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I’m about 3/4 of the way through Anne Michael’s “Fugitive Pieces.”  Her prose is wondrous, beautiful, stunning.  She has a talent for describing things so accurately that the reader can (and will) instantly find themselves in the moment described.

The mark of a good novel:  the ability to speak specifically and universally.  The ability of the author to describe human events in terms which everyone can understand.

Michael’s prose is absolutely fantastic:  it is clear she is a poet.  I have underlined nearly half the book, finding myself so taken with a turn of phrase, or a faultless description.

In recent blog posts, I’ve mentioned my 4 or 4.30pm sob-fests, which have been pretty regular each Monday-Friday for a good few months now.  The human body’s internal clock is so bloody accurate, so on the mark, you could literally set your clock by it.  I’ve known people who never needed alarms clocks because they had such strong internal clocks.  Though not an expert in any way on animals or birds, I’m pretty sure that there are species who operate solely on this internal time mechanism.

So when I came across this passage in “Fugitive Pieces,”  I felt it was particularly apt for my current state.  The reason behind my daily timed weeping is due to a recent painful event, one in which I felt a great deal of loss.

“At certain hours of the day, your body will be flooded with instinct, so much of you having been entered, so much of you having entered them.”

The story is about loss, about grief, about ghosts.  There being different kinds of loss doesn’t matter:  in whatever way a person is missing from your life, they are still missing. There is still an absence.  Those who have been close to you, having ‘entered’ you, your life, they linger on in different forms.  Your body knows this, even if your mind doesn’t.  Funny how people can leave a mark on your most intricate inner workings.

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It is one of the joys of life to read a beautifully written novel.  The power of a stunningly written sentence still amazes me.  I think words do something for me no other medium or art form does:  words uplift me.  They affect me.  They change me.

I’ve been reading “Fugitive Pieces” this week, and it is so beautifully written.  I love novels that can handle the burden of history, novels that can treat it with respect but not overload the story with historical facts.  This novel is mostly set in the wake of WWII, but the war is not the main focus.  The war is not a backdrop, either:  maybe it could be more of a catalyst.

Memory and history are intertwined:  they are paralleled.  There is also a nice comparison between how human memories are stored, and the relics we dig from the earth.  We tend to bury our memories, and then stumble upon them, covered in muck, much the same as an archaeological dig.  We brush them off, marvel at them.

I love the treatment of grief and memory as well; memories tend to coincide with present events, and when those memories crack open, how do we deal with them?  How do we deal with grief?  How does a young boy carry around the grief he holds after losing both parents, a sister, a friend?  It seems too much for one person to bear.  How can just one person carry the weight of that much grief?

The past can weigh on a person, can interfere with their current state.  I know, this isn’t new.  What will be interesting is how this novel ends:  how does the boy sustain himself?  resolve his pain?  get rid of his ghosts?

I will report back when finished.  In the meantime, would love to hear other thoughts on this novel by other readers.

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