I've been reading one of my favorite books, Light and Its Shadow by Shelley Berc. I've already read it from front to back. I've kept it nearby to flip open and read from here or there. Now I'm reading it from back to front. It's a great book no matter from which direction you start!
here's a review i've been working on, this is a book you may enjoy
LIGHT AND ITS SHADOW
Olive is 100 years old and feeling disease in all its shapes and forms. She calls her ward, Spider to come home, not only for companionship. Olive also has a request: that Spider type Olive's memories of life into the computer.
So we begin in Galatea Illinois in the year 1908. "The small child, in a flannel nightgown dotted with snowmen, stretched on tiptoe to press her nose against the windowpane.". . . "She thrust her hand out, palm up to catch the falling crystal flakes. ‘The light is so cold,' she whispered. ‘Beautiful cold.'"
And before we can stop her, 8 year old Olive is in the freezing snowy street with her fancy savings bank to visit her father at his bank. Here is a little lady with a very strong ability to reach her goals!
We join Olive as she discovers her vocation, discovers and loses love, finds Spider and holds her close, supports the war effort and indeed leads a very full life. With her we observe ourselves asking the same questions we all consider in our years on earth.
What is beauty? What is love? What is science? What is belief?
Which is need? Which is desire? . . . Which is light and which is shadow?
All of her answers are beautifully given to us in a visually and emotionally stunning style. The changes Olive has experienced during a century of life teach us a way to view life with creativity and joy.
Spider learns as much about herself as she does about Olive while typing memories into the computer. I identify most of all with Spider. She is like me in so many ways while Olive is the model of who I could have been if I had known how to make it happen.
Particularly relevant to now is Olive's perception of capitalism as she rides the peak and depth money finds as the years pass. Her disease is like a downturn in fortunes which she may no longer be able to bear until the simplest, most natural product of creation brings the upturn she never dreamed could happen.
(A little bit to add:)
Olive experienced the beginning, middle and now the end of the lure of capitalism and has an engaging story to tell, one that informs our perspective on modern life on many levels.
(Note on relevance to discussion of capitalism: Olive is 100 years old. In her lifetime she has seen the development of modern capitalism and its demise. This fictional novel describes the arc of capitalism with great understanding and perception through the life of entrepreneur, Olive, who thought it would be a path to enlightenment.
The book is a high quality paperback with a lovely feel to it. The pages are smooth to the touch. The margins of each page are wider at the side connected to the binding. This light and airy design makes reading particularly appealing.
Light and Its Shadow
Published (2008) under the imprint Ethos Books
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