Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
December 17, 2012 § 3 Comments
“Why do you suppose the poets talk about hearts?” he asked me suddenly. “When they discuss emotional damage? The tissue of hearts is tough as a shoe. Did you ever sew up a heart?”
I shook my head. “No, but I’ve watched. I know what you mean.” The walls of a heart are thick and strong, and the surgeons use heavy needles. It takes a good bit of strength, but it pulls together neatly. As much as anything it’s like binding a book.
“The seat of human emotion should be the liver,” Doc Homer said. “That would be an appropriate metaphor: we don’t hold love in our hearts, we hold it in our livers.”
I understand exactly. Once in ER I saw a woman who’d been stabbed everywhere, most severely in the liver. It’s an organ with the consistency of layer upon layer of wet Kleenex. Every attempt at repair just opens new holes that tear and bleed. You try to close the wound with fresh wounds, and you try and you try and you don’t give up until there’s nothing left.
It took me a couple of days to get into the Animal Dreams. I ordered the book off Amazon a little while ago when I started reading the Lacuna, skimming through the blurb I thought I will find the book confessional. I knew when I started it that it was very different to the Poisonwood Bible or the Lacuna, it did not push my buttons the way I expected it to, the trademark flipping between the voices of multiple characters did not work as well as in Kingsolver’s other books (the two I read, I need to order more!). And then it got better and better and half way through I found myself thinking this is a book that tastes of grief and pain and only the one who has had their share of each would be able to appreciate it fully. I have never lost a loved one, or a family member, but I know what it is to be in so much pain that death is merely another breath taken. I guess I have lost my share of life in the 30 years I have lived.
Above is a quote from the book, Doc Homer and his daughter discussing hearts and livers. The image of an organ the consistency of layer upon layer of wet Kleenex will remain with me for a very long time. This will probably be the only thing I will remember after a few years. Emotional damage..and this trying to close the wound with fresh wounds …..I am too familiar with how hard it is to live with emotional damage, especially the one caused by my own actions and words to the person I care about most. No one ever tells you when you are growing up that once you rip a person’s heart apart, you will never be able to mend it no matter how hard you try, no matter how much they want to forgive you.