Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Salvage the Bones

I finished Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward last night.  I had not heard of Jesmyn Ward before but the premise of the story sounded interesting -- a  poor black family living in Mississippi when on of the most devastating hurricanes in US history hits South, Hurricane Katrina. 

Much of my ex's family lived in the New Orleans area during Katrina and we spent a lot of time helping them get back on their feet and relocating to KS. This summer we traveled to New Orleans to port out of the city on  a Caribbean cruise. While visiting,  I was able to finally see how the South had and had not recovered from Katrina's devastation. There is still so much to be repaired.

I thought the story was a bit slow at the start but was intrigued by the impoverish ways of living described by Ward -- stealing from neighbor farms, breeding and fighting dogs for money, and living off Vienna sausage and Ramen noodles as a norm.  About midway through the story, it started to gain speed and I, interest.  There is a deep theme running between the main character - a pregnant teen daughter named Esch, Esch's mother who died while giving birth to a son, a  female dog named China that gives birth to puppies, some who make it and some who don't,  and then Hurricane Katrina who is impregnated with fury.  There is symbolism in the idea that the "mother" is a vessel for new growth and delivering death and despair as part of the birthing process.   I rather liked the comparisons and the idea that motherhood is an imperfect process and that in the end, mother nature will take her course.

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