Euphoria by Lily King
Five words: Sweaty. Typewriters. Vivid. Tragic. Gripping.
Plus a few more: I had been reading this slowly over the past two weeks, catching little bits on the subway and in the few minutes before sleep. At first, it was a book that I found pleasant enough to return to, but not one that stayed with me when I put it down. By the end, it became all-consuming and I raced through it. Set in the jungles along the Sepik River of New Guinea, the book is based loosely on details about a 1933 field trip by anthropologists Margaret Mead, her husband, Reo Fortune, and the man who would become her second husband, Gregory Bateson. But King’s novel is largely a torrid tale of her own making. Her final chapters make the whole read wildly worth it. (And not for nothing, but if you can manage to read them while curled onto a 1940s canvas cot well, all the better.)
Here’s a tiny taste: “I am learning the chopped rhythm of their talk, the sound of their laughter, the cant of their heads. I can feel the relationships, the likes & dislikes in the room in a way I never could if I could speak. You don’t realize how language actually interferes with communication until you don’t have it, how it gets in the way like an overdominant sense. You have to pay much more attention to everything else when you can’t understand the words. Once comprehension comes, so much else falls away. You then rely on their words, and words aren’t always the most reliable thing.”
For bookshelf of borrowing: Borrowing. This was on the bestseller list at my local bookstore, so I scooped it up during a weekend browse. I loved reading it, but it’s the kind of book I’ll be happy to pass along to someone else next.
Your turn: Have you read it? What did you think? Read anything else good lately?