Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Euphoria by Lily King

For a book that swallowed my attention up whole, now that some time has passed, I'm having trouble grasping thoughts to write. Anthropology is a deep part of my life, though it has been pushed to the shadows by other passions since the days at University when it was one of my majors. In those days, Margaret Mead was not only a fundamental name in the discipline, but she was still alive, and even came to lecture within spitting distance of where I was studying, so of course, we bundled into a car to drive to hear her speak. We weren't able to get in to the talk, but spent the time sitting on the steps, making up what we thought she might have said.

This book is also a "might have been", as the central character is loosely based on Mead. King spins a new tale, using the almost-Mead character, that of two of her husbands, and the exploration of a 1933 field expedition to New Guinea. It helped give a glimpse of what the world must have been like when Coming of Age in Samoa was published, and was considered both daring and scandalous, rather than a classic study. The story itself is passionate, complex, and well-spun, with glimmers of humor that came through. The character of Nell grabbed me with both hands and refused to let go. I was caught back in time, back in 1933, when anthropology was in its early days. What a world!

Tags: awardwinner, read-on-recommendationread-in-2015taught-me-somethingmade-me-look-something-up 

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