Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Prodigal Summer

Day 84 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project. Karen is reading Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver, after reading The Poisonwood Bible with her book group. I hope she will comment here on what her book group thought of Poisonwood Bible, as they were also looking into another book mysteriously similar in construction, as I recall!

Karen is my neighbor, so I know we are both experiencing the spring-as-herald-of-summer- coming-on in its full Midwestern lushness. The grass is tall, violets are spreading, dandelions are rampant. Karen and I both like dandelions; they are pretty, and you can eat them. Our other neighbors are not so fond of dandelions, so it's best to dig them out or mow before they get to the wish-puff seed stage.

Of course, most of the other neighbors use pesticides and lawn services. We do not. Rabbits love it here. (And I expect a return of praying mantis, Karen!) The lawn service guy for the neighbor on the north now scoots some of his little pesticide balls into our side yard, but it's OK, and he hasn't killed any lily-of-the-valley, oh so sweetly blooming right now, along with the mountain bluets.

Blue hosta and two-toned hosta are thriving, their leaves jubilant, raucous. Clematis is opening on the fence, while the bleeding heart is dripping to earth. On Mother's Day weekend I'll choose a few more blooming plants for the garden beds--from a Kiwanis fundraiser garden event that will send kids to camp--and then just try to keep up with the weeding and gentle maintenance of perennials. Next, if they are as astonishingly accommodating-to-the-printed-human-calendar as last year, day lilies will start opening, right on time, starting June 21, the first day of summer.

Wasn't there going to be some talk of a book? Yes! Prodigal Summer is set in Appalachia, with plants and bugs and coyotes. I fondly recall a big fallen hollow tree. The neighbor/pesticide issue weaves into the plot. Here's a book you can judge by its cover (pictured above) and its beautful endpapers, illustrated with moths, including the lovely green Luna.


Kim said...

The word I had to type to post the previous comment was LOBES. I thought you'd like that.

Kim said...

The only time I have ever been upset with a neighbor was when my new neighbor in Minneapolis came over after the fact to inform me that she had sprayed about half my yard with pesticides to keep something she didn't like from growing into hers. She then said, "So don't let your dog into the yard for 24 hours." I am rarely at a loss for words but I was too stunned to speak!

On a nicer note, I'm a huge fan of Barbara Kingsolver but have not gotten around to reading her 2 latest books. I think I will add them to my summer list!

Karen said...

Hi neighbor! I've been blogged about. Wow!

The book that I was told is very similar (and written before Poisonwood Bible) is called The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux. I want to check it out this summer!

Our book club really enjoyed The Poisonwood Bible, though some found it slow to start. I tend to like slower books, so I was fine with that. The theme of damaging good intentions was so very human, and we had some great discussion about it. Most of our group identifies as United Methodist (open hearts, open minds, open doors!), so that came through a lot as we talked about the mission work that was done in the book.

I loved the way that the Price women chose to overcome their circumstances! I wish I hadn't put off reading this book for so long.

I'll update on Prodigal Summer soon. :)

Kathleen said...

I just checked to see if we have The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux at Babbitt's and we don't at this particular moment, though we do have a hardcover book of his short stories.

But, whoa! Wait a minute. Wasn't that made into a movie with Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren?! Of course, read the book first.

marydee said...


My new favorite phrase.

I just read The Dying Animal by Philip Roth. It's a novella and was part of a 10pm - 1am reading marathon. Two days later, I watched the movie based on the book with Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz (and Dennis Hopper). I'm often reluctant to do that because I hate to have images put in my head to replace my imagined characters. The movie doesn't quite succeed in remaining faithful to the book, but the 'R' rating wouldn't have been possible otherwise.

Now that I've read 'The Dying Animal' I have requested the first two books in the David Kepesh trilogy for completeness, The Breast and The Professor of Desire. Too bad I didn't start with the first book first, but it might not matter.

I enjoy checking in with you here. Hope you are well - and it sounds as though you know how to enjoy springtime. My garden is coming to life!