Lakeview Book Club Update: Too Close To The Falls by Catherine Gildiner
Posted by Mary Farrell on Friday, October 11th, 2013
Savor the memories of a young, precocious girl on the 1950s, so fresh and real you can taste the Niagra Falls snow and feel the magic of her strength, invincibilty and intelligence.
Too Close To The Falls was hard to come by, since our system has only a few copies left. Most of our members had a chance to finish it.
The general consensus was we really liked the story, mostly because it was in a child's voice with a child's perceptions and naivety. We found the details made each story come alive and wondered how Catherine Gildiner could remember so many vibrant details. We agreed that most of us can remember SOME stories from our very young lives in extreme detail, if the event was a major one, but we still wondered how Gildiner could remember so very many of her daily life details.
We found that her memories fondly triggered our own memories from those years, such as, tv jingles and playing unsupervised in a seemingly more innocent world.
We liked her eccentric, one-of-a-kind set of parents and loved Roy, the illiterate Black delivery man, for whom 4-year-old Catherine would read the map. We loved their adventures on, literally, the wrong side of the tracks. We marveled at her sense of justice and rooted for her moral stand and choice of heroes, especially, because the world as-we-know-it would never choose those people. We liked the stories about the Indian reservation and the denizen of the town dump.
We loved her self-confidence in knowing she would win the contest, which, of course, she didn't win.
We discussed loss of innocence and how very innocent she was....how very clueless of the reality around her. We talked of loss of innocence.... meaning finding out about the reality in the daily lives of others that are kept secret.
We liked that the last deed of the corrupt "Rod" was a good one He encouraged her to Get Out of the little world she was in. .....which if you read the next book you will find out she does. .....sort of, out of the frying pan, into the fire.
We wondered what happened to all those remarkable people we met. We learned that in the original version of this book, Catherine had indeed told what became of the main people. Her publisher, however, told her to leave out that information, because it was not in the "child's" voice of the book. We were disgruntled. We wanted to know! "At least put it in the postscript!!"
A few questioned whether or not some of the events could have really happened and others resoundingly thought that, "Yes, of course, they did!" ...and we could actually tell some of our own stories which were similar, or tell stories of people we knew who had lived through similar events. Specifically some felt the story of the predatory priest was hard to believe, but those of us who have personally known of hypocrisy and deceit from "religious" people vouched for the truth of her narrative.
One member of our group brought her ipad and showed us photos of Catherine. (Try Google, Images and just type in her name.)
Some of the group wondered if, indeed, Catherine was a "little" crazy, as some of her elders thought. One book club member mentioned that they thought her personality was slightly dissociative and mentioned that some of the online photos showed "crazy" eyes.
(Reminder to Self: "Self, don't share candid photos of self with this group.") . :>
Some were ready to read her sequel, called After the Falls, which covers her college years and we look forward to what will be her LAST memoir, which will cover the years in her 20s.
While this may never be a "classic of literature," it was a very entertaining and engaging memoir. (Everyone to whom I've recommended this has told me they REALLY liked it.) Those of you, who have not read it, call me and I'll help you get a copy!