Friday, July 12, 2013

Being Esther, by Miriam Karmel

Esther Lustig is an eighty-something widow who lives in Chicago. Her daughter wants her to move into an assisted living facility, but she is resisting as hard as she can. She does not want to go to the "land of the living dead"--even though she knows she's not as sharp, physically or mentally, as she once was.

Esther has lived a conventional life--she married a nice Jewish boy, moved to the suburbs, had two children, and moved back to a city apartment when the children were grown. She hangs out with a childhood friend she reconnected with following her husband's death. She loves her granddaughter Sophie, but is not sold on Sophie's know-it-all boyfriend.

Not a lot happens in Being Esther, but many of the scenes have humorous aspects (Esther rams her grocery cart into an obnoxious woman shouting into a cell phone at the supermarket).  Perhaps because I am fairly old and have a mother in her eighties, this didn't feel like fresh territory, but judging by the reader reviews on Amazon, other readers found it insightful.

Favorite passage:
Now, waiting for her friend to call, Esther looks up from the obituaries and sees, as if for the first time, the vitamins, the sugar bowl, the ruffled edging on the blue quilted placemat. Such homely objects. Yet each has a sense of prupose. The longer she stares t them, the more they mock her with their specificity. They know what they're about. They aren't sitting around, conjuring the few taglines that might explain the meaning of their existence.

. . . lately more and more people do just that [talk down to Esther], as if age has shrouded her in stupidity.

No comments:

Post a Comment