I finished Jhumpa Lahiri's collection of stories Unaccustomed Earth while we vacationed in Yosemite. I really enjoyed it, as I enjoyed her earlier books. I remember reading a couple of these stories in the New Yorker a while back, so they weren't all new to me.
Lahiri's prose is plain but elegant, and I love her attention to detail. I also relate to her work for other reasons. Lahiri is a couple of years younger than I am, and she often describes Bengali children growing up in suburban America as immigrants or the children of immigrants. I didn't have that experience, but I did grow up in suburban America during the time period she often describes, the seventies and eighties, and I think her descriptions of feeling like an outsider in suburban America hold true for me and many, if not most, American teenagers. In one of the stories, a young girl receives a hand-me-down coat from the son of family friends, and she hates wearing it, because it is a boy's coat, and nothing like the puffy pink and purple coats her female classmates wear--but her immigrant parents don't understand her embarrassment and won't let her get rid of it. Ah, the indignities the young must bear! It's scenes like this one that Lahiri does so well.
This book also describes courtship and the early years of marriage, and describes the difficulties in parenting young children, which I can also relate to. I would be interested to hear if the book is as interesting to all the readers out there who are not in this stage of their lives, or who didn't grow up in suburban America.
Yosemite was beautiful. There's something about being in Yosemite that is calming and meditative. The photos don't capture the scale, or the majesty, of the place. But here are a few snaps anyway:
Yosemite Valley from the entrance at highway 41
Half Dome at dusk.
El Capitan from a distance.
A granite dome in the distance.
Upper and lower Yosemite Falls.