Lowell, where my studio is, has many canals, which were used to power the old textile mills. Canals make me think of Venice, which I visited once, and Amsterdam, where I've never been, but I think I would like. My reading these days takes me farther afield. I left India and went to Chechnya, via the deeply moving, beautifully written, interesting (and harrowing) novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. The first line:
On the morning the Feds burned down her house and took her father, Haava woke from dreams of sea anemones.
Isn't that the most wonderful sentence? It encompasses the novel--harshness and the beauty.
It brought to life for me Chechnya, a place I've only had the vaguest understanding of, though Chechnya was much in the Boston news after the marathon bombings, because the accused brothers have Chechen roots. (Read more about Chechnya here.) There was an eerie aspect to reading it in light of the bombings, since amputations due to land mines are an important part of the book. (One of the main characters is the only doctor left in a hospital abandoned in war-time.)
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a deep and poignant story of families who are connected in unexpected ways. A dark book--but that makes what light shines through more powerful. It's a book that I know will stay with me.