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review 2018-03-18 14:19
Verworrene Geschichte mit literarischem Anspruch
Idaho: Roman - Emily Ruskovich,Stefanie Jacobs

An einem heißen Sommertag im Wald gehen die Mitchells der Holzarbeit nach. Vater und Mutter schlichten das Holz auf den Pick-up, während die beiden Mädchen ausgelassen im Wald spielen. Doch dann hat die Mutter ein Beil in der Hand und von einem Moment auf den anderen ist der idyllische Tag und die Familie zerstört.

"Idaho" ist ein literarisch anmutender Roman, der in der eindrucksvollen Umgebung des amerikanisches Bundesstaates Idaho spielt. 

Ausgangspunkt der Handlung ist die Tragödie im Wald. Jenny hat ihre kleine Tochter May mit dem Beil umgebracht, woraufhin die andere Tochter June davon gelaufen ist. Vater Wade weiß sich nicht zu helfen und Jenny gesteht vor Gericht sofort ihre Schuld ein.

Anders als gedacht ist es schon fast schwierig hier Protagonisten zu definieren. Eine Hauptfigur ist Ann, die erst nach den schrecklichen Ereignissen im Wald in Wades Leben tritt. Sie ist Musiklehrerin und heiratet Wade wenige Monate danach, weil sie Wade in seiner schweren Zeit beistehen will.

Denn Wade hat neben dem blutigen Grauen seiner Familie ein weiteres tragendes Problem. Er ist an einer perfiden Form der Demenz erkrankt, sodass er schon in relativ jungen Jahren mit gröberen Aussetzern zu kämpfen hat.

Jenny ist im Gefängnis und setzt alles daran in ihrer Schuld aufzugehen. Sie begrüßt die Einzelhaft und lehnt sogar den täglichen Spaziergang im Hof ab.

Es fällt mir schwer aus dem Roman tragende Themen herauszukitzeln. Natürlich dreht sich alles um den blutigen Tag im Wald und die Versuche, die verschwundene June zu finden.

"Wie unvermittelt dieses Leben beendet worden war, wie erschreckend endgültig sämtliche Gedankenspiele hinfällig wurden. May bekam im Moment ihres Todes eine Eigenschaft, die ihre Schwester nie besaß und auch nie besitzen wird - sie wurde absolut." (S. 200)

Dennoch steht auch Wades Demenz im Vordergrund, seine unvorhergesehenen Aussetzer, in denen er sogar Ann bedroht und der Versuch, dem Vergessen entgegenzuwirken.

Weder aus dem Roman noch aus den Figuren bin ich schlau geworden. Richtig schwer habe ich mir mit Ann getan, weil ich nicht verstehe, warum sie Wade von einem Moment auf den anderen geheiratet hat. Es ist nicht so, dass sie sich liebend in die Arme gefallen sind, sondern sie hat ganz nüchtern - ohne deutliche Beweggründe - diese Entscheidung getroffen.

Erzählt wird aus unterschiedlichsten Perspektiven, was Figuren und die zeitliche Abfolge betrifft. Man begleitet nicht nur die genannten Personen, sondern hat zwischendrin auch mit ganz anderen Figuren zutun. Wades Vater kommt genauso vor, wie ein ehemaliger Schüler von Ann, deren Bezug zur Handlung für mich sehr vage und undurchsichtig ist. Zudem werden unterschiedliche Jahre - einmal ist man in den 1970er-Jahren, dann im Jahr 2025 - aufgegriffen, was mir genauso unlogisch erschienen ist.

Wahrscheinlich mangelt es mir an literarischem Feingefühl, um die Tiefe des Romans zu verstehen. Mir wäre eine weniger wortgewandte, dafür handfeste Geschichte lieber gewesen. Nichtsdestotrotz war ich gebannt und bin an den Seiten geklebt. Denn der Tag im Wald wird immer wieder durchlebt ohne dass der Mord selbst ein Thema ist.

Im Endeffekt bleibt eine verworrene Geschichte, bei der ich mir mit ihrem literarischen Anspruch schwer getan habe. Ohne Höhen und Tiefen plätschern die Ereignisse vor sich hin, fesseln nur durch ihre Undurchsichtigkeit und haben mich zu guter Letzt nicht völlig überzeugen können.

Ich kann „Idaho“ nur bedingt weiterempfehlen. Vor allem Leser, die eine eindringliche Atmosphäre mögen, einen Blick auf den Bundesstaat Idaho werfen wollen und mit nicht greifbarer Logik umgehen können, sollten es zumindest versuchen.

Source: zeit-fuer-neue-genres.blogspot.co.at
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review 2017-08-01 17:09
“Idaho” by Emily Ruskovich
Idaho: A Novel - Emily Ruskovich

The title says, "Idaho - A Novel". I think the last bit is an assertion of intent meant to guide people like me who reach the end of the book knowing that I'd read something wonderful but not really being able to label it.

 

Each chapter in "Idaho" is a work of art. Emily Ruskovich can write in a way that makes you fully aware of how a particular person is experiencing something that is vivid and immediate but also ladened with context and possibility.

 

At one point she even helped me see inside the head of a blood hound on a search, head down, ears and folds of skin dampening all other stimuli except the hundreds of scents that contain the one scent I am looking for.

 

It seemed to me, that for much of the novel, I had become that blood hound and that each chapter was a scrap of fabric, soaked in sorrow, confusion, regret, guilt, love and, occasionally hope, that I would bend over and sniff at until I had extracted every scent of emotion and traced the trails of circumstance, intent, memory and consequence that connect the chapters and the people in them.

 

It is an intense, absorbing experience that speaks to my senses and my emotions but, by itself, does not satisfy my need for a narrative leading to some form of release. The nonlinear nature of this narrative, the emphasis on moments of being and intense but bounded insights into a person, meant that reading "Idaho" felt more like experiencing other people's lives than it did reading a novel with a beginning, a middle and an end. I was given lots of hard, emotionally taxing questions but I was offered only the inference of answers, much as I am in real life.

 

There is a narrative. It is triggered by an act of violence that changes the lives of almost all of the characters in the book. Revealing this narrative in a non-linear way is not done to enhance the tension or to build to a great reveal, but to show that we are not the events that we live through. They can harm us or help us but the self we bring to each moment is what shapes the outcome of an event.

 

I'm sorry if that sounds obscure. Emily Ruskovich would never say anything so clumsily as that. It is merely me, trying to find meaning in what I was reading.

 

In "Idaho" I spent time seeing the world through the eyes of many people: May, a six year old girl living an isolated rural life in which her most intense relationship is with June, her older sister, whom she simultaneously loves and resents; Elizabeth, spending her life in prison for murder and trying to allow herself friendship and perhaps even love; Jenny, a woman who is trying to abnegate her right to anything she desires but who cannot stop herself from offering something of herself to others; Wade, a man who has survived tragedy and guilt and love but who is losing himself with each memory that slips out of reach; and Anne, who falls lives a life of sorrow-filled love that she does not feel entitled to cut herself free from.

 

I will remember these people for a long time. I will remember their joys and their pain and their ability to survive as long as they are remembered by someone, even if it is only themselves. I will remember the mountain they lived on and how its wildness and isolation and unforgiving winters shaped them like wind eroding sandstone.

 

Yet I still struggle with "Idaho" as "a novel". Probably this says more about my expectations than about Emily Ruskovich's writing but it changed my experience of the book. If "Idaho" had been a collection of short stories, I'd have gone, "How wonderful. This is like reading Alice Munro" but it was labelled a novel so I found myself expecting more connection.

 

The best example of what I mean is a character in this book, a young man who loses his leg through an accident in high school, who's experiences and thoughts are beautifully described but who seems to have only the most tangential connection to the other people in the book. I invested my imagination in him. I didn't like him but I began to understand him. Yet I couldn't make him fit and my inability to do so distracted and annoyed me.

 

I strongly recommend this book, novel or not. The writing is simply wonderful. The experiences are harrowing but in a way that made me more empathetic than horrified.

I am astonished that this is Emily Ruskovich's debut novel. I look forward to reading everything else that she writes.

 

I listened to the audiobook version of "Idaho" which is read with consummate skill by Justine Eyre. She helped my hound dog follow the scent trails in this book much more easily and with more passion than I had only read the text.

 

I've included below an extract of her performance and a short interview where she talks about her experience in narrating "Idaho"

 

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/307854062"

params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtXenrTg_MY&w=560&h=315]

 

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text 2017-04-30 12:10
Library Haul
Idaho: A Novel - Emily Ruskovich
The Breakdown - B. A. Paris
All Our Wrong Todays: A Novel - Elan Mastai
The Good People - Hannah Kent
Method 15/33 - Shannon Kirk

Ok, so I have to admit that I am (more than) a little late to the party but I recently discovered Booktube. Embarrassing I agree but there we are, it is out. Anyway, looking at people book hauls I came across the above books and thought they sounded quite interesting. I was horrified to find that our library has raised its reservation fees but nevertheless 3 were reserved and as usual all came in at the same time. So there you have it, I have a busy month ahead of me, it's a good job I've got 2 weeks off!

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review 2017-02-18 18:51
Idaho-loved it!
Idaho: A Novel - Emily Ruskovich

I absolutely loved this novel. This new inspiring author has captured my attention and I loved the way her words came across the page. I almost abandoned this novel as the first few pages left me wondering why I had chosen this novel to begin with. This story itself is not an easy, fun read but it consists of layers, history and damaged lives that never lie still. The more that I read of this novel, the more I settled into it and a calmness came over me. A calmness. I thought it was crazy just how smoothing this novel was considering the subject matter that I was consuming. It was the author, she was amazing. As I read, the characters realizing the fate that awaited them, Emily’s words of prose were there, a comfort for me.

 

It’s life on the Ponderosa, Wade and Jenny living with their two young children May and June. They were gathering wood, chopping and stacking it, putting it into the back of their pickup truck, it was a wonderful day. Jenny admits to what happens next. Their wonderful day ends in tragedy. Before nightfall, both of their children would be gone. It’s horrible that things turn out this way but this nightmare is far from over as it will haunt Wade and Jenny forever. Reading the journey that these two individuals take after this day was emotional and profound. It wasn’t just their lives that were effected but others they came into connect with. We also journey back in time to the days when this family lived on the homestead, reading about their time spent together as a family before the one event that shattered their lives. This showed just how they felt about one another and how one event can shatter a dream. I can’t wait to see what else Emily writes.

 

“How quickly someone else’s life can enter through the cracks we don’t know are there until this foreign thing is inside of us. We are more porous than we know.”

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review 2016-12-05 14:34
Such an extraordinary and haunting tale
Idaho: A Novel - Emily Ruskovich

I truly didn’t want this book to end. At its heart is the story of a tragic act, but it’s so much more than just that act.  Each chapter is a literary work of art.  There’s the story of Wade and Jenny and their two daughters, June and May, and the terrible act that tore them apart.  There’s the story of Wade and Ann and her efforts to heal his broken heart and mind.  There’s the story of Wade and his father and the health issue they share.  There’s the story of June and May, two young sisters living their lives in the days before tragedy strikes.  There’s the story of the friendship between Jenny and Elizabeth.  There’s the story of a young boy who loses his leg in a freak accident.  Each of these stories are tied together but each is worthy of its own telling.

 

The story is not told in a linear fashion. The chapters travel between present, past and future but are not confusing in any way.  Time weaves back and forth to create a beautiful mosaic.  All is tied together – love, forgiveness, regrets, memory, imagination.  Ms. Ruskovich’s book deserves every award I’m sure it will get.   This is one of my favorite books of the year.  Most highly recommended.

 

This book was given to me by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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