Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Ordinary People

Title: Ordinary People

Author: Judith Guest

Year of publication: 1977.  Fontana edition 1981.

Back cover blurb: 'AN ORDINARY FAMILY - Shaken by the tragic death of one teenage son - face new heartbreak.'

Status: Completed

Reading reveals: I've long been a fan of Robert Redford's film version of Ordinary People, in which Judd Hirsch plays the world's best psychiatrist (too bad he's fictional), and we find Hollywood taking a long, unsentimental gaze at the world of everyday mental health - a rarity indeed.  In it, and the novel on which it is based, a family recovering from the death of one son in a boating accident must now deal with the attempted suicide of his guilt-ridden brother.
   Perhaps even more so than the film, Guest's book captures the reality of grief - a constant scream in the background as life goes on.  It's dropped off the radar in the UK, but well worth tracking down.  A warm, humane book that asks us to go a bit easier on ourselves.

Random paragraph: 'A tiny seed opens slowly inside his mind.  In the hospital the seed would grow and begin to produce thick, shiny leaves with fibrous veins running through them.  More leaves to come.  Like tiny, curled up fists they will hit at him.  He tightens his grip on the arms of the chair.  The wood is sticky and wet under his hands.  He wets his lips nervously.  "What time is it?"'


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