the life we bury

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In order for me to enjoy a mystery, it has to have a little heart and some literary merit.  This book has both.  Joe Talbert meets Carl Iverson in order to do a biography on him for a college class.  Carl was convicted of murder thirty years ago and has been sent to a hospice center where he is dying of cancer. Carl agrees to tell Joe his story because he says, “I have to say the words out loud.  I have to tell someone the truth about what happened all those years ago.  This is my dying declaration.”

As Carl tells Joe the story of his life, it brings up ghosts from Joe’s own past.  Joe has some guilt over his grandfather’s death and over leaving his autistic brother at home with his alcoholic mother to go to college.  As the book develops, each man comes to terms with the things in their pasts that they have buried. Carl tells Joe, “No matter how much whiskey I drank, I could never dim my memory.  I just wanted the pain to stop.  I thought that by going to prison, I might silence my ghosts-bury that part of my life.  But in the end, there’s no hole deep enough.  No matter how hard you try, there are some things you just can’t run away from.’

I won’t give away too much of the book but by the end of the story, Carl has really opened Joe’s eyes to what it means to really live and be happy. Joe: “A heavy snow began to fall outside.  An incredible sense of lightness filled me as I brushed snow off the windshield. A young couple entered the restaurant, releasing a wave of warm air fused with the scent of fresh-baked goods.  The aroma sailed no a light breeze and swirled around my head.  It caused me to pause and remember something Carl had told me- that heaven could be here on Earth. I drew in a breath of crisp December air and stood perfectly still, savoring the feel, the sound, the smell of the world around me, sensations that would have passed by me unnoticed had I never met Carl Iverson.”

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3 thoughts on “the life we bury

      1. I think this one is the best. I really liked the characters and storyline here for personal reasons, I think. The others focus on different characters who are more peripheral in this book – and I think on a second read I will only like the books better, not less. There is something “real” about the world this author creates that appeals to me.

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