FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

I Can Put It Down

During a flight, I usually read a mystery, for time zooming. My sister Laura, a crime/drama addict, provides recommendations. She says, “If someone isn’t murdered on page one, I’m not interested.” She’s kidding (maybe), but the books she praises have multiple plot developments, and just when you’re certain you know who did what, there’s a whiplashing twist.

Laura: “I have a library book you have to read: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. You won’t be able to put it down.”

Since e-pal P also suggested I read this, I checked Amazon for a plot synopsis. A mother is walking with her five-year-old son. When they get to their neighborhood, she releases his hand. He says he’ll race her home. Suddenly, a car looms, hits the child, kills him. No, no, no. I can’t read this. When I tell Laura, she says, “Once you get through the first half, you’ll be okay.” Only half? No, I have children, sons, a grandson. No.

“You won’t be able to put it down.”

I can put it down–this book I’m reading now. Two others immediately appear in my mind in a column beneath the category: I Can Put It Down—although probably there are more.

Ann Finkbeiner’s After the Death of a Child: Living with Loss through the Years is one. I know Ann, although I haven’t seen her in years. When my husband Charles and I moved with our sons into a house near Johns Hopkins University, we were invited to a dinner party at a neighbor’s. The neighbor said, “Don’t talk about your children. Ann Finkbeiner (who lived across the street) will be here. Her son was killed in the Amtrak accident.” Later, I’d stand at the bedroom window, looking over at Ann’s house, and wonder how she could breathe. Some years later, after Charles and I moved to Nashville, Ann, a science writer, wrote a book about her son’s death and because I knew her, I bought it. I’d read a few pages, cry, close the book, and I’d think about my children, think if I’d read Ann’s book before having children, I wouldn’t have had them. This is the magnitude of the anguish Ann conveyed.

Kathleen Christison’s It’s All Right I’m Only Crying: A Chronicle of Love and Grief is another. In 2012, four years after Charles died, I wrote an article about Christison’s memoir and ended with:

I understand intimately the loss and pain expressed so exquisitely on the pages I’ve been able to read in Kathleen’s book. But I cannot see through tears. Maybe I should say that what I see through these tears is too much for me to bear. I hope eventually to treat Kathleen Christison’s love story to Bill with the grace it deserves.

Now I’m reading Edward Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery And The Making of American Capitalism. Sent to me as a birthday gift by my older son, the book is a 420-page-statement of barbarism in which Baptist passionately depicts the hideous story of the commodification of black men and women who endured bondage, whose white owners tortured, traded, sold, separated them from their families. The elegance of Baptist’s prose, at times poetic, captures the horrifying. The reader hears the clang of metal shackles that chain the men, feels the ropes binding the women, inhales the blood, sweat, and tears of slaves tied together to prevent escape on their march to toil thanklessly, mercilessly, for U.S. capitalism, laying U.S. Empire’s foundation.

I can put it down. I can put it down so often I may be dead before I complete it. I can put it down because it pierces my heart, my conscience. Its truth is damning, a legacy so disturbing I have to put it down.

More articles by:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 27, 2019
Kris Hermes
Syrian Refugee Terror Plot or Latest in Pattern of FBI-Manufactured Terrorism Cases?
Charles Pierson
Don’t Leave Nukes on the Shelf. Use Them!
Manuel García, Jr.
American Climate Change Policy: You Don’t Matter
Robert Hunziker
At 100, Gaia Faces its Biggest Challenges
Ramzy Baroud
The Day After: What if Israel Annexes the West Bank?
Peter Bolton
The Failed Venezuelan Coup and the Decline of US Hegemony
Thomas Knapp
One Cheer for Trump on Iran
Robert Lipsyte
Jockpocalypse: From the Ballpark to Team Trump
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson
When Trump Did the Right Thing…Twice
John W. Whitehead
Mass Arrests, Power Grabs and the Politics of Fear
Myles Hoenig
Voter Disenfranchisement in Toronto
Binoy Kampmark
The Pinkerton Effect: The US Marines in Darwin
Michael Galant
Time for a Global Minimum Wage
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
How We Are All Climate Change Deniers
June 26, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The U.S.-Iran Imbroglio: Dangerous Lessons To Be Learned
Paul Street
Reflections and Correspondence at the Abyss
John Laforge
Trump’s Ministry of No Information
Paul Edwards
Fool Me Twice
Rob Hager
Warren and Sanders: Compare and Contrast
John Steppling
The Monkey’s Face
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A World of Shadows
Jaspal Kaur Sadhu Singh
Correcting a Colonial Injustice: The Return of the Chagos Islands to Its Natives
Binoy Kampmark
Violent Voyeurism: Surveillance, Spyware and Human Rights
Jonah Raskin
Reflections on Abbie Hoffman and Joshua Furst’s Novel, Revolutionaries
Dave Chapman
The Hydroponic Threat to Organic Food
June 25, 2019
Rannie Amiri
Instigators of a Persian Gulf Crisis
Patrick Cockburn
Trump May Already be in Too Deep to Avoid War With Iran
Paul Tritschler
Hopeful Things
John Feffer
Deep Fakes: Will AI Swing the 2020 Election?
Binoy Kampmark
Bill Clinton in Kosovo
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Japanese Conjuncture
Edward Hunt
Is Mexico Winding Down or Winding up the Drug War?
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump’s Return to Full-Spectrum Dominance
Steve Kelly
Greed and Politics Should Not Drive Forest Policy
Stephen Carpa
Protecting the Great Burn
Colin Todhunter
‘Modified’: A Film About GMOs and the Corruption of the Food Supply for Profit
Martin Billheimer
The Gothic and the Idea of a ‘Real Elite’
Elliot Sperber
Send ICE to Hanford
June 24, 2019
Jim Kavanagh
Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back
Nino Pagliccia
Sorting Out Reality From Fiction About Venezuela
Jeff Sher
Pickin’ and Choosin’ the Winners and Losers of Climate Change
Howard Lisnoff
“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”
Robert Fisk
The West’s Disgraceful Silence on the Death of Morsi
Dean Baker
The Old Japan Disaster Horror Story
David Mattson
The Gallatin Forest Partnership and the Tyranny of Ego
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail