a woman's life

So... I'm all into self-reflection mode.

Apologies if you're already bored by this particular phase, which is most notably marked by a new blog I've created to chronicle the months ahead.

In keeping with this theme, however, I thought I'd share my brief thoughts on Carol Shields's exquisite book, The Stone Diaries. Really, these thoughts boil down to a fervent recommendation -- once you start this novel, you can't stop reading.

Meant to be written as though it were a woman's autobiography, the book settles into the quiet moments of her life. Chapters are sketched out as "birth," "childhood," "marriage," "love," "motherhood," "work," "sorrow," "ease," "illness and decline," and "death." In some ways, this boils a life down to the highlights, not the drama. If I could compare it to anything, the idea is something similar to a Canadian history text book, full of general summaries highlighted by key moments.

Does that make it sound boring? It really isn't. The point I'm really trying to make is that Shields had this absolutely magical way of telling stories about life the way life can actually be. Which is impressive and inspirational.

As for Daisy Goodwill, the subject of this book.... Well, there are few sadder lines than one of her last in the novel. I'd compare it, honestly, to the confusion of the main character in Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel. (SPOILER ALERT) The line is, well, sort of chilling in its simplicity: "'I am not at peace.' -- Daisy Goodwill's final (unspoken) words."

An excerpt to consider:

"Life is an endless recruiting of witnesses. It seems we need to be observed in our postures of extravagance or shame, we need attention paid to us. Our own memory is altogether too cherishing, which is the kindest thing I can say for it. Other accounts are required, other perspectives, but even so our most important ceremonies -- birth, love, and death -- are secured by whomever and whatever is available." (p. 36-37)

Next up?

Well, what are you guys reading?

I'm reading Joseph Boyden's Born With A Tooth, which continues to highlight -- for me, at least -- Boyden's amazing style.

I'm also reading book blogs here and here, which I think you might enjoy. Too Many Books in the Kitchen is starkly analytical and challenging, while Is Well Read tells the stories of keen readers, some we know, some in war zones, some just witty and, um, well read?

1 comment:

erin said...

Your comments make me want to re-read "The Stone Diaries"; since all I can remember from it is that both my mom and I read it, and it was one we could discuss, share our impressions over, cite the highlights... maybe that's more my style of "chick lit".
Still loving Findley's "The Piano Man's Daughter"; it seems all the more poignant now that I know more about the world of mental illness. And trying, oh Lord, am I trying to get through "The Big Short", but I'm forcing myself through it. TSS, if you happen to read this, please give me some sort of motivation, or I'll never make it.