Friday, October 1, 2010

REVIEW: Thoughts on Mel Bosworth's GREASE STAINS, KISMET, AND MATERNAL WISDOM


I've mentioned elsewhere that I read Mel Bosworth's Grease Stains, Kismet, and Maternal Wisdom on a bus ride to Washington, D.C. That's a ten-hour ride from my neck of the woods in Kentucky.

After I finished reading, I still had nine hours left before D.C. That alone says something, as I do not read quickly. I read very slowly and deliberately. Always have. I just forgot to while reading this book. The pages just kept turning. David and Samantha kept popping around corners and then coming back and taking my hand and pulling me along. It was a rush.

I read the book twice more during the trip and each time found something else to appreciate. As is often the case with Bosworth's work, there is a lighthearted tone even in the most serious moments and the same can be said of more or less everything else of his I've read over the past couple of years.

A quick breakdown of my overall impression after each of the three readings are basically: David and Samantha = love. David and Samantha = fate. David and Samantha = a reminder that hope was never alive or dead or anything to begin with but was always there, present at the time of creation, perhaps, never born in this moment or that, but looping always with love and eternity in tow.

And then, aside from the overall feel of this tightly woven novel is the introduction of two characters drawn to one another through the confines of the fictive world in which they exist and also their near-holy ascension outside the realm of the narrative itself. Events are important but we're always reminded that getting to the next scene is almost secondary. The journey is truly the thing with this book. Destination steps aside. And when that happens, we have a man and a woman and all else is backdrop.

Bosworth gives us us an innocent voice in David and a strong force, a careening wind or cresting wave, in his Samantha. That's how I thought of Samantha while reading. David's Samantha. I imagined extra scenes in my head where David would introduce Samantha to other characters by saying, "This is my Samantha."

And when I did this, I was reminded of Bosworth's ability to inject the dramatic and deeply moving into his wit and humor and talent with a turn of phrase, his quirky characters. Just when you're reading a bit of dialogue that made you laugh aloud to someone on a ten-hour bus ride, you stop and think of Samantha or of David and you relax back into your seat and put a hand to your chest. There it is, you think to yourself. A flutter just behind my breastbone. A place I'd forgotten about while laughing, a place Mel Bosworth always keeps in mind and enters into carefully.

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