Intimate Cartographies

Intimate Cartographies, by L.A. Alexander, is a book I would not recommend. After finishing The Omnivore’s Dilemna, I had a few plane trips and a few days of vacation ahead of me, so I picked up another book at an English-language book store in Peru. I didn’t see anything I really wanted to read. It was mostly a lot of popular fiction, e.g. Stephen King, and I’m pretty picky about what fiction I want to spend my time reading. Reality is interesting enough.

So I made the mistake of choosing Intimate Cartographies, mostly because I vaguely recalled listening to a radio interview with the author. I knew it had something to do with a cartographer who lost a child, but I wrongly remembered that it was nonfiction. The book store had most of the books shrinkwrapped, so I couldn’t flip through to confirm my memory. It was cheap, so I bought it. And I had nothing else to read, so I read it. And it was tedious.

To be fair, I think it was intentionally tedious. It was tedious because it gave the reader (me) a glimpse into the grieving process of someone who lost a child. And, as we might expect, that process takes a long time and involves a lot of replaying the same events over and over again. So if you want to get a hint of the experience of losing a child, this is probably a good book. But who wants to experience that? Certainly not me.

I’d like to read about it, but I’d like to do so from a distance. Such a distance would allow me to enjoy the interesting discussions of maps without dreading the impending return to the lost child story, which isn’t really much of a story. The child was lost; end of story. Or would that it were anyway. Instead, the book is three hundred pages repeating the same story over and over again in different words. Not enjoyable reading, unless perhaps you’re one of the unfortunate parents who has actually lost a child. Then you’d probably appreciate Intimate Cartographies. But I am not, and I did not.

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