Blogger and my ISP are both behaving fitfully, this morning, so I'm going to try to keep this short for sanity's sake.
I'm calling Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote my first read for #Weirdathon, even though it originally hit my stacks because it was my book group's March selection and I had no idea (because I've only read Capote's sweet Christmas story) just how wacky a Capote book could be. The group's selection was just lucky timing.
Joel has been living in New Orleans with an aunt, following the death of his mother. When his father's second wife writes a letter saying they'll be happy to take him in, Joel is sent to a decaying and isolated mansion. Before he even arrives, Joel is disappointed to find that nobody has been dispatched to meet him, although he was told he would be met near the town where his father lives, so he has to figure out how to get to the house on his own. And, when he makes it to the house, he's confused. Where is his father? Why won't anyone answer any of his questions? Was that a ghost he saw in the window?
Surrounded by eccentric characters and bored out of his mind, Joel seeks friendship while trying to figure out what on earth has happened to his father.
A couple of our group members brought some helpful information to share. Other Voices, Other Rooms can be a little surreal, at times, and it has more of a snapshot feel than the sense of a well-defined plot, but there were some very strong themes. The book is partly about Capote's own loneliness and longing for a father, but there are several other themes that were not quite as obvious to me. I mostly got the sense of longing for love out of it.
Bizarre characters and beautiful language were the two aspects of this book that made me love it. I often felt like I didn't understand what was happening during a scene but then understood it as it was ending. A lot of what I didn't grasp was nicely explained by people in my group so the discussion was excellent. It's a book worth talking about and I loved its oddities.
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel is a book that seemingly everyone has read but me. I already owned a copy, purchased in a library sale years ago, so I was happy when not one but several people suggested Like Water for Chocolate when I asked for weird book suggestions.
Tita is in love with Pedro and expecting him to ask for her hand in marriage when her mother informs her that she is never to marry. Instead, Tita will be forced to follow tradition, caring for her mother for the rest of her life. Seeking to be near his beloved, Pedro marries her sister, Rosaura. Tita has learned how to cook from the elderly Nacha, and will eventually take over the cooking duties. But, when Tita's tears over her lost love are mixed into the batter of Rosaura and Pedro's wedding cake, the start of their marriage is ruined. Will Tita and Pedro ever be able to marry or are they doomed to love each other from a distance?
Holy Toledo, there is some serious weirdness going on in Like Water for Chocolate. No wonder so many people recommended it! There's strange magic in Tita's cooking and sexual energy that vibrates between Pedro and Tita, inflaming or repelling those around them via the food. Each chapter begins with a recipe and one of the quirks of this book is the way the author will interrupt her own story with a continuation of the recipe. The storyline bounces around a little, sometimes stepping backward in time so that a deceased character is suddenly alive. I found myself jolted by the changes in time but loved the uniqueness of this strange love story and its crazy ending.
Both highly recommended - I really enjoyed the eccentricities of the characters and the storytelling in both Other Voices, Other Rooms and Like Water for Chocolate. If you're filing away ideas for future #Weirdathon events and you haven't read these titles, definitely add them to your list. They are completely nuts.
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