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The Lacuna: A Novel (P.S.) by Barbara…

The Lacuna: A Novel (P.S.) (edition 2010)

by Barbara Kingsolver

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4,6492401,711 (3.87)1 / 614
"The story of Harrison William Shepherd, a man caught between two worlds -- Mexico and the United States in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s -- and whose search for identity takes readers to the heart of the twentieth century's most tumultuous events"--Provided by publisher.
Title:The Lacuna: A Novel (P.S.)
Authors:Barbara Kingsolver
Info:Harper Perennial (2010), Edition: 1, Paperback, 544 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:books of 2010

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The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

Recently added byArina40, private library, rachelreading, stayathomelibrary
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    Anonymous user: It is set in Mexico and deals, obliquely and amusingly, with women's rights.
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English (238)  French (1)  All languages (239)
Showing 1-5 of 238 (next | show all)
Kingsolver is my favorite author, so I was surprised at how challenged I was to finish this book. I actually started reading it at least once before, around the time it was published. I abandoned it then, always meaning to pick it up again. I finally did and then it took me 5 months to get through it. The story of Shepherd is in turns both fascinating and somehow flat. I think it might be the main character himself. The reader sees his life unfold from his eyes, without knowing who he is. I enjoyed reading about the Bonus marchers but found the parts about Frida and Diego disappointingly jumbled and foggy. The latter parts of the book when Shepherd lives in Asheville were where I really became invested in the story. Somehow I wish I'd known where this story was going earlier on, so I could understand what the heck we were talking about. ( )
  klnbennett | Oct 7, 2020 |
A worthwhile read that brought to life what it was like living through the Depression, WWII and into the 1950s.
I've liked other books by this author. Her style and word choice make for enjoyable reading.
The author gets the perspective of the narrator right. That perspective changes in a realistic way as the boy matures. The action flags in the middle but it picks up again. ( )
  helenar238 | Oct 4, 2020 |
It took me awhile to get into this one. Eventually, you realized this isn't much of a story but more of a memoir for a fictional person. Once you get invested in his life (which for me came about when he returned to Mexico) it picks up. There are a lot of political things toward the end of the book, for example the government creating an enemy out of communists and unfairly persecuting them, that still feel relevant today. An interesting way to get a little history in with your fiction. ( )
  luzdelsol | Jul 31, 2020 |
As a Barbara Kingsolver completist, I was thrilled back in 2010 when Barbara Kingsolver almost won the The Morning News Tournament of Books -- taking second place to Wolf Hall ( https://themorningnews.org/tob/2010/ ). But it has taken me a decade to get around to The Lacuna. I guess other writers have been distracting. A little variety doesn't hurt anyway.
Harrison Shepherd is a fictional character surrounded by a few real historical people in Mexico. I loved the book most when Harrison was a kid, swimming around in the ocean with goggles given to him by the family cook. Harrison hanging around the cook gives him an advantage to eventually cook for Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. This is interesting enough, and then Trotsky shows up adding a lot of drama and politics (mostly Stalin's fault, I suppose). I don't know my history enough to know how accurate any of this is, or any of their true personalities. Which is one of my problems with historical novels including real people: were they really like how they are portrayed in the book? And that is certainly a theme that runs here. Harrison becomes a novel writer and I wonder why such the long tangent after the scene departs from the historical figures. But by then end, I understood the reason for the journey - just wouldn't have minded 50-100 pages cut out anyway. Most of the book is told through journals or letters, which could get to be tedious for some readers. I consider Kingsolver to shine most brightly with nature, and I love that about her books, or characters appreciating nature in most of her books has me appreciating her characters. So this might be why Harrison in the ocean is the bright spot. This is the perfect choice for summer anyway! ( )
  booklove2 | Jul 24, 2020 |
  chapterthree | Jun 5, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 238 (next | show all)
Kingsolver, at the top of her craft, builds pyramids of language and scenic highways through mountains of facts, while plotting a mostly tight course through the fictional premises that convey her writing’s social conscience. In this book, pacifism, social justice, and free expression are the standards she shoulders.
added by Shortride | editBookforum, Celia McGee (Dec 1, 2009)
“The Lacuna” can be enjoyed sheerly for the music of its passages on nature, archaeology, food and friendship; or for its portraits of real and invented people; or for its harmonious choir of voices. But the fuller value of Kingsolver’s novel lies in its call to conscience and connection.
Barbara Kingsolver's new novel, "The Lacuna," is the most mature and ambitious one she's written during her celebrated 20-year career, but it's also her most demanding. Spanning three decades, the story comes to us as a collection of diary entries and memoir, punctuated by archivist's notes, newspaper articles, letters, book reviews and congressional transcripts involving some of the 20th century's most radical figures. The sweetness that leavened "The Bean Trees" and "Animal Dreams" has been burned away, and the lurid melodrama that enlivened "The Poisonwood Bible" has been replaced by the cool realism of a narrator who feels permanently alienated from the world.
A serious problem with The Lacuna is telegraphed in its striking title. "Lacuna" refers to a gap or something that's absent. The motif of the crucial missing piece runs throughout the novel, but the thing unintentionally missing here is an engaging main character. Our hero, Harrison Shepherd, is an accidental onlooker to history buffeted by other people's plans and passions.
Narrated in the form of letters, diary entries and newspaper clippings, the novel takes a while to get going, but once it does, it achieves a rare dramatic power that reaches its emotional peak when Harrison wittily and eloquently defends himself before the House Un-American Activities Committee (on the panel is a young Dick Nixon). Employed by the American imagination, is how one character describes Harrison, a term that could apply equally to Kingsolver as she masterfully resurrects a dark period in American history with the assured hand of a true literary artist.
added by khuggard | editPublishers Weekly
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In the beginning were the howlers.
A novel! Why do you say this won't liberate anyone? Where does any man go to be free, whether he is poor or rich or even in prison? To Dostoyevsky! To Gogol!
The most important thing about a person is always the thing you don't know.
Does a man become a revolutionary out of the belief he’s entitled to joy rather than submission?
The Painter took a book down to show it off: a codex. Made a hundred years ago by monks, who laboured to make exact replicas of the ancient books the Mexica people made on thick tree-bark paper. It didn't have pages exactly, but was one long folded paper like an accordion. The ancient language is pictures, little figures. He said it was the Codex Boturini, about the peregrinations of the Azteca.... The long page was divided into two hundred fourteen small boxes, each one recording the main thing that happened in that year.... Small, inked footprints trailed down the full length of the book, the sad black tracks of heartache.
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"The story of Harrison William Shepherd, a man caught between two worlds -- Mexico and the United States in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s -- and whose search for identity takes readers to the heart of the twentieth century's most tumultuous events"--Provided by publisher.

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In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.

Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico—from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City—Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence.

Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. There in the land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in America's hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. He finds support from an unlikely kindred soul, his stenographer, Mrs. Brown, who will be far more valuable to her employer than he could ever know. Through darkening years, political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach—the lacuna—between truth and public presumption.

With deeply compelling characters, a vivid sense of place, and a clear grasp of how history and public opinion can shape a life, Barbara Kingsolver has created an unforgettable portrait of the artist—and of art itself. The Lacuna is a rich and daring work of literature, establishing its author as one of the most provocative and important of her time.
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