Friday, December 16, 2005

An Odd Fellow

This "Odd Fellow" is sitting in our living room. He's from Jess Hutch's incredibly fun toy booklet.

Fiona took him for a test flight
and found him flight worthy.

Now here's the predicament in which I find myself: This Odd Fellow would be perfect for my sister, the psychologist, who god knows has to deal with many a less friendly odd fellow professionally. I knit him with her in mind and keep picturing him sitting in a drawer of her desk ready to smile at her after an encounter with a particularly difficult patient.

And the more I look at the cursed sweater, the less I am inclined to send it to her. My dear sister is just not an olive kind of gal and the sleeves of the sweater are very, very olive.

But for some reason I feel like a shit to send her the toy I intentionally knit for her and not the sweater that I intentionally knit for myself but which doesn't fit and which I previously declared I'd give her since it would probably fit her. (There are other things in her Christmas box--the book of the moment, Fallen, a box of dark chocolate covered glaceed apricots, a great T-shirt from Threadless and the socks I already knit for her, so it isn't a question of getting just a little toy or a sweater.)

Here's the thing that will decide it: does anyone think I can salvage the sweater for my own use (as it was intended) by doing some particularly forceful blocking? I already blocked it once, but I'm a half-assed blocker and I didn't tug and stretch the hell out of the sweater. Expert blockers, please chime in on how you'd approach such a problem--technique, tips, or just the painful truth that I should give up while I'm ahead and send it to my sister since it'll never work and I shouldn't go through making the whole damn house smell like a wet sheep again.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I've fallen for "Fallen"

I finished Fallen today and wowza what a book.

The author, David Maine, chose to tell the bulk of the novel through Cain's and Eve's points of view. Choosing two flawed and troubled characters made the book far more interesting than if characters like Abel and Adam were telling their side of it. There are brief forays into Abel's and Adam's points of view but the bulk of the novel is through the lens of Cain and Eve.

As I've said here before, I'm a sucker for re-tellings of classics whether it be Greek literature and myths or, in this case, the Bible. In both of Maine's books (this one and The Preservationist) he takes a few verses from the bible and expands them into a full novel. And the voice in both books is curiously contemporary in its wit and wry observations, yet it doesn't distract from the biblical setting. Here is one of my favorite scenes--the Temptation of Eve in the garden:

--But I'm perfectly happy with the way things are.
--Are you? Are you really?
Eve hesitated.
--What did you do yesterday? demanded the serpent.
She frowned--I...walked along the river. I was looking for--yes, I was collecting mushrooms, which we ate. Also berries.
Eve brindled.--There's nothing wrong with staying alive.
--Certainly not. And the day before?
The day before yesterday was identical to the one that followed, as they both knew. And the one before that...
The snake watched her mockingly and Eve felt herself growing defensive.--We have all we need here.
--Oh sure, murmured the snake. Somehow, sans shoulders, it still managed a shrug. --There's a great appeal to being comfortable. If that's what you want, I won't argue. Go on then. Keep it up. Off with you! There's a lovely patch of berries just behind this clearing.
Eve didn't move.
--Better get them before the bunnies do.
Eve didn't move.
Suddenly the serpent's voice modulated. It no longer mocked, but spoke in gentle earnest tones.--The power of creation will lie within you, woman. That's what your God fears. What He doesn't want you to know.
Eve didn't move.
--Wouldn't that be preferable to wandering naked all day, plucking fruit and shitting by the river?
She had to admit, the creature had a point.--But it is forbidden.
--Only because of fear. Your God is afraid to treat you as an equal. Who knows what His plans are for you here? Or maybe there is no plan other than your remaining forever just as you are.
The serpent's voice drops to a whisper.--Day after day after day after day.
Admittedly Eve had felt such misgivings before.--The power of creation you say?
--Oh yes, purred the serpent. --You will carry it about with you and it will spring forth from your belly at your command.
Which, in a manner of speaking, would turn out to be the case.

There are so many intense emotions in this book--lust, jealousy, confusion, love, sympathy, regret--and I found the process of reading it to be so rich as to make me have to ration myself to a chapter or so at a time, or else I felt glutted with the intensity of the prose. And the reverse chronology demands that as soon as you finish the book, you have to go back to the beginning and read it again.

Most interestingly, for a work based on the Bible, I felt that the main message was incredibly humanistic--while characters have encounters with God their happiness and misery come down to day to day routines and how they live with the people around them. Their perceptions of each other and what they learn from their interactions left me feeling an affirmation of humanity's basic goodness.

For a book to get "Winter Kate" (who hasn't seen the sun in about 2 weeks and noticed that it is supposed to snow 4-6 more inches today) to say something positive about humanity at this time of year is a major accomplishment though my guess is David Maine will not be putting a quote like this on the paperback edition: "This book even made sun-deprived, cynical and bitter Winter-Kate feel OK about the Human Race for a brief moment of time!"

And now that I'm done with the book, I'll go slink back into my cave of doom....