"Bright-Sided" is somewhat unevenly written, but Barbara Ehrenreich once again presents her case for modern critical thinking over fuzzy positive thin...more"Bright-Sided" is somewhat unevenly written, but Barbara Ehrenreich once again presents her case for modern critical thinking over fuzzy positive thinking with a good balance of passion, annoyance, and warm, wry humor. The subtitle about how "positive thinking destroyed America" is a bit hyperbolic, but the logic is nearly irrefutable; why did positive thinking about prosperity not deflect the greatest economic crash in decades? Ehrenreich is mostly convincing, and at times she is startlingly skilled at putting ideas and historical moments into social context. This book is well worth reading even when some of the tales it spins vacillate between the horrible and the merely vapid. (less)
I had a grand time with this book. It's a cautionary tale on many levels. It's 2022, and there's a deceptively pleasant-looking, upscale retirement ho...moreI had a grand time with this book. It's a cautionary tale on many levels. It's 2022, and there's a deceptively pleasant-looking, upscale retirement home populated almost entirely by aging hippies and freaks. Unfortunately, they are being patronized and in many ways abused by their avaricious adult children and by a corrupt management. When one resident's cat gets confiscated, the community pulls out of its cliquishness and takes two hostages, renames the grounds Pepperland, and figures out to govern themselves. There's a bit of a murder mystery and lots of intrigue as well as repeated "put down the book and chuckle" ironic humor in the residents' interactions and competitiveness over where they were in 1968. As a California native who often finds that writers from elsewhere are lax in their research and make silly errors in describing or characterizing this area, I must say that Sandlin, who hails from Wyoming, seems to have done his homework enough to understand the Bay Area. His futuristic world is an unexpected mix of dark underground journey and sweetly lit fable, and it's fun to observe from here.(less)
honest and well written; Tim Guest tells us of his life with a true-believer mother who dedicated herself, after a few political identifications, to l...morehonest and well written; Tim Guest tells us of his life with a true-believer mother who dedicated herself, after a few political identifications, to life as a sannyasin building the Rajneesh spiritual empire/international community. We get an ironic and balanced child's eye view of growing up in a New Age world, on several continents, where children were an afterthought in an adult-oriented, tantric-spiced, sometimes violent enournter-based spiritual order and left largely to their own devices while their parents pursued a requisite surrender to their increasingly bizarre spiritual teacher. This is an excellent companion volume to narratives by adults who were once devotees of the Bhajawan Shree Rajneesh, also known as Osho.(less)
I stumbled on SON while picking up picture books for an afterschool class where I often substitute - and found it compelling, a literally can;t-put-it...moreI stumbled on SON while picking up picture books for an afterschool class where I often substitute - and found it compelling, a literally can;t-put-it-down despite a few places where the details could have been edited for a tighter story. The utterly powerful evil embodied and practiced by Trademaster quite literally gave me chills and goosebumps. I don't generally expecdt Lois Lowry's writings and imagined communities to be magical; part of the chilling effect of the Sameness community portrayed in The Guver is how it is driven by technology and the lack/elimination of surprise. The jarring presence and actions of the foul, wicked Trademaster helped make the story compelling, and for me, the depictions of the ongoing wounds of the young Birthmother, Claire, were amplifications of our own society in which young women who have produced children that they cannot raise for any of several possible reasons are treated nearly as disrespectfully as in the land of Sameness.
Lowry has matured as a writer, and as an older-middle-aged adult who has often found :young adult" fiction disappointing, this story grabbed me.(less)
"The Rescuer's Path" is a thought-provoking journey back and forth over a span of four decades across the United States. It's a tale about survival. A...more"The Rescuer's Path" is a thought-provoking journey back and forth over a span of four decades across the United States. It's a tale about survival. A teenaged girl from an upper middle class Jewish family has an unexpected encounter with a wounded young Arab-American man who, rightly or wrongly, is a leading federal suspect in a recent politically-motivated bombing. Malca walks away from her sheltered life as a college-prep stuident and lives by his side in the hills, foraging for food and learning of the conflicts he has faced, until the day the FBI arrives and shoots him to death in front of Malca.
Malca is living the life of a reasonably well-adjsuted, married social worker with two young sons in Berkeley and reclaiming what memory and elfacy she can of those long-ago events when we meet her again as a middle aged woman. Her story is told in dream-like segments that move back and forth through time as Malca seeks to reconcile the woman she has become, and the denoument of her liberal middle class existence, with the drama and the perils of her former life. The daughter given up for adoption who was conceived in the ill-fated weeks of figitive living , and the aging, embittered father of her long-deceased lover Gavin have their own parallel searches. As readers, we are ironically distant and yet engaged with each of these characters, but, like figures in a recalled dream, they are hard to place or to categorize, as are Malca's European-born Holocaust-surviving parents who honor Gavin after his death as Malca's husband and the rightful father of their grandchild. As a reader, I feel genuine concern and liking for all these complex characters, and yet there is a sort of protective mist that separates their lives from our everyday understanding. We are left with a hopeful but inchoate glimpse of the huture from this review of the past, and a reminder that human relationships are seldom as easily graswped and categorized as we might imagine. If there is another message besides Malca's search for who she has been and who she may be now, and Malca and her borthp-daughter's mutual search for their roots as mother and daughter, it is that our stereotypes of how people will respond to real life are nearly bound to fail us. (less)
I have such conflicted feelings about this book. Nathan McCall is honest, perhaps to a fault, about his past as well as his reflections on his adult l...moreI have such conflicted feelings about this book. Nathan McCall is honest, perhaps to a fault, about his past as well as his reflections on his adult life. We are in the same age cohort; McCall graduated high school in the year before I did, and had we not lived at opposite sides of the US, we could have attended high school together. AND I am glad e did not meet then, after reading about McCall's frightful "streety" behavior as a teen. is parents did little to stop or redirect him as he and his friends held up stores at gunpoint, got into nasty fights with one another,sometimes also involving loaded weapons, and regularly "pulled trains" (gang rapes) on girls of their own ethnicity.
McCall tells the tales of his on iniquity in a detached, often dispassionate voice, as though reminiscing about a past life. McCall returned to the streets after a year as a lackluster student at the local state college, and soon fund himself serving a three year term fr violent crimes. One of the aspects of this book I DO like is that religious and political conversion ultimately ere not the solution for McCall; he has had to find his ay n his own, though he absorbed himself in both Christianity and Islam at various points. and certainly encountered Black revolutionary thought in and out of prison. Reading this book, I can't decide whether I really like Nathan McCall or not. I admire his ability to engage with his inner demons and to confront his past, and then his problems with the women in his adult life, including those he marries, and his retrospective view of his violent past seem flat and too unemotional. His genuine love for his children is the most redeeming trait displayed in this book. And his easy humor and facile descriptions of trying to make his ay s a first-generation African American professional can be absorbing and an easy read. McCall is uneven as a writer; there is a big difference between skill at maintaining tone and perspective as a journalist writing news and feature articles, and keeping that consistent tone in a book-length memoir. McCall leaves many unanswered questions, and I find I want to be part of an intelligent thoughtful. mixed-ethnicity discussion group about how Makes Me Wanna Holler affects its readers.(less)
I have loved the Edward Eager series since my own childhood 50 years ago, and I read them to my daughter before she could read chapter books. She "eag...moreI have loved the Edward Eager series since my own childhood 50 years ago, and I read them to my daughter before she could read chapter books. She "eagerly" devoured the series again as an independent reader, and I have purchased these clever and almost wickedly funny novels as gifts for other children often. Eager was a playwright, and his characters, adult and child, are well developed; the dialogue is witty and the fantastic scenes Eager describes are on the borderline of believable. There is nothing saccharine in these stories; the magic that the children stumble into, over two generations, is very tricksterish, with a mind f its on that, as the children say, is "always trying to thwart them." Half Magic is the first in the series, and if it is a cautionary tale at all, it's a warning about the ambiguity of language and the old slightly cynical saw that says to "be careful what you wish for; you may get it."(less)
I literally grew up reading the original Mary Poppins works by PL Travers, and this, the third volume in the PL Travers series that began in the 1930s...moreI literally grew up reading the original Mary Poppins works by PL Travers, and this, the third volume in the PL Travers series that began in the 1930s or so, is perhaps my favorite. It opens on a bleak and gray Guy Fawkes Day in London, and the Banks household is, as usual when Mary Poppins is absent, in an uproar. The children have been saving their Gay Fawkes skyrockets all year, and go to the Park to shoot them off, when who should appear on the blue spark of what seem to be a dud firecracker but the deadpan, ever-proper figure of Mary Poppins, who brings the household into shape with her secretive and singular magic and her bottomless Carpet Bag once again.
Mary Poppins is not just prim and strict; she is grouchy and vain and overall difficult, and unlike the figure with her name in the Disney musical of the 1960s, she does not sing sweet lullabies nor offer "a spoonful of sugar" to help the jobs get done. Her "Spit spot into the bathroom to brush your teeth!" is a directive, not a gentle suggestion. Se speaks rudely to shopkeepers and even to her employers, the Banks parents. Mary Poppins defies the rigid conventions of social class that pervade 20th century British society. Somehow, the children in her charge, and all who read the tales, know that all is made right by this mysterious and commanding presence who comes from another realm and knows far more than she will ever disclose. (less)
Diane di Prima, in addition to being the principal female writer recognized on her own merits as part of the Beat Era, is the unofficial godmother of...moreDiane di Prima, in addition to being the principal female writer recognized on her own merits as part of the Beat Era, is the unofficial godmother of countercultural single mothers. Her memoir, like here poetry (which I generally like a great deal) vacillates between the gritty and the mythic and romanticized, and that's not an unfit metaphor for di Prima's life. di Prima made her mistakes, as a lover, an artist, and a parent, and despite her attachment to what she has elsewhere called the "tiresome code of [beatnik] Cool," she is not afraid to show us her moment of regret, self-doubt, and personal anguish. She laughs and shakes her head at herself, remaking that if she :had the sense that God gave little green apples," she might have remained in California with her two, then three, young children instead of running back to New York. She describes the gruesome realities of an illegal abortion (the only type there was) that she never really wanted in the first place, and her subsequent longing for another pregnancy and baby. We are introduced to the painstaking work of hand-crating a typed literary journal, with the wry remark that in retrospect, word=processing computers came "not a moment too soon." di Prima as gives a a glimpse into a pre-hippie, pre-New Age pan-spiritual approach to ritual; we in her for a Winter Solstice gathering that includes sacramental use f LSD, and an impromptu memorial for her close friend Fred who has taken his life by waking out of a New York window, with a first-time reading of the Tibetan Book f the Dead.the young Diane di Prima, and the older woman who looks back at her, are both complex figures who mix humility and grandiosity, ain and unflappability. di Prima was sometimes dependent on assistance from her staid, and dysfunctional middle class family. There are no cartoon,stereotyped finger-snapping "Daddy-O" Beats in this story; there is instead a set of alternately fascinating and annoying people who seem destined to navigate somewhere outside the mainstream. Diane di Prima has spent a lifetime working through her pain, her disappintments, and her attachments around the first half of her life, lived mostly on the East Cast, and her vice is an authentic neo that will resonate with the single mothers, the aspiring artists, and the rebels who take the time to know this creative, restless spirit.(less)
I have very mixed feelings about "Beautiful Boy." I live in the Bay Area,am in the same age cohort as David Sheff, and am intimately familiar as a for...moreI have very mixed feelings about "Beautiful Boy." I live in the Bay Area,am in the same age cohort as David Sheff, and am intimately familiar as a former neighbor with each community presented here: Berkeley, San Francisco, Limantour Beach, Inverness, San Rafael,m Pint Reyes Station I am familiar with the schools his children attend, from preschool and elementary school through Marin Academy to Nic's sojourns at UC Berkeley (my alma mater as well as David Sheff's) and Hampshire College in Massachusetts, a common collegiate destination for graduates of the independent high school in Berkeley that my own daughter attended/ On the one hand, I admire Sheff's ability to self-examine and ruminate n his strengths and weaknesses as a parent. On the other, this book fees like a massive invasion of privacy to me; it's one thing, and possibly acceptable, to describe Nic's problems and outrageous behaviors in excruciating detail, but how did his two young half-siblings ever give their consent to be made public figures? I am torn between admiration for Sheff for his humility and feeling that he has committed the unpardonable sin of pimping his children. It seems to me that the story have been told as effectively, or nearly so, by fictionalizing some of the identifying information so that these young children are not forever saddled as the kids who grew up with the twists of having a meth-addicted older brother.
Like many readers here, I found David Sheff a tad self-absorbed and perhaps too fixated with telling us just how his beautiful boy Nic was, but I accept that as part of the memoir process. Sheff's summary of his research on meth's effects was provocative and fascinating frm a medical/psychological perspective. But if Sheff ever considered the perspective of harm reduction/drug refrm approaches, he never mentions them even in passing. He states, categorically and in a way I find irritating, that "marijuana is a gateway drug" though the evidence fr this is weakly suggestive at best. By the end of the book, after something of a therapeutic breakthrough where Sheff, his ex-wife, and Nic a participate in a meaningful art therapy session and stop avoiding one another, he is seriously quoting the failed "just say no" approaches of Nancy Reagan, of all strange people for a Bay Area liberal dad yo hod up as exemplary. Perhaps this is what having a severely addicted son does to you; the platitudes of the Partnership for a Drug Free America start to sound reasonable.
Today, I read that Cameron Crowe will direct the motion picture version of Beautiful Boy. Can you pimp your children any more than selling the family's struggles to Hollywood? There is something highly disturbing about"Beautiful Boy,"(less)
Pat Barker's historical fiction, and her modern fiction that incorporates the receding history of World War I England, are stunningly well crafted. Sh...morePat Barker's historical fiction, and her modern fiction that incorporates the receding history of World War I England, are stunningly well crafted. She weaves real and important figures from early 10th century England seamlessly with the ambivalent protagonists of her creation to take us to worlds ranging from a military hospital and the killing fields of the first World War in Europe to the islands of the south Pacific where there are no "noble savages." The reader shares the ambivalence of all the characters and is left feeling the weight of the great ironic tragedy of war, just as they do. (less)
I first read this book in 5th grade, when I "inherited" my mother's 1840copy. (my mother was, and is 45 years later, still very much alive and still a...moreI first read this book in 5th grade, when I "inherited" my mother's 1840copy. (my mother was, and is 45 years later, still very much alive and still attends book discussion groups with her friends) I have revisited it many times since. MY grandmother was Francie Nolan;s contemporary growing up poor (but in the Jewish quarter) in turn-of-the-century Williamsburg Brooklyn, and spoke of many of the same Brooklyn traditions. I love the tale of Francie, simultaneously tender and tough, finding her way through the adversity of a class-bound world. Some of the inconsistencies of the book have long annoyed me and should have been caught by an editor long ago: why do we never see or hear of Francie's first cousins, the three children of Aunt Evy who is a regular visitor to the Nolan household, interact with Francie and her brother Neeley? Was it realistic, even in the world of 100 years ago, to portray the hilarious, generous-hearted, man-chasing, thoroughly unscooled and illiterate eldest of Francie's aunties, Sissy, as a flawless housekeeper and expert seamstress? Is it really possible that Francie and Neeley, described as "starveling" and eating a diet based on stale bread, potatoes, and scraps of soup meat would attend crowded elementary schools in Brooklyn in thin ragged clothing through which the cold November winds whipped without ever catching even a cold? could a girl who, like all my grandparents, had to leave school after eighth grade to work full time really have suddenly qualified for a scholarship to the University of M Michigan by age 16, no matter how gifted? The tale is strong and it moves forward, though it would have been even stronger with more attention to some of the contradictions. These are minor concerns. The essential tale is real and compelling, even when we disagree with the judgments of the presumed wisest characters. Why does the competent Katie Nolan, whose own Austrian-born mother is nearly saintly, so despise all other women and so favor her son over her daughter? I love the tenderness with which Betty Smith depicts the ways that "the wind blows against" the children of the poor, and the honest anguish a mother of a teenager feels when Katie laments, that a good parent spends her life protecting her children as well as she can from every possible hurt "and then one day they get up and walk right into that hurt." There is a gentleness and a sad under-utilized intelligence to Johnny Nolan, Francie's musically talented and charming alcoholic father. There are deep contradictions in katie's temperament too, and the "reckless good sense" that she recognizes in her sister Sissy when she reconciles with Sissy one more time is also in younger sister Katie. The family is desperately poor, and often there is little food in the house, but Katie has a pot of coffee on at all times, and the house rule is that everyone is entitled to black coffee throughout the day, and one large cup of coffee with evaporated milk daily. When Francie sips her coffee with milk slowly, savoring its aroma, then pours the mahority of it down the sink, her aunt Evy wants to discourage waste, but katie is as usual resolute in her feelings and practices. FRancie is entitled to her single cup of coffee with milk, and if she chooses to pour it ratehr than to drink it that is the one luxury of food and drink the family can afford, except when Johnny brings leftover dainties home from his occasional singing waiter jobs.
We can't help liking and admiring the Nolan family despite their foibles, and this is part of the genius of Betty Smith as a writer. She gives us these complex characters, warts and all, and they become our own family and friends, people we care about deeply even when they act in ways incomprehensible to us or destructive to themselves and their families. Smith helps us to see that the people who somehow survive the unfairness of life are much like the Tree of Heaven that "likes poor people" and grows unbidden and often unwanted throughout Brooklyn. (less)
this is one of the most moving, and distrubing, colelcted oral histories I have read in quite a while. Ann Fessler, an adoptee whose adoptive mther wa...morethis is one of the most moving, and distrubing, colelcted oral histories I have read in quite a while. Ann Fessler, an adoptee whose adoptive mther was also adopted, records the tales and the traumas of a wide and varied pool of women who all had one large and usually hirrible experience in common : they were "sent away" Vo bear and relinguish their out-of-wedlock babies when they were young women. I guarantee that no thinking person will ever think lightly about adoption again after reading thesemtales. after a few ours with the lives of these then-young and vulnerabe women, it occurred to me that the denial of sexuality that would meet its end with the so-called and much-ballyhooed Sexual REvolution may have been as much a reaction to the nearly uiquitous Girls WHo Went AWay as to any advanves in birth control or subsequent pubic policy. the assumption in those not-so-long ago days was that a young women who;d :made a mistake" and "got in trouble" would give up her baby, "get ovet" the experince, and "get on" with her life. without any counseling or support and often with little kindness from any quarter. before reading this book, I thought I understopod the politics and ecnomics of adoption, but I am now convinced that few people were untouched by the shame and secrecy that out-of-wedslock pregnancy, and subsequent secret adoption, effeted. perhaps the natural, joyous, highly sexualized childborth that the counterculture would adopt was at last in part a reaction to the denial and unspoken pain of the "girls ho went away." there are ertainly women ho had both experienes; I;'d like to ask them.(less)
this book and I are old friends, from its beginnings as a chapter in the "Hey Beatnik This Is The Farm! 'zie that portrayed life on the Tennessee Farm...morethis book and I are old friends, from its beginnings as a chapter in the "Hey Beatnik This Is The Farm! 'zie that portrayed life on the Tennessee Farm in its early years (early 1970s) through every edition of the full guide for midwives and collection of birthing stories that has appeared. I have to chuckle a bit at those who refer to the contriobutors' "hippie language" - hey, if you think recent editions talk Hippie, ou should get our hands on a first edtio, where there is frequent comparison between the "rushes" of childbearing and the sensations when "coming on to a haavy psychedelic." Ironically, Ina May and the Farm Midwives have been criticized for being "too medical and meddlesome" by some home birth advocates at least as much as them have been rejected for being "hippie dippie" by parts of the medical-nursing establishment. even with some of the edits that have taken place over the decades, this book is as much a record of an important aspect of society on the Farm in its collective days as it is a uide to having a bby with very little pain and fear at home, or in as hme ike a setting as possible. the tales of them women who had to transfer to the hpospital, tough few, are also instructive; they illuminate a culture in which accepting that things don't always go as we had hoped, without complaining or resisting, is also a pathway to spiritual growth. I was able to have a very uncomplicated and joyous birth at home, at the age of 28, partly because of my acquiantance with the priciples and practices that Spiritual Midwifery outlines.
this approach to birthing, as literature or as practice, is not for everyone; what is? it is a lasting and important guide to one of the most important contributions to healthy living that the counterculture ever got into print.
thank you Ina May and the Farm Midwifery Center.(less)
Still one of the very best guides to a good warm to hot soak anywhere in California or the SOuthwest Desert or mountains around. The alte jayson Loam...moreStill one of the very best guides to a good warm to hot soak anywhere in California or the SOuthwest Desert or mountains around. The alte jayson Loam loved little as much as crawling into warm water in nature, and he dedicated his life to visiting and rating all the hot springs, and hot tubs, I;e found not only some wonerful natural hot springs through the various editions of this book, but also some amazing associated camping and other outdoor recreation. marjorie Gersh-Young has kept Jayson Loam's beauty-loving spirit alive, and if you are at all intersted in a good warm soak, whether it;s after a logn hike or at a developed hotel or public pool; this is the place to look.