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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Art Of Hearing Heartbeats

What percentage of the novels you've finished over the last three years have deepened your experience of living?


Since first being exposed to that phrase, I've used it as model. Three years on, I'd estimate about 20% of the novels I've finished have met that bar. Some of them, like the exceptional book cited in my November 4 2012 post above - Jaimy Gordon's "The Lord of Misrule" - did so by exposing me to an unfamiliar world. And others - like "The Art Of Hearing Heartbeats" (Jan-Philip Sendker - 2002) - did so by re-familiarizing me with the fundamentals we all share - the need to love and be loved, the mysteries of the human heart, the balancing act that is life.

Sendker's book is not perfect. Parts of it tug a little too much at the heart, the short chapters can be a bit episodic and the central surprise is not hard to see coming - all minor quibbles. The prose is assured, Tin Win's backstory and his daughter Julia's growing understanding of the forces that shaped her father are skillfully depicted, and two of the chapters near the end featuring Tin Win and Mi Mi are deeply moving yet beautifully understated.

When any of you read this gem, please let me know how your experience of life has deepened.     

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