While the last couple of years have been difficult on many, many levels (more to follow on that), there have also been more than a few ‘silver lining’ moments that have helped ease the journey. My wife’s patience and positivity certainly top that list, but another has been my renewed focus on reading.
I’m not sure what the trigger was (it may have been the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan that I read over lunch hours at Charles Schwab), but I’ve been gorging on books, articles, short stories, and on since then, and it’s been wonderful.
In fact, I finished American Gods, by Neil Gaiman, three or four days ago and I spent a few minutes talking about it with my father-in-law over Easter dinner this afternoon. Big time kudos, by the bye, to BA (mother-in-law, not Baracus) for a place and a moment that seamlessly welcomed, embraced, and nourished – more than food – so many disparate elements.
Side note: If I’ve not mentioned it before, my father-in-law is a (now retired) Presbyterian Minister. It seems like he’s working as much (if not more) now than he did before retirement, but those are stories for another time. For now, know that he’s an amazing and thoughtful man, and when I find (or stumble across) topics or thoughts I think he might have some interest in, I’ll bring them up.
I didn’t, however, get into the American Gods manifestation of “Easter” in our conversation – that would have definitely pushed the conversation into a place that wouldn’t have been good for anyone – but we did talk about Shadow’s (the protagonist in the story) conversation with Jesus. I’ll not spoil the conversation if you’ve not read the book, but as a Cabernet drinker I totally appreciate Christ’s perspective on the making of wine.
But American Gods isn’t the Gaiman book I wanted to talk about.
If you’re not familiar with the author, I respectively suggest you pick up a copy (hard or digital) of The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I finished this one yesterday, and I just can’t get it out of my head. I’m not a professional reviewer, so I’ll lean on my friends at NPR:
“Ocean is told from the point of view of a melancholy but successful artist returning to his childhood home in Sussex, England. On a lark, he visits an old farm where he played as a boy, and is suddenly overwhelmed by memories of being entangled in a magical conflict with roots stretching back before the Big Bang.”
For the full review, click here.
But it’s so much more than that. It’s one of those amazing books that, once finished, almost demand a second or third read. It’s a snapshot of our childhood, viewed through the lens of both the common and the terrible, framed by interactions with the Triple Goddess – the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone – and is, at heart, a fairy tale.
So. Give it a shot and let me know what you think once you’ve read it. Also, if there’s a book that you’d suggest – you know, one that just touched you in a way that left a mark – I’d love to hear about it. For those that are interested in connecting with about nine readers, I’m totally down with you jotting down a sentence or two that I’ll post here on your behalf. You will, of course, get the by-line.
Happy Easter, everyone, and thanks again for coming by.