Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show by Ariel Gore

Orphaned at age four and raised by her black-clad, rosary-mumbling, preoccupied grandmother, Frankka discovered the ability to perform the stigmata as a way to attract her grandmother's attention. Now twenty-eight, Frankka's still using this extraordinary talent, crisscrossing the country with "The Death and Resurrection Show," a Catholic-themed traveling freak show and cast of misfits who have quickly become her new family. But when a reporter from the Los Angeles Times shows up to review the show, Frankka finds herself on the front page of the newspaper -- the unwitting center of a religious debate. Now unsure of who she is and where she belongs, Frankka disappears in search of herself and a place to call home.

My take: 3 looks

The fact that Frankka is able to spontaneously display the stigmata is interesting enough for a book; the fact that she uses extreme hunger to manifest it is even better; but, that she does it as part of a traveling troupe makes it darn near impossible NOT to read.

There are several interesting aspects to the way the book is written. First of all, the first page of each chapter has a statue of a saint at the top of the page. While I was able to identify some and not others, I found myself wondering if the saint used at the beginning of the chapter related to the content of that chapter. In addition, some of the status are facing the reader and some are turned so that their backs face the reader. I also found this interesting.

Secondly, Frankka writes lovely stories about saints. After cross-referencing a few of these, I found them to be accurate, complete with interesting facts found only after looking at several reference sites. The stories are written in a notebook which she misplaces in her journeys, but she continues to write the stories on scrap pieces of paper and napkins.

Other members of the troupe are interesting, but are by no means a main part of the story. This is all about Frankka and her journey.

Favorite quotes:
  • Sometimes it is right to battle death, but sometimes death has its reasons. p60
  • I hate it when that happens -- when something that seemed to important just a few days or hours earlier suddenly loses its meaning. p176

An enjoyable and recommended summer read.

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