The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

July 16, 2012 § 2 Comments


The Lacuna is finished. I went online and checked out all other books by Barbara Kingsolver as soon as I closed the last page. That must account for something. I remember reading the Poisonwood Bible at university and it impacting my shrunken self (voices and a journey towards finding yours), I was not much of anything or anyone while at university now that I look back, but back then I was convinced I was more than something. Perhaps this delusion was and remains my saving grace?

It has taken me  9 years to pick up another book by the same author and I am surprised to see the number, I must admit. Time flies, does it not? I do not remember much about the Poisonwood Bible, I have a memory of a 80 year old, I am afraid and cannot recall what it was all about. I do remember the voices, the girls, the family they came from and I vaguely recall something tearing them all apart, their distinct style as they each told their story; I do not remember how the book ended, but I recall it staying with me in memory other than the one inhabiting my brain. It brushed against my heart or a part of it I did not know yet existed and stayed there cowered in a little corner until the time came about and I picked another book, 9 years later.

It is not a coincidence the word Bible is used the name of this blog.

I started the Lacuna twice. I read on my way in to work and back and I am ashamed to say it did not capture my attention the first time I started reading it. The voice, the quality of writing, the vocabulary and the immersion it required, I found too demanding; I did not want to commit to these desires and these horrors at 7.30am in the morning nor did I crave to stare at it with my tired eyes on the way back home. Having read 30 odd pages of the Lacuna, I labeled it as too complicated for my morning meditations on the train and put it back on the shelf. I knew well enough I would have to go back to it sooner or later.

4 Twilight books down the line, I started the Lacuna once again. Oh and I cried with pleasure at reading those overly complicated narratives, looking at the world through Harrison Shepherd’s eyes and the words… the beauty of his words! And those voices, unspeakable truths and distinct observations one never gets to participate in if not in the pages of a book. It rolled, it rolled deep, it terrified and absorbed every cell of my body. It made me..happy. Happy to be able to read this. Happy to have the freedom to make this ‘life’ mine.

I will not talk much about the plot, or the characters, the protagonist I fell in love with and his use of words that is extraordinary, the charm of Frida Kahlo and the fact that politics, for the first time in my life, appealed to me. No, all of that I will forget in a week or two, but I will never forget that feeling of re-discovering the English language and it’s beauty. Nor will I forget the power reading this book gave me, the power I could contain and use in my every day life as a shield when I was tired, when I felt like moaning.

Never in my life have I felt a book so distant to me in it’s settings and characters, impact my immediate surroundings so much. I found myself quoting Harrison Shepherd’s and Frida’s words to myself in moments of distress or anger. I caught myself tasting the words over and over again, enjoying the calming effect they had on me with the book closed, the pages turned over. I spoke them to my friends and my family, I took it, and I kept it with me.

Reading, no matter how cliché this sounds, is the most grandeur gift I have received in this humble simple life of mine. Books like the Lacuna..well…they are means to share the wealth around us. Books like this are what piety, love and gratitude are wrapped in.

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