Comfort Food for Breakups doesn't disappoint. As its title indicates, reading this book is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket while chowing downComfort Food for Breakups doesn't disappoint. As its title indicates, reading this book is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket while chowing down on a favourite childhood dish. Bociurkiw intermingles memory and food in such savoury language that you really taste her words, smell each described dish, and feel each emotion bubbling up from the pot. I'd recommend picking this up on a lazy, winter day--but not if you're on a diet!...more
Entertaining and insightful at times, but not spectacular. The Secret Lives of Litterbugs is a collection of memoirs that reminisce on family life, raEntertaining and insightful at times, but not spectacular. The Secret Lives of Litterbugs is a collection of memoirs that reminisce on family life, raising children, and the day-to-day. Sometimes the collection seems a little thrown together, but it was fun to read about Farrant's uncoventional family, both as she was growing up and when she has children of her own. She seems like a cool lady, someone you'd want to have a drink with....more
There is so much to discover within the pages of this book. Although it is a more personal account of Iraq's history and culture, I feel there is a loThere is so much to discover within the pages of this book. Although it is a more personal account of Iraq's history and culture, I feel there is a lot of truth spoken about what the media does not show us about the war in Iraq.
Leilah Nadir was born to an Iraqui father and British mother. She writes about Iraq from a risky point of view, as she has never set foot on Iraqi soil. In spite of this, she is an important voice for the Iraqi people and the horrors that have ravaged their country since the Iran-Iraq war of the 80s. Through years of correspondence with family members, she paints a vivid portrait of an Iraqi citizen's daily struggle in a war-torn country. However, she does not forget to describe Iraq's prosperous times, its beauty and its history, which is being needlessly destroyed as I write this review. She doesn't mince words--while Iraq's roots are beautiful, her family members are wracked with loss and feel their country will never be the same.
I recently attended an event to hear Nadir read and speak with other memoirists, who discussed that memoir, in itself, tends to be a more subjective truth, a truth where the author has the right to take certain liberties for the sake of an arc. Nadir spoke very firmly about the importance of accuracy for her book, comparing "liberties" to the lies of the Bush administration regarding weapons of mass destruction as a justification for the war in Iraq. She said, loosely, "How could I take such liberties when those very liberties have been used by the US government to justify ruining an entire nation?"
When I approached Nadir after the discussion to have my book signed, I told her I admired the women in her family, who are strong, independent, and far from submissive. I noted this as an important element in the book, as it does much to dispel the idea of Iraqi women "belonging" to their male counterparts, as we so often hear from the media. "You know," she said, "I really wanted that to come across, because I often hear, as another justification for the war, that US troops are attempting to liberate women and save them from oppression. But this argument is absolutely false, because women were never really repressed in the first place, not like in Afghanistan. They are more oppressed now, after this said liberation, than they ever were before."
I think everyone should read this book. While keeping in mind that it is a personal tale, it is an important piece that expresses what the Iraqi people are currently powerless to say....more
Butala is a person who will dig, dig, dig until she is satisfied with the level of detail in her narrative. This kind of detail is irritating at firstButala is a person who will dig, dig, dig until she is satisfied with the level of detail in her narrative. This kind of detail is irritating at first--if I had to read one more five-page description of the vastness of the prairies in Saskatchewan one more time, I was going to throw the book across the room.
BUT, I've got to say, once you get past the first fifty pages, this book is a gem. It serves to remember a girl who shouldn't be forgotten, who was brutally raped and murdered in 1962--a case that remains unsolved to this day. To truly know this girl, Butala reaches back to a more simple time in a once simple place: post-war Saskatoon, a place where people felt safe enough to sit by the side of the river at night, alone, even if that person is a 23-year-old nurse whose timeless beauty would attract the attention of men of all kinds. At the end of the book (which is truly disturbing, by the way), Butala has managed to paint a crystal-clear portrait of someone who easily could have become just another victim whose violent death will (more than likely) remain unsolved forever....more
I admired Diana Athill after I read Stet, her memoir about her fifty years in book publishing. I knew she was quite old now but still kicking, and I wI admired Diana Athill after I read Stet, her memoir about her fifty years in book publishing. I knew she was quite old now but still kicking, and I was pleased to find out that she had written a book about the experience of aging.
While the book was at times a tad unfocused, I didn't mind; I enjoyed where Athill chose to wander off into other topics of discussion, such as examples of death and illness as experienced by family and friends. While the structure of the book may have been questionable at times, the content itself is all relevant to the picture Athill paints of the slow process of marching toward a death that can either be feared or accepted, or both.
I can't say the book is insightful, necessarily; Athill herself admit she has no answers, and that she can only offer her experience as she has lived it. She states things that are of no surprise to me: regrets are present but useless, sex seems to simply die off without much of a shock, and one doesn't necessarily become religious once death seems closer. What I found most fascinating and encouraging, as I did with Stet, is the actual life Athill has led, without marriage and children (which, for a woman born in her time, is surprising). It is encouraging to know that she is not rapt with regret at not having children, as even now, women are born into a society that insists they will indeed regret not producing offspring. I admire Athill's honesty at admitting what she calls a "central selfishness", which she classifies as an innate selfish nature that is neither harmful nor malicious. And at the same time I wish I didn't have to admire this honesty, as that would mean she didn't have to justify her not becoming a mother.
I think her previous memoir, Stet, was more my style, but this one is definitely worth the read as well....more
I don't read much political literature, so it seems odd to me that I must comment on Obama's political beliefs in order to comment on the book itself.I don't read much political literature, so it seems odd to me that I must comment on Obama's political beliefs in order to comment on the book itself. But I suppose one can't avoid such a thing when it comes to The Audacity of Hope, as the book is basically Obama saying, "Here is a complete guide to where I stand on everything."
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't in awe of this man, that such an eloquent, intelligent person exists in current government. I've heard some people unfairly judge the book as simply "literature against Bush", but I didn't find this at all. In fact, I think Obama makes a conscious effort not to heavily criticize the Bush Administration, and instead chooses a more positive framework for his arguments. What I find most intriguing about him is that he simply has common sense; although he is obviously a Democrat, he doesn't base his stances on the endless battle between Democrats and Republicans (he actually spends an entire chapter discussing how this is largely what's wrong with today's government). Instead he uses well-developed critical thinking skills to determine what makes sense and what doesn't with the way things are currently structured.
What's also amazing is the way he uses his love and understanding of American history to both frame his arguments and make sure historical mistakes aren't repeated. While acknowledging the Constitution as a historical document that was written during an obsolete era, Obama is a staunch believer in the document's fundamental message, which has since been tainted by greed and corruption. While reading the book I was thoroughly impressed with Obama's resolve to restore the "American dream" that fueled the formation of the Constitution while also being able to adapt that resolve to today's standards and circumstances.
I can understand why many might think Obama's beliefs are a little too idealistic for their tastes. At first I was slightly alarmed by just how "in the grey" he might seem, that he's so against the black-and-white thinking that plagues today's American government that he might not be able to pull through on time when it comes to making those tough decisions needed to influence real change. But the more I read the more I felt that America needs a little idealism right now, after years of government corruption.
At the very least, Obama's a real person who's led a very real life, and I feel he's more than earned the chance to represent the real people of the US. As a Canadian, I'm a little jealous he's not our leader, especially with the Bush-esque government we currently have in place with Stephen Harper. After reading The Audacity of Hope, I do believe Obama will do great things for the world, and I'm proud of my southern neighbours for electing him....more