Lots of good travel stories in this one, plus a few good fictional characters thrown in. Laughed out loud on the bus to work, more than once.
I was inLots of good travel stories in this one, plus a few good fictional characters thrown in. Laughed out loud on the bus to work, more than once.
I was in London, squinting out my kitchen window at a distant helicopter, when a sales rep phoned from some overseas call center. "Mr. Sedriz?" he asked. "Is that who I have the pleasure of addressing?" The man spoke with an accent, and though I couldn't exactly place it, I knew that he was poor. His voice had snakes in it. And dysentery, and mangoes.
Hugh would have hung up the moment his name as mispronounced, but I've never been able to do that, no matter how frustrated I get. There's a short circuit between my brain and my tongue, thus "Leave me the fuck alone" comes out as "Well, maybe. Sure. I guess I can see your point."
On Maui, one November, Hugh and I went swimming, and turned to find a gigantic sea turtle coming up between us. As gentle as a cow, she was, and with a cow's dopey, almost lovesick expression on her face. That, to me, was worth the entire trip, worth my entire life, practically. For to witness majesty, to find yourself literally touched by it - isn't that what we've all been waiting for?
I should be used to the way Americans dress when traveling, yet it still manages to amaze me. It's as if the person next to you had been washing shoe polish off a pig, then suddenly threw down his sponge saying, "Fuck this. I'm going to Los Angeles!"
I hadn't known on September 4 that the following afternoon I would start keeping a diary, or that it would consume me for the next thirty-five years and counting. It wasn't something I'd been putting off, but once I began, I knew that I had to keep doing it. I knew as well that what I was writing was not a journal but an old-fashioned, girlish, Keep-Out-This-Means-You diary. Often the terms are used interchangeably, though I've never understood why. Both have the word "day" at their root, but a journal, in my opinion, is a repository of ideas - your brain on the page. A diary, by contrast, is your heart. As for "journaling," a verb that cropped up at around the same time as "scrapbooking," that just means you're spooky and have way too much time on your hands.
I was living in places without locks on the doors, and perhaps I worried that if someone found my diary and discovered what I was actually like, they'd dismiss me as dull and middle-class, far from the artist i was making myself out to be. So instead of recounting my first day of work at the Carolina Coffee Shop, I wrote, "I did not see Star Wars,"one hundred times in red pen....more
I'm particularly disturbed by "the vigilant rabbit". Oh, and the alcoholic cat. And the hippo-asshole-exploration story.
"The chicken had never thoughtI'm particularly disturbed by "the vigilant rabbit". Oh, and the alcoholic cat. And the hippo-asshole-exploration story.
"The chicken had never thought about it this way and supposed the hen had a point. Though a missing eye was certainly nothing to be proud of, neither was it a reason to feel particularly ashamed. 'We've all got our little quirks,' the guinea hen offered. 'Some are visible, and others are on the inside, where no one can see them. Me, for instance, I'm super compassionate, was born that way, I suppose. If I see someone suffering, it just bothers the heck out of me, no matter who it is. This worm, for example, got bitten by a centipede, and I just sat up half the night, comforting him until he died.'"
"'I said to the guy, 'Listen. There's not a male rat in the history of the world who's given his child so much as a cigarette butt, and don't try to tell me otherwise. In fact,' he went on, 'from what I hear, any baby of yours has a better chance of being eaten by you than fed by you.' 'True enough,' the rat admitted. His body relaxed beneath my talons, and I felt his hope leak onto the asphalt, as surely as if it were blood or urine.'"...more
I liked this one. More magical realism, as you would expect from her previous works. Didn't realize the author had advanced stage breast cancer, but iI liked this one. More magical realism, as you would expect from her previous works. Didn't realize the author had advanced stage breast cancer, but is now in remission x 2 years. This took place in the deep south, which is a bit of a change for her, since she usually writes about NC. The alligator story is cool, and so is the theme of reclaiming your power....more
So many interesting quotes, so much gorgeous equestrian description, such coldness in the spare, multilayered dialogue and descriptions of and betweenSo many interesting quotes, so much gorgeous equestrian description, such coldness in the spare, multilayered dialogue and descriptions of and between the family members.
How sad that the relationship between the twins was irrevocably lost, and how strange how "apart" these 2 children were raised from the rest of the world.
Is it the best book I've ever read? No. Was it a book that kept me reading on to see what new and bigger destruction would befall the characters? Yup. An interesting and matter-of-fact account of a family during the beginning of the Great Depression. Add in a lot of horse sweat, some teenage angst, lots of Florida imagery and a bit of incest, and you have the general recipe for this book. Its saving graces include the horsey bits, the lovingly drawn descriptions of the NC mountains, and the true way in which the author is able to draw the reader RIGHT BACK INTO their 16 year old brains, bodies, thoughts, and feelings. And OMG am I glad I'm not who I was when I was 16 any longer!
I think it was overall a well crafted story of personal development and interpersonal relationships, but perhaps not the most original of plots. Despite all of the bad reviews on here, I still think it's a worthwhile read.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------"We wanted a certain handsome boy to take a fancy to us, to become half of a pair for a night. And then, maybe most of all, we wanted them to leave, so that we could pine away."
"It has always been a great comfort to me that I could bring a book anywhere, to any place. To any part of my life."
"Not missing home had at first seemed inconceivable, but I understood how the human heart operated, that it was fickle."
"They'd send you away anyway, in a few years, with a husband."
"And I saw that Sissy was good, that she had learned to move through this world and love people, and let them love her back; that she did not love too intensely, as I did, or not at all, as I imagined Leona did."
"Leona and I tiptoed, did not let the hard soles of our boots meet the ground, though there was no one to hear except the horses - who all watched us curiously, eyes wide, ears tipped forward, their necks pressed against their stall doors. I slipped Naari's bit into her mouth and led her to the front of the barn; she whuffed into my shoulder, nervously, and I murmured soothingly. She was a ball of energy, and after I mounted she danced beneath me like some sort of overgrown sprite, clumsily, her hooves knocking against each other."
"'She's fast,' Leona said, which I knew was half a compliment, have a signal that I had nothing to do with Naari's speed. But horses weren't raced without jockeys."
"It is a simple thing, to love a horse. Mother said that I rode with my head, not with my heart. And that riding with my head would serve me well in many instances, but it would not ear Sasi's enduring loyalty. I always through that was a romantic view of it. I rolled over and faced the window. It was like looking into nothing, the night was so black. I had wanted her there, tonight. I had wanted her to see how I floated above the earth. Would she have loved me, then? Watched me and known in her heart that I was her daughter, her daughter who could ride so beautifully, sit atop and not interfere with a horse going as fast as time and space would allow. Mother it was as if we were floating. Mother, if you cannot love me with your heart, then at least with your head."
"...and I was such a foolish girl, seeing signs where none existed; believing, always, that I was an object of desire."
"...there was always a problem, a difficulty, when one rode: that was the whole point of the endeavor, the constant striving. And this reaching depended both on me and my mount, and, more generally, on our natures." "And then it was over, quickly, as my fights with him usually were: we fought deeply and briefly."
"I nudged Sasi forward. His head hung low. I had exhausted him. He would forget; he might have already forgotten. But he wouldn't forget the fear, and the memory of pain would be replaced by an instinct of mistrust. That was the problem with horses; they were too dumb to remember properly, but there was still a memory to contend with, a memory that could not be reasoned away."
"I put my arms around Sasi's damp neck and he hung his head low. He loved me. I could feel his enormous heart, pumping in his plump pony's chest. Drawings of his pretty face were in all of my notebooks."
"You were supposed to be pretty, you were supposed to be beautiful, but you were not supposed to care."
"I'd come out here for exactly that reason: I needed power, I needed him to clear the highest jump he ever had, not for me but because the jump was pointed into that great and mysterious beyond. I realized as soon as I turned that I'd given us too much space - too long a straight line, too much time and reason for him to run away, for me to lose control. But I felt him gather his legs beneath him, in clear anticipation of the jump. 'Yes, yes, yes,' I murmured, in rhythm to his canter. My braid thumped on my back, my vision narrowed, and I was only aware of the particular way Sasi's hooves hit the ground - the hard sound that made - and the closing distance between us and the jump. It was all instinct now, there was nothing anyone could teach you about this instant before leaving the ground. 'Now,' I said, and we flew."
"Decca stood; I interrupted the caressing of my hair. I was vain, I was sixteen years old and would never again feel so watched."
"When Mr. Albrecht's whistle blew, I was lined up with the first jump. Naari rolled her eye at one of the pots, but I pushed her through my legs and she cleared it. I jumped like I always did: everything, everyone else disappeared. All the people watching were a blur. I focused on the sharp smell of Naari's sweat, her trembling movement between my legs."
"I liked the fierce leverage wrapped reins brought; I bent my elbows and Naari slowed, quickly, and then I turned my toes out and dug my spurs into her sides, and I had her trapped, I had all her power harnessed between my legs and hands, beneath me. I'd never felt such energy, rolling beneath me like a violent wave."
"And all is fair in the jumping ring, where there cannot be favorites, where what matters is skill and speed, in that order. Girls, it is a lesson that is well suited to life: in all your endeavors strive hard, and honestly, and great rewards will be yours."
"At Yonahlossee I learned the lesson that I had started to teach myself at home: my life was mine. And I had to lay claim to it."
"'What is there for me here?' I asked. 'There is not even a horse, here.'"
"And horses were always a part of my life, a blessing; taking comfort in them had always been something I'd done by instinct, and it was an instinct I never outgrew. I took pleasure in how good I was in the saddle, how well I knew my way around a horse. I was good at something in a way most people are never good at anything in their lives. Horses were a gift; how many people have such a constant in their life, separate from the rough and often beautiful mess that is their family?"...more
**spoiler alert** I intentionally have NOT read any other reviews of this book yet. This book was recommended to me by a colleague, and the next day I**spoiler alert** I intentionally have NOT read any other reviews of this book yet. This book was recommended to me by a colleague, and the next day I purchased the ebook version and read it in 3 days. I've read my fair share of spiritual memoirs, "tales from the beyond", etc.
I'm definitely on the fence about this one. I don't think it helps that I've been watching the whole first season of "New Girl" like it's a job - and therefore Schmidt's "douchebag jar" philosophy was close to the surface of my brain.
In honor of Schmidt and his jar, I highlighted several quotes that just SCREAMED "JAR!" to me. Here goes, my list of the top douchebaggy quotes of one of this year's best sellers:
1) How he met his wife: "She'd been on a couple of dates with my college roommate, Vic. One day, he brought her by to meet me - probably to show her off. As they were leaving, I told Holley to come back anytime, adding that she shouldn't feel obliged to bring Vic." *groan*
2) While in heaven: "Someone was next to me: a beautiful girl with high cheekbones and deep blue eyes. She was wearing the same kind of peasant-like clothes that the people in the village down below wore. Golden-brown tresses framed her lovely face. We were riding along together on an intricately pattered suface, alive with indescribable and vivid colors - the wing of a butterfly." *really?!?*
3) On his forgetting of himself while in heaven: "How could I understand all that I did, yet not realize that on earth I was a doctor, husband, and father?" *In that order, buddy? Douchebag.*
4) "It's this thinking that catches the football in the end zone, that comes up with the inspired scientific insight or writes the inspired song." *Oh, so now football is so consequential as to put those who play it in direct connection with the Creator of the Universe?*
5) "Susan is an intuitive - a fact that never got in the way of my feelings about her. She was to my mind, a very special person, even if what she did was, to say the least, outside my straight-and-narrow neurosurgical view. She was also a channel and had written a book called Third Eye Open, which Holley was a big fan of" *! - don't end your sentences with a preposition, as if! *2 - so glad that you could see above Susan's gifts and continue to value her as a person, *3 - Holley really found a great anti-feminist kinda guy, since his wife is so weak-minded as to believe in silly things like intuitives, but her 'big stwong hubby is much more rational...GGRRRR.
6) "Quite simply, I'd never held myself open to the idea that there might be anything genuine to the idea that something of us survives the death of the body. I was the quintessential good-natured, albeit skeptical, doctor." *Oh for fuck's sake*
7) "With a brain affected by a deadly bacterial infection and mind-altering medications, anything could happen. Anything, that is - except the ultra real experience I had in coma." *OH MY GOD, are you kidding me? Did you really just say that?? Are you really that much more special than everyone else??*
Oh, and the names of his experiences were redonkulus. "Girl on the Butterfly wing"? Realm of the Earthworm's Eyeview?" Dude. REEEAALLY?? Do you know how many drugs he would throw at a patient that came at him with that crazy hackneyed crazy assed shit?
However, there were also several good gems to be found - here's a few:
In the worlds above, I slowly discovered, to know and be able to think of something is all one needs in order to move toward it. To think of the Spinning Melody was to make it appear, and to long for the higher worlds was to bring myself there.
You are loved and cherished. You have nothing to fear. There is nothing you can do wrong.
If I had to boil this entire message down to one sentence, it would run this way: You are loved. And if I had to boil it down further, to just one word, it would (of course) be, simply: Love.
Love is, without a doubt, the basis of everything. Not some abstract, hard-to-fathom kind of love but the day-to-day kind that everyone knows - the kind of love we feel when we look at our spouse and our children, or even our animals. In its purest and most powerful form, this love is not jealous or selfish, but unconditional. This is the reality of realities, the incomprehensibly glorious truth of truths that lives and breathes at the core of everything that exists or that ever will exist, and no remotely accurate understanding of who and what we are can be achieved by anyone who does not know it, and embody it in all of their actions.
We can only see what our brain's filter allows through. The brain- in particular its left-side linguistic/logical part, that which generates our sense of rationality and the feeling of being a sharply defined ego or self - is a barrier to our higher knowledge and experience.
It is my belief that we are now facing a crucial time in our existence. We need to recover more of that larger knowledge while living here on earth, while our brains (including its left-side analytical parts) are fully functioning. Science - the science to which I've devoted so much of my life- doesn't contradict what I learned up there.
The (false) suspicion that we can somehow be separated from God is the root of every form of anxiety in the universe, and the cure for it.
How do we get closer to this genuine spiritual self? By manifesting love and compassion. Why? Because love and compassion are far more than the abstractions many of us believe them to be. They are real. They are concrete. And they make up the very fabric of the spiritual realm.
I maintain that the human mystery is incredibly demeaned by scientific reductionism, with its claim in promissory materialism to account eventually for all of the spiritual world in terms of patterns of neuronal activity. This belief must be classed as a superstition...we have to recognize that we are spiritual beings with souls existing in a spiritual world as well as material beings with bodies and brains existing in a material world. - Sir John C. Eccles (1903-1997).
But one thing we do know about particles is that each one is connected to every other one in the universe. They are all, at the deepest level, interconnected.
I believe it's a balanced load: therefore, 3 stars it is. ...more
Predictable plot, unbelievable characters (the school joker is also a secretive loner?!?) but cute, quick chicklit highlighting the gorgeous AshevillePredictable plot, unbelievable characters (the school joker is also a secretive loner?!?) but cute, quick chicklit highlighting the gorgeous Asheville area....more
Dystopic/utopian novel of the not-too-distant future of England. A commune of strong women living together in the "former" Lake District, ekeing existDystopic/utopian novel of the not-too-distant future of England. A commune of strong women living together in the "former" Lake District, ekeing existance out of the punishing landscape post-environmental climate shift.
I loved the stuff about the farm and the indifference everyone showed towards sex and sexual preference. I loved the strength of the female characters. I don't, however, enjoy military novels which at the very end it morphed into, and I wish there had been slightly more elaboration on daily life at the farm and relationships between the women.
Overall a surprising, fast, and thought-provoking read, with some faint whiff of familiarity with the dystopian view taken in the Hunger Games....more
The first of Sparks' novels that didn't make me sob. I don't like this narrator, though, and I think he's narrated at least one other Sparks novel. HeThe first of Sparks' novels that didn't make me sob. I don't like this narrator, though, and I think he's narrated at least one other Sparks novel. He makes the NC women sound like total airheads...NOT digging the falsetto.
Also, what is it about Sparks that REQUIRES that all his male characters be all muscles and sinew and the girls be waifish, slight, and gorgeous?!? I mean...in EVERY book? REALLY?!?
And the Andy Griffith-esque way he delineated "good guy" from "bad guy" was really something...and the foreshadowing was a bit heavy handed. I knew (most) of what would happen after the first few chapters.
For all my ranting it's hard to tell, but the book was actually pretty ok for a listening while I'm headed to work kind of read....more
Got the last autographed copy from Malaprops, author lives in Asheville :). It's a gorgeous book, and I'm savoring it a few pages at a time at bedtimeGot the last autographed copy from Malaprops, author lives in Asheville :). It's a gorgeous book, and I'm savoring it a few pages at a time at bedtime..it's like a prescription :)...more
The writing in this book is really "just ok", to be quite honest. The characters are often 2 dimensional, predictable, and stale. Yet, at the end it sThe writing in this book is really "just ok", to be quite honest. The characters are often 2 dimensional, predictable, and stale. Yet, at the end it starts touching on some really deep, spiritual stuff, universal truths and whatnot. That made sticking this book out a good choice.
THIS made me mad - and the fact that she never ONCE outright said the lesbians were a couple, and never had them do any more than hold hands once.... From Lovey's journal - "Sometimes I hate what this world has done to the word LOVE. You can love chocolate or pantyhose or somebody's shoes or a new hair color, but if you apply it to a person of the same sex who isn't kin to you, people look at you funny like you're queer or something. I guess I should say GAY, that's what they prefer to be called."
Seriously? This book was published in 2004, and this journaling was supposed to have happened in 2003. REALLY???
Forgiven (grudgingly) due to the amazing imagery of Asheville and even the mention of the Oakley branch of the Buncombe County lib. (Hi ladies! This one's' not overdue..) ...more
I stand by my earlier estimation that Allen is trying her very best to be an Alice Hoffman knockoff, and she doesn't come close. A few of her sentenceI stand by my earlier estimation that Allen is trying her very best to be an Alice Hoffman knockoff, and she doesn't come close. A few of her sentences are reminiscent of Hoffman, but lack the true magical quality and self-confidence imbued in Hoffman's own works.
This is the story of a self-conscious, lonely woman who is a doormat to her mother. To numb her feelings she stockpiles candy, cookies, and other sweets in her closet and eats them until she feels better. And somehow it is to be believed that this woman would wind up with the town's most eligible bachelor? I think this is Allen's dream for herself, rather than even a poor jab at trying for magical realism.
I did like some of the parts though - Dela Lee was a worthwhile character if ever there was one - if completely odd....more
Oh oh, why do I do this to myself with Sparks' novels? SOOO CHEESY, and why does everyone in his books have to be SOOOO in LOOOVVEE and perfect and baOh oh, why do I do this to myself with Sparks' novels? SOOO CHEESY, and why does everyone in his books have to be SOOOO in LOOOVVEE and perfect and balanced and beautiful and athletic.
Well, who the hell knew that Haven Kimmel, my new, most favoritest authors on the face of the earth, has been living in DURHAM, NC in my VERY OWN BACKWell, who the hell knew that Haven Kimmel, my new, most favoritest authors on the face of the earth, has been living in DURHAM, NC in my VERY OWN BACKYARD for the last several years?? OMG!! I'm starstruck :)
Finished - this book is SO weird, but Kimmel's way with words clearly shines through the quirky characters and subtle plot lines. I didn't LOVE any of the characters, but Kimmel's family seeps out of Langston's Mom and her relationship with her brother who leaves (much like Kimmel's own brother) the family to survive without him.
It was a fairly neat wrap-up, however for a very messy, emotionally-wrought novel, with some things that come up early and remain unresolved at the end. It seemed a tiny bit of a cop-out, all of those loose ends tied up just like that, after a fairly lengthy description of their untying preceding the ending...
But I finished this book a couple of days ago, and it's still very much at the forefront of my mind as I keep dreaming of it at night and finding myself considering the characters while daydreaming....more