Sunday, October 14, 2012

Running in the Family

You know those stories – almost legends – that each family carries around and magnifies from generation to generation? My family has one about a character nicknamed Simard-Banane (because of his amazingly long chin) whose family would host funerals in their living room and who spent his life going to random strangers’ funeral services in the little town where my mom grew up (and her parents before her). The man really exists, I’ve met him once – at my Grand-Father’s funeral.
In all reality, he was probably only an eccentric with a slightly strange interest for funeral services. Half of the stories about him may or may not be true. One thing is sure, his character was magnified and swollen from years of story-telling.
I love those stories and have all intentions of sharing them (and maybe creating new ones - he he...) with my children. Pablo’s family also has billions of them, and they have a much different taste given that they are set in small town, Ecuador.
Find Running in the family
 on Amazon here
This is exactly what this book is about. It’s not a novel, not even a fiction, really. And it doesn’t have a straight storyline. Michael Ondaatje is a Sri Lankan-Canadian (he’s the one who wrote the English Patient, by the way). Running in the Family was born from a trip he took to Sri Lanka with his children to explore his origins. He jumps from one family story to another, from present to past. The characters – his extended family – are magnificent. The stories are all bigger than life, like that of his Grand-Mother’s drowning in the monsoon floods. The setting is so exotic, you can almost smell the moist rain forest air, like when he tells the story of crazy rainstorm showers (with soap and all) he took with his kids in the middle of the jungle. And the words he uses are beautiful.
If you’re adopting from Sri Lanka, you have to read this book. If you’re even slightly interested in Sri Lanka, you still have to read it. And if you’re into good story-telling and poetic beauty, then you also have to read it.
On top of that, I love the picture on the book cover!
I’m leaving you with a few jewels from Running in the Family:
Asia. The name was a gasp from a dying mouth. An ancient word that had to be whispered, would never be used as a battle cry.” p.22
“They all went swimming again with just the modesty of the night. An arm touched a face. A foot touched a stomach. They could have almost drowned or fallen in love and their lives would have been totally changed during any one of those evenings.” p.52
“[...] a pendant off the ear of India. [...] This pendant, once its shape stood still, became a mirror. It pretended to reflect each European power till newer ships arrived and spilled their nationalities [...]” p.64
“Across the valley, a waterfall stumbles down. In a month or two the really hard rains will come for eighteen hours a day and that waterfall will once again become tough as a glacier and wash away the road. But now, it looks as delicate as the path of a white butterfly in a long-exposed photograph.” p.167

1 comment:

  1. ciao! still me, ludovica from italy.

    i tried to contact you on the forum, but it never shows search....this is my private email: ivwmhb@tin.it. or you can contact me on skype or facebook....as you prefer....just let me know.
    cannot wait to hear from you.
    ludo

    ReplyDelete