Saturday, May 16, 2009
Evening by Susan Minot
A dreamy, hypnotic novel, Evening is a little more complex than my other choices but well worth it. The chief character is Ann Grant Lord, a wife and mother who is in the final stages of cancer. Sounds depressing, right? Well, Evening is deceptively sad because in the midst of impending death lies all the lushness of a life remembered. Minot's writing takes you seamlessly from present to past and back again. Most of Ann's memories/hallucinations revolve around a man, Harris Arden, with whom she had a brief affair decades ago at a friend's wedding. She fell passionately in love with him, but tragic circumstance blunted the relationship. It's apparent from Ann's mental meanderings that she never really got over him, or at least what he represented. The poetic quality of Minot's writing places it well above the standard love story, and its examination of what passion really means bumps it up even more. You see, the reader learns through Ann's story that a love lost is not lost at all. Memory survives: the memory of who you were when you were with that person, the flip flop of your heart, the anticipation, eagerness, and expectation. These feelings are recorded in the brain and never forgotten. Evening is a story of memories and the lessons they teach.