Sunday, August 3, 2008

not yet a meme 2

Following in the footsteps of Punkinsmom at Idle Musings. I offer my second "book blogging" (though not on Friday). Origin by Diana Abu-Jaber was a most satisfying read. A mystery with just enough suspense and menace to make it a page turner, and so beautifully and hauntingly written that some of the images (such as the rain forest home and ape mother) will stay with you long after you've finished the book. Origin reminds me strongly of another mystery from a decade ago Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg. In the reading group guide at the end of Origin Abu-Jaber acknowledges that Hoeg's book was "at least a subconscious piece of my inspiration. I remembered feeling intrigued and haunted by the novel's [Smilla's Sense of Snow] use of snow, cold, and ice, its beauty and menace." I think Abu-Jaber far underestimates the influence of Smilla on her own work. The stories are worlds apart: in Origin the central character Lena deals with a killer warped in emotional and psychological ways, while Smilla deals with villains motivated by economic avarice. The motifs of snow, ice and cold are common to both books are only a superficial similarity, the real similarities are much deeper. However, both Lena and Smilla are outsiders trying to come to grips with their unusual origins. Both characters battle with feelings of detachment and fears of attachment. Both characters resolve internal conflicts or learn to live with them through solving the mystery at the core of the book.

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