Water for Elephants

I recently finished Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, a quick and interesting read about a train circus in 1930s America. I'm captivated by the little glimpses into depression-era circus life: The heirarchy of the roustabouts and performers, the presence of liquor amidst prohibition, the disturbing treatment of the menagerie, the cooch tent, the practice of redlighting, etc... Sara Gruen covered many bases, and she developed a good portion of the plot around actual incidents that happened across several historical American circuses. There are also period photographs peppered throughout the book, which adds to its nostalgic charm.

In addition to drawing me in from a historical perspective, Water for Elephants had a tendency to tug on my heartstrings. It touched on aging, mortality, familial relationships, cruelty, and loneliness in ways that managed to knock me on my ass repeatedly. It's not always comfortable, but I appreciate it when a book can provoke that kind of an emotional response.

3 comments:

moif said...

My emotions won't tolerate battering these days. I get annoyed with books when they start trying to prod me. Resentful. I've actually not read any books in the last couple of months because of this. I just started a novel by AA Atanasio, but I can feel my nerves jangling when ever the emotional manipulation starts getting too obvious

I never used to be this vulnerable, but I guess its a by product of age and losing my mother. I wonder if I'll ever recover my former confidence?

Ironically, I feel better able to cope with every day life now than I have done for a long time.

Cyan said...

I can certainly appreciate the vulnerability that comes with grief and age. I've also had some emotional difficulties since the death of my grandmother and step-mother (difficulties which are greatly complicated by other familial issues). As a consequence, I've built a lot of emotional walls that weren't there before in order to protect myself from my family and from myself. Unfortunately, at this point, I think it's harming me more than it's helping.

I've recently been trying to force myself to deal with certain issues rather than stuffing them away or allowing them to come out as anger. Sadly, this is something that's happened fairly frequently within the past two years, and it's not comfortable at all. I've never been an angry person, and I definitely don't want to become one now.

Anything that provokes a different emotion is welcomed at the moment.

Princess Haiku said...

I read this book last year and enjoyed it as it was an introduction to a new world to me. It was sad; but not without hope. Like real life I guess.