Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Lovely Bones: Of Ghosts & Passions

As per my 2011 theme of re-discovering my passions, I’ve finished this month’s book, Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. Although it was an easy, five hour read on a holiday Monday, it held an element of intrigue that kept me turning pages – the unknown knowledge humans crave but can never hold – where do we go when we die? Reminding me slightly of the paradisaical, ominous world of Richard Matheson’s What Dreams May Come, Susie creates her heaven and aches for her family. She discovers a union with others in her heaven, who live partially with her, and partially in their own version of heaven they create.

Susie Salmon is brutally raped and murdered at the age of 14, in the late 1960s and spends the following eight years of her “life” as a ghost, an in-between between two odd worlds, desperately trying to reach out to help her family cope.

While a hellish serial killer posing as a friendly neighbor roams cities and towns all over the country, Susie, both knowingly and unknowingly, communicates with her family. She watches her family tear apart, her brother withdraw, her father internalize emotions and her mother abandon a life she never wanted. The one part of life we cannot control – death - is the most sinister, inescapable part. Peter Jackson’s movie interpretation is next on my list. The Lovely Bones is a must read, for those who need a half day escape into someone else’s heaven or hell.

As I read through the novel, shivers ran through me, not from the horrific, Stephen King-like descriptions I expected and didn’t find, but from the simple knowledge that we will one day leave this world. To be honest, I couldn't help but think of my beautiful puppy, who will most likely leave me before I leave her. Steph W and Morgan K’s paranormal investigator group, Entity Seeker Paranormal Investigators, was on my mind the whole day. I’ve never been sure how much I can believe in something so unproven, yet time after time, they find evidence of haunting here in Edmonton, in houses, in landmarks, in schools. Check out, here.

I have to admit, though, I’m not doing too well on the writing aspect of the “re-discovering passions” theme. Last year’s entry to WOW Writing Contest put my “postcard story” in the top 100 (of 300), but I’ve yet to re-enter it in this quarter’s contest, or write another. Postcard stories are bursts of emotion, action, plot and character development – in a 250 to 750 word world.

“Claire’s Scar” (click here to read it) is the product of a two hour inspired Starbucks session in a near-empty North Edmonton store last year and a bunch of editing– all I need is two hour spurts like these to create something great. I’ve bought two novels on how to write a novel, one with a 52 week plan, but they remain on my desk, amid tutoring books, McGill work and my work laptop. One day, I will be the author of something great – I’m discovering that, congruent with the passions theme, I must leave behind parts of my life that are on autopilot and jump into what I’ve always wanted. Life, as Alice Sebold reminds us, is too short. I just need to dedicate the time to explore these passions.

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