22 September 2008
I first discovered this book in Oprah magazine, excerpted as an essay and what struck me besides the absolute beauty and starkness of the language was the understanding, the grace, the simplicity of the words and the complexity of the words all at the same time.
I will just quote Elizabeth here at the beginning of her memoir:
"A child dies in this book: a baby. A baby is stillborn. You don't have to tell me how sad that is: it happened to me and my husband, our baby, a son."
And that, my friends, is the beginning of a book that takes your breath away with sadness, with laughter, with hope, and with the ultimate faith in life.
Is it a book for parents whose children have died? I don't know. I am reading it. I put it down several times a day. I will read it. My husband may not. He doesn't like sad books anymore. He doesn't like books or stories where babies die. He doesn't find comfort in that. I somehow still do.
And because I first discovered Elizabeth in The Giant's House, a novel that sings, I know that I cannot be disappointed in her writing. And because Ann Patchett and Alice Sebold love McCracken's writing, well then, that also says a great deal. And because I think, Elizabeth's first love is of the literary genre, it too is evidenced here.
But of course there is a paradox because the book, however lovely, is here because her son is not. And that will always be the real tragedy.
Do I have any disappointments about the book? Only one. When I picked it up, it was lighter than I expected, and I realized in that moment, that I wanted it to weigh a healthy eight pounds. I wanted to hold it in my arms and rock it. And that perhaps is all that is left to be said except for this:
Go and buy the book!