Tuesday, February 20, 2007

ECHO MAKER and BIRTH HOUSE

Finished two books over the long weekend. (gosh...I really needed a long weekend!)

The first was ECHO MAKER by Richard Powers. This book won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2006. It is probably the best written of any book I have read this year. The reviews I read prior to picking up the book decribed the plot as the story of a young man who wakes from a automobile accident-induced coma and believes that his sister has been replaced by an imposter. I think this description is a bit misleading. Yes, that is a plot point. But the book is much more than that. It is about memory and identity and how our perception of the world can shape who we are. There is a wonderful metaphor using cranes that runs through the book that I really enjoyed. However, I failed to connect with the story. The plot seems to be building up to some tremendous resolution but it ultimately let me down. However, the writing makes the book worth reading.

THE BIRTH HOUSE is truly a book for women. The story centers around a small town in Nova Scotia during World War I where tradition is at odds with modernity. The story is narrated by the local midwife. A doctor has arrived in town trying to get the local woman to come down the mountain to a new obstetric facility to have their babies. The book is heavily sympathetic towards traditional ways of childbirth. It makes childbirth at home among women very appealing. The doctor is made to look like a fool. (which he is) There is a great section in the book about early vibrators that reveals the idiotic assumptions that many men used to make about women. While the book offers nothing particularly new, it is a nice story. Fans of SECRET LIFE OF BEES will probably really enjoy it.

2 comments:

Purl said...

Thanks for visiting my blog! I'm sorry it took me so long to track you down; as you know from my blog, I've been sick, busy, etc.

I loved the Birth House. I've got a Powers' novel on my shelf, but haven't read any of his work yet.

Malady said...

Hi Purl! I read BIRTH HOUSE on your suggestion! I have THE BOOK THIEF in my To Be Read pile. The pile keeps getting bigger and bigger. I'm reading them in order of library due date.