Book #20: A Home at the End of the World

Sorry there was no introductory post for A Home at the End of the World. I read most of it on my flight from Chicago to Frankfurt, and couldn’t really blog about it. 

loved this book. It was beautiful. It made me feel all sorts of things.

It isn’t really a plot-driven book. It mostly focuses around family and the three main characters: Jonathan, Bobby, and Clare. The three eventually form a weird pseudo-family and make a life together. But that’s not really what the book is about.

To be honest, I don’t think I could tell you what the book is about. It’s about love. All kinds of love. Romantic, romantic-but-not-sexual, platonic, familial…it’s all there. Mixed in is pondering about destiny and how to build a life.

The writing is, overall, really good. Cunningham is a fabulous writer. He does a good job at portraying his characters’ emotions and also at getting readers to feel things too. In the first chapter or so, I wasn’t so sure about the writing. The sentences were all short and choppy. It felt sort of like I was reading Hemingway, but it wasn’t Hemingway so I didn’t feel obligated to put up with it. I was annoyed for awhile, but I either got used to it or the prose loosened up a bit. I know that most of the time Bobby narrates in short sentences, and the book starts with Bobby. That could be the reason I was a bit put off at first.

But the book rallies and it’s wonderful and, like I said, it makes you feel all kinds of things. It’s really hard to describe it without saying way too much. It’s also really hard for me to say anything of substance about it because for a time I was reading it at an airport at 6 in the morning and I finished it while I was super jetlagged. But it was beautiful.

I think it was appropriate, though, that I was reading it while I was heading toward a new chapter in my life. While most of the book focuses on love and family, there are also parts that deal with identity and forging a life for oneself. Considering I’ve just moved to Prague and am in the process of getting a job, an apartment, and a life here, these parts especially resonated with me.

One quote says, “This is what you do. You make a future for yourself out of the raw material at hand.”

I feel that. A lot. It’s what everybody has to do at some point. It’s especially what I have to do now that I’m out of college and trying to figure out what I’m going to do with myself for the next 70ish years.

Further, as I was reading on the plane, with my new wardrobe packed away somewhere beneath me, I came across this section, where Clare tries to convince Bobby to change his hair:

“I’m talking about a little truth-in-packaging here. To be perfectly frank, you don’t quite look like yourself. And if you walk around looking like someone other than who you are, you could end up getting the wrong job, the wrong friends, who knows what-all. You could end up with somebody else’s life.”

I’m not sure I fully agree that changing your appearance changes you, but there’s something to that. If your clothes and such don’t match who you are, maybe you can fall into the wrong life. I know I feel more myself when I’m wearing the clothes I like than when I’m dressed up in some anonymous uniform or dress attire…

Finally, I really, really like this:

“We become the stories we tell ourselves.”

So true.

Rating: *****

Anyway, that’s the end of this “decade” of books here at the Quixotic Reader. I hope you had a real good time. Check the favorites page to see which book I liked best this round.

In the meantime, I’m reading Tokyo Canceled by Rana Dasgupta. I’ve wanted to read this for a LONG time.


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