I did not read anything today. I went home to the Twin Cities this weekend and spent time shopping, hanging out with my family, and visiting friends I haven’t seen in awhile. I didn’t even read on the car ride to and from Madison — I was having too much fun talking with my driving companion. So, that’s how I spent my Sunday.
I did read a little more of The Gravedigger’s Daughter over the week. So far, it’s pretty typical Joyce Carol Oates. A sympathetic, if a little eccentric main female character has a tragedy occur in her life and we follow her to see how the tragedy has a rippling effect on her life and those closest to her.
In this case, the main character is Rebecca, who at the beginning of the book is married in her mid 20s. After the first chapter, we jump back to Rebecca as a child. Her family escaped from Nazi Germany and moves to a small town in the United States. Her highly-educated father gets work as an undertaker, a job he feels is demeaning and below him. The family gets picked on by the townspeople and slowly begins to fall apart — Rebecca’s brothers leave home, her father and mother’s relationship gets strained, and eventually the tragedy occurs. I’m not going to say what the tragedy is, just that it’s happened and now I’m moving on to see what the implications are.
As I’ve read this book, I keep trying to figure out what it is about Joyce Carol Oates that I like so much. I want to have that pinned down by the time I get around to writing my review of this book. Not just so I can write the review, but also so I can finally understand what it is about Oates that keeps me coming back for more.