19 July 2006

I, the Divine

30. I, the Divine by Rabih Alameddine (3.5/5)
Imagine trying to write your memoir, wanting to start with the sharpest point of your life, then only coming up with a few rough edges. This novel is about such a struggle. Shaped by a fragile world, a Lebanese-American woman escapes and reinvents herself over and again. Donna Kane, Powells.com
A book's impact for me is often affected integrally by timing: just when I happen to read it. I have a knack, a subconscious flair perhaps or a streak of luck, for choosing to read certain books at the right times in my life. In the best cases, there is an unexpected discovery, a pertinence, to things I'm experiencing at the time I'm reading it.

A dear friend sent me this book a couple weeks ago. A long-awaited book requested from the library arrived just before it; and since the library book was new and couldn't be renewed, I felt compelled to finish it first. I started reading I, the Divine last week, just a bit before I heard Israel was bombing Beirut. It seemed fitting that I was reading about the struggles of a Lebanese-American woman, even her experience with bombings in Beirut, as she tries to find her place in the world.

The book calls itself a "novel in first chapters," and it is in a literal way, so I recommend using a sturdy bookmark. The main character, Sarah, begins her memoirs from different times and points of view in her life never quite finishing any of them, yet by the end the reader has a strong sense of who she is and what's she been through. A compelling and enlightening read.

One year ago at TTaT: A day late, dollars short, and my frustration in ample supply; The book doth murder sleep, the innocent sleep
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