Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Dive from Clausen's Pier

What if, just as you realize that you are no longer in love with your fiancé, he gets into an accident which renders him a quadriplegic. Would you still marry him?

That’s the plot, as one of the characters says in the novel The Dive from Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer, but not the story.

Carrie Bell, a young woman in her twenties, has never left her small hometown of Madison, Wisconsin and has been with the same boyfriend since she was in her teens. When the boyfriend, now her fiancé, dives off the titular pier and ends up paralyzed from the neck down, I thought the rest of the novel would be about how Carrie would handle the terrible position she found herself in. Would she sacrifice her happiness for the sake of 'doing the right thing'? Can she abandon this man who still loved her in his hour of need?

When I was laid up in the hospital, I was hooked up to various tubes which in effect, rendered me immobile. I could not get out of my hospital bed without having the nurse unhook me from various machines.

In those four days, with no cable TV, I was bored out of my mind from the lack of stimuli. I never realized before how quickly boredom sets in without access to porn. My porn collection, my right hand and I had a joyful reunion as soon as I got home. Brian was my fluffer.

I was thankful that I was only there for only a few days. But in those hours of boredom I wondered what I would do if I had to be confined to a hospital for the rest of my life. I don’t know, but I had some pretty morbid thoughts while I was there. I thought about having cancer, being on life support, Cher finally ending her Farewell Tour, now in its fifth year.

The idea that I had loved ones who would take care of me was both comforting and disturbing. Even in only four days of being in the hospital, I appreciated having Brian see to my needs. Just re-arranging my hospital gown was difficult. My feather boa kept getting in the way. Those were beautiful summer days that he gave up, spending it inside a sterile, white hospital room. I don’t know if I would want him to give up a 'normal' life for me if I were paralyzed and be a burden. Would you?

When I started reading this book, I just vaguely knew it was on some TV book club. I bought it because I read the first paragraph of the book and it appealed to me. That’s pretty much how I pick books. A strong writer hooks you in from the first line. If you can’t bring a reader into your world within the first paragraph, it will be an arduous task with each succeeding one.

Ann Packer created many compelling characters whom I think you will enjoy meeting. The author thankfully avoids being a literary version of a Lifetime Movie and keeps the story moving along at a good pace. I was continually surprised at the events that unfolded in the novel. The story had so many twists that it kept me engrossed and on the edge of my seat.

I liked this book a lot. If you read it, let me know what you think.


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Other books in my bookshelf

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