Favorite Quotes

"For my totem, the alley cat. We share the situation of small predators who easily become prey. I have my equivalent of claws and teeth, and indeed my arched back and loud hiss are my best defenses. When I need to hide my size and weakness, I can look fiercer than I am, but when I cannot talk or threaten or argue my way out of trouble, then I am in a lot of trouble. We are scavengers in the alleys and streets of a society we do not control and scarcely influence. We survive and perish both by taking lovers. Freedom is a daily necessity like water, and we love most loyally and longest those who allow us at least occasionally to vanish and wander the curious night. To them we always return from the eight deaths before the last."

from Braided Lives by Marge Piercy

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Echt grit

In Times of Fading Light: the story of a family

Title: In Times of Fading Light: the story of a family
By: Eugen Ruge

An East-German family saga told in different characters’ voices and from different points in time. The telling revolves around the 90th birthday party of Wilhelm, the oldest family member. A committed Communist Party member since 1919, Wilhelm worked in Mexico City for a period before he and his wife Charlotte were sent back to the newly created East German state in 1952. The family includes a Siberian potato farmer grandmother, and a son who defects to the West.

This book is challenging; it is one in which none of the characters is entirely likeable, and one or two can be exasperatingly difficult. But that also makes for gritty and realistic fiction. The family members’ differing perspectives on society and each other are interesting, especially for Americans for whom East German life was a terra incognita for decades. The kaleidoscope of revolving characters provides a complex portrayal of each individual. The writing is minutely detailed, and Irina’s Christmas dinner for the family in 1976 is a masterpiece of slowly impending disaster.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction

Posted by April on Jan. 10, 2014 at 8 a.m.


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