Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Smokin

The picture is not of our area but it is what I imagine it must look like from the air.


The smoke from the California fires 50-60 miles south of us is beginning to fill our valley again. Not nearly as bad as a couple weeks ago but it surely will be if we don't get a stiff breeze flowing through--preferably from a different direction than south. Last time a temperature inversion set atop us for several days like a lid on a Tupperware container.

It is still hotter than I tolerate well but I don't think it topped 100 today.

In spite of the smoke in the air and the sweat on my brow, I read a whole short novel between 7 and 9pm this evening. Which left me feeling, well, smokin! It was one of those I stocked up on in the weeks preceding the Read-a-thon and then didn't get to read that day because I hadn't finished the longer novel I'd started over a week before and didn't want to set aside. Then after the Read-a-thon I had three longish novels with urgent due dates that I turned to next. I finished the last of those a couple days ago.

Yesterday I spent several hours of quality time with half a dozen NF books that were coming due this week to prepare a bag for Ed to return on his way to work this morning as it is obvious I won't be making the walk myself this week.

There is a fat fantasy novel which Ed finished over a week ago and is eager for me to read and I'd already put my favorite bookmark in it. But after I got back from doing dinner dishes this evening I decided that I really needed to choose something that I had a hope of finishing before I slept tonight. And that meant before midnight because I am seriously sleep deprived after several nights of staying up past dawn to take advantage of the extra IQ points the cool night air affords me.

I chose one of the books my niece took home with her the weekend of the Read-a-thon and returned with raves this past weekend. Green Angel by Alice Hoffman. It is 116 pages but with the three pages fairly free of text dividing each chapter there are probably only 99 pages of text.

The story is very fable like. The setting is a bit amorphous as to time and place. There is a village, a city, a river, a dark wood. None of which have names. The narrator is a fifteen-year-old girl known as Green because she can coax plants to grow. She has a younger sister, Aurora, whose beauty attracts the white moths away from the moon at night. One day, her parents take her sister into the city with them to sell the produce from the garden and they require Green to stay behind to tend the garden. She is angry and refuses to say good-bye. Then at noon while eating her lunch on the hill overlooking the river and the far off city the ground shakes and the city bursts into flame. Soon the sky is dark with smoke and ash and embers fall on the garden. She huddles under the kitchen table waiting for her family to return. And she waits. And waits....

That was the first chapter. The rest of the chapters tell of how she mourned the loss of her family and the future she had anticipated. She began tattooing ravens, bats and roses on thorny vines over every surface of her skin she could reach. She refused to answer to Green and took the name Ash instead. She sewed thorns from the rose bushes in the garden to her leather jacket and a scarf. She attached nails to a pair of her father's heavy boots. She sunk deep into grief but not so deep that she could not respond with compassion to the needs of neighbors and wounded wanderers--both human and animal.

This was simply charming. The prose is as succulent as poetry and image and metaphor resonate like a tuning fork in the heart. It is packaged as a YA (Young Adult) novel but both the story and its language would enchant adults as well as children. I can imagine adults reading this aloud to children six to ten years old.

0 tell me a story:

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