Monday, February 28, 2011

Homeland ~ Barbara Kingsolver

I don't know what it is with me lately, but I've been having a hard time loving a book.  Everything I read just makes me feel rather meh.  That's not completely accurate, since I really enjoyed (though didn't love) The Edible Woman last month, but I guess devoting nearly two months to two meh books can make it seem that way.  I think Anna Karenina put me into some kind of slump.  The strange thing is that I constantly want to read.  I spend a good amount of time every evening reading, as well as when I first wake up and during lunch breaks when it's possible.  It's just the reading that I want though.  The specific books I'm reading seem less important than the act of reading itself.

The latest in my sequence of two meh books is Homeland by Barbara Kingsolver.  This was not my first Kingsolver.  A few years ago, I read The Bean Trees, a novel about a woman raising a Native American child who was essentially dumped on her, and its sequel, Pigs in Heaven. I loved and reread both books, then went out and bought both Homeland and The Poisonwood Bible, neither of which I ever got around to reading until now.

Homeland is a collection of short stories, something I read relatively little of considering the fact that I am a professed short story writer.  While I love short stories in general, individually they can be very hit or miss with me, and these ones definitely missed.  There was nothing specific I disliked about Kingsolver's writing: she creates characters with believable voices in interesting situations in varied locales.  However, she doesn't seem to limit herself in her story-telling.  We get so much background information for each story that we end up seeing very little of the situation at hand.  Short stories, in my opinion, should not give up everything.  They should give just enough to let our imaginations do the rest, like in "Mrs. Jones" by Carol Emshwiller, which Ellen at Fat Book and Thin Women was good enough to introduce me to last week.  We get enough information for the story to make sense, but Emshwiller leaves gaps in this information that allows our imaginations go to work, which in the end makes the story that much more powerful.

On the bright side, considering these two different styles of short stories has given me a lot to think about in my own writing, so that's a good thing.  And Homeland was at least a quick read, so no complaints there.  I think I will read Poisonwood Bible at some point, despite my disappointment in Homeland.  Based on the style of her short stories, I think Kingsolver is probably better suited for novel-writing.  Sadly, though, Homeland will probably be returning to the book trader from whence it came.

Any suggestions for a way to pull me out of my reading slump would be greatly appreciated.  I'm getting desperate here, folks.  Next up is Silas Marner, so hopefully that will help.

Completing Homeland ticks off yet another book on the TBR Challenge, hosted by Adam at Roof Beam Reader!  To my other challenges, who have seen only neglect at my hands, I apologize but the TBR challenge has the appeal of not costing me a penny or an effort, as I already own all the books.  I'll get to you, I promise.

1 comment:

  1. I'm reading Anna Karenina at the moment and really enjoying it so far. It is a long book though, so I hope the length doesn't put me in some kind of slump. What was it about the book that put you in a slump?

    I have read The Poisonwood Bible and The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver and loved them both. I think I will give this one a miss though because I find it hard to enjoy short stories.