Monday, 28 May 2012

The Lacuna - #5

Straight up. I will make no apologies but I was brought up on musicals. 1950s musicals to be exact. According to my wonderful father, Frank Sinatra is the best singer, Fred Astaire is the best dancer, but Gene Kelly is just the best. This has nothing to do with this book, besides the fact that my mind thinks in musicals and finds links to any song possible. Which is helpful as a singer. However reading a book (as demonstrated in the last post) can be very annoying.

So, this book had Living Lacuna Loca in my head the entire time. While not Ricky Martin's fault, as it is not the actual title of the song, I am still annoyed.

That being said. That is where my usual "annoyance" ends.

This is a brilliant book. Not perfect but pretty damn close. I loved The Poisonwood Bible, and this is comparable.  Harrison's childhood and then young adulthood in Mexico was tangible. Parts of it made it feel like I could reach out and touch things. You respect Harrison and wish, no LONG, things to work out better for him.

You love Trotsky and Kahlo as secondary characters. Frida Kahlo was a big thing here in Canberra while I was in College (Yrs 11-12 for non-Canberrans). She had a exhibition here then, yes 50 years after her death,  and made a stir. One of my favourite Aussie bands mentions her in one of their songs of that time (also in my head the entire time).

Besides the brilliant first half of the book in Mexico, the rest of the book leaves me terrified in America. I'm not going go in to an anti-American diatribe. But the the last half of the book, with it's anti-Communist-for-the-sake-of-it focus is heart breaking. Not the author's point of view but the society's.

I have never ever though about post war America. My father mentioned above was a kid when the war hit. He lived in England, in the North, and he met so men who trained up North and were fed at his Grandmother's house and went to war. He was a sailor in Korea and Vietnam and trained in the States, but you could not get him to say a nice thing about the States in WWII. To them and him, America only came in when they themselves were threatened.

I am not going to argue with anyone here. My father is gone so I can't convince him otherwise. My point is as an Australian with a Yorkshireman as a father who lived through the war, I never though about America post war. It just happened, and then there was Mad Men. But this book explained, if it was close to what happened, the American psyche. It explained to me the terror, the void of identity, that needed to be plugged. It if nothing else explained to me the blatant fear of socialism and communism that exists in the country today.

I don't need a political debate and that is not what I am after. However, when a President for example looks at introducing something the rest of the Western world has and is labelled a Communist or/and a Socialist, the end of this book explains why that is so for the rest of us who cannot fathom it. Too us it is madness, this book explains where madness comes from.

It was amazing, liberating, for a borderline socialist, invigorating, historically balanced, and just bloody well written. I may have a girl crush. I also crave enchiladas. So 4.5 controversial stars from me.

Next: The Elegance of the Hedgehog in France

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