An Unremarkable Body by Elisa Lodato

Blog page

“With glass in hand I sat down at the table and began reading the report again, carefully. As the wine spread its warmth through my stomach, I read of the coldness of hers.”

I would rate this a 4.5 star book, An Unremarkable Body was one I truly enjoyed! It’s a beautifully written debut – although the story overall may have melancholy notes, it’s a beautiful journey we take with Laura as she pieces her mother’s life together following her death.

I really liked Laura a lot, that connection or enjoyment of reading about her life came easily and as soon as I started reading. Going off one fleeting memory about her mother and father, Laura takes us on a  journey of piecing her mom’s life together, but also takes us on her own personal journey as well. The whole story was wonderful and clever too. The only piece of Laura’s mother she has to go by is the Coroner’s Report, and each chapter begins with a section of that report,

“The brain weighed 1230g and showed no abnormality externally. The vessels at the base of the brain were unremarkable.”

“The larynx was intact and unremarkable.”

But there was nothing unremarkable about Laura’s mother and revelations Laura reveals makes for a very enjoyable story. The writing is beautiful, the story is clever, the piecing together and revelations about her mother’s life kept me glued to the pages and I enjoyed every moment spent reading this book. I will mention again about that thread of  melancholy running through, so if you aren’t interested in reading that type of book just now, perhaps you might not get as much out of it as I did, but I would imagine the lovely writing would pull you through.

“Yes, I’m happy’, she said, grabbing my hand and pressing my fingers together too tightly. ‘I’m happy because I’m with my daughter.’ I remember feeling embarrassed when she said this. As though it was too much. And now the only thing that is too much is the memory of it. I marvel at how wealthy I was that day – surrounded by my mother, her honesty, her touch – and I didn’t appreciate it. I wish I’d returned the compliment and told her how precious she was to me. But the terrible truth is that I didn’t know I felt that way until she was gone.” 

This, also I thought summed up what so many have asked if I would do because of how much I read, and I felt Laura’s mom’s answer perfectly explains why I choose to read, and not write:

“Have you ever thought about writing?” ‘Me? God, no.’ She seemed surprised by the question. ‘Why not? You love literature, stories – why not write something?’ ‘I like retreating into a book, you know – into what’s already there…I wouldn’t have a clue how to create that world myself.” 

And, bravo to the cover designer — here is a designer that took the time to bring in a perhaps slight and lesser noted part of Laura’s mother’s story, but using a bird and linking it to an unremarkable body was pretty damn cool. A bird might not be a major component of the story, but there is something about using it on the cover that made me appreciate seeing it there.

Why a 4.5 star and be stingy with that other 1/2 star? I don’t know, and even now considering I’ve finished reading this a few weeks ago and it’s still one that I think about…at any rate, it will be on my top books list at the end of the year I’m sure. I look forward to more from Elisa Lodato, I hope she doesn’t keep us waiting too long! 🙂