March 10, 2020

The Best of 2019

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As a perennial bookworm each year approaches its end, I peruse the stacks and contemplate, what was the best book I read this year? It is like my own little Nobel Prize for Literature, and likely many will receive it as their holiday gift from me. This year it was easy to choose, a slender volume, like a wiry athlete with stunning power, grace and wisdom: The Apology by Eve Ensler.

Eve Ensler is best known for the famed Vagina Monologues that captured the world by storm. Many people of all ages and stripes have read the book and/or seen the play and learned tremendously from it in numerous ways. She also wrote a powerful memoir which juxtaposes her personal journey through cancer, with her courageous volunteer work with sexually traumatized women in the Congo.

I think The Apology is her best yet. Ensler’s father, who died 31 years ago, sexually and physical abused her for many years. This book is a letter of apology, that she writes as if she were him. It is the apology she always wished for but never got from the real man. In it she recounts in some detail the many horrors he perpetrated on her, and the profound and global impact on her life. In it, “he” describes how he felt, and without denying or backing away from responsibility for what he did, attempts t makes sense out of how he could have done those things. And he is truly sorry. It is the fantasy that so many who were sexually traumatized dream of, that rarely happens in real life. Ensler says in a number of interviews available on YouTube, that the effect on her life, of writing it, was profound.

It is an interesting thought for many, to try writing such a letter to themselves. I am long fascinated by the subject of apology in general and what is required to authentically forgive. For me, a great too for forgiveness is coming to understand, “How could you have done this to me?” In many cases, a true understanding of the other and what about his or her life, could allow such an act, loosens something. Does not excuse it, but makes it somehow intelligible in a way that may lead me to make my peace. It seemed that was some of what happened for her, even in imagination.

Not for the faint of heart, I highly recommend this book, or at the very least, check out the YouTube interviews with Eve Ensler.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome! As well as your own thoughts about what makes a book great?

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