A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara is probably the saddest book I have ever read.
But it is beautiful; its core characters exquisitely rendered.
You meet them when they are young; incomplete and still unfolding. You fall in love with them soon after. Over the course of 800 pages, you grow up with them. You laugh with them; you cry with and for them. You feel you know them; have always known them.
And then you lose them. And it is heartbreaking. Breathtaking, but not in the sense of being awestruck. In the sense of having had the wind knocked out of you. Having taken a punch to the gut.
And Jude. Jude most of all.
The struggles of a soul, of a life spent teetering on a high wire strung between the angels and the beasts.* Between divinity and humanity. Between life and death.
|Tightrope photo — Wiros from Barcelona, Spain - |
For Jude, the question is always one of redemption. Can the loves and the friends and the parents of his adult life ever save him from the absences and the abusers of his childhood? Can he ever be clean; come clean? Can he be repaired? Can he be fixed?
Can he be truly loved in all his brokenness?
And is that enough?
Burden of the Angel Beast, by Bruce Cockburn.
* “For Medieval and Renaissance thinkers, humans occupied a unique position on the chain of being, straddling the world of spiritual beings and the world of physical creation. Humans were thought to possess divine powers such as reason, love, and imagination. Like angels, humans were spiritual beings, but unlike angels, human souls were "knotted" to a physical body. As such, they were subject to passions and physical sensations—pain, hunger, thirst, sexual desire—just like other animals lower on the chain of being…. Humans had a particularly difficult position, balancing the divine and the animalistic parts of their nature. For instance, an angel is only capable of intellectual sin such as pride (as evidenced by Lucifer's fall from heaven in Christian belief). Humans, however, were capable of both intellectual sin and physical sins such as lust and gluttony if they let their animal appetites overrule their divine reason.” From Wikipedia.