Monday, January 17, 2011

I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg

Despite loving the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes, I've never read anything by Fannie Flagg, so I don't know how this book compares to her other work.  I very much enjoyed this book and plan to read more by her. 

I was trying to find a book to add to my Kindle while I was traveling over the holidays, so I was looking at new books, and that's how I heard about this book.  (I ended up not buying it for the Kindle, instead I put my name on the waiting list for it at the library.  I've had my Kindle since October and have yet to buy a book for it, but it's got lots of free books on it.  I'm sure when I start traveling more, I'll feel compelled to purchase some books for it.)

I found myself very drawn to the initial description of the book.  Maggie's tired of her life.  She's making plans to end it, careful, well-thought out plans.  But her plans keep getting interrupted.  When she was younger, she was Miss Alabama, and she imagined big things for her life.  But life didn't work out the way she'd hoped.  Maybe I can relate a little too well to this character, that's probably why I felt so drawn to the book.  I was never the winner of a beauty pageant, but I used to think life would be much more interesting than it has turned out to be and not so sad and disappointing.

"What if you're just tired all the time?" she says at one point, when trying to explain her decision.  This is the story of what happens when a person has simply lost interest in life.  Life has become more work, and less fun.  Getting up in the morning feels like a chore and it doesn't make sense that you have to keep on living, especially when no one is going to be deeply affected by the loss. 

It wasn't that her life was bad, it just wasn't the life she'd wanted.  She's not one to whine and complain or seek pity.  She's going to do something about her situation, she's going to end her disappointment.  She doesn't want to upset anyone in the process, she doesn't want to cause any trouble or leave any loose ends.   She pays all her bills and she packs up her clothes and gives away all her money to charity.  She knows exactly what she needs to do.

But also, this is the story of how life interferes when a person is making plans.  And maybe if you wait long enough, everything will turn out okay in the end.  Maybe.  I don't want to give away from happens. 

What makes this book truly enjoyable though is that it just about Maggie, it's also about the people in her life, her co-workers, past and present, and it's about the community in which she lives.  The story takes place in Birmingham, Alabama.  Without being preachy, the story touches on the effects of the city's troubled history, involving racism, as well as general attitudes about class struggle and issues facing women.  These topics are addressed as they relate to the characters' lives, without providing any sort of political platform.

This is a very well written book, providing a variety of interesting, funny and likable characters.  I read this last weekend, when the weather was awful and it was snowing outside.  It is exactly the type of book that works on days like that, when I need an escape from the real world and want to emerge myself in a whole new place, filled with people I wouldn't mind knowing in real life.  The story is funny and sad and uplifting and kind of strange -- the way life is supposed to be. 

finished reading:  January 9, 2011

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