Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse. I mentioned last week how incredible I was finding this book. Well, now that I've finished it, I can say it stayed that way right until the end. It's told from the perspective of a young man by the name of Toland Polk. A young man struggling with his sexuality. A young man growing up in a small Southern town in the early 1960s. A town divided over integration. Toland's awareness of the injustice and ugliness of racism grows, as does his awareness of his own inner feelings. It sounds like a lot to be tackled in one book, but I assure you it works extremely well. Probably because Toland is so very human, so flawed. As are the other characters. Contained in these pages were moments of beauty and acceptance and love, and moments that threatened to rip the heart right out of my chest. One of these rip-your-heart out moments was particularly hard, for a very strange reason. Something unspeakable happens to one of the characters that I adored. But right before this event took place, this character himself did something that upset me. It in no way made me stop liking him, but it did upset me. And as I said earlier, this is part of the real power of this book--the complete humanity of the characters. Thank you, Chris, for your wonderful review of this one...not sure if I ever even would have heard of it otherwise.
I also finished up Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino. This collection of stories, told by a "being" named Qfwfq, relate various aspects in the evolution of the universe. That makes it sound pretty straightforward, huh? Well, I assure you, it is anything but. Tales about the moon finding its orbit, the sun coming into being, life moving out of the water, etc.--all told more as stories of Qfwfq and his family and acquaintances than as any sort of scientific explanations. Calvino plays with time and space and matter in ways completely unique to anything I've ever encountered before. It's as if you're constantly trying to grasp something solid, but it's all too ethereal to give you a firm grip. Yet on another level, you're fully grounded in the reactions and emotions that are common to our human experience. There were stories I really loved and others that used every bit of concentration I could muster just to follow along. But in the end, I think I'd actually try more of his works sometime. And I thank you, Ana, for giving me some suggestions on what to try next!
Next, I read Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Oh my. How I loved this book. It is one of those books that makes me want to hug it. And you know what, I can't quite put my finger on why. I think it's really because it felt so. damn. real. Not that the main character Raleigh's story is my story. But it's someone's story. And I suspect that there are pieces of Raleigh that nearly everyone can relate to, especially as they're growing up. And you know, there are pieces that I can *still* relate to. Oh yes, I loved this story so very much. And I want to mention, too, how very much a part of this story the art is. It's a quiet sort of story, a sad sort of story, and the art is so charming and sweet. It's just a beautiful, beautiful combination.
And then there was The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan. When I read Chris's review, I immediately went and put it on hold at the library. Such a unique concept, a novel told through dictionary entries, how could I resist?!! I didn't realize until I started reading it that it was even set up alphabetically. So...as I start reading my way through the "a" entries, I'm thinking to myself, "I like this book. A lot, in fact. But I'm not loving it like I thought I would." And I wondered if that was my problem--that I was expecting too much. But the thing is, I kept reading, and it eventually hit me that I *was* loving it. :)
Finally, I started, but just barely, The Face of Death by Cody McFadyen. It's the follow-up to Shadow Man--but whether it is as intense remains to be seen (like I said, I've just barely started.
All in all, not a bad week for me