth your time reading.  It is bleak, but written in a very unique and gorgeous style.

An actor suffers a fatal heart attack on stage while performing in King Lear.  Shortly thereafter a flu pandemic all but annihilates life.  A Traveling Symphony of actors traverses the landscape performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors.  Written on their caravan and tattooed on one of the actor's arms is a line from Star Trek, "Because survival is insufficient."  See what I mean? Shakespeare and Star Trek in a post apocalyptic story.  You gotta love that.

Spanning decades and moving back and forth in time, it is a beautiful and sad novel that blooms in your heart.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...