Jlawton's Reviews > The Distinguished Guest

The Distinguished Guest by Sue Miller
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Dec 07, 09

Read in December, 2009

Examaning life near the end is not normally a topic I would choose to read, but as a fan of Sue Miller, this book's topic and the timing of reading it is unsettling. With Busia living with my parents, Lily's life is very pertinent to what I see a few blocks away. In light of recent diagnosis of people I know, it is too frightening to really want to look at life so closely---yet facinating in the way that Miller does it. What is true? How does finding a new truth late in life impact you? Am I being true to myself and those around me?

Lily reads all her old letters and then destroys them after one last read. I thought about why I keep so many old letters and print out favorite emails. What is the point? Do I want to remember who I was then? No one else will be interested in reading them...nor do I really want them to. Why can't I get rid of them?

I have checked off quite a few of "Things to do in my lifetime." but nothing that impacts other people---all selfish things I want to experience or see--Is it wrong if I don't strive to do more for those that have less privledge than myself? Why was I so fortunate when others are not? Is there something more that I am suppose to do?

Lily becomes a famous writer in her seventies which reminds me that life is long and I can accomplish and do more. I am not stagnant or settled yet in my thirties although I often feel like this could be the case (like when I attend a class reunion and sum up my life in two sentences). However, deciding to be a mother and a wife has value and being in the life of my family is crucial. Allen (Lily's son) refers often to his father not being around...and although the reason his father was absent is noble, is the ultimate lack of relationship justified? ...and the deeply disturbed overshadowing emotion that the absentee parent has on their off-spring ever worth it?

Obviously...a good read...
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