Monday, May 16, 2005
In a Nutshell: This book retells the story of Dinah, which is found in the Biblical book of Genesis, Chapter 34. It is a very short passage but it is what happens in this chapter that drives all of the sons of Jacob to separate and create the 12 tribes of Israel-a huge turning point in the bible. So such an important event needed to be explored-even if it is predominately fictional. This book tells Dinah's story through her eyes and through the women around her-her mother and 3 other aunts. The tribal lives of these amazing women are described with historical texture and description. The red tent was the place in which all the women in the tribe went for their "lunar cycle" time. They would eat special meals in the red tent, rest and commune as a tight knit group of women. It was the only time in the month where they were allowed to do this, and ironically, probably looked forward to it!
My Take: This is the BEST BOOK I have read this year SO FAR! The author takes the Dinah character, and through much research weaves a wonderful tale about women and kinship in biblical times. One of the things I found fascinating is the historic life details woven throughout this story. Tribal life was very hard, which made the women's relationships even more important for survival. The other interesting aspect of the story is the tension between the old "Goddess" religion that Dinah's aunts and mother secretly still followed and the "One God" religion that Jacob followed. The dichotomy between the feminine and "The Goddess" where women were revered and honored and the patriarchal approach of the "One God" religion is very interesting. Don't be wary about the religious overtones of the book. It is more about the relationships. YOU MUST GET THIS BOOK!
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
In a nutshell: Well, it's Kurt Vonnegut, so its about the apocalypse-of course! But in this book, its not just about the end of the world (thanks to the irresponsibility of the human race), but a beginning, as the surviving humans evolve into having "flippers" and "smaller brains because "bigger ones caused too much trouble". And where else do they go to begin the human race over again but the Galapagos islands-the place where Darwin was inspired to do his writings on human survival and evolution. The book has much symbolism, and much sarcasm and humor...typical of any Vonnegut book.
My Take: I never understood why Kurt has been considered by many as a sci-fi writer. Some of his stuff is sci-fi, but not really. I think it is hard to categorize Vonnegut. This was my favorite so far of his books. His humorous sarcasm and ability to make his readers think about life issues really showed in this book. I also found it interesting how Vonnegut highlights the role of women in the survival of the human race in this book. This book seemed to be lighter and funnier than some of his other writings. I still have many of his books to read, my husband has read more than me, but so far, this is a good read. I highly recommend it.