Monday, March 8, 2010

The Hungry Season

I discovered T. Greenwood quite by accident. She was a lucky find though. For some reason I picked up Two Rivers and decided I just had to read it. And I was glad I did. It was a significant book with amazing writing.

I knew Greenwood was coming out with a new book, but I was a slacker and did not know when it was to be released. So I was browsing at Barnes & Noble (a thing I love to do and am well-known for...when friends ask me what I'm doing most of the time the answer is...hanging out at B&N...sad to be so predictable...) and, again, happened upon Greenwood's latest book by accident. It was a sweet surprise. I barely even read, registered, thought about what the book was about because I knew I just had to read it.

Greenwood writes beautifully. Her descriptions are vivid, her characters are realistically portrayed and each have identifiable flaws, and she actually uses symbolism and parallelism! All these things are must-haves for a good book. Symbolism is becoming a lost art in literature, but Greenwood proves that it can make a comeback and there is a place for it.

Enough gushing about this awesome talent (of which I am jealous). The plot of the story, which I really read after I purchased the book (if you know me you know this is really strange for me to do) really hit home for me. It's about a family who take a summer trip to Lake Gormlaith in Vermont in the aftershock of losing their daughter and sister (respectively). The whole time we don't really know what happened to Franny. We just know she is no longer alive and the family is trying to pick up the pieces and stay together.

One of the interesting things about this story is the idea of HUNGER. Greenwood says, in the back of the book, that she became fascinated with it because it is the basest of human needs and something we take for granted. Within the book, the writer father named Sam discovers how hunger plays in religions and cultures with fasting and such. And there were some fanatics who starved themselves on purpose to gain euphoria and something like nirvana.

So there is the idea of literal hunger, right? But then here's where it gets interesting. Greenwood explores the idea of figurative hunger. Each of the characters hunger for something different. Mena, the mother, hungers for affection from her husband. Sam, the father, hungers for the return of his creative juices and the virility (through most of the book he battles impotence)of his youth. Finn, Franny's twin brother, hungers for peaceful sleep, normalcy with his parents, and trust. Throughout the story, each of them try to fulfill their hunger but they go about it the wrong way.

The family is grieving the loss of Franny and, instead of exploring their grief as just plain grief, Greenwood uses HUNGER to explain what they are feeling. When I realized this I came to understand feelings I myself have felt over the last two years.

There is another character, Dale, who also hungers. She is a psychotic fan of Sam's. The reader gets to see her gradual dive into the deep end as she goes from mere fan to stalker to lunatic. She hungers for completion through Sam. I tend to think she sees him as a father figure because her father was never there for her. It's hard to say, though, what is really driving Dale. She, too, goes about fulfilling her hunger in the wrong ways.

I will not spoil the book by telling you how it resolves. Greenwood is a good enough writer that she doesn't really have to feed you the answers but, somehow, you just know. While I don't know which book of the two I've read of hers I like better, I definitely loved this book. It was hard to read at times. I found myself relating to Finn on a figurative level (he turns to drugs for help which is something I will never do and did not do during my own grieving at the loss of my sister). In fact, I found myself relating to all the characters in some way.

1 comment:

  1. Jake, I saw your blog on your profile and thought I would give it a read...hope you don't mind:). Anyway, I found this very interesting and am curious to know more about this book and the author. Your blog is fun to read and I can tell you love English (and that you are a talented writer). I hope you don't mind if I check back :)