Book Seven: The Lotus Eaters

The Lotus Eaters, Tatjana Soli

This is the kind of novel that sweeps you away and folds you into its little world. Or rather, big world, being that it takes place in Vietnam during the war. I mean, a huge, scary, horrifying world. It's really lovely at times and really awful at times. And I wonder if it would have appealed to me more if I was the kind of person who had a better sense of adventure. Because the main character is a war photographer who stays in Vietnam for 10 years, and who doesn't really want to leave, no matter the amount of death and sadness she has to experience. And even though Ms. Soli did a great job of getting us into her head and her situation, I just keep thinking "Get the eff out of there, stupid!!! Why in the world do you want to stay in this horrible, death-ridden place?!" And really, this is kind of the point of the book. The title refers to Homer's Odyssey, when they visited the land of the Lotus-eaters, and "those who ate the honeyed fruit of the plant lost any wish to come back and bring us news. All they now wanted was to stay where they were with the Lotus-eaters, to browse on the lotus, and to forget all thoughts of return." Which is obviously implying an addiction to a place, so intoxicating that one forgets everything else in the world. Which I saw, and yet I just personally could still not wrap my head around. I am a slave to comfort, and I suppose there are types out there who are slaves to adventure.

The last little bit of the book, though, was so magical and so mesmerizing, that I just couldn't put it down to go to sleep. It was so awful and surreal and strange (and did i mention, awful?), and I think Ms. Soli really captured the true horror of war and how one can become almost numb to it. It was, at least, a great finish to a pretty good book.


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