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The Lacuna

av Barbara Kingsolver

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygDiskussioner / Omnämnanden
5,3342562,002 (3.87)1 / 644
"The story of Harrison William Shepherd, a man caught between two worlds -- Mexico and the United States in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s -- and whose search for identity takes readers to the heart of the twentieth century's most tumultuous events"--Provided by publisher.
  1. 120
    Giftträdets bibel av Barbara Kingsolver (GreenVelvet)
  2. 71
    The Bean Trees | Animal Dreams | Pigs in Heaven av Barbara Kingsolver (readerbabe1984)
  3. 40
    Kärlek het som chili av Laura Esquivel (Anonym användare)
    Anonym användare: It is set in Mexico and deals, obliquely and amusingly, with women's rights.
  4. 10
    Any Human Heart av William Boyd (lizchris)
    lizchris: A fictional character who encounters real people from history across their lifetime.
  5. 10
    The Years with Laura Díaz av Carlos Fuentes (charlie68)
    charlie68: Another Novel with Frida Kahlo as a character.
  6. 10
    Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? av Jeanette Winterson (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: Both books feature a lonely, gay child growing up, finding salvation in books.
  7. 10
    Trust av Hernan Diaz (allthegoodbooks)
    allthegoodbooks: One of the themes of The Lacuna is about truth and who is telling it. This is the same in Trust. Both use different genre to do this and both leave the answer open as to how and who you should trust.
  8. 11
    Sonntagsträumerei in der Alameda und andere Erzählungen, av Bodo Uhse (edwinbcn)
  9. 00
    The Fraud av Zadie Smith (allthegoodbooks)
    allthegoodbooks: Similar themes of truth and lies
Laddar...

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» Se även 644 omnämnanden

engelska (254)  franska (1)  Alla språk (255)
Visa 1-5 av 255 (nästa | visa alla)
A grand novel that contains two distinct parts. The first is set in Mexico, in the 1930s. The main character, Harrison William Shepherd, a child born in the US, spends his formative years in the household of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and their houseguest, Leon Trotsky, who is hiding from Soviet assassins. After Trotsky is assassinated, Harrison returns to the states. The second part of the novel focuses on Harrison's life in in in Asheville, N.C., where he authors historical potboilers and tangles with the House Un-American Activities Committee.
( )
  maryelisa | Jan 16, 2024 |
Barbara Kingsolver’s sixth novel came out nine years after her fifth, and tells the story of a young man who grows up in Mexico in the household of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, then eventually moves back to America and becomes an author during the 1940’s and 50’s. Through this character, she explores a range of historical topics, but the main thread running through it is the rise of communism in the world, how Stalin betrayed the Russian revolution and had Lev Trotsky executed (the man who should have been Lenin’s successor), and how the Red Scare in America worked so insidiously against artists and intellectuals who were left-leaning or even had remote associations with socialists.

The book was at its best while it was in Mexico, as it provided insights or spurs to further reading on Mexico’s revolution over 1910-20, and the brutality of the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, draining the lake surrounding their capital, Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), and burning alive those who resisted, like Qualpopoca. An extensive part of it deals with Rivera, Kahlo, and Trotsky – their political and philosophical beliefs, their art and writings, and their personal lives – and all of this worked for me.

It also scores points with its description of the American government’s shameful treatment of the Bonus Army in 1932 (including the roles future WWII heroes Patton and MacArthur played), and the rationale behind America’s actions towards Trotsky, that with Hitler on the rise, Britain and America needed Russia on their side, so they couldn’t let Trotsky be right about Stalin being a monster, because they would “need that monster.”

The book is clearly a vehicle to examine history, something I liked about it, but which other readers may be less enamored with. Kingsolver does well when she extracts articles verbatim from The New York Times which are brilliant in speaking truth to the era, but she sometimes rather awkwardly forces dialogue into her characters’ mouths to try to get her points across. I have to also say, after p. 341 (of 670), when the action shifts to North Carolina in the 1940’s, the book was a little less interesting to me. The story line of the young man breaking through as an author, the many reviews Kingsolver imagines as reactions to his work, and his suspicion of being a communist was not strong enough to sustain the amount of material devoted to it.

With that said, she illustrates the supreme hypocrisy of those who were ostensibly against the suppression of freedom who turned around and suppressed free speech, and abused their power in ways that echoed authoritarian countries, things that are still highly relevant today.

There were also bits in this second half of the book that were informative, like the artistic treasures of the National Gallery being transported to the Biltmore House for safekeeping, the 39%(!) of those drafted for the war who failed the physical examination and deemed unfit to serve, and the generally progressive Senator from California, Hiram Johnson, who was an isolationist, playing a key role in prohibiting Japanese immigration, and advocating for Japanese American internment, aided by the frenzied, hyperbolic reporting in William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers. I was also unaware that the original target for the second atomic bomb as Kokura, and that the plan changed mid-flight to Nagasaki because of the weather, or that Truman had unfortunately quipped “If that’s art, I’m a Hottentot” in 1947 in reaction to a Look Magazine article titled ‘Your Money Bought These Pictures.”

All these little factoids, coupled with the Kingsolver’s clear-eyed view of history, are what I liked best about this book. The story constructed around them was not as strong and lagged in the second half. If you’re interested in the historical topics, or the art of Rivera and Kahlo, this may be a good read for you.

Quotes:
On America, and its blithe way of ignoring its problematic history or the need to make progress in the present; this was brilliant:
“It’s what these guys have decided to call America. They have the audacity to say, ‘There, you sons of bitches, don’t lay a finger on it. That is a finished product.”

On lies and propaganda in the news:
“Lies are infinite in number, and the truth so small and singular.”
And this:
“How will their tongue survive in a modern world, where the talkers rush to trample every pause?”

On memories, and parting:
“Praise all but the vanishing point where we stand now, not quite parted. Already memories fall like blows. But soon they will be treasure, dropped like gold through a miser’s fingers as he makes his accounts: the years at a desk, elbow to your elbow. … Praise each insomniac hour, kept wide awake by your glow. Sleep would only have robbed more coins from this vandal hoarded store.”

Also this:
“The white cuffs soaked like bandages, drops of blood falling on white paper, these images have receded, mostly gone. But then one appears, startling as a stranger standing in the corner of a room where you’d thought yourself alone.”

On the moon’s phases:
“This evening the moon was half, and Leandro said it’s dying away. You can tell because it’s shaped like the letter C, not curved forward like D. He says when the moon is D like Dios, it is growing to fill God’s sky. When dying away it is C, like Cristo on the cross.”

On writing, and readers:
“I should like to write my books only for the dear person who lies awake reading in bed until page last, then lets the open book fall gently on her face, to touch her smile or drink her tears.”

Lastly, the funny lines from a friend:
“What’s steamin’, demon?”
“Plant you now, dig you later.”
“Thanks for the buzz. Cat, you know how to percolate.”
“That’s the story, morning glory.”
“The hell you yell, Asheville has instant coffee now?” ( )
1 rösta gbill | Dec 7, 2023 |
Got about half way through and then finally decided to quit. I've really enjoyed Kingsolver's other books, but this one doesn't even seem like it was by the same author. The dialogue is especially clumsy and the imagined scenes with Frida Kahlo were almost painful to read. ( )
  lschiff | Sep 24, 2023 |
I am fascinated with all things Frida Kahlo, and this novel enriches that story while building multiple layers around the life of the narrator. As usual, a Kingsolver work of beauty. ( )
  schoenbc70 | Sep 2, 2023 |
Does Kingsolver ever write a short novel?

This is a novel that goes backwards and forwards, crossing the border between Mexico and America often during difficult times. Starting in the 30s with the art of Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera in Mexico, crossing when Trotsky who lived with them was stabbed and killed and then back into Mexico during the McCarthy witch-hunts. Politics and art are the twin engines that drive this novel.

Harrison Shepherd is the fictional character Kingsolver has inserted into the factual information as a conduit for the messages of the book. Born in America, he travels with his mother to Mexico on her never-ending chase after men who would keep her. At one point, When they live near the sea, Harrison swims often, he finds a lacuna at low tide with a tunnel that brings him up deep in the jungle, far away from everything. Of course it brings to mind rebirth.

He starts to work for Rivera as a cook and then a plaster-maker for his murals and a sometime secretary for Lev Trotsky. He was present when Trotsky was stabbed and killed on the second attempt to take his life and never really got over the trauma of the event.

Diaries, news reports, journals and letters along with transcripts of official documents are used throughout the book to tell part of the story of this quiet man who found himself in the middle of events that would backfire on him. These documents are an important part of the book, showing us how we gather information and find the 'truth'. There are several instances when misunderstandings occur - some with greater consequences than others. The book opens with Harrison and his mother hearing the 'howlers' in the jungle and thinking they are flesh-eating devils only to discover a bit later on that they are monkeys. Political biases are shown through actual news reports and personal views are revealed through journals.

They have the effect in the second half of the story of distancing the narrative which coupled with Shepherd unable to face people or go outside, fame does not sit comfortably with him, leaves us wanting more of him. But I think this is deliberate. As the country becomes more and more fearful, politicians do not want images that suggest all is not OK whether they are painted or written. Kingsolver has mentioned that the time after 9/11 was one of the starting points for the book. I think those that rule distance themselves from groups of people they blame at times like this and 'clamp down' and if you should fall into one of the groups that are persued, you need to keep your head down and distance yourself from the machinations of government.

Mixed identify is often a rich mine for novelists and so it is here. Shepherd is neither American or Mexican and so finds himself at a loss in both places on occasion. What Shepherd is good at, apart from writing, is friendship and one of the highlights in the book, for me, is his friendship with Kahlo. It is warm, witty and thoughtful and she is very helpful towards him as a writer at the start of his career. Their letters are a joy.

His relationship with his stenographer, Violet Brown, is another rich area of his life. Their discussions are again warm and full of wisdom, particularly from Violet and prevent Shepherd from completely fading away in his own life.

Lacuna can mean a missing piece and there are so many in this book. Harrison himself has a missing piece, some of his journals go missing, there's the missing truth when the papers report on the first attempt to kill Trotsky and in the end Shepherd himself is missing. If there are missing pieces, can we ever know the truth?

During his McCarthy trial, Shepherd is asked what the purpose of art is.

"The purpose of art is to eleveate the spirit or to pay the surgeon's bill. Or both, really. It can help a a person remember or forget. If your house has no windows in it, you can hang a painting and have a view of a whole different country. If your spouse is homely, you can gaze at a lovely face and not get into trouble for it."
audiobook

The book comes full circle with the 'howlers' of the communist hunt and the newspapers as their voices and Shepherd loses everything - his readers, his lover and his small place that he had built in American society. They really could be read as flesh-eating monsters. And then he loses himself. ( )
  allthegoodbooks | Sep 1, 2023 |
Visa 1-5 av 255 (nästa | visa alla)
Kingsolver, at the top of her craft, builds pyramids of language and scenic highways through mountains of facts, while plotting a mostly tight course through the fictional premises that convey her writing’s social conscience. In this book, pacifism, social justice, and free expression are the standards she shoulders.
tillagd av Shortride | ändraBookforum, Celia McGee (Dec 1, 2009)
 
“The Lacuna” can be enjoyed sheerly for the music of its passages on nature, archaeology, food and friendship; or for its portraits of real and invented people; or for its harmonious choir of voices. But the fuller value of Kingsolver’s novel lies in its call to conscience and connection.
 
Barbara Kingsolver's new novel, "The Lacuna," is the most mature and ambitious one she's written during her celebrated 20-year career, but it's also her most demanding. Spanning three decades, the story comes to us as a collection of diary entries and memoir, punctuated by archivist's notes, newspaper articles, letters, book reviews and congressional transcripts involving some of the 20th century's most radical figures. The sweetness that leavened "The Bean Trees" and "Animal Dreams" has been burned away, and the lurid melodrama that enlivened "The Poisonwood Bible" has been replaced by the cool realism of a narrator who feels permanently alienated from the world.
 
A serious problem with The Lacuna is telegraphed in its striking title. "Lacuna" refers to a gap or something that's absent. The motif of the crucial missing piece runs throughout the novel, but the thing unintentionally missing here is an engaging main character. Our hero, Harrison Shepherd, is an accidental onlooker to history buffeted by other people's plans and passions.
 
Narrated in the form of letters, diary entries and newspaper clippings, the novel takes a while to get going, but once it does, it achieves a rare dramatic power that reaches its emotional peak when Harrison wittily and eloquently defends himself before the House Un-American Activities Committee (on the panel is a young Dick Nixon). Employed by the American imagination, is how one character describes Harrison, a term that could apply equally to Kingsolver as she masterfully resurrects a dark period in American history with the assured hand of a true literary artist.
tillagd av khuggard | ändraPublishers Weekly
 

» Lägg till fler författare (4 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Kingsolver, Barbaraprimär författarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Aubert, MartineTraductionmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Ramírez Castañeda, ElisaÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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A novel! Why do you say this won't liberate anyone? Where does any man go to be free, whether he is poor or rich or even in prison? To Dostoyevsky! To Gogol!
The most important thing about a person is always the thing you don't know.
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The Painter took a book down to show it off: a codex. Made a hundred years ago by monks, who laboured to make exact replicas of the ancient books the Mexica people made on thick tree-bark paper. It didn't have pages exactly, but was one long folded paper like an accordion. The ancient language is pictures, little figures. He said it was the Codex Boturini, about the peregrinations of the Azteca.... The long page was divided into two hundred fourteen small boxes, each one recording the main thing that happened in that year.... Small, inked footprints trailed down the full length of the book, the sad black tracks of heartache.
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"The story of Harrison William Shepherd, a man caught between two worlds -- Mexico and the United States in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s -- and whose search for identity takes readers to the heart of the twentieth century's most tumultuous events"--Provided by publisher.

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