Monday, October 7, 2013

Changing my mind on "And the Mountains Echoed"

Now that I have vented my frustration in the last post, and have had a chance to think about "And the Mountains Echoed", by Khalid Hosseini and let the characters live in my head for an evening, night and morning, I have to come to see more clearly what I like about the book.  The positive is emerging like shapes coming out of the morning mist.  I am even thinking, it could be read to the husband, after all, with a little editorializing.  Hosseini actually deals gently with issues we all deal with but don't discuss very often because we find them dreary or frightful.  Caregiving, looking after the handicapped and elderly with the attendant  strain on families, as well, as their emotional growth or decline, is not that often brought up.  It is like the underbelly of our existence.  We look for the excitement and health in life, but what happens as we become frail and more "diminished"?

"Diminished" is a word Hosseini used in the interview and the book.  And not "diminished" in a cataclysmic, spectacular going-out, just the gradual, usual way--in a nursing home, for example--step by step "diminishing".  The reunion of the separated siblings is similarly un-spectacular.  Pari can't remember the time before their separation, and Abdullah is demented by the time they meet again.

Several people on Amazon said that they did not even bother to read the last 40 pages.  The climax was not climactic enough, one thinks.  But that was the point.  What can we do?  How do we deal with the losses and the unfulfilled dreams?  How do we receive what we can receive, if it is not what we wanted or expected?  How do we deal with this punctuated novel and its unsatisfactory characters and events?

And then there is the matter of Afghanistan.  Gently, we see a critique of the horrors and the hardness.  Hosseini's  various scenes and stories are just glimpses.  We must take from them what we can.  We must be patient with them, as we must be patient with our lives and our loved-ones and with God.

No comments: