Book: Dissident Gardens
Author: Jonathan Lethem
Published: 2013 (Doubleday)
YOU GUYS I HAVE FALLEN IN LOVE.
This story could be subtitled “How the Communist Movement Destroyed My Family’s Ability to Have Anything Close to Normal Relationships,” and it’s SO GOOD. It’s reminded me how lit fic can the connections in our lives, twist the hell out of them, and spread it out across a couple generations for us to find disturbing patterns and how maybe, just maybe, we can make changes for the better.
Or not! This book touches on the futility of the communism ideal and how that affects kids when a mother refuses to let go and how a young girl rebels against a rebel parent and how love can fester and warp a commitment to a cause and the slow painful death of inspiration and the special humiliation of growing up different and instead of learning how to blend in you accidentally find someone who makes you incurably weirder and how that affects the rest of your life.
It’s a non-chronological story about relationships, not just love. Love is a part of it, of course, but I appreciated that it was just another outgrowth of the Party because that’s the mom’s base of affection – her love for the party comes first and that’s what she models her parental and romantic love on. It’s an impractically idealistic and pragmatic way to love, and it warps whoever comes in contact with it in all kinds of interesting ways.
I liked the mix of political and personal, which made me read it slower than usual to digest all the allusions and connections and connotations. A good story with its gaze trained firmly above the navel. Bookshelf!