Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Life After Life

I've been trying to get my hands on a copy of Jill McCorkle's new book Life After Life since before the official release date. I really didn't know much about it other than that it was written by her, but that was enough information for me. I'm been a fan of McCorkle's writing since I listened to her read at the annual Chautauqua Writer's Festival a few years ago. I went with a poet from my MFA program. We two were there on a sort of scholarship, and I was in the group run by Ron Carlson, who was a great chap. I loved my group, but I had a slight twinge of longing to be in the group McCorkle ran after I heard her read. The story she read was poignant and emotional but amusing and light. She had a delightful southern accent and a way of speaking that invited the reader to sit down and stay awhile. Carlson was gruff but no less entertaining for that. I learned a lot in the few days I worked with him, but I fell in love with the writing of Jill McCorkle in that auditorium, right there in the middle of a town that seemed to have emerged from another century entirely.

I'd never heard of her before then I'm sorry to say, but I began buying up her books when I found them thereafter. Due to the home demo, I don't have the dough set aside to spend on pricey hardcovers during their first publication run, so buying Life After Life was out of the question. Thus, I made a point of eyeing the new book arrivals whenever I happened to be in the local library. Finally, last week I hit pay dirt.

Life After Life is about just that. In the wake of a "failed" suicide attempt, thrice married Joanna becomes a hospice volunteer in her old hometown to honor her deceased husband. Her and a wacky cast that make up the old folk's home and the town surrounding it fill the pages of this surprise of a novel. Each chapter introduces us to a life and one by one we read through them, slowly understanding how each one fits together, culminating in an unexpected ending whose warning bells, placed throughout the novel, are easy to miss. It is a story of deaths but in those deaths is the story of life.

In short, it was a darn good book and you should read it too.

In other news, as I type there is a hole in the wall leading into the kitchen. Home demo has began and it means that I no longer have to walk outside to get to the refrigerator. Note that after sledgehammering the hole in the wall, we found that it used to be a doorway whose frame is still there, with the previous owner's names, the contractor's name, and the date the wall went up (1960), as well as a heart with the initials of the husband and wife inside it, written in pencil, waiting for us to find it.

In the background is the former door leading to the second set of basement stairs, which are no longer there, replaced with plywood and a bit of elbow grease.

Progress. It happens slow, but it happens.

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