Friday, October 29, 2010

The Lacuna (TL) ~ November discussion

Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, 1932
We'll discuss The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (2009) in November, so it's time to start reading.  The first chapter is found on the author's web site.  Synopsis:
Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.

Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico — from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City — Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.

He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence.

Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. There in the land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in America's hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. He finds support from an unlikely kindred soul, his stenographer, Mrs. Brown, who will be far more valuable to her employer than he could ever know. Through darkening years, political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach — the lacuna — between truth and public presumption.
I have the book already and have read to page 34.  That's not very much, but I already feel sorry for the boy who doesn't quite fit in, yet discovers a world of exotic fish beneath the surface of the sea around the island where he and his mother are living when the book opens.  Are you ready to start reading with me?


Bonnie Jacobs said...

Have you started our book for November? I'm on page 34 of The Lacuna.

alisonwonderland said...

I'll be picking the book up from the library tomorrow!

Shirley said...

I read this book in April. A coworker was rather insistent that I read it. It didn't impress me nearly as much as Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible. However, it was a decent read.
Thanks for sharing the photo--Diego didn't look at all like I thought he would.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Shirley, since some of the characters were real people, I wanted to see photos before getting into the book -- for the very reason you said, that Diego didn't look like you thought he would.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

I'm glad I looked up a photo of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo before getting into the story. It made these descriptions more meaningful:

"...her face was very startling, an Azteca queen with ferocious black eyes" (p. 65).

"He was as fat as a giant and horribly ugly, with the face of a frog and the teeth of a Communist" (p. 66).