Friday, February 22, 2008

Mountains

David and I have joined a group of friends who live on a farm in the peaceful hills of Pennsylvania for a book group. In preparation for our first meeting tomorrow evening, I spent much of this snowy afternoon reading Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder.

What a powerful book!

I think I'll be writing more about the main thrust of the book soon, but right now I'm stuck on a different part:

There are times when Kidder shows stories that portray Farmer is an arrogant and judgmental man, although the author never seems to say it directly or to take responsibility for casting that vision. In fact, he presents some very difficult-to-handle situations and then essentially justifies the decisions Farmer makes, even though the stories also make Farmer look bad. (I'm thinking especially about his relationship with his wife and daughter here--but it is certainly true at many other moments.)

He (Kidder) also seems overly concerned (at least at times) about whether or not Farmer likes him or approves of him. It is an odd narrative voice occasionally, one that casts the author as a central character in not just the search for the story but in its emotional pacing.

Have you read this book--or another by Kidder? What do you think?

1 comment:

Barbara deG said...

I read this book the summer of 2005. I remember because I was traveling in the Netherlands and reading it - and ended up talking about it while in the airport with a young woman. I can't imagine how a person works like 20 hours a day. It's an important book - I have 2 of his books which I haven't gotten to read (more demanding). A friend of mine worked with him at Harvard School of Public Health a number of years ago on AIDS related issues.

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