6.22.2007

what i'm reading: a complicated kindness by mirian toews

I've started A Complicated Kindness, by the Canadian novelist Miriam Toews, the first of a few novels I took out of the library to give my brain a break from overly dense history.

I really like the book so far, especially the voice of the teenaged narrator. I'm always interested in books with a teenage narrator, especially ones that are not necessarily written for young people. Toews's narrator feels very authentic and not forced, which can be a common pitfall.

I had A Complicated Kindness from the library last year, but for some reason I never got to it. While it was sitting around the house, Allan picked it up, and he found the depiction of growing up in a repressive religious environment rang true as well. I'm enjoying the dark humour and the pointed observations.

5 comments:

redsock said...

I read only the first 20-30 pages, if I recall, but it was quite good.

L-girl said...

You actually read a lot more than that. But yes, it is good.

Anonymous said...

I've read the book too. I learned about it listening to "Between the Covers" on CBC Radio One. Have you yet learned who "The Mouth" is?

sister.susie said...

Yeah, Miriam Toews! She lives in my town, Winnipeg. I went to meet her and have my copy of "A Complicated Kindness" (fabulous title, eh?) signed at a local library.

I loved the character Nomi. She can see below the surface, in a way. For instance, she's able to understand that well-meaning friends may be asking how her Dad is doing, but they are really asking about how she's coping with her missing Mom.

I admire the author's sharp, yet subtle, commentary on growing up and not fitting in and religious fundamentalism and family dynamics...

I found the book laugh-out-loud funny at times. But a friend who borrowed my book didn't find it funny at all. She thought Nomi was too sad a character. Interestingly, I felt Nomi was strong, and that she was gonna be just fine, in spite of her struggles.

L-girl said...

I thought a Winnipegger might come around to sing Toews's praises!

I found the book laugh-out-loud funny at times. But a friend who borrowed my book didn't find it funny at all. She thought Nomi was too sad a character.

I also find this book very funny.

I've noticed that many people can't find humour in writing if the subject matter itself is sad. Have you read "Angela's Ashes"? Parts of that book are hilarious, but I remember many people describing it as harrowing, heartbreaking, etc. It's a sad subject, to be sure, but the writing is unmistakeably funny.

M Yass, I do know who "The Mouth" is, but no plot spoiler's please. :)