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Literary lunacy

I don’t read a lot of books. Maybe two a year, three at the most.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to read, but it takes me a long time to finish a book. For one thing, I read slowly and, when I am really enjoying a book, I go back and re-read sections, just to wallow in the setting or absorb the dialogue. I like to live in a book and, as with a good movie, I carry the story around with me a while before moving on to the next one.

Also, because I travel a good bit and don’t own a Kindle or a Nook, I find some books too bulky to carry on a plane.

This weekend, after three months, I finally finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It is her first novel, which is hard to believe, given the maturity of the story and the real-ness of the characters.

The story takes place in Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s. It is about a community of maids and the women they serve. The chapters are written from the perspectives of different characters, so it took some skill to make the technique work as beautifully as it did.

I won’t say anything more because I want you to read the book, but I would like to share two sentences I especially liked and returned to several times. The character is describing an error she made in a newsletter, which resulted in widespread negative consequences but had reflected her true feelings, as if perhaps she had done it deliberately.

“…it was like something cracked open inside of me, not unlike a watermelon, cool and soothing and sweet. I always thought insanity would be a dark, bitter feeling, but it is drenching and delicious if you really roll around in it.”

I am going to miss those women, but they’ve left me with a whole new outlook on insanity – why fight it?

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