Deirdre Keating's Reviews > Cutting for Stone

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
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's review
Feb 23, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: book-club-reads
Read from August 16 to October 19, 2011

Andy, owner of our local bookstore, told me it was the best thing he's read recently.

ETA: That was back in 09, now Annabelle just recommended it too. Need to get a copy.

ETA: Now August '11, and Natalie picked it for bookclub. An excuse to buy it!

ETA: and now, finally, read---and loved.

The timing couldn't have been more off. I'm upended lately, and was craving memoirs, my version of "comfort food." I read plenty of those this fall, and finally committed to Verghese. The rewards were huge.

I fell in love with the character of Ghosh, and wish I could have stayed in those earlier years of the narrator's life. Ethiopia (where we originally intended to go during our PCV days) is fleshed out, and I loved the historical weaving (albeit with some liberties) with the plot. I especially appreciated his thorough acknowledgments---how rare to hear an author specifically attribute certain lines and influences.

I was reminded, too often toward the end, of last summer's read Of Human Bondage. Thankfully, Marion is a much more enjoyable guide than Phillip, but the devotion to an unrequited love pains me.

Some favorite lines:
"Wasn't that the definition of home? Not where you were from, but where you are wanted?"

"Reserved, excessively formal, and often morose, they were quick to anger, quick to imagine insults to their pride. As for theories of conspiracy and the most terrible pessimism, surely they'd cornered the world market on those. But get past all those superficial attributes, and you found people who were supremely intelligent, loving, hospitable and generous."
(He is describing Ghosh's impression of the people in Ethiopia, but I could say exactly the same of Selikhino)

"So often we never truly see our own family and it is for others to tell us that they've grown taller or older."

"I hope one day you see this as clearly as I did in Kerchele. The key to happiness is to own your own slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don't. If you keep saying your slippers aren't yours, then you'll die searching, you'll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more. Not only our actions, but also our omissions, become our destiny."

Also the refrain from Alice in Wonderland: "Begin at the beginning and go on until you come to the end, then stop."

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