Saturday, June 15, 2013

One thing to love

I'm discovering that "city life", as it is commonly thought of, is not very much to my liking. There's no surprise in this for me, really. The pointless traffic and acres of asphalt leave me wanting for home...

One perk, though, is that the mass of humanity I live among is a stop on many a national book tour. I can slog my way into the ridiculous traffic that always looms outside the door and find myself, at the local Baptist church, in the company of some of my favorite authors. This week it was Khaled Hosseini touring for his new book, And the Mountains Echoed.

From Amazon.com:

"... a novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale... Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most."

If you've somehow never read his earlier books, please do find them. He's a wonderful storyteller. They are not easy happy stories, but wonderful in the way he leads his characters through a world of sadness and loss to a place of hope.

For many years I used Hosseini's The Kite Runner in the remedial reading classes I taught at the community college. For most of my students, it was the first novel they "willingly" read and discussed. Many of them, as well as my colleagues, questioned my choice of a novel about Afghanistan and one with such difficult themes. The thing is, while his books are mostly set there, they're not necessarily "about" that faraway place and it's the poetry of his words and his ability to speak to emotion and human shortcomings that make him a great read, I think.

I brought along my dog-eared copy to be signed by the author. I was embarrassed at the thought of actually having him sign it, with the state it's in... pages falling out, a hundred vocabulary words highlighted, my notes for student discussion scribbled in the margins.

: )

I was saved from offering him any explanation by rain pelting the church windows and the sound of sirens. We were told a "strong storm" was approaching and the signing line was hastily closed. Totally drenched on my way to the car, I asked someone what the sirens meant...

Add the possibility of tornadoes to the list of things that are not to my liking... where I come from, the only time we heard those sirens was on winter mornings to announce to the community that schools were closed for a snow day. Do they still do that where you're from? Those sirens are a happy sound in my memory! Talk about culture shock.

Please take the opportunity to hear him speak if you should be lucky enough to live somewhere that his book tour will visit. He feels like a very, very genuine man and is as great a storyteller in person as on the pages of his novels.

As always, let me know what you think! Let talk books!

6 comments:

KGMom said...

I read The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. I have not read his latest.
I can see where students would enjoy reading and discussing his work--he is, indeed, a compelling story teller.
Methinks that had you gotten to the front of the line and had him sign your dog-eared copy, he would have been pleased. A true author values a reader who savors and enjoys his work.
Can't do anything about city life and its vagaries for you--I join you in not liking endless asphalt & traffic, but there are compensations.
Ass for sirens, around here they could also signify a nuclear reactor problem at Three Mile Island.
:-0

KGMom said...

Whoops--As for sirens... not ass.

Rabbits' Guy said...

There are a few Big City advantages!

Sirens here mean the refinery is on fire or it is lunch time. We are never sure!
e w
Wish that bunny well.

Anonymous said...

Never be embarrased to have a well loved and read copy of a book signed by an author. It shows that you read the book, enjoyed the book, time and again!

LauraHinNJ said...

KGMom: You're right, of course, but that book is "really" falling apart!

And... I'll take my sirens over yours, I think.

Rabbit's Guy: I say go to lunch? Have cake, too!

Anonymous: True, yes.

Taradharma said...

I've heard of The Kite Runner, but have never read his work. I think now I shall. Thanks for the suggestion/recommendation!

I love city life, but I need it balanced with wilderness. My perfect life would include an apt. in Manhattan or Brooklyn, a small farm in Northern California.