I thought I could use this as an inticement to get my 12yo daughter to clean her room. I announced we would be listening to it togetherMaybe 2.5 stars
I thought I could use this as an inticement to get my 12yo daughter to clean her room. I announced we would be listening to it together as we worked together. She wasn't thrilled about either prospect, but I popped it into the player and proceeded any way.
I thought it was cute enough, but discovered, when she hushed me a few times, that she was enjoying it. However, when I asked if she wanted to keep listening after we finished cleaning, she was ambivalent.
I finished listening on my own, and tried to decide if the content was appropriate for her age. With several tough topics such as sex, divorce and dying, it might depend on the child (and the parent), but I think she probably would have been fine (and reading it WITH your early teen could open up some good discussion).
There was an intention to tug at the heart strings, but I didn't feel sincerely moved. I just didn't feel a real connection to any of these girls.
And the novelty of magic pants made me laugh in derision.
If rare rubies and diamonds were buried in a barrel of sewage would you reach through the depths and grasp them? Or would you shudder and recoil?
I'mIf rare rubies and diamonds were buried in a barrel of sewage would you reach through the depths and grasp them? Or would you shudder and recoil?
I'm not sure I would encourage this acquisition; just as I'm not sure I can recommend this book.
Still, I waded through the filth and found beautiful gems. (I just need to go take a shower now.)
I suppose Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude prepared me for this book. Once you understand Magical Realism, you have a greater appreciation for what is being accomplished, and this work of Salmon Rushdie's has a very similar feel to OHYOS (including warped sexual themes and oodles of misogyny).
Here are two early examples of his wonderful use of imagery (there were more throughout, but I became so engrossed at those times, that I forgot to note them:
Language upon a silver tongue affords enchantment enough.
There were so many chains winding around him that he could imagine, in the darkness, that he had somehow been encased in a larger body, the body of a man of iron.
However, despite some lovely moments, and some fascinating correlations of history that made me want to do more research, Rushdie failed to develop any of his characters. They were all hollow one and two dimensional figures. His style of prose was beautiful but also tediously repetitive and rambling.
The jewels of this novel are sublime, but how they would have sparkled with more editing and less detritus.
Note: He uses the F Bomb more than he uses punctuation. ...more
Despite hearing constant negativity surrounding this book... And, granted, this book isn't for everyone, but ... Oh! How I loved it! So. So.4.5 stars
Despite hearing constant negativity surrounding this book... And, granted, this book isn't for everyone, but ... Oh! How I loved it! So. So. So!
I listened to it on CD with the author as narrator, so perhaps having her voice and expression made the difference, but I found her ability to organize her thoughts (and the symbolism of the chapters and sections!), her descriptive imagery and use of metaphors, and her general attitude for living (purposefully living!) so lovely, so embracing.
I was so entranced with her attitude of grabbing life and making it what she wanted it to be. I was so moved by her expression of prayer and seeking after God's guidance in her life. I was so tickled with her ability to connect with those with whom she came in contact.
Half way into listening. I bought a used copy of the book so I could mark up all my favorite passages.
A few favorites:
“Where did you get the idea you aren't allowed to petition the universe with prayer? You are part of this universe, Liz. You're a constituent--you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known. So, put your opinion out there. Make your case. Believe me--it will at least be taken into consideration.” (I love that she had so many people 'sign' her petition!)
“This was my voice, but perfectly wise, calm and compassionate. This was what my voice would sound like if I’d only ever experienced love and certainty in my life. How can I describe the warmth of affection in that voice, as it gave me the answer that would forever seal my faith in the divine?”
“But the very fact that this world is so challenging is exactly why you sometimes must reach out of its jurisdiction for help, appealing to a higher authority in order to find your comfort.”
“Still, despite all this, traveling is the great true love of my life. I have always felt, ever since I was sixteen years old and first went to Russia with my saved-up babysitting money, that to travel is worth any cost or sacrifice. I am loyal and constant in my love for travel, as I have not always been loyal and constant in my other loves. I feel about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her impossible, colicky, restless, newborn baby--I just don't care what it puts me through. Because I adore it. Because it's mine. Because it looks exactly like me. It can barf all over me if it wants to--I just don't care.”
Listen to me. Someday you're gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You'll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing.”
“The search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people.”
My thoughts turn to something I read once, something the Zen Buddhists believe. They say that an oak tree is brought into creation by two forces at the same time. Obviously, there is the acorn from which it all begins, the seed which holds all the promise and potential, which grows into a tree. Everybody can see that. But only a few can recognize that there is anther force operating here as well-the future tree itself, which wants so badly to exist that it pulls the acorn into being, drawing the seedling forth with longing out of the void, guiding the evolution from nothingness to maturity. In this respect, say the Zens, it is the oak tree that creates the very acorn from which it was born.”
“Everyone makes their own path, and I must make mine. The Bhagavad Gita - and ancient Indian Yogic text - says that it is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life perfectly. So now I have started living my own life. Imperfect and clumsy as it may look, it is resembling me now, thoroughly. It is mine.”
Sometimes out hearts are broken so new light can get in.”
“I watched them, thinking that little girls who make their mothers live grow up to be such powerful women.”
“If I were going to have such a short visit on earth, I had to do everything possible to experience it now.”
“We’re miserable because we think that we are mere individuals, alone with our fears and flaws and resentments and mortality. We wrongly believe that our limited little egos constitute our whole entire nature. We have failed to recognize our deeper divine character.”
I've avoided this book for six years. Just the thought of entering into this family's pain and the minds of a horrible man and his innocent victim werI've avoided this book for six years. Just the thought of entering into this family's pain and the minds of a horrible man and his innocent victim were too much for me to bear. I watched it on the shelf and continually said, "no."
But we all gain strength with time and experience, and books wait for us until we are ready. And somehow, they find us at the proper time in our lives.
This one found me at the proper time.
The Lovely Bones is a lesson in paradoxical dichotomy. Even the title places two incompatible words next to each other. The story is heart-wrenching and lovely all at once. The characters are familiar yet distant.
With the lyrical intertwining of imagery and feelings, there is a subtle lesson that the delightful parts and the painful parts that make up our lives are all just components in the wonder of living: simple acts like watching dogs out in the yard, or bottles being built in ships, or gloves being passed on are just as poignant in our lives as monumental first kisses and making love, or jealousy, regret, disappointment, and death. Feeling and being are living. Even dying is living. ...more
In preparation for the Utah Shakespeare Fesitval, I read this play in conjunction with watching the PBS series The Hollow Crown. (My arguments for reaIn preparation for the Utah Shakespeare Fesitval, I read this play in conjunction with watching the PBS series The Hollow Crown. (My arguments for reading the play versus seeing the play and having it count as having read the work can be found here and are also tied up here.)
*** Dear William,
Your words are like melted butter on warm toast (wheat for me, please). They are rich and creamy; running over in drippy, oily sweetness; nourishing and incredibly comforting even when liberally spread. A nibble is as delicious as a mouthful.
Hungry for a Whole Loaf
While there is no complex plot here, the entertainment value comes through despite it being one of the "dry History Plays." This is due, in large part, to Falstaff, who is more than just a comic relief buffoon and has wonderful moments of complexity. But I found that I had taken a great liking to Prince Hal. He is no serious Hamlet, but this prodigal son knows he must rise to the occasion. Here is his soliloquy and a few other favorite excerpts:
I know you all, and will awhile uphold The unyoked humor of your idleness. Yet herein will I imitate the sun, Who doth permit the base contagious clouds To smother up his beauty from the world, That, when he please again to be himself, Being wanted, he may be more wondered at By breaking through the foul and ugly mist Of vapors that did seem to strangle him. If all the year were playing holidays, To sport would be as tedious as to work, But when they seldom come, they wished for come, And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents. So when this loose behavior I throw off And pay the debt I never promisèd, By how much better than my word I am, By so much shall I falsify men’s hopes; And, like bright metal on a sullen ground, My reformation, glitt'ring o'er my fault, Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes Than that which hath no foil to set it off. I’ll so offend to make offense a skill, Redeeming time when men think least I will. Act I, Scene II
Hal's eulogy over the less than dead body of Percy is both tender and chiding:
Ill-weaved ambition, how much art thou shrunk! When that this body did contain a spirit, A kingdom for it was too small a bound; But now two paces of the vilest earth Is room enough. Act V, Scene IV
And Falstaff's reply shows his pragmatic, though self-serving, credo:
Counterfeit! I lie; I am no counterfeit: to die, is to be a counterfeit; for he is but the counterfeit of a man who hath not the life of a man: but to counterfeit dying, when a man thereby liveth, is to be no counterfeit, but the true and perfect image of life indeed. The better part of valour is discretion; in the which better part I have saved my life. Act V, Scene IV...more
Wonderfully fun. The Three's Company of the 16th Century, complete with misunderstanding, mistaken identity, swinging doors and a double dose of Mr. FWonderfully fun. The Three's Company of the 16th Century, complete with misunderstanding, mistaken identity, swinging doors and a double dose of Mr. Furley in the name of Dromio.
*The version performed at this year's Utah Shakespeare Fesitval, impeccably done, had an Old West spin to it, showing that The Bard's work transcends time and place....more
(I saw this play several years ago. In preparation for this year's Utah Shakespeare Festival performance, I decided to read it.)
The beauty of3.5 stars
(I saw this play several years ago. In preparation for this year's Utah Shakespeare Festival performance, I decided to read it.)
The beauty of Twelfth Night is that the story hangs on the desires of two women, Viola and Olivia, foils and mirrors of each other. The other characters just add seasoning to the play.
These are my favorite excerpts:
VIOLA 'Tis beauty truly blent, whose red and white Nature's own sweet and cunning hand laid on: Lady, you are the cruell'st she alive, If you will lead these graces to the grave And leave the world no copy. OLIVIA O, sir, I will not be so hard-hearted; I will give out divers schedules of my beauty: it shall be inventoried, and every particle and utensil labelled to my will: as, item, two lips, indifferent red; item, two grey eyes, with lids to them; item, one neck, one chin, and so forth. Were you sent hither to praise me? VIOLA I see you what you are, you are too proud; But, if you were the devil, you are fair. My lord and master loves you: O, such love Could be but recompensed, though you were crown'd The nonpareil of beauty! OLIVIA How does he love me? VIOLA With adorations, fertile tears, With groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire. OLIVIA Your lord does know my mind; I cannot love him: Yet I suppose him virtuous, know him noble, Of great estate, of fresh and stainless youth; In voices well divulged, free, learn'd and valiant; And in dimension and the shape of nature A gracious person: but yet I cannot love him; He might have took his answer long ago. Act I, Scene V
VIOLA I left no ring with her: what means this lady? Fortune forbid my outside have not charm'd her! She made good view of me; indeed, so much, That sure methought her eyes had lost her tongue, For she did speak in starts distractedly. She loves me, sure; the cunning of her passion Invites me in this churlish messenger. None of my lord's ring! why, he sent her none. I am the man: if it be so, as 'tis, Poor lady, she were better love a dream. Disguise, I see, thou art a wickedness, Wherein the pregnant enemy does much. How easy is it for the proper-false In women's waxen hearts to set their forms! Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we! For such as we are made of, such we be. How will this fadge? my master loves her dearly; And I, poor monster, fond as much on him; And she, mistaken, seems to dote on me. What will become of this? As I am man, My state is desperate for my master's love; As I am woman,--now alas the day!-- What thriftless sighs shall poor Olivia breathe! O time! thou must untangle this, not I; It is too hard a knot for me to untie! Act II, Scene II
VIOLA Too well what love women to men may owe: In faith, they are as true of heart as we. My father had a daughter loved a man, As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman, I should your lordship. DUKE ORSINO And what's her history? VIOLA A blank, my lord. She never told her love, But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud, Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought, And with a green and yellow melancholy She sat like patience on a monument, Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed? We men may say more, swear more: but indeed Our shows are more than will; for still we prove Much in our vows, but little in our love. Act II, Scene IV
VIOLA By innocence I swear, and by my youth I have one heart, one bosom and one truth, And that no woman has; nor never none Shall mistress be of it, save I alone. And so adieu, good madam: never more Will I my master's tears to you deplore. Act III, Scene I
DUKE ...I'll sacrifice the lamb that I do love, To spite a raven's heart within a dove. Act V, Scene I ...more
I found several useful concepts that I could apply and use in my life. The overall message is not to be afraid of the dark times for those are the oneI found several useful concepts that I could apply and use in my life. The overall message is not to be afraid of the dark times for those are the ones in which real growth occurs....more
I received this preciously old copy as a gift from a dear friend, thus my rating doesn't reflect the true meaning behind the book.
In a style similar tI received this preciously old copy as a gift from a dear friend, thus my rating doesn't reflect the true meaning behind the book.
In a style similar to the writings of C.S. Lewis, the language of The Mansion is dated, but the message is timeless and touching. It was listed as one of the three books read by Thomas Monson at Christmas time (in addition to the story of Jesus' birth in the Book of Luke and Dickens' A Christmas Carol). I will also include it in my annual readings....more
I decided to give some 'chick-lit' another try (with the hopes for a romantic story set in Paris) and found myself strengthening, not only my resolveI decided to give some 'chick-lit' another try (with the hopes for a romantic story set in Paris) and found myself strengthening, not only my resolve never to read such trite nonsense, but also, my eyes, as I rolled them continuously with the reading. ...more
Laurie King's writing is phenomenal; articulate and sophisticated without being pretentious. Her ability to pace the plot without undertow nor hyperclLaurie King's writing is phenomenal; articulate and sophisticated without being pretentious. Her ability to pace the plot without undertow nor hyperclimax is admirable. But more than any other achievement, it is the breath of life she has given to two very dear characters that sets her apart. There are only a dozen fictional characters whom I feel I know as intimately as Mary Russell and [King's] Sherlock Holmes. It is a pleasure to spend time in their presence. ...more
I'm not really a Hemingway fan (see this review for verification), but of all his books, I found a simple loveliness in this one. With subtle allusionI'm not really a Hemingway fan (see this review for verification), but of all his books, I found a simple loveliness in this one. With subtle allusions to Moby-Dick; or, The Whale* and Asian fish lore, the melancholy reader will appreciate the beauty in struggle, trial and death.
*Okay, stupid Goodreads! How difficult is it for Melville to be the FIRST source when choosing options for Moby-Dick?!...more
Not my favorite of Gladwell's works, but still an utterly enjoyable composition of connected ideas.
I like Gladwell's writing not only because he forceNot my favorite of Gladwell's works, but still an utterly enjoyable composition of connected ideas.
I like Gladwell's writing not only because he forces the reader into a paradigm shift, but because he fills me with hope: that 10,000 hours of doing something could make me proficient, and, in this book, that my weaknesses might actually be my strengths....more
Oh, Lily Bart! Do I admire you or despise you? With the same vein of indecision you show, neither can I choose. But I do pity you... and not with a deOh, Lily Bart! Do I admire you or despise you? With the same vein of indecision you show, neither can I choose. But I do pity you... and not with a demeaning, self-righteous pity; rather an empathetic sorrow for your predicament.
This is Wharton's rebuke of societal expectations and requirements placed on women, dependent on suitable marriages to feed their tastes for beautiful gowns and lovely parties. She sophisticatedly weaves together contrasting characters, symbol and motif and (at times excruciatingly) intricate detail with a turn of the century, post-Victorian Era hollowness. We know (because it's Edith Wharton, after all) that it's not going to end well.
My favorite back-handed compliment was when, rather than commend them for attending church, the narrator quips:
“Mr. and Mrs. Wetherall's circle was so large that God was included in their visiting-list.” ...more
Whew. I'm not sure if I can exactly say that I loved reading this Pulitzer winner.
The writing is sophisticatedly clean. I enjoyed the placement and p Whew. I'm not sure if I can exactly say that I loved reading this Pulitzer winner.
The writing is sophisticatedly clean. I enjoyed the placement and play of varying motifs and themes related to the passage of time: clocks (obviously), seasons, shadows, things that fade and disappear, counting down the hours until death, even accruing interest as a measurement of time (and birds? I haven't quite figured out how the bird theme fits with time, but it was prominent throughout).
But I wasn't a fan of the frequent narration changes from first person to omniscient third, and continually had to regroup to figure out which character was the father and which was the son.
There were some lovely moments, but many tedious ones, especially leading up to the surprise that a Chapter 2 existed (!) 70 pages into a 190 page book (I could have used a Chapter 2 around page 20, just sayin').
These were the lovely moments:
"...The author has heard of a clock supposedly seen in eastern Bohemia that had the likeness of a great oak tree wrought in iron and brass around its dial. As the seasons of its homeland changed, the branches of the tree turned a thousand tiny copper leaves, each threaded on a hair-thin spindle, from enameled green to metallic red. Then, by astounding mechanisms within the case (fashioned to look like one of the mystical pillars once believed to hold up the earth) the branches released the leaves to spiral down their threads and strew themselves about the lower part of the clock face. If this machine in fact existed, Mr. Newton himself could it have sat beneath a more amazing tree (p. 18)."
"Your cold mornings are filled with the heartache about the fact that although we are not at ease in this world, it is all we have, that it is ours but that it is full of strife, so that all we can call our own is strife; but even that is better than nothing at all, isn't it? And as you split frost-laced wood with numb hands, rejoice that your uncertainty is God's will and His grace toward you and THAT is beautiful, and part of a greater certainty... be comforted in the fact that the ache in your heart and the confusion in your soul means that you are still alive, still human, and still open to the beauty of the world, even though you have done nothing to deserve it. And when you resent the ache in your heart, remember: You will be dead and buried soon enough (p. 72)."
"What of miniature boats constructed of birch bark and fallen leaves, launched onto cold water clear as air? How many fleets were pushed out toward the middles of ponds or sent down autumn brooks, holding treasures of acorns, or black feathers, or a puzzled mantis? Let those grassy crafts be listed alongside the iron hulls that cleave the sea, for they are all improvisational built from the daydreams of men, and all will perish, whether from ocean siege or October breeze (pp. 77-78)."
"...Is it not true: A move of the head, a step to the left or right, and we change from wise, decent, loyal people to conceited fools? Light changes, our eyes blink and see the world from the slightest difference of perspective and our place in it has changed infinitely... (p. 124)"...more
(The citations I used were based on the pages of this edition.)
Woah, René. You blew my mind.
I don't want to imply that this treatise isn't accessible;(The citations I used were based on the pages of this edition.)
Woah, René. You blew my mind.
I don't want to imply that this treatise isn't accessible; it is; but just when I would think I was following his train of thought, I'd find myself lost and have to go back and reread whole paragraphs. Still. What I was able to grasp was enjoyable and enlightening.
(Is it arrogant for me to think that a few of his deductions were flawed? At times it felt like he simply assumed that one of his 'proofs' was inherent. Perhaps his readership could take more for granted than we do today. Or, perhaps those were just my inadequacies showing.)
I was delighted to find that he, too, wondered about the potential for one entity to contrive another entity greater than itself. (I touch on it here and in another review I couldn't locate.)
"The second objection is that it does not follow, from my possessing the idea itself is more perfect than I am, that the idea itself is more perfect than myself, and much less that what is represented by the idea exists. ... For it may be taken either materially for an act of the understanding, and in this sense it cannot be said to be more perfect than I, or objectively, for the thing, represented by that act, which, although it be not supposed to exist out of my understanding, may, nevertheless, be more perfect than myself, by reason of its essence. But, in the sequel of this treatise I will show more amply how, from my possessing the idea of a thing more perfect than myself, it follows that this thing really exists (p. 72)."
My copy was full of Post It tabs marking passages I could study over and over. Descartes' ideas are wonderful for one who already has a belief in God and would like a more academic viewpoint of their faith. However, I doubt that an atheist is going to be won over by his method.
A few favorite passages:
"...in geometry, all are persuaded that nothing is usually advanced of which there is not a certain demonstration, those but partially versed in it err more frequently in assenting to what is false, from a desire of seeming to understand it, than in denying what is true. In philosophy, on the other hand, where it is believed that all is doubtful, few sincerely give themselves to the search after truth, and by far the greater number seek the reputation of bold thinkers by audaciously impugning such truths as are of the greatest moment (p. 68)."
"...but considering only that God is my creator, it is highly probable that he in some way fashioned me after his own image and likeness and that I perceive this likeness, in which is contained the idea of God, by the same faculty by which I apprehend myself, -- in other words, when I make myself the object of reflection, I not only find that I am an incomplete [imperfect] and dependent being, and one who unceasingly aspires after something better and greater than he is; but, at the same time, I am assured likewise that he upon whom I am dependent possesses in himself all the goods after which I aspire [and the ideas of which I find in my mind], and that not merely indefinitely and potentially, but infinitely and actually, and that he is thus God (p. 110)." ...more
There were moments of wonderful dry humor, but sometimes his self-deprecation is just dry... and somewhat pathetic.
This was my introduction to David SThere were moments of wonderful dry humor, but sometimes his self-deprecation is just dry... and somewhat pathetic.
This was my introduction to David Sedaris, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I found the most hilarity in the stories of his sister Amy and her relationship with her father. Eventually, I caught on that this was that Amy Sedaris, and decided that I would probably give her writing a chance as well.
I really enjoyed this well-developed YA tear-jerker, and the relationship between Hazel Grace and Gus was endearing, but I couldn't help but feel thatI really enjoyed this well-developed YA tear-jerker, and the relationship between Hazel Grace and Gus was endearing, but I couldn't help but feel that it was, at times, emotionally manipulative despite the protagonist's constant need to squelch "cancer perk" condolences.
Most appropriate for YAs 16 years and older....more
Tolstoy has created into character the Russian Ebenezer Scrooge. Ivan Ilyich does not get the merciful advantage of nighttime visitoProfoundly moving.
Tolstoy has created into character the Russian Ebenezer Scrooge. Ivan Ilyich does not get the merciful advantage of nighttime visitors, however. His Ghosts of Past, Present and Future are his own memories and the unsympathetic muddlings of those by whom he should have been shown compassion and love. Despite this, he finds meaning in life and purpose in death, regretfully at the latest hour.
This is one of the fluffiest books I have ever read.
I have to say I really had fun reading it, though. Despite living in a pretentiousOh, good grief.
This is one of the fluffiest books I have ever read.
I have to say I really had fun reading it, though. Despite living in a pretentious society, Tonello plays along with the game, and doesn't take himself too seriously.
I admit that I have always coveted an Hermès bag. (Kelly or Birkin). I don't know if I could live with myself if I actually had one... unless it was just ... gifted to me... or something, like... as swag...or something. :)
I do own a few Hermès scarves, and found his treatment of them as pocket change compared to the Birkin bag mind-boggling.
There is quite a lot of foul language in this book, but it is perfect for those of the sartorial mindset needing a quick, light read....more
Let me confess. I originally picked this book because I have been recently rating so many books with 4 stars and I really don't want my average book r Let me confess. I originally picked this book because I have been recently rating so many books with 4 stars and I really don't want my average book rating to go higher than 3.36 (give or take a hundredth). I assumed that a book by slap-sticky Steve Martin would surely only warrant 3 stars maximum, possibly even 2 stars, bringing my average back down.
In my expectations to be disappointed, I was disappointed.
It is Steve Martin's voice from the very first line, but his narration of Daniel's reflections and yearnings is so smooth and tender, I was entranced by the telling. Daniel is so well developed that I cared for him and wished him well. When I was gone, I found myself wanting to check back in to see how he was doing. Yes, his choices and issues made me laugh, but the story is beautiful because it does not mock Daniel's neuroses; it celebrates his unique thoughts and endears him to the reader.
I've written before in reviews my wonderings whether an author can create a character who is smarter than himself. Is it possible to give a fictional character a brighter mind and more complex thinking skills than those possessed by the writer? With no offense to Steve Martin's intellect (and I may be wrong), he may have done just that with Daniel.
(I wonder, now, whether a writer is capable of giving any quality to a character without some internal understanding and empathy. It would prove an interesting debate.)
The Pleasure of My Company is captivating, thoughtful, tender, and definitely a pleasure.
(Ugh! Someone recommend a good, solid 2 star book to me, pronto!)...more
I expected the story of an upper-class couple, with an ambitious husband and a can-do wife who, because of these benefiI wasn't expecting to like her.
I expected the story of an upper-class couple, with an ambitious husband and a can-do wife who, because of these benefits gets to, not only travel the world but, truly experience the cultures and lifestyles of the countries in which she lives all the time gathering up a unique group of dearest friends, giving her children cultural advantages, and stock-piling linguistic skills to make an ambassador blush; and then she gets to modestly boast (oxymoron) about her experiences by writing a book.
"I could see from her clothing and gait that she was probably from mainland China, a place where getting stopped by uniformed officials wielding government papers could mean going to high court. Or prison. 'Ni Hao,' I stepped over, saying hello. Her face brightened and she wiped her eyes. We began speaking in Mandarin. The next half hour was spent switching from Mandarin (with this frightened, transiting tourist from Beijing), to French (with the stiff, Swiss customs authorities, who had intimidated her on the train), to English (with Lauren, who was gracious enough to give me moral backup), and to German (by cell phone with the tourist's friend awaiting her in Zurich at the end of the final leg of her European train trip). Everything was clarified, this poor but greatly relieved Beijing woman and I hugged, and she went safely on her way, dragging her suitcase and calling out, 'Xie xie, xie xie, thank you, xie xie!'(p. 279)"
Truly, it's enough to make a foreign language-loving, wanderlusting, jealous heart ache.
But I loved her. I loved her candor and wit. I loved her ability to share so clearly and with such charm that I felt like I was getting to experience it with her. She wasn't bragging. She was sharing.
"What telling history means, I now understand, is not just talking for talking's sake, 'patching grief with proverbs,' as Shakespeare knows one should not because it kills community. Nor is it charting methodically through some timeline in order to make a graph so as to pinpoint key events or scientific equations behind tragedy. Grief is not time for sterile intellectuality because, when things are raw, it is the heart, not the brain, that says, 'Come be one'(p. 269)."
I was jealous, even of some of her difficult days (though not her most difficult day). But I could see that she truly earned every experience and handled her trials with grace. I haven't lost a son, but I have known deep pain and loss. She candidly and with great vulnerability invites and shares these moments. And so I allowed for my jealousy to abate and just to be grateful that in some small way she had invited me to sit down at her langbord to hear the travelogue of her life.
A favorite to which I could relate:
"'But this is easy,' Mr. Psy said, removing his glasses and folding his manicured hands while leaning forward on his frosted glass desk top. 'You're an artiste. You have the tempérament d'une artiste. You feel things profondément. This is a qualité. This tristresse is simply the price you pay pour l'art' (p. 167)."
Other moments I loved:
* The Høytidelig procession (p. 43) * Hydrofoil ride hilarity (pp. 80-81) * Her attitude toward childbirth