02 October 2013

The Jungle Books

It's funny, synchronicity. You decide to read a book, and then another falls in your lap, and they're both about the jungle.

If it hadn't been for Ann Patchett's State of Wonder, which I loved, I'd never have heard of the anti-malaria drug Lariam, the side effects of which are a recurring thread through out the book. So I wouldn't have been so fascinated by an op-ed piece in the Times about Lariam, which appeared right after I'd finished the book. And if I hadn't first read State of Wonder, set largely on the Amazon in Brazil, would Ingrid Betancourt's Even Silence Has an End - set in the Colombian jungle - been as interesting? Actually, it's kind of long-winded, and not a little tedious, so much so that I almost ditched it halfway through. I was this close to leaving it in the laundry room/swap shack at our Cape Cod vacation rental, but instead I took it home and finished it. And frankly, I was really moved by the end, even almost a little weepy when Betancourt finally gets rescued from the FARC. More than six years in captivity? Emerging from that largely intact, physically and mentally, is a feat.

But still. What's the likelihood of reading two books about the jungle just coincidentally?

And who was the father of Dr. Swenson's baby anyway?


Patois42 said...

All right, I'd best get to the library to get these books. I loved this post.

S said...

Huh. I do like Ann Patchett.

kathy a. said...

that happens to me all the time. it is part coincidence -- i am not an organized reader -- but it is also in the nature of reading, because seeing one thing opens the mind to another in ways that did not exist before. we are wired to make connections, and then, if we are lucky, to compare and contrast, weigh perspectives, come to understandings that are rich and layered.

Jeanne said...

That is fun. I just did that with the name of a kind of food I'd never heard of, and then I read about it somewhere else and figured out what it was.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm happy I read this today and you linked to the article on Lariam. I have my students that are combat veterans talk about how they would NOT take the pills because of all they've heard from others about the side effects. I don't think many people know just how much are military are guinea pigs for all sorts of things.

Speaking of books with medical tie-ins, I am reading Year of Wonders and loving it--it's about the Plague. Such good writing.

Jocelyn said...

I'd like to leave a comment, but I have check my library's catalog to see if STATE OF WONDER is in.

I've been thinking about doing BEL CANTO in my Novels class this spring, but what if STATE OF WONDER is the book I actually want us all to read?