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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Writer's Life 3/22 - Bones

Published in 2002, Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones became a worldwide sensation, eventually translated in 50 languages. I usually avoid works that feature cruelty to children. Sebold solves this problem within a page. The story is told from the point of view of a 14-year-old girl, raped and murdered, from a preliminary heaven not tied to any religion. This allows the reader the option of immediately putting the book aside. I was quickly hooked. The novel is powerful and heartbreaking. The world loses one of its treasures - an average kid, and the effect on the surviving four family members is profound and explored in depth. It is not another mystery focused on a serial killer, although the maniac, viewed objectively, appears throughout the narrative. It may open the tear ducts of all except the most tightly-wrapped emotionally. It did mine. Susie Salmon is a literary character that is likely to endure. 4600+ users at Amazon have rated TLB, forging to a consensus of 4.2 of five. I'd guess the naysayers object to the premise, which requires suspension of belief and, perhaps, to the fact that Susie is fine despite the horrific earthly fate she suffered. I was disappointed only once, by a brief supernatural turn, which I'd bet most admirers of the book loved. To that point it is completely grounded, despite the premise. I didn't like having to suspend belief a second time. I'm embarrassed to say I do not quite grasp the significance of the title, which comes in this passage: "These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections—sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent—that happened after I was gone. And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it. The events my death brought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous body had been my life." After finishing the book, I researched the author. Sebold was raped in 1981 while a student at Syracuse University, from which she graduated in 1984. The fact that she was able to return there says a lot about her character. Her first book, Lucky, is a memoir of the event. She has had only one other book published, the novel Almost Moon in 2007. 15 years after its publication, The Lovely Bones is still selling well. It is a mystery why it hasn't been snatched up at the floating book shop, where I've had a hardcover copy for months, and which would run the buyer all of two bucks. I read a large paperback version donated by Ruth, an elderly woman I've helped a couple of times. My thanks, madam. The novel was adapted to the screen in 2009. Although it was directed by the talented Peter Jackson and features a stellar cast, it received only mixed reviews and failed at the box office.

With a cold wind battering my usual nook, I took the book shop to an alternate location where only an occasional gust blew through. It was the right move, even though the returns were minuscule. My thanks to the gentleman who bought Danielle Steel's Heartbeat, and to the woman who bought a Barnes and Noble book on volunteering.
Vic's Sixth novel: 
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