June 30, 2006

Strange Piece of Paradise

Since my computer's been offline, and Matt wasn't here to entertain me, my library addiction had quite a flare up during the last month. One of the books I read was Strange Piece of Paradise; since it's the story of a vicious attack that occurred just over the mountains, it's even more compelling that it would be anyway.

It's *long*. It's printed on some kind of really nice paper, so it looks like your standard 300-page book. It actually weighs in at over 500 pages, and I'm not sure they're all necessary. Helping is that the writing is engaging, the story is absolutely fascinating, and, of course, remembering the local angle. Still, if I'd been the editor ("if I ruled the world!"), I would have tried harder to pare down.

Part of the problem is that the book has two tracks, winding around each other, but essentially separate. One track is the exterior story of the woman who wrote the book: she, along with her college buddy, was viciously attacked as they camped. Some guy drove his truck over the tent in which they were sleeping, then went after them with an axe. Both still bear scars and have physical effects to this day (it happened in the late '70's). Eventually, she realized that she needed more closure on the incident; their attacker was never arrested. The second track is the story of what the attack did to her psychologically, and how her search for the attacker affected her, as well as the community from which he--the axeman--came. It is perhaps shallow of me, but I found the first track way more compelling. I was interested--fascinated, really--with how she dealt with the aftermath of trauma....but I could have used fewer anecdotes about it, I think.

Still and all, I'd recommend it. By the end of the book, I felt like I had real insight into the author's personality, courage, and character. Parts of it are brutally, brutally honest, and I have to respect that.

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