Saturday, June 11, 2011

Please Look After Mom

This novel about a Korean family cut and passed through me, stabbing me, penetrating my soul.
Yeah, that's the adjective I want to use, piercing. That word describes my thoughts about PLEASE LOOK AFTER MOM by Kyung-sook Shin.

The novel's story, which recounts interactions and their resulting implications between a husband and his wife and the same with respect to a daughter and son from the same family with their beloved mother, made its way through me. It forced its way into my conscience as a son, as a husband, and as a father. I could identify with its characters and their flaws and failings in many ways, even though it was set in a foreign land with people of a different race and milieu than mine. It moved me deeply relative to its characters and story, but at the same time, it made me introspective as to my roles in similar situations in America. Also, it's foreign setting provided entertaining novelties --- for example, ancestral rites, various food dishes and historical sites, and the Full Moon Harvest --- I was unfamiliar with and interested in learning and hearing about.

However, in using "piercing" here, I realize the nature of the word has changed during the later years in my life up until now.

I'm in my sixties, and the way the word "piercing" is used today is different than it was when I was younger. The word "piercing" now has a meaning that predominates in contemporary culture that it didn't have when I was younger, one that doesn't seem nearly as poignant as that older meaning. "Piercing" now often refers to the accommodation for a decoration and/or a modification to a body, usually a person's body. It can include, for instance, tattooing and the making holes to accommodate ear and nose rings and the like. It relates, as I understand it, to body art. So when I use piercing here, I use it in the earlier sense.

I liked how Kyung-sook Shin utilized varying points of view in her depiction of characters' reactions to Mom gone missing. I also liked how the author utilized the less familiar second person in telling the Father's and daughter's stories. I also liked the subtle underlay of faith and its final manifestation in the story arc.

After reading the book, I feel it has touched me and informed me, made my life more interesting and me more introspective because it has cut and passed through me, stabbed me, and penetrated my soul perhaps in a way that younger persons may feel informed by various manifestations of body art they undergo, including piercings and tattoos.


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