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The Almost Moon- Alice Seebold

February 21, 2008

Just my thoughts- check out Nadine O’Regans excellent interview with Alice Seebold here.

Very approachable style of writing so a quick enough read.  The beginning of the book does take a bit more time since she is hopping back and forth between the present and the past and sometimes it takes that bit of effort to keep track of which period she is in.  Further in the book she does calm down with longer stretches in the past and present. 

I do like how she will give quick glimpses into events and will then come back to them later in greater detail though.  Adds some suspense since you do not have the full story and what you think happened turns out to be slightly different than the first impression. 

This is a book with many themes but the overriding them is of death and mental illness.  Not only does it deal with the death of her mother and father but later in the book there are a few other deaths on their road- one of which is a defining moment for her family.  Up to the end though there are new deaths being mentioned- both past and present.  Of course the mother’s mental illness is well defined but you only find out about the father later on in the book.  While most moments are of misery there are some standout times that have some happiness- when she goes to the neighbors house for the first time and sees his collection and then her description of the fathers house with the plywood family. 

Was easy to put myself into the location of the story since where I am from in Maryland is virtually next door to Pennsylvania and extremely similar in the landscape…there are even disappearing roads into a reservoir not far from me as in the fathers hometown.

The majority of the book feels honest and direct which can be difficult given the subject matter.  The reasoning behind the killing, the sex afterwards with the friends son, the dealings with the ex-husband all give a very good insight into the character.  I do think that the end of the book was a bit contrived.  The fact that she is thinking about killing herself with a sort of pre-destined feeling and the details of the letter to the daughter did not need to be spelled out.

One thing I do have to remark on is in chapter 6:

‘It took me a moment to remember her current boy friend’s name, but as I reached up to touch the branch of the dogwood tree, I remembered its fill-in-the-blank quality.  Joe or Bob or Tim.  A one-syllable, easily replaceable name.’

Tim…replaceable?!  I suppose I should be happy that Seebold thinks Tim is common enough to be mentioned since it would usually be Tom.  With knowing so few Tim’s myself though I would think the name is memorable…in fact I knew of only one other Tim when I was growing up- he happened to be in my class and had the same birthday (a bit freaky that).  I admit that Timothy has more of a ring but I don’t use that one unless I have to…and it is a brave person who calls me Timmy!

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