Thursday, November 9, 2006

We Were the Mulvaneys

Editor's Note: As happy as I am for Democrats on a national level, I'm not sure I've recovered from the initial sting of a certain loss in District 29 and complete lack of sanity Idaho voters have exhibited--no more election talk today.

While in Boise I had the time and wisdom to sit down and read. Not a book for school, not a book about Idaho anything. I read We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates.

Every now and again we must read books that remind us that everyone has to face extraordinary adversity and conflict. Every now and again we need to read about a family even more screwed up than our own. That is exactly what I found with this book. A Catholic family, successful and by all outside appearances completely perfect, falls apart at the seams. The book, written from the perspective of Judd, the youngest son, follows the breakdown of a family that once was the Mulvaneys.

I often find that movies made of beautifully written books fail in every respect, but when I watched the Hallmark made for tv version of this book, I was pleasantly surprised. The movie at times followed the book, even word for word, and at times in which it ventured from the path the book provided, it was done so with creative genius and respect for the overall story.

When I finished the book I couldn't help but wonder if all of Oates' work reflected that level of deep storytelling or if this book was unique. When I finished the movie I couldn't help but wonder if any other movie had been so accurate in its portrayal of the book. Both were powerful in ways the academic books I've been reading lately have not been and it was a much needed and welcome reading experience.

If you are highly sensitive to family conflict and moral issues I would not recommend this book, but if you want to see a true representation of family and the conflict they are willing to endure for one another, often ripping them apart indefinitely, this is the book.

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