Story Bound Update

And the winner is Lewis by a . . . Face. Looks like Mermaid will take second Chair. Dwelling Places still makes an all-Wright showing.

Mine’s the luxury of time to read three novels. Or maybe this is work I must always make room for, writerly-bent that I am. In any case, I finished C. S.’s book first, out in a lawn chair in my yard beside the Snake Shack, a building my husband put together on cement blocks which shelters beautiful garter snakes often coiled in the sand beneath it. As cool breezes tugged my graying hair, I eagerly journeyed the life of main character Orual. I won’t give away what she learned about herself and the goddess Ungit, but I can relate to her lessons.

Mr. Lewis showed his insight, his character, as he brought to light in his amazing fashion the woman and the other characters. Fictional, they exist. Long after their author, they remain. His history-wisdom allowed this tale a setting ancient as his hills, yet to my mind as relevant as any Christian tale. Orual is not spared Truth regarding herself, and so she goes on to Live.

Now I’m nearing the end of The Mermaid Chair. And I’m beginning to give Sue M. Kidd kudos as I see what I think she’s doing. For a time I was uncomfortable, guessing at meanings in her story that wouldn’t ring true to my own experiences and conclusions. It’s okay if she does end up in a very different worldview space than mine. But last night, reading up way later than is my norm, I began to see her paddling places I would have wished to go, had I fished such a tale from my tidal waters.

Comparatively, and not being a book-reviewer by practice, I’d say Kidd’s story has more to do with plot than character. She does paint well the players and locale, but hers are emotive themes, hints of inner hurricanes many readers may relate to having weathered or being storm-surge mangled by.

V. H. Wright’s writing is sad; there’s no escaping. Yet her Dwelling Places, the most current tale of my three, does things as well that I hope to learn to. You feel the dusty, gray wind and a hardening of winter in her scenes and characters’ lives. I begin to say, give me Wendell Berry’s sense of farming community, because this is too close to my suburban everydayness. But I pause at Wright’s steady, caring portrayals that do much for her characters without titillating. They’re real and just a bit mystic at the same time.

Before I wail over-much at the skillful works I’m reading and despair of my own measly talent, I’ll plop down the lawn chair by our Snake Shack for a few more hours of writerly gold.

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