Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Lacuna

I've been reading The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver's new novel about the artistic and political maturation of a peripatetic young writer. I just completed a lengthy passage about the protagonist's relationships with Frida Kahlo (who serves as the writer's friend and muse), Diego Rivera, and Leon (Lev) Trotsky, the Bolshevist thinker and leader exiled from Russia after a split with Stalin.

Kingsolver has a genuine gift for finding and exploring the humanity of such iconic figures, as exemplified by this poetic, evocative paragraph describing Trotsky's wife Natalya:
Perpetua has walked down the street twice this week, to deliver some pottery Natalya liked especially. Her favorite is the white glazed platter with a fish leaping over it, a gift from Frida when they first arrived. Natalya thanked Perpetua and put it away in a cabinet, but today she has brought it out and set it against the wall. In the years with Lev her world has been so constrained, with so few objects of beauty in it. She is not a bulldog, only a woman pressed into the shape of a small jar, possibly attempting to dance in there. It shows in the way she places a seashell on a window sill, a red-painted chair in a corner: she is practiced in the art of creating a still life and taking up residence inside it.


Scrumpy said...

Okay, I just had to go and look up the word peripatetic.

K. said...

The funny thing is, I just reached the point in the book where the guy stays put!

mommapolitico said...

I need to pick that one up. Kingsolver has a beautiful ear for language and a real knock for character.

Reading the new John Irving, "Last Night at Twisted River." I'm a longtime fan, but it isn't doing it for me. Maybe it's me, though: have only had the time to read it in short spurts, and his books deserve more than that.

Hope you are healing well and feeling fine. Thanks for the recommendation of the Kingsolver book!