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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Hundred Secret Senses

I recently finished reading a book that was somehow incredibly simple, and at the same time breathtakingly beautiful. I know the image in your head is something akin to a closeup photo of a flower or something; something very plain yet still able to convey infinite beauty. But that's not quite what I mean. Think more like...concrete sidewalks. There is nothing really beautiful about them. They're basic, boring, and functional, always there and mostly unnoticed.

The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan. Sounds familiar right? She also wrote that other tiny little book that you may have heard of...The Joy Luck Club. I wasn't completely absorbed by it in the first ten took all of twenty.

And she is one of those writer's whose prose is just pure and stunning and every single word has meaning. The book is an art gallery, and every sentence is a Van Gogh, Klimt, Picasso, and Michelangelo. In that sense I compare her to Patricia McKillip, but only in that sense. There were sentences I read over and over, just in and of themselves; they needed no context, no plot to follow, and lost nothing of their impact. Some of them had more, if that's possible.

They were the kinds of words you can just meditate on. Let them marinate, growing more flavorful with each bite, each re-reading.

"With each passing day, I didn't lose hope. I fought to have more."

Amy Tan manages to somehow paint a portrait of a world I have absolutely no familiarity with, and make it feel like my own history. Each character was somehow immanently relatable, while still maintaining their own complete identities.

Best of all, I felt satisfied when I finished it. Bliss.

Read this book, if you want to lose yourself in another world...or two.

1 comment:

Sweet Caroline said...

You got me convinced. I will head down to the Barnes and Noble, now. Sooooo good to read your writing again. I get lost in what you write, too.