The Giant’s House-Elizabeth McCracken

The giant's house


So I’m a little behind on my blogging, so you get two at once! Yay! I finished this book last night and my initial thoughts are eh.

Well written but flat. Emotionally flat, a landscape of suppressed, depressed feeling.

The main character Peggy is supposed to be emotionally stilted, blocked, a librarian who enjoys order and has devoted herself to James.

James the ginger giant, who has a pituitary gland problem and can’t stop growing. Who grows to be over 8 feet tall.

He comes into her library when he is 11 and slowly but surely she begins to gravitate towards him, bringing him books and eventually becoming a companion, caretaker  and a part of the family he lives with.

This novel held promise of emotional depths to me, but the truth is though she said she did, I never really believed Peggy loved James, rather that she just wanted a person to devote herself too.  And the character is fairly self aware, she knows she is stingy of heart and character. She knows she is overly ordered.

But it leaves me wanting something else. What a waste of a life. She talks about living outside of her body. Wanting to live through James’ body. And I think that is very true of many of us. We’d rather live outside of our bodies, or live only from the neck up.

But what a dull and lackluster existence that is. Sure the mind is magical, but intellectualism will only get you so far. To ignore the body and it’s needs. To cast it aside or in Jame’s case to see it as a burden, well I think it’s all too common. And I know I do it, I know I avoid being in my body. Sometimes to sidestep emotions, other times to escape physical pain. But then I miss out on the present moment. I miss out on the smells, the feelings, all manner of gooey experiences that are there for me to savour. The sensuality of day to day life is lost.

Ultimately I believe in this book that Peggy is more married to her sadness than anything else. That first and foremost she is committed to maintaining that grief. Because she operates, like I do , under the false belief that grief is more real. That grief is smarter than joy, than happiness. That sad is what clever people are.

This novel gets your brain thinking, but neglects the heart. Because ultimately Peggy neglects her heart.

So may my next book be full of heartfelt sensuality.


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