Carrier's book taught me a lot about short-short inter-connective essays. I admired his honesty and humor. For some reason, though, something was lack...moreCarrier's book taught me a lot about short-short inter-connective essays. I admired his honesty and humor. For some reason, though, something was lacking for me--just a tad of something. And I haven't yet figured that out. (less)
I finished The Curious Incident... in under 24 hours. That is how much I loved the book. I felt it really accurately captured most family life with a...moreI finished The Curious Incident... in under 24 hours. That is how much I loved the book. I felt it really accurately captured most family life with a special needs child, and it really brought autism to light. Christopher's interactions during his adventure reminded a bit of how people treat the main character in Alan Lightman's The Diagnosis. And the talk of math and science make me think it would be a great choice for BGSU's Common Reading Experience. (Check out the CRE blog too for reading suggestions and the next possible CRE book!) I heard a rumor, though, that Mark Haddon doesn't like to travel, which wouldn't work to well, considering we like to have the author come to campus for a reading and meet and greets...
I tried so hard to like Kaufmann's The Sister, but I couldn't. I stopped reading it after page 50. Emily's sister was annoying me. I thought it would be a good esoteric read for my sister project (a collection of essays about my sister that I'm working on--however, it's taking me years to write them) and because I love Emily Dickinson. The Sister just bored me though, and I had to move on. I have to get through a lot of books before the new Harry Potter comes out. I don't have time to waste on being bored, which significantly slows down my reading! If anyone has read The Sister, liked it, and wants to shed some light on it for me, I'd be more than happy to listen. I've found with many books that if I wait a couple of years and to read it again, things click for me and I like it. Maybe I'll try again in 2010.
I'm having a frustrating week (I realize it's only Tuesday). I've been thinking lot and internalizing a lot and I feel like I have something to say, but I don't feel like being verbal, and when I am verbal I end up not communicating properly and sounding like an idiot or a bitch. Today while working out I realized I get like this when I'm starting a writing project and/or writing. I have two ideas I'm working on, and have been taking notes in my head, my computer's post-its, and in my dream journal. But I didn't really realize I was working on anything until last night when I was trying to go to sleep. Tomorrow I plan on writing. I'm hearing some language and feeling "disturbed," which are good things for me, but they may not be so good for people I try to talk with. I thank God every day for FD b/c he's the same way and we can understand each other. It's the people at the grocery store, the bank, etc.--whoever we run into that I feel for. Sometimes I wish I could just wear a fashionable shirt that said, "I'm not mad (as in upset and crazy), I'm just thinking." (It would be a really cute shirt if it had a LV on it or a Lilly Pulitzer palm tree.) And when I'm thinking really hard sometimes I wish every place was automated so I could think and do my chores and not talk and save my energy for writing.
I guess it's a blessing I do have a faculty job and I have the summer off and I don't get like this too much when I'm teaching. Normally, I get it over breaks. Or just in the morning before I teach. So I guess it would be a blessing that right now as I'm sitting here in the Student Athletics think tank no athletes are showing up. Would I sound like a complete ass right now if I tried to talk about writing?
Maybe that's why I like Christopher in The Curious Incident...Maybe because he was a thinker and I'm in that mode today.
I gotta stop. Writing of this thinking while thinking the thinking and thinking of how to write the thinking is driving me stinking crazy.
Sidenote: While here tutoring, I came to find out it is one my favorite people's in the Student Athletics Department birthday! And she called this (June) her "birthmonth" as well. See, I'm not the only one!(less)
Donald Miller's writing style reminded me of someone-I-know's writing style...
He cracked me up. He made me think. He made sense. He answered a lot of...moreDonald Miller's writing style reminded me of someone-I-know's writing style...
He cracked me up. He made me think. He made sense. He answered a lot of my questions. He counter-argued my skepticism. He used examples from pop culture to talk about Christian spirituality: Jane Austen, Ethan Hawke, Emily Dickinson, and Ani Difranco to name a few. He listens to Wilco, the Boss, Patty Griffin, Eliot Smith, and Whiskeytown to name a few. I believed him.
Donald Miller renewed my spirituality and helped me understand how I can have a relationship with God (and Jesus) that actually makes sense.
This book is a worthwhile read, especially if you are like me and have your doubts about faith and Christianity. Now the rest is up to me.
Thank you, Terence, for giving me a copy and sharing Miller with me. I hope you did give me this copy. I wrote all over it. I underlined favorite phrases. I doodled in the margins while reading. I seriously loved it!
I ADORED Brenda Miller's Season of the Body. These collection of essays was gorgeously written and engaging on many levels. It definitely helped me se...moreI ADORED Brenda Miller's Season of the Body. These collection of essays was gorgeously written and engaging on many levels. It definitely helped me see the stylistic layering I can do with non-fiction, which I adored. And it struck a great balance between being accessible and challenging. 4 out of 5 Hello Kittys.(less)
First of all, I must get my hormones out of the way before I can say anything intelligent: Doesn't this young picture of Gregory Orr remind you of Orl...moreFirst of all, I must get my hormones out of the way before I can say anything intelligent: Doesn't this young picture of Gregory Orr remind you of Orlando Bloom??? ~Or-lando Blooooom~just the name makes me light-headed.
Alas, I feel intelligent again.
The Blessing is a phenomenal memoir about Orr's childhood (Orr shot his brother to death during a hunting accident when he was 12), his adolescence (partly spent in Haiti where his mother suddenly died), and his early adulthood (when he was imprisoned in the South TWICE for being a participant in civil rights protests).
As interesting and unique as his life experience is, what really makes this memoir most successful his poetic language, meditative reflections, fresh analogies, and unflinching ability to recreate emotion. And beyond all the craft is one of the most honest messages I've come across in my memoir reading: that life is a blessing. This was a perfect read for me to see that others waver in their faith in humanity but still push on because there really is always much more beauty than we sometimes are able to see. Orr didn't beat this message into my brain and he didn't come to it as some big-fake-f***ing realization. He wrote about it as part of his growth as a human being and artist in a very honest and humble way.
Favorite passage: "This was poetry, not poems. Poems are discrete artifacts of language that prove someone's imagination and linguistic gifts have triumphed over disorder in a definitive, shaped way. What I held onto then was not poems, but the idea of poetry--which I had to follow for years before I emerged into the light, before I could let go of the thread for a moment and sit down to write my first poem" (144-145).
I adore this book. And I imagine if I ate it, it would be one very tasty morsel.
An impressive 4 1/2 out of five very-hard-to-get Hello Kittys.(less)
You thought I was going to rant about housekeeping, the activity, not the book.
This is a reflection on the book, not of the activity. Though, Thursday...moreYou thought I was going to rant about housekeeping, the activity, not the book.
This is a reflection on the book, not of the activity. Though, Thursday we are cleaning house and I might have some more OCD tips for you.
Time Magazine named Housekeeping one of the 100 All Time Novels.
I wouldn't go so far.
Please don't misunderstand me, it's a quite lovely novel about two sisters coming of age and negotiating their roles in society--what is proper and what isn't. Additionally, the themes of family, dream vs memory, material vs natural worlds, and death are dealt with in a quite meaningful, intelligent manner. The book is grand gesture, a long curtsy at the end of a pretty dance, maybe...It just wasn't my cup of tea, which if you know me, you know that words like "pretty" and "lovely" mean "just ay-right."
The novel builds slowly. Slowly is the key word. I wasn't hooked in a I-can't-put-this-book-down way until page 126 when Lucille, the more materialist sister became bitchy: "'Let me see that,' Lucille said. She took the book by each end of its spine and shook it. Scores of flowers and petals fell and drifted between the pages. Lucille kept shaking until nothing more came, and then she handed the dictionary back to me. 'Pinking shears,' she said" (126). I loved this scene when Lucille asks Ruthie to help her sew a suit, and Ruthie finds nature in the dictionary when all Lucille wants to know are what are pinking shears. It captured, with accuracy, that temper of girl adolescence and the dire need to fall in with the crowd, especially when you feel like you come from a family of loons.
Until the end I was taken with novel and appreciated much of the writing: "It is better to have nothing, for at last even our bones will fall. It is better to have nothing" (159).
"What is thought, after all, what is dreaming, but swim and flow, and the images they seem to animate?"...and the rest of this passage (162-163).
"I hated waiting. If I had one particular complaint, it was that my life seemed composed entirely of expectation. I expected--an arrival, an explanation, an apology. There had never been one, a fact that I accepted, were it not true that, just when I had got used to the limits and dimensions of one moment, I was expelled into the next and made to wonder again if any shapes hid in its shadows" (166).
"Anyone that leans to look in a pool is a woman in the pool, anyone who looks into our eyes is the image in our eyes, and these things are true without argument, and so our thoughts reflect what passes before them. But there are difficulties" (166).
"Sylvie only kept them, I think, because she considered accumulation to be the essence of housekeeping, and because she considered the hoarding of worthless things to be proof of a particularly scrupulous thrift" (180).
"Perhaps memory is the seat not only of prophecy but of miracle as well" (196).
"It is absurd to think that things were held in place, are held in place, by a web of words" (200). My favorite passage!
Right, these passages are all quite beautiful, and, in my opinion, well written. What lacks for me, most of the time, is plot. The end feels the most unreal to me. I won't tell you what happens, in case you haven't read it and want to, but I found it a bit unbelievable and far fetched. Perhaps it is my skepticism that is a product of these present times and the ending could have happened in the past in the 50s, 60s, or 70s. I don't know. I just found it too ideal, too perfect in a way. This novel was built around the complications and difficulties in life, real or imagined, so I just don't feel like it delivered that complication effectively at its end.
ane: A Murder is one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time.
It's a multi-genre text that works through the murder of the narrator's...moreane: A Murder is one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time.
It's a multi-genre text that works through the murder of the narrator's aunt. The author includes poems, newspaper clippings, journal entries and letters to tell, process, and piece together Jane's story. I thoroughly enjoy multi-genre texts because they accurately replicate "real life." We don't just get our info from one source, right? We usually read the local paper, watch CNN, read the national paper, read online news forums as well as listen to eye witness accounts or second-hand info. Multi-genre texts work in the same way. They use various forms of media to piece together a story--in this case the story of Jane who was the third victim in a series of brutal rape-murders near U of M in the 1960s.
Though I didn't find the poems all that skillfully crafted, I did think they worked well at telling the narrative and they were VERY accessible to all readers. The poems in the last two sections did become more engaging in their craft, but not enough so to completely win me over (I'm a hard critic). I plan to read the Maggie Nelson's poetry to get a stronger sense of her poetic style. I think it would be wrong of me to judge her poems based on the ones in Jane. The poems in this book mostly serve the function of furthering along the story in a new and interesting way.
Which makes me wonder, should poems in multi-genre texts with a clear narrative be so straight-forward? I've been working on my own multi-genre project that includes poems, reports, essays, letters, and notes and I wonder if I tamed my poems down more if the text would be more accessible. Probably so...
I really enjoyed reading Jane. It was powerful, engaging, and very intriguing. It made me think quite a bit about my own multi-genre projects as well as how to write about tragedy without losing control of the story or overwriting it. Nelson's images in the poems are really clear and visceral. I give it four and a half Hello Kittys. And I'd like to thank KA for giving it to be for Christmas; it was a perfect gift!(less)
During my hour tan today I finished Missing May. It's a quality YA read.
The thoughtful characters (Cletus reminded me so much of Oskar in Extremely Lo...moreDuring my hour tan today I finished Missing May. It's a quality YA read.
The thoughtful characters (Cletus reminded me so much of Oskar in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, which was refreshing because I really didn't want to leave that book yet, but I have to get through my book-pile-mountain before the new Harry Potter!) and a perfect setting that is really important to me (Ohio and West Virgina) are what really stood out for me.
It is a fabulous read for a young adult experiencing grief and loss. I don't want to give too much away.
4 1/2 Hello Kittys, and a big thanks to Stacey O. for recommending it. (less)
While visiting family this weekend, my mother-in-law, STR, said she had finished reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne and had an inter...moreWhile visiting family this weekend, my mother-in-law, STR, said she had finished reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne and had an interesting reading group discussion about it. I asked her if I could read it, and she said, "DEFINITELY! so we could talk about it." A couple hours later on Saturday, we had a good talk about it.
I don't want to give anything away because I hate ruining surprises, but here's the scoop. The narrator is an 9-year-old (I'm really into the kid narrators lately), and it's his story about seeing people from different perspectives and understanding we all have more in common--no matter how different we are--than we think.
The writing is not that sophisticated, but the message is very touching. I found some flaws with the logic of the main character (I just don't believe kids are that unobservant), but I like how the title has two meanings and I liked what a quick read it was. Don't get caught up in historical accuracy or translation/language issues. Bear in mind, it is a fable.... 3 1/2 Hello Kittys.(less)
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is definitely a worth-while read.
The story line is really eye-opening to the issues of current-day assimilatio...moreAmerican Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is definitely a worth-while read.
The story line is really eye-opening to the issues of current-day assimilation, which are told through the eyes of the narrator Jing Jang. Carefully interwoven into Jing Jang's story are two other stories/fables that connect with Jing Jang's near the end of the novel.
The themes of race, culture, stereotyping, family, identity, and, in a sense, history are at the forefront and intelligently dealt with in a funny and, at the same time, emotionally honest manner.
Also, as a graphic novel it is easy to read. Some graphic novels are hard to follow because there's too many frames on one page, too much going on in each frame, and the print is too small to read. American Born Chinese has few frames to each page, which makes it easy to follow text/dialog, and Jang uses a good size font. Also, the drawings are very visually appealing and do an excellent job of conveying the (as I call it) "unsaid."
National Book Award finalist and winner of other literary awards, American Born Chinese is rich and thoughtful. It left a lasting impression on this reader.