March 21, Friday afternoon -- Reading David James Duncan

Reading River Teeth, Stories and Writings, by David James Duncan. River teeth are the remains of trees that have been preserved, and gnarled, beneath the flow of a river. Her father had several river teeth, that he found on fishing trips and brought home. A friend gave him this book because of that, and she got it from him.

The author writes, in introducing his stories: My hope, in sharing a few personal river teeth here, is to let go of what can't be saved, to honor what can and perhaps to make others more aware of, and more willing to accept and share, the same cycle in themselves.

The book is a series of short stories and the one she's reading now is about a 7-year-old girl who believes only what she sees and hears on the news. For her, there is no Easter Bunny, no Santa Claus and, because she's never seen them, no garbage collectors, who come while she's sleeping.

The last book she read was The Toughest Indian in the World, by Sherman Alexie. Her Dad had that one, too. She's not much of a reader, she said, but since her Dad passed away in January, she's been reading everything he recommended.

It's a way to become closer to him.

Has a book ever helped you to become closer to another person, either by sharing that book with them or, by identifying with characters who have common ground with people in your life?


autumn said...

yes. the book is the Quran. me as a Catholic and him as a Muslim, but we became friends. we talked about religion and we never argued about it. so he gave me the book Quran. even though i don't know where he is right now, i know we're still close by heart. :)

Lydia said...

I was first struck by this young woman's current read, as David James Duncan is not that well known. I have read River Teeth, but his first book, The River Why, is one of my favorites. (I don't know how to use HTML tags to italicize the book titles.)

I was secondly struck by your question about books that provided a link to people in our lives. Again, her connection with her deceased dad was surprising to me, in that there is a book that connects me with my deceased father. I did not meet him until I was 21, and we corresponded loosely afterward. The one gift I sent him was A Heaven in the Eye by northwest writer Clyde Rice (whose life's path had similarities to my father's, according to my mom). My father passed away alone in his apartment. He was sitting on the floor with his head on the book in the chair. My brother sent it to me at my request after reading my inscription in the front page. It took me 17 years to read it.

Incidentally Sonya, I have placed a link to your blog in my new blog. It's in the right column under "Blogs with Brains and Soul."

ao.roamer said...

I agree that book can make a link to somebody, in the world of books, it is full of imagination and easily in connection with something & some guys.

girl with the mask said...

That girls story has brought a tear to my eye- what a beautiful way to keep the memory of a loved one alive.

G.I.M x

Jared said...

Many people I have met here and there recommend books to me, and I realize that this is usually a means of forming the kind of link you're talking about. Tragically, I have found it difficult to read many of the books that others recommend, and sometimes I see this as a kind of hex, like our friendship is less meaningful because I can't intellectually identify with them or vice versa.

I like this blog a lot.

Ms. Bassette said...

Interesting concept, not being able to connect and having it seen as a hex.

I love when I turn students onto books, and when I find one that reads almost anything I recommend, it's really cool. On the other hand, when a student consistently rejects my suggestions, it is hard to connect through books. So, the hex is there, a bit, for me.
On the other hand, my sister and I, who are very close, read nothing a like. It's almost a joke for us. I have shared this blog with her because, even if we don't read the same books, we are both voracious readers. Maybe that's all the connection one needs.

Andrew said...

I am a huge fan of David James Duncan. I was introduced to his books my senior year of high school with The River Why. The next year I read River Teeth at the beach, The Brothers K the next year, and his most recent book, God Laughs and Plays, I read in about a week and refer to it often, as it covers such a wide range of topics. If you're looking for fiction that not only draws you into the story of other people's lives, but also invites you to participate in the discussion and thought they are going through, these books are a definite plus.

Seri said...

I love recommending books to others. And I feel connected to people when we can have a conversation about what we've read.

Princess Haiku said...

Years ago I was looking for a copy of "Claudine in Paris" in an East Bay bookstore and found a French husband instead. You never know what you might find in a bookstore if you sometimes look at other reader's as well as the books.

Sonya said...

Princess Haiku,
That's a beautiful story!

Did you see the article in the NY Times today (I posted it as a link in the sidebar) about how books can bring a couple together or drive them apart? It was a fun article.