Sunday, 20 April 2014

An Author Who Goes 'Where Angels Fear to Tread'

What was on my night table this week....

You just know when you pick up a book by Joyce Carol Oates you are going to be in for a bit of a ride.  You do have to admire how prolific she is if nothing else, sometimes publishing up to four novels in a year.  As well, I often encounter her articles on all manner of topics published in various magazines and essay compilations.  What a command of the English language, as we used to say in the old days.  She is another one of the authors I have on my watch list and I think I have read most of her novels to date (with the exception of two concerning topics I find too repulsive to endure).  I thoroughly enjoyed Missing Mom and We Were the Mulvaneys, for instance.
Mudwoman is about a woman who has made it to the top...she is the first female president of an Ivy League university.  The title refers to the fact that this woman was abandoned as a small child by her insane mother who left her in a mudflat. She was miraculously saved and was adopted into a loving home provided by a Quaker couple.  This woman, our protagonist, is extremely intelligent and ambitious and by becoming university president she is really at the acme of her life and career.  However, despite having achieved so much, she is severely questioning her own self-worth and ability to fit in and belong.  I cheered for her so much in the beginning as we all want to see an underdog win; it would also be encouraging to think children who suffer at the hands of the adults raising them, can overcome this and make their way successfully in life.
However, we realize (and it wouldn't be a JCO novel if it didn't do this) very quickly that this poor woman is suffering horribly.  Her self-imposed isolation and subsequent loneliness are very much symptomatic of a woman on the edge of mental illness.
How could I say I liked this book?  But I did.  Something about the protagonists' endless questioning of herself appealed to me.  I felt badly for her and empathized with her sadness; her endless internal monologue was interesting material to me.  Is this the way a psychotic break feels? At times we are completely unsure if what is described is really happening or not. 
I had to read to the end to find out what happens to this poor woman, our heroine; I just had to.

And here is my block I....

I think it is my favourite block.  I love irises and I had a lot of fun trying to get the violet/purple colours look okay.  In fact, I did two of this block just to play with the colours.