This book is amazing. C’mon Papa: Dispatches from a Dad in the Dark by Ryan Knighton (published by Random House) is a really fascinating read. Knighton discovered at age 18 that he suffered from a condition called retinitis pigmentosa. This meant that slowly, very slowly, he would go blind. This book is about him and his newborn daughter Tess. How he coped, or didn’t, and how he learned to bond with his daughter without being able to see her. In otherwords, how he learned to be a Dad. There was a huge amount of trial and error, and a huge dose of creativity too. Imagine trying to put a diaper on a baby when you don’t know what’s where and most importantly, what you’re going to find where! Imagine trying to stick a soother into a wailing baby’s mouth without sticking it in her eye. Try crossing the street with her in the baby carrier strapped to your chest with just your white cane. It’s a story full of humour, love, courage, exasperation, and frustration. The best line in the book for me was when Ryan went to a convention for stay-at-home Dads and some guy asked him if he had a picture of his daughter with him and he thought to himself that he barely had one in his mind, let alone in his wallet. He said “Sorry, blind guy thing. I forgot.” This book isn’t meant to be a pity-party. Knighton is a wonderful writer. His one-liners are fantastic (he teaches English at Capilano University). If you’re looking for something different to read this summer, this is a good choice.
Archive for June, 2010
I really should have saved this book for my summer reading. It’s light, funny, and oh so good. A perfect summertime read. But I didn’t think about it til I was well into it and hooked on what was going to happen and by then I couldn’t put it down. The Case of the Missing Servant: From the Files of Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator by Tarquin Hall (published by McClelland & Stewart) is about Vish Puri, the head of Most Private Investigators Ltd. in Delhi, India. I seem to be on an India kick in my reading… I wonder why Anyway, Puri is India’s most respected investigator and is currently working on 3 cases … one involves digging into the past of a prospective suitor for the bride-to-be’s grandfather … he smells something fishy with this guy and just doesn’t think he adds up. The second involves the murder of a servant girl named Mary who vanishes one night at the home of lawyer Ajay Kasliwal where she had been working. He is later arrested and charged with murder and Puri is required to pull all the stops and get him set free. In the middle of all this someone takes a pot shot at Puri one morning while he is watering his beloved chili plants on his roof-top garden… yes, it’s funny, very funny and so good. In addition Tarquin Hall fills the remaining space with really interesting facts about India (which I assume are accurate)… some of which will have you shaking your head with wonder. Also, the sights, smells, and sounds are so well described that you feel part of the scene. The dialect is perfect, the characters so well written, and the story never drags. There’s even a Glossary at the back of the book to describe all the Indian words that pop up regularly. It’s a New York Times Notable Book… another one I’d never heard of. I really must start paying more attention to their lists. Pick up a copy for your summer reading and laugh yourself silly. It’s really, really good.
The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar (published by HarperCollins) was a book I picked up on a whim. The cover said National Bestseller but I’d never heard of it. It’s set in modern day India and is the story of 2 women, Sera Dubash, a Parsi upper-middle class housewife and her illiterate servant Bhima who has worked for her for over 20 years. Their lives intersect not only in an employer/employee relationship, but in a very personal way that has Bhima analyzing the bonds they created together over the years. Bhima lives in the slums with her granddaughter Maya whose parents died of AIDS when she was very small. We learn at the very beginning of the book that Maya is pregnant. This affects not only Maya, but Bhima and Sera who have been concerned for her well-being since she was orphaned at the age of 4. As the book jacket says “The life of the privileged is harshly measured against the life of the powerless.” I don’t want to give too much of the book away, but it’s a wonderful story, and extremely well written… “Sera went through the purse of her memory, hunting for a few gold coins”… isn’t this a wonderful sentence! She uses it to explain her attempt to find something good to say about her husband when he dies… her abusive husband, who in the eyes of their son was “a prince of a man” . It’s a great book. Every now and then you have to stop and digest what you’ve just read before going on. I love it when a book makes you think. Umrigar is a fantastic writer and I really enjoyed her book.