Sunday, July 8, 2012

Book Club: The God of Small Things

When I was with pregnant with Claire I started reading "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy.  I have a very distinct memory of being nearly 3/4 of the way through the book.  I was sitting on our bed (the big log bed that the hubbs and I sold when we moved here) with a pillow over my lap and I was sobbing.  Just sobbing.  I called my mom and said, "you just have to tell me how it ends.  I can't finish it."  So she did. 

And here's the kicker.  The part where they are keeping people in the cellar so they can eat them. I made it through that just fine.  It was the part where they were in the bomb shelter (or maybe it was a store--but it was a place where they were safe) and he share's a soda with his son.  That's what I couldn't handle.  Oh pregnancy hormones.

The God of Small Things had a similar affect on me. Imagine me, sitting on the couch with my back to the front windows a pillow on my lap crying my eyes out over this passage. 

[the mom, Ammu, says something nice about a man they have just met]
"So why don't you marry him then?" Rahel said petulantly.
Time stopped on the red staircase.  Estah stopped. Baby Kochamma stopped.
'Rahel,' Ammu said. 
Rahel froze.  She was desperately sorry for what she had said.  She didn't know where those words had come from.  She didn't know that she'd had them in her.  But they were out now, and wouldn't go back in.  They hung about that red staircase like clerks in a government office.  Some stood, some sad and shivered their legs.
'Rahel,' Ammu said, 'do you realize what you have just done?'
Frightened eyes and a fountain looked back at Ammu.
'It's all right.  Don't be scared,' Ammu said. 'Just answer me.  Do you?'
'What?' Rahel said in the smallest voice she had.
'Realize what you've just done?' Ammu said. 
Frightened eyes and a fountain looked back at Ammu.
'D'you know what happens when you hurt people?' Ammu said. 'When you hurt people, they begin to love you less.  that's what careless words do.  they make people love you a little less.'

A cold moth with unusually dense dorsal tufts landed lightly on Rahel's heart.  Where its icy legs touched her, she got goosebumps.  Six goosebumps on her careless heart. 
A little less Ammu loved her.

I can not tell you how many times I have thought of that little girl and the icy cold moth on her heart telling her  that her mother loved her a little less. The good news is that I did actually finish the book.  The bad news is that I didn't love it.

Pretty sure that when I am pregnant I should not read books where children are either loved and protected in horrible circumstances (The Road) or ignore and belittle their children (The God of Small Things).  This book was just so sad and there were only 3 people that I actually liked in it; the twins (when they were kids) and Velutha.

So next month I think we should read this book.

I mean a book about poor southern black women who the medical world takes advantage of?   The women whose cells have been used for everything from developing the polio vaccine to studying the effects of radiation on humans.  You can still buy her cells for $25 a tube. 

This seems right up our alley, doesn't it?  My really smart friend Dana recommended it and I pretty much trust her implicitly.  Let's hope this book produces less hysterical sobbing than the last choice.
I've already started because I made my mom buy it for me (sorry mom, that's what you get when you share a kindle account with me and it's been a hard week)


  1. Loved the Henrietta Lacks book, but hate to tell you it most certainly brought on tears, good luck!

  2. Oh Sallee, I'm so glad to hear that you didn't LOVE this book. It's been on my list to read for many years, but after attempting it for the umpteenth time and finding myself reaching for other books on in the stack, I will put it to rest and march on to the Henrietta book.

  3. I also did not finish The Road (I can't remember if we've already discussed this). I talked to my mom about it, and she said "Ugh, I didn't finish that. That is not the future I choose. I choose a future where people love and support one another, help each other." I also have some theories about how the book presents an overtly anti-feminist world, but that's another discussion for another day.

    God of Small Things. Beautifully written. But also not my favorite.

    If we are being honest right now, I just ripped through the Hunger Games books in less than a week and I feel pretty good about it. Oh, I also read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer. Vacation reading is the best!~

    That being said, did you see this article- and its follow up- in the New Yorker online? Very interesting notes about the Pulitzer.