Buffy and I talked for nearly 8 straight hours on Saturday. I’m not even kidding. We exchanged books and book reviews and she drooled on my Kindle (seriously, I need a waterproof case these days.) Pretty much the rest of the day was spent in reminisces, life discussion and validation. We are proud, I think it is safe to say, of where we are and where we have come from. We look back at painful decisions and the results, which may have scarred us even further, and know that what we did made us who we are today. And we spent a lot of time discussing how much we loved the hall we lived on as roommates, and the girls who made us laugh and cry.
I went to a work seminar the other week (a bunch of hocus, mostly) and she told us multiple times that we (in true The Secret fashion) need to speak things aloud in order to draw them to our electromagnetic field. That sounds pretty hooey to me, but I will say that Buffy and I would be some incredible (and funny!) chapel speakers, and we should write a book about surviving Christian college with your faith intact. Breaking rules sometimes is the most compassionate, Christ-like thing you can do, and sometimes you will get chewed out for it, and in the end it is worth it.
I should note that Buffy gave me back my copy of Foreign Bodies which she had borrowed from me, and which I still consider one of the most phenomenal Christian novels ever written. I’m working on a re-read so I can review it, but Alisa, you should know that if I was down there in KY, I would make you and Bobby and Guinever read it, for sure, if not try to convince Bobby that it should be a bookclub book. It’s a book about the messiness of faith, how Christianity is not a faith of perfection, but a faith of broken-ness. It really spoke to me. And now I’m going to shut up before I write a review before I’ve even started the re-read. :-)
I did read two books on Sunday, the first of which, Mariette in Ecstasy was both more beautiful and more disturbing than I remember. Ron Hansen’s novel is about a young nun who claims the miracle of stigmata. She is high-spirited and high-strung, and seems equally adored by and irritating to the other nuns. I read this first when we were in Uganda, and I remember in the midst of a faith-changing experience the number of questions I pondered about miracles and who they ministered to. This time, while I enjoyed it, it was the heavily sensual descriptions Hansen populated the novel with that I enjoyed more than the slightly grating self-righteous piousness of Mariette. It was okay but not stunning.
The second book I read on Sunday was The Sister, a gothic novel originally titled The Behaviour of Moths in England, I think that was a more appropriate title. Told from the point of view of Ginny, an old woman who lives alone in the family mansion, and beginning on the day her sister Vivi is due to come home after a fifty-year absence, this is a novel of family secrets. Ginny, it quickly becomes apparent, is living within the complexity of Asperger’s and in a web of lies made up partially of truth and partially of carefully constructed memories. Things that happen in their home, Vivi’s fall from the tower as a child, their mother Maud’s descent into alcoholism and subsequent death, Vivi’s oddly constructed marriage – they don’t quite match up, even at the end. It is obvious fairly quickly that we were dealing with an unreliable narrator, but it was like Adams forgot to tie up the loose ends created because of that. It felt like she needed a second narrator to fill in the gaps, but then I remember Kazuo Ishiguro’s brilliance with unreliable narrators (Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day) without any back-up dancers, and I think that the novel was just not as masterful as the content could have used. Read something by Ishiguro instead. It’s a better use of your time.