September 30, 2011

The Sparrow

My book club is discussing The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell tonight. I finished my copy last night in bed and dreamt about it for hours. It is a novel about a secret, Jesuit-led interstellar mission to meet the first alien intelligence known to humans—the inhabitants of a faraway planet whose exquisite and soulful singing is detected on Earth via radio telescope. What’s so amazing about this story is how, even though we know from the first few pages that the mission is going to go horribly wrong, I still followed where the characters led me in their optimism and giddy belief. I drank the Kool-Aid and I liked it, even though the story never lets you forget where it’s going, and in the end, I was just as (and perhaps more) undone by the tragedy and grief as I would have been had I never seen it coming.

Fiction amazes me. I am so happy to have stories to read (and to write!)–even profoundly sad ones that linger in my dreams. I will read the sequel one day, when my Year of Reading at Your Mercy is complete.

But now, I long for a fluffy book and maybe some actual Kool-Aid—you know, the kind with the smiley face. David and I tried to go to Little Tokyo Wednesday night, to ask around for my YORAYM recommendations, but it was closed because of a gas leak. I hope that doesn’t foreshadow the type of book I’m going to read next.