Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Brain Implosion and Unforgiving Years

My daughter started grade one at a new school last week. And today my oldest son started junior kindergarten. My little guy's off to school. And I think my brain imploded a little. Possibly a lot. It's only me and the ferocious Vampire Infant here for the morning. Though he's in a time out (for biting, of course).

That's the weird, unforgiving nature of time. Sometimes the last few years have seemed like a lifetime, and at other times it feels as if it were the merest blink of an eye. I remember my older son being born, the little shock of copper hair. And today he was in a backpack, climbing up on the school bus with his sister.

Hopefully, the years won't be as unforgiving as those of the characters in this book:


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This is sort of a brutal and sad book, but quite wonderful. And quite strange, though not in an overt way. It's a subtle sort of strangeness, arising out of how the style meshes with the structure. In some ways, this is a rambling, interior novel about politics - or, perhaps more accurately, about how politics interacts with the individual in terms of political faith and belief, and how that faith affects personal action.

The book is largely set inside the character's heads, and yet there are sudden flashes of the world around, sudden and almost hallucinatory images of the world as it impinges on the thoughts of the characters. This creates a wonderful dream-like (or perhaps nightmare-like) quality, arising from the strange telescoping motion between the interior and exterior - the way the outside world swims suddenly into focus. The winter landscape of a besieged Leningrad, the ruins of a German city under Allied bombing, an isolated house deep in the Mexican interior...

A fascinating look at the psychology of political belief, and the most interesting book on Communism I've ever read.

Somehow, thinking about it, school buses don't seem so bad. At least for a while...

10 comments:

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

The book sounds intriguing!

And I know that shock feeling. The Baby Years as I call them are some kind of weird time vortex where everything moves slowly while the world races by and then suddenly they are gone. I'm in the Golden Years - all my boys are in school, none are yet (officially) teenagers - and yet I can already see the end coming. The time when they'll be too busy to talk, too engrossed in their lives to bother me with the latest LOLcats find on the computer. So I treasure it for now, knowing it's a gift, but a temporary one.

Marsha Sigman said...

Yeah. I teared up staring at my teen the other day, officially freaking him out and confirming his suspicions that I am nuts.

I swear just the other day I was feeding him mashed peas and teaching him to say momma, now he wants to drive my car to pick up girls.

Just a blink and it's over.

jbchicoine said...

The day your youngest--the ferocious Vampire Infant--goes to school, I'm really going into a time warp depression. I first became acquainted with you just before he was born! And I won't say anything lame like 'wait till your own offspring start springing off their own!'

D.G. Hudson said...

I second Susan on her comment about the 'Baby years'.

The other time titles are great too: the 'Unforgiving years', the 'Golden years', and if you're lucky you'll survive the Teen Wars (all that angst and hormones sometimes aimed at parents). Just kidding, somewhat. Like a weather warning.

That book sound interesting, thanks for giving us these subtle reviews, Bryan.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't have kids, but in a blink I got much older. What's up with that?

Matthew MacNish said...

I thought for a minute he was IN a backpack, like INSIDE a backpack, and his sister was carrying him.

That was an adorable image for me.

Bryan Russell said...

Luckily my daughter is very strong for her age.

maine character said...

As said above, treasure these years, when you can teach them so much and introduce them to card games and music and much, much more.

And write stories about them, or letters to them about what they've been doing, 'cause in fifteen years you won't remember all the little details that mean so much.

M.A. Leslie said...

I couldn't agree with you more. It is depressing to think that my son started 4th grade and my daughter is now in 2nd.

Where does the time go.

Elaine AM Smith said...

The time is relative. Even when they were small, the time spent with my children raced by and when they were away it dragged. I found it easier to chart the passage of time through the changes in other people's children.