I just got off the phone with Go Daddy, and I now have both my .com and .net domains until 2023. (If you're still reading then and think I've lost my marbles, please take steps to stop my posting!)
For such a busy July, I have been reading voraciously (last count, ten books so far this month--and anyone who knows me knows I haven't been lying around the house!) My selections have been completely diverse (as are the ones I'm reading now). I must work in reverse chronological order:
I just finished Khaled Hosseini's third novel And the Mountains Echoed. So far, he's three for three, as far as I'm concerned. The Kite Runner probably received more publicity (and the movie deal), but I thought the next one A Thousand Splendid Suns was at least as good, maybe better.
This time, I opted for audio for two reasons: (1. It was available at the library; (2. the author's reading the parts with a male narrator. Let me make that three: (3. I heard from another reading friend who'd just finished listening and loved it. I did too.
This novel, set mainly but not exclusively in Afghanistan, covers several decades and several main characters, whose lives overlap, sometimes directly, sometimes tangentially. Overall, though, it is a family story, looking closely at several parent-child and sibling relationships. If I were to ask whose story this is, I'd be at a loss, since the focus shifts. It begins and ends with the relationship between Abdullah and his sister Pari. Along the way, I kept hearing this little crack, which I recognized as my heart breaking--over and over.. Even the folktale the father tells in the beginning had that effect.
In some cases I saw people faced with impossible choices for which there was no good solution. Other characters, though, managed not to do the right thing, sometimes through selfishness and others through procrastination. One of the most gut-wrenching parts for me was the story of a young Afghan man who returns to the country of his childhood after living successfully in California. He forms a strong bond with a young girl he meets in a hospital and leaves with the best of intentions to help her. But he doesn't.
I read an article recently in the Charlotte Observer about some of the great fiction that has come out of North Carolina (and I agree). The final point, though, was the value of reading fiction--it's power to build empathy in readers. Every time I read Hosseini, I feel myself a part of a world that becomes increasingly smaller.