Singer from the Sea

10 Jan

In an effort to not spend eight hours a day watching TV and knitting (but I like knitting!), I’ve been making myself do more reading. I say ‘making myself’ because, while I enjoy reading, all the deathly dull ‘and this is how Hungary has arranged its Parliament’ (does Hungary even have a Parliament? I don’t remember. That class was a distribution requirement, anyway…) readings I had to do in college have given me a slight aversion to the written word. But I persevere, which is good because there are a lot of wonderful things to be found in the written word.

As a side note, how hilarious is a blogger and would-be author who has to actually make an effort to read things? Dear wallabies…

Anyway, I’ve just finished (literally, at 1 AM last night/this morning) Singer from the Sea by Sheri S. Tepper. She writes eco-feminist sci fi (look it up…basically, it’s awesome). I first discovered Tepper’s books through The Margarets about three years ago, and have been slowly making my way through the various novels I’ve found in used bookstores. Some I like, some I love, some challenge me, some move me, all of them make me think, and all of them are fantastic.

I could say lots and lots about her books, probably none of it terribly coherent, but instead I will just say: Read these books. Seriously. If you’re looking for a story to hook you within the first three pages, read these books. If you’re a thinking person, read these books. If you’re a woman, read these books. If you care about the environment, read these books. If you’re interested in alternative religions, read these book. If you’re none of these things…read them anyway. You may not agree with any of the ideas, you may not even like any of the questions – I’ve had that reaction more than once, especially with The Gate to Women’s Country, which I found rather unsettling; that one definitely needs a re-read – but they will suck you in and spiral through your mind and fill your imagination and leave you a better person.

So, yes. GO READ THESE BOOKS. Of those I’ve read (7), I think Singer from the Sea is my new favorite, though I also really liked The Margarets and Shadow’s End. And, you know, the other four. (The Family Tree, The Gate to Women’s Country, The Visitor, Six Moon Dance).

The reason Singer is my favorite? I’m not even sure I can say, other than it makes sense. Like all Tepper’s books, it makes you think, and this one left me with a huge golden ball of contentment and rightness in my chest. To use the trite expression (I keep trying to think of a better one, but the problem is that, as a physicist, I know this is the most accurate term): It resonated with me. Love, love, love it.

Finally I want to share a quote from Singer, which is found on page 382 of the 2000 Avon Eos paperback edition:

“No, no, dear lady. No one ever has to believe! The universe is, it does not require belief. Do you think it will stop existing if you do not believe? Do you think far galaxies will harbor resentment against you if you do not believe? Do you resent the ant who does not look up and admire you? Never! Your disbelief can kill a world, but not the spirit of life within that world, and to that spirit, the sincere questioner is of more good than a thousand meticulous believers.”

I think this is the most comforting, liberating statement about belief I have seen in a long, long time.

So mote it be.


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