I don’t usually read a book when it’s newly published, hot, on the best-sellers list. I rarely pay attention to or hear about those books, and I guess if I’m perfectly honest about it, I almost have an internal prejudice against them just because everybody (and their pet alligator) is reading them. (I’m often wrong: I, too, can be remarkably plebeian in my taste. I often like what “everybody else” likes.)
but more often than not, I “discover” great books a good year or two after they were on the best-sellers list, and then feel quite ignorant for not having known about them sooner. I console myself with the belief that good books will come to me at the right time…. like the lotus eaters, which just came my way a few weeks ago.
now if you–like the rest of the world–have already read this book, then you can congratulate yourself for being more aware than I apparently am. or perhaps someone directed you to it, or you bumped into it and liked the cover, or something else about this book drew you in.
I found it because someone on a writing website had re-posted a blog post of the author’s in honor of the release of the author’s second book, the forgetting tree. the author–tatjana soli–mentioned her first book, I liked the post, and there I went. what happened next is that I fell in love.
the lotus eaters is one of those books so beautifully, thoughtfully, and artfully done that I am tempted to throw in the towel and stop calling myself a writer. ms. soli draws pictures with far less than thousands of words; sometimes it takes her but a dozen. I lived in vietnam, I traveled in the jeep with her characters, I flew in their helicopter. I watched one die, I wanted to slap another, and throughout the entire novel I was as a silent observer in every scene. ms. soli holds an MFA–a degree which often portends a laborious read–and although I’m certain she’s naturally gifted, this book is a rare example of how such a degree can contribute to the ability to beautifully craft a story. the lotus eaters is superbly designed, woven, and presented to all who are willing to disappear inside another world for the duration of the story.
as with each truly magnificent book I read, I am simultaneously eager to devour it while desperately reluctant to see the remaining pages dwindle from forty, to twenty-five, to eight, to, oh, one.
so if you, like the me of a month ago, haven’t yet read the lotus eaters, do. borrow it from the library, order it online, go buy it from your favorite local bookstore. but read it. do.