Monday, December 27, 2010
I can't imagine what I would do if I weren't able to read while I'm riding. As long as I've been reading, I've made the most of car time with a good book. The only real limit has been light. I remember reading one of the Pippi Longstocking books--I think it was Pippi Goes on Board, the one that had Pippi and readers fearing that Pippi's father was dead--on the ride between our new home in Columbia, Tennessee, and our hometown of Florence, Alabama, where all the kinfolks lived.
We made the drive regularly, especially since Daddy moved my sister Amy and me in time to start school, but Mama and sister Becky didn't move until my sister Jeannie was born in mid-September. I would read until I could not longer catch a few words as we passed street lights.
This past week, we headed back to Alabama, this time from our North Carolina home, and I almost had time to finish Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. When the sun set and I could no longer read by natural light, I considered using the flashlight app on my cell phone. That's when I decided I needed to give it a rest. Some books are easier to put aside than others. This was not one of those.
From page one or two, the narrator Marion had me hooked, telling of the day he and his twin brother Shiva were born in "Missing Hospital" (the locals couldn't pronounce Mission) to Sister Mary Joseph Blessing, a nun whom no one had suspected was pregnant. The plot line, on the surface, is intriguing enough to pull me in, but the writing kept me reading. The story had a perfect balance of suspense, surprise, and superb character development.
Twin stories have always fascinated me--The Thirteenth Tale, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Her Fearful Symmetry, among others. Verghese does such an excellent job of distinguishing between the two brothers, while still acknowledging the mysterious link between twins. In this case, he includes a range from betrayal to self-sacrifice.
This book also passed another interesting test for me. My first instinct when finishing the book was to turn back to the beginning and re-read the opening chapters. Meanwhile, I was ready to start Hunger Games, only half of which I was able to read before the sunlight faded on I-85.