Posted in Book Stuff

today i am reading

The Solitude of Prime Numbers. outside rain, inside dry basement! this is peace. my kids here. earth solid.

Later: I gave up on the novel. Chapter 1: Child hates skiing lessons. She pees her pants every lesson. (Nobody notices the smell? Never mind, let that pass.) This time she defecates too. Humiliated she skiis away in the fog. Breaks her leg. Does she freeze to death? Perhaps. Chapter 2: Another child has twin who is severely mentally deficient. (Can’t speak; little verbal comprehension; but is in a regular class with no aide–does the child wear a diaper? No mention. Never mind, let it pass.) Smart twin goes to birthday party, abandons sibling in park. Disabled twin disappears. Smart twin leaves party, contemplates river, gouges himself with broken bottle. Chapter 3: Child with same name as girl in chapter 1 (did she survive? Is this another character with her name?) contemplates breaking things and masturbates. I decide to read another book.

The writing is competent, but it would have to be stunning for me to get past the feeling that to continue reading would be voyeuristic. It isn’t that children don’t ever do these things, but that in the first short chapters of the novel, there doesn’t seem to be anything else, the children limited to the expression of violent humiliation.

As someone who, as a child, experienced a good portion of violence and humiliation, I can say that there was much more to me than that and to define someone’s person and life only by those experiences is a form of exploitation. As a literary experience it is voyeurism.

If you’ve read the whole book, does it get better?



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

9 thoughts on “today i am reading

  1. I also gave up on this book, so I think you made the right choice. I’ve heard good things about it, but I wasn’t able to read to the end and discover them for myself.

  2. I haven’t read it, although I’ve been curious about it in the past. But now I’m not likely to pick it up. With both you and Michelle saying you quit, I’m not likely to want to give it a try.

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