Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Jar of Fools...random thoughts
This was a total impulse pick up at the library a couple weeks ago. Had never heard of it and didn't know what to expect from it. But it turns out that Nymeth bought this book at about the exact same time as I stumbled across it in the library...so if I hadn't stumbled upon it on my own, it soon would have made my wish list...that's just what happens nearly every single time Ana reviews a book! ;)
Anyway, I read Jar of Fools during the read-a-thon. And as I told Ana, I honestly couldn't figure out if I even liked it or not as I was reading along. At least not at first. But it wasn't really that I was actively disliking the book either. Yeah, I know, I'm totally not making myself clear here, and I apologize. See, it's not a happy book. But you know, I usually don't mind a sad book. In fact, I usually love sad books...when there's a glimmer of hope mixed in somewhere. And I think at first, I wasn't catching any glimmers here.
It's the story of Ernie Weiss, a down-on-his-luck, stage magician. He is haunted by the death of his brother. Ernie wants to understand his brother's death...in fact, this overpowering need to understand really sits at the root of the disintegration of all the other pieces of his life, from his career to his relationship with his girlfriend. And all the people that touch Ernie's life have problems of their own...from his ex-girlfriend, Esther, who struggles with their break-up as much as Ernie himself does...to his escaped-from-the-nursing-home mentor, Al, who is facing a life slipping further into senility...to a con man, Nathan, who sticks to this life of petty crime to provide for his daughter. For a short time, this sad little crew form a sort of a family.
Okay, so I said that at first I couldn't figure out if I liked this book. By the end of it, however, I knew. I knew I loved it. Yes, there were eventually a few of those glimmers of hope. But ultimately, I'd have to say that it remained a very sad book. A book about these very human people, people with flaws, people who hurt, people who love.
I wish I was better able to tell you about this book; I feel like I'm stumbling all over my words here. But I do feel better knowing that Ana will surely be reviewing it soon, and then you all will be able to get a better feel for what a wonderful book this is. Edited to add: Ana posted her totally fabulous, and much more insightful, review today, too. :D