Animal Dreams: A Novel

Animal Dreams: A Novel

4.3 84
by Barbara Kingsolver
     
 

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"Animals dream about the things they do in the daytime just like people do. If you want sweet dreams, you've got to live a sweet life." So says Loyd Peregrina, a handsome Apache trainman and latter-day philosopher. But when Codi Noline returns to her hometown, Loyd's advice is painfully out of her reach. Dreamless and at the end of her rope, Codi

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Overview

"Animals dream about the things they do in the daytime just like people do. If you want sweet dreams, you've got to live a sweet life." So says Loyd Peregrina, a handsome Apache trainman and latter-day philosopher. But when Codi Noline returns to her hometown, Loyd's advice is painfully out of her reach. Dreamless and at the end of her rope, Codi comes back to Grace, Arizona, to confront her past and face her ailing, distant father. What she finds is a town threatened by a silent environmental catastrophe, some startling clues to her own identity, and a man whose view of the world could change the course of her life.

Blending flashbacks, dreams, and Native American legends, Animal Dreams is a suspenseful love story and a moving exploration of life's largest commitments.

Editorial Reviews

New York Newsday
Probes the human heart with uncommon wisdom.
Cosmopolitan
Animal Dreams is a novel that feel closer to the truth about modern lives than anything I've read in a long time . . . An astonishing book that ought to put Barbara Kingsolver in the first ranks of fiction writers.
San Francisco Chronicle
Kingsolver achieves a fully realized and profoundly moral vision, one that is rooted in the land and our relationship to it.
Chicago Tribune
Kingsolver is a writer of rare ambition and unequivocal talent . . . Animal Dreams is a complex, passionate, bravely challenging book.
Denver Post
A glorious tapestry . . . Animal Dreams is rich fodder for our own sweet, satisfying dreams.
Houston Post
Animal Dreams literally bursts with life. Its description of how one woman finds her way back from the edge of despair seems absolutely perfect . . . Animal Dreams leaves the reader filled with wonder and hope.
New York Times Book Review
Barbara Kingsolver demonstrates a special gift for the vivid evocation of landscape and of her characters' state of mind.
Washington Post Book World
Rich, complex, witty . . . This is a sweet book, full of bitter pain; a beautiful weaving of the light and the dark. This one will be with us for a long time.
New York Daily News
An emotional masterpiece . . . A novel in which humor, passion, and superb prose conspire to seize a reader by the heart and by the soul.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
Kingsolver is giving a new voice to our literature. Animal Dreams solidly establishes Kingsolver as someone who will give her public more than one great book.
Arizona Daily Star
A novel full of aching sadness—as well as joy, humor, insight and wonderful writing.
Detroit News and Free Press
One of the year's best works of fiction.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062278500
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/07/2013
Series:
P.S. Series
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
161,627
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile:
790L (what's this?)

Read an Excerpt

Hallie's Bones

I am the sister who didn't go to war. I can only tell you my side of the story. Hallie is the one who went south, with her pickup truck and her crop-disease books and her heart dead set on a new world.

Who knows why people do what they do? I stood on a battleground once too, but it was forty years after the fighting was all over: northern France, in 1982, in a field where the farmers' plow blades kept turning up the skeletons of cows. They were the first casualties of the German occupation. In the sudden quiet after the evacuation the cows had died by the thousands in those pastures, slowly, lowing with pain from unmilked udders. But now the farmers who grew sugar beets in those fields were blessed, they said, by the bones. The soil was rich in calcium.

Three years later when my sister talked about leaving Tucson to work in the cotton fields around Chinandega, where farmers were getting ambushed while they walked home with their minds on dinner, all I could think of was France. Those long, flat fields of bone-fed green. Somehow we protect ourselves; it's the nearest I could come to imagining Nicaragua. Even though I know the bones in that ground aren't animal bones.

She left in August after the last rain of the season. Summer storms in the desert are violent things, and clean, they leave you feeling like you have cried. Hallie had never left me before. It was always the other way around, since I'm three years older and have had to do things first. She would just be catching up when I'd go again, swimming farther out into life because I still hadn't found a rock to stand on. Never because I wanted to leave. Hallie and I were so attached, like keenly mismatched Siamese twins conjoined at the back of the mind. We parted again and again and still each time it felt like a medical risk, as if we were being liberated at some terrible cost: the price of a shared organ. We never stopped feeling that knife.

But she went. And true to the laws of family physics, the equal and opposite reaction, I was soon packed up too and headed northeast on a Greyhound bus. In our divergent ways, I believe we were both headed home. I was bound for Grace, Arizona, where Hallie and I were born and raised, and where our father still lived and was said to be losing his mind. It was a Sunday. I had a window seat, and in a Greyhound you're up high. You pass through the land like some rajah on an elephant looking down on your kingdom, which in this case was a scorched bristling landscape and the tops of a lot of cars. It wasn't all that different from my usual view of life, because I'm tall, like my father and Hallie. I don't look like who I am. They do, but I don't.

It was midmorning when I stepped down off the bus in Grace, and I didn't recognize it. Even in fourteen years it couldn't have changed much, though, so I knew it was just me. Grace is made of things that erode too slowly to be noticed: red granite canyon walls, orchards of sturdy old fruit trees past their prime, a shamelessly unpolluted sky. The houses were built in no big hurry back when labor was taken for granted, and now were in no big hurry to decay. Arthritic mesquite trees grew out of impossible crevices in the cliffs, looking as if they could adapt to life on Mars if need be.

I was the only passenger getting off. The short, imperious bus driver opened the baggage door and made a show of dragging out luggage to get to mine, as if I were being difficult. A more accommodating woman, he implied, would be content with whatever bags happened to be right in front. Finally he slapped my two huge suitcases flat out in the dust. He slammed the doors and reclaimed his throne, causing the bus to bark like a dog, leaving a cloud of exhaust in the air, getting the last word, I suppose.

The view from here was orchards: pecan, plum, apple. The highway ran along the river, dividing the orchards like a long, crooked part in a leafy scalp. The trees filled the whole valley floor to the sides of the canyon. Confetti-colored houses perched on the slopes at its edges with their backs to the canyon wall. And up at the head of the canyon was the old Black Mountain copper mine. On the cliff overlooking the valley, the smelter's one brick smokestack pointed obscenely at heaven.

I dragged my bags to the edge of the street. Carlo, my lover of ten years, whom I seemed to have just left, would be sending a trunk from Tucson when he got around to it. I didn't own very much I cared about. I felt emptied-out and singing with echoes, unrecognizable to myself: that particular feeling like your own house on the day you move out. I missed Hallie. Carlo, too--for the lost possibilities. At the point I left, he and I were still sleeping together but that was all, just sleeping, with our backs touching. Sometimes Hallie would cough in the next room and I'd wake up to find my arm over his shoulder, my fingers touching his chest, but that's only because it takes your sleeping self years to catch up to where you really are. Pay attention to your dreams: when you go on a trip, in your dreams you will still be home. Then after you've come home you'll dream of where you were. It's a kind of jet lag of the consciousness.

Copyright © 1991 by Barbara Kingsolver.

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Meet the Author

Barbara Kingsolver's work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned a devoted readership at home and abroad. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country's highest honor for service through the arts. She received the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work, and in 2010 won Britain's Orange Prize for The Lacuna. Before she made her living as a writer, Kingsolver earned degrees in biology and worked as a scientist. She now lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
April 8, 1955
Place of Birth:
Annapolis, Maryland
Education:
B.A., DePauw University, 1977; M.S., University of Arizona, 1981
Website:
http://www.kingsolver.com

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