Best Dang Book of the Year, “The Lacuna” by Barbara Kingsolver

I have been putting off writing a review of this book for way too long, it is just daunting trying to write anything about writing so incredible. But one of my FB friends Jenny,  raving about “Rat Girl” by Kristin Hersh (another great book) made me realize I need to get off my butt and do this.
If there is one book to get all your friends for Xmas, this is it. It has everything – incredible imagination, art history, detailed and consuming research, emotionally involving characters, a complex and intriguing plot, fantastic writing, fascinating history… The only negative thing to say – is the cover sucks. But you can’t judge a book by it’s cover right? Oh the fantastic visions I had reading this book! How they came up with this lame excuse for a cover is beyond me…
Enough, now back to the book. After looking at a few other reviews out there, I don’t want to give away too much of the plot or it’s punch. Plus, there is no way my feeble attempts at writing could come close to Kingsolver’s. The very few negative reviews out there had to have been written by illiterates, those who can only handle the narrative of a comic book. “The Lacuna”  has Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Trotsky and the history that weaves them together. It has the wonderful flavors of Mexico and it’s people, the insides of artists and writer’s brains, chunks of America around World War II, insights into art and the art world, censorship, McCarthy and his “red” hunts, sexual politics, economic injustice, small town hypocrisy, the beauty of nature and the pursuit of beauty. All of this and more – wrapped up by the most beautiful writing, deeply sensitive, heart warming characters and the essence of life’s worth. Gut wrenching in it’s pain and soulfully humanitarian in it’s motives. It’s fiction with a whole lot of non-fiction – put together in such a masterpiece that putting it down to go pee will be a problem. Kingsolver spent a good 7 years researching and writing this book and it shows. The kind of book that makes you cry when you’ve finished it because there isn’t anymore. So – don’t read about it, (or look at the cover) – just get it and read it. And then pass it on. The best book of 2010 easily, in my opinion – the best book of the decade.    
Just one excerpt for you here, (one that wouldn’t give away any of the plot)-
“In the afternoon when the sun lights the stucco buildings across the street, it’s possible to count a dozen different colors of paint, all fading together on the highest parts of the wall: yellow, ochre, brick,blood, cobalt, turquoise. The national color of Mexico. And the scent of Mexico is a similar blend: jasmine, dog piss, cilantro, lime. Mexico admits you through an arched stone orifice into the tree-filled courtyard of its heart, where a dog pisses against a wall and a waiter hustles through a curtain of jasmine to bring a bowl of tortilla soup, steaming with cilantro and lime. Cats stalk lizards among the clay pots around the fountain, doves settle into the flowering vines and coo their prayers, thankful for the existence of lizards. The potted plants silently exhale, outgrowing their clay pots. Like Mexico’s children they stand pinched and patient in last year’s too-small shoes. The pebble thrown into the canyon bumps and tumbles downhill. “ (page 393)
P.S. – Although you might have to expand your vocabulary and look up a few words while reading this book, here at least, is the definition of a “lacuna” - An empty space or a missing part; a gap.

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