Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Do you believe?

Part I

You’ve felt those moments before, right? The kind when you swear that you’ve done exactly that same thing before -- or, at least, dreamed of it. Or, you’ve been to a place that seems oddly familiar, but it’s some place you’ve technically never been before?

The idea of reincarnation is intriguing to me. Just how much of ourselves is from a past life? Who am I destined to meet again?

These are all great topics that are explored in author M.J. Rose’s new thriller, “The Reincarnationist.”

I volunteered to read this as my first official MotherTalk book review because I am open to seeking and wondering, because I do not know the answers to how we got here on this earth or where we are going when we leave it. Because, perhaps, this is the only matter for which I am comfortable with uncertainty.

And, I chose to review Rose's ninth novel because I like free books, which is exactly how I got this book. (Disclaimer)

If you like books like the "Da Vinci Code" then this is a must-read for you. It mixes modern day moments with flashbacks to ancient Rome. The book centers around Josh, a photo journalist, who begins having flashbacks after a terrorist bomb explosion and who decides to uncover the mysterious life he feels he has already lived.

For more information about why Rose chose this novel idea, go here.

It’s a fascinating page-turner that is written well (despite many annoying typos) and thought-provoking ideas as it delves into pre-Christian Italy and the idea of memory stones that possibly incite past-life regressions. All of this, of course, leads to a plot line that challenges the church.

“Josh had read that even past-life experiences that seemed spontaneous were precipitated or triggered by encountering a person, a situation, a sensory experience such as a particular smell or sound or taste that had some connection to a previous incarnation.

Yeah. Yes.

This book got me wondering if I chose it or if it chose me …

Part II

If there was a turning point in my life, it was on Level Two of Linthicum Hall, where I studied classic literature for four years as an English major with a strong focus on Women’s Issues.

Despite my enjoyment of reading, I wasn’t a literature enthusiast until those college years when books like, “A Room of One’s own,” and “To the Lighthouse,” by Virginia Woolf, “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison and “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” by Zora Neale Hurston, graced my life and changed it forever.

These are not books easily forgotten.

Until these books, I had been a lost soul, a wanderer who didn’t know what I was doing or where I was headed.

But, these books and many more, saved me. They whispered sweet nothings in my ears over and over and over.

For the sake of digging further, I chose one of the above authors to study for an entire semester. I went between the acts with her. I voyaged across miles to think like she thought, to try and mimic her stream of consciousness writing style. I remembered her words, line by line, and wrote essays upon essays.

I was so moved, in fact, that I wrote a piece of fiction for my short story class that weaved her fictional characters together with her real life. It was written in just a few hours, in my college apartment, smoking cigarettes and when it was over it was the most surreal moment of my life. I couldn’t believe my imagination had flowed into something so beautiful, so poetic and so freaking weird.

Fast forward a few years, you might have heard about a little old book and film that did the same thing: The Hours. (I spent the first half hour of this movie sobbing, by the way).

The day I moved out of that college apartment, just a day or two after graduating, I drove to the end of our road and noticed for the first time that the name of my street had been the exact name of my favorite author’s printing press business: Hogarth. I had been living on Hogarth Street.

I was stunned. I froze, unable to drive for a few minutes. I just stared at the sign.

And, smiled.

All these years, and her books still have a shelf of their own. I don’t read them, but I idolize them, I cherish them, I would never in a million years part with them. When I find one I don't own, I scoop it up.

Just writing this story brings chills over my body, yet it is the most comforting feeling in the world. Like being at peace.

“Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.”

Virginia Woolf,
A Room of One’s Own
, 1929


Shannon said...

Wow, serendipity. I do believe in that. And I believe that everything is connected--past, present, future--there is no linear motion, it's all infinite. So sure, why not have no limits? The book sounds fascinating, I'll put it on my list.
Oh, and ps. that girl you were in college with the great imagination is still there...it's just hard to connect to her in a hostile environment.
hope you're having a better day.

Shannon said...

Oh, and I forgot I wanted to say I love that Virginia Woolf quote. It's like the four corners of the spider web are attached to each of the four dimensions of our real world, and then the bulk of the web is our very own fifth dimension creation.

bella said...

This gave me chills.
And yes, I have such moments.
They say we only use a fraction of our brain's capacity. Maybe hidden in those quite, dormant folds lies all the lives that came before and will come.
I love the mystery.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm. Verry interesting Virginia. And although it would be so verrry lovely to tie down the notion of reincarnation, it is just a notion, and none of us can say anything but "we don't know." Of course saying that is the hardest thing of all! In the meantime, smile, and change the outcome for certain this time around.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

The idea of reincarnation certainly feels more right to me at a gut level than the idea or heaven/hell -- but ultimately, I don't know.

I did think it was funny that as I was reading, A Room of One's Own popped out at me before I quite read down that far -- and I thought you were linking to me. ;)