Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Reading: Sprawl by Danielle Dutton

Sprawl.  This review is going to be a challenge - I will state that outright.  Sprawl is unlike any book I have ever read or come across.  It is a book of fragmented moments in the life of a suburban housewife who seems stuck in her life and has no idea how to escape it.
It is hard to explain the plot of this book because there isn't much of a plot at all.  
There is a quote in the beginning of the book from Henry David Thoreau and it says, "At a certain season of our life we are accustomed to consider every spot as the possible site of a house."  This quote is very important to the book's structure and purpose.  I had to read this book for a class and what our class was unsure of at first was if this book was about a woman searching for meaning in life.  It seemed like she was but the book never provided a solution as to where she would find meaning and how she would find it.  Why write a book that challenges the suburban lifestyle and not offer a solution?  Then someone in the class stated that he didn't think this woman was searching for meaning.  He thought that this woman believed she had found meaning and that was why she was stuck in her predicament.  This theory makes perfect sense to me and is something I very much want to talk about in this review.
To emphasize the theory I just presented, let me give an example from my own life.  Growing up itself is like being stuck because we are taught that school is where we learn and therefore we believe that if we are searching for an education, we will find it in school.  For me, I always found that I was eager to learn and missed school when I was away from it.  Yet every time I returned to the classroom, I became uncomfortable and awkward and found that school wasn't really helping me learn as much as it was helping me become more of an introvert which society frowns upon to begin with.  It wasn't until college that I realized how much I learned outside of the classroom and how much my previous education hadn't taught me.  I had always believed that education was what the world told me it was.
The same thing goes for the character in Sprawl.  She has been taught to believe that life is complete when you get married and move to the suburbs and now she believes her life has meaning and that is the problem, because it clearly really doesn't.  It is easy for the reader to believe she is searching for meaning.
The book is most definitely one where the author wants to make the reader think.  I didn't care for the structure one bit but at the same time I now understand why it may have been done.  As I said before, the book didn't have much of a plot and it just wasn't anything that moved me a bit.  It was different though.  I wouldn't recommend reading it unless you are up for the challenge.  I will rate this book 2 out of 5 stars.

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