Yesterday I started Amanda Eyre Ward's Sleep Toward Heaven. And finished it.
It's hardly a cheery read. It's about three people: 1) a recent widow, 2) the murderer who shot the widow's husband and who is now on Death Row in a women's prison, and 3) the prison doctor who is treating the murderer's advanced AIDS symptoms.
Sounds completely and utterly miserable, doesn't it? Yes, it was.
So then why was I chuckling so frequently?
How does Ward do that? She does the same thing in her novel How to Be Lost, injecting wry humor into the most abject of human circumstances. Suddenly someone in profound pain sees humor in the world and you see it, too. It doesn't change anything: believe me, there's no dramatic redemption through laughter or anything like that. But you find yourself giggling because sometimes being a human being is so downright bizarre. I guess that's the closest I can come to explaining it.
Time to check out her most recent one from the library: Forgive Me. More tragedy, more rage, more inexplicable snorts of amusement. I can't wait.