the next good book

What Are You Going Through

By Sigrid Nunez


210 pages

What’s it about? This slim novel chronicles the ordinary events of one woman’s life as she narrates them to the reader.  Along the way she visits a friend who is dying, goes to a lecture that leaves little hope for future generations, thinks about what makes a great writer, and enjoys the solitude of nature.  Her observations are thoughtful and quiet.
What did it make me think about? Friendship, love, connection, death, and climate change.  Along with another theme I have read before- can writing do justice to the human experience? “Understood: language would end up falsifying everything, as language always does.  Writers know this only too well, they know it better than anyone else, and that is why the good ones sweat and bleed over their sentences, the best ones break themselves into pieces over their sentences, because if there is any truth to be found they believe it will be found there.  Those writers who feel that the way they write is more important than whatever they may write about- these are the only writers I want to read anymore, the only ones who can lift me up.”
Should I read it? This was a short, beautiful novel.  It is written in such a quiet way, and yet has so much to say about the human experience.  I just finishedHomeland Elegiesby Ayad Akhtar and while his novel seemed written inbold type– this book was quite the opposite.  Each writer seems to have matched their writing style to the message they were trying to impart.   It was interesting to read these books back to back.  I would definitely recommend both books.  I plan to go back and read previous works from Sigrid Nunez.
Quote- “I think it’s largely true, what I once heard a famous playwright say, that there are no truly stupid human beings, no uninteresting human lives, and that you’d discover this if you were willing to sit and listen to people.  But sometimes you had to be willing to sit for a very long time.”

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