Tuesday, September 26, 2006 · posted at 1:28 AM
The Kite Runner.
The custom is to not let the sheep see the knife. Ali feeds the animal a cube of sugar - another custom, to make death sweeter. The sheep kicks, but not much. The mullah grabs it under its jaw and places the blade on its neck. Just a second before he slices the throat in one expert motion, I see the sheep's eyes. It is a look that will haunt my dreams for week.s I don't know why I watch this yearly ritual in our backyard; my nightmares persist long after the bloodstains on the grass have faded. But I always watch. I watch because of that look of acceptance in the animal's eyes. Absurdly, I imagine the animal understands. I imagine the animal sees that its imminent demise is for a higher purpose. This is the look...
I ran because I was a coward. I was afraid of Assef and what he would do to me. I was afraid of getting hurt. THat's what I told myself as I turned my back to the alley, to Assan. That's what I made myself believe. I actually aspired to cowardise, because the alternative, the real reason I was running, was that Assef was right: Nothing is free in this world.

     ~ The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
I tend to avoid the New York Times Best Sellers List (see Mitch Albom's... well any title) and any other popular "Omigod, you haaaaave to read it" (e.g. Nicholas Sparks... ditto). In fact, I'm pretty elitist when it comes to book recommendations - quick to believe any bad reviews and skeptical about any good ones. I think it's the writer in me who doesn't want there to be good books out there because then there would be less room for my mediocre one...once it is written anyway.

But alas, the power of peer pressure in the form of book clubs. I found myself picking up Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner and falling quickly into narrator Amir's childhood memories of Afghanistan and the events that shape a life.

It's a quick read, not only because of a captivating plot, but also because Hosseini doesn't preoccupy himself with fancy words. His prose is simple, even warranting a "young adult" label at my local library, but it is powerful.

Amir is imperfect and at times, near despicable, but there is something so human about his thoughts and behavior that it's easy to empathize with him, particularly if you've ever done the wrong thing and known it. Privileged in material ways, but deficient in the important ones.

Though the plot can often be predictable (especially if you read the Foreword/Introduction by the author), you read on anyway to see how Hosseini will unfurl it with his beautiful words. Have the movie rights been optioned yet? For the non-literary crowd, this book would play out perfectly on the silver screen.

I highly recommend this book...

For you, a thousand times over.

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

"I reached across the table and put my hand on his. My student hand, clean and soft, his laborer's hand, grubby and calloused. It thought of all the trucks, train sets, and bikes he'd bought me in Kabul. Now America. One last gift for Amir."

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