For number eighteen, I chose a book from my wife’s favorite author, Barbara Kingsolver. The Lacuna is a fictional memoir about the life of Harrison Shepherd. The book opens with the fictional Shepherd living in Mexico at age thirteen, having been dragged there by his Mexican mother after leaving his American father. In the years that follow, Shepherd searches for a place in the world, with his only real comfort coming from the journals that form the eventual memoir. Along the way, he works as a plaster mixer for Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, a cook for Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo, and a secretary for the exiled Leon Trotsky. Shepherd ultimately returns to America and becomes a novelist. Although well-received at first, his thoughts on free speech and past Communist associates earn him the unwanted scrutiny of the FBI and the House Un-American Activities Committee. The ending is excellent, and I will not spoil it here. Kingsolver is easily one of the best American writers of the past fifty years. She has an ability to capture the spirit of a place in her writing that is nearly unmatched. I have read two of Kingsolver’s other novels, and this is my favorite. The blend of history and fiction makes the story even more interesting. I especially enjoyed the glimpse of Trotsky. I know very little about him but am now definitely going to read more. Kingsolver’s novel is a scathing indictment of an era in American history most would rather ignore. Especially in a world where the label un-American is thrown around to mask religious bigotry and racism, The Lacuna should be required reading for anyone eligible to vote.
The Current Count:
18 Read, 82 To Go