Must read this again! After 'To Kill a Mockingbird', and being hemmed in to the one character's point-of-view, I've been very much missing a multi-pov...moreMust read this again! After 'To Kill a Mockingbird', and being hemmed in to the one character's point-of-view, I've been very much missing a multi-pov experience. This book was one of my first experiences of it, and one I really enjoyed. Also, the subject, WWII, is very current for me right now as well, and it's been well over 10 years since I read this last, so it will be perfect. Much as re-reading things when I have so many new things waiting to be read heightens my impatience for the rest, in this case I'm sure it will be worth it.
But now I can't find my copy, urgh! This is supposed to be one of the ones that's always right at hand. Not ok.. Then, M&Q, used books - no copy! Urgh! Soon though.. soon....(less)
Part way through: I really love the part where her friend tells her to petition God for what she wants, and then list all who would sign the petition,...morePart way through: I really love the part where her friend tells her to petition God for what she wants, and then list all who would sign the petition, and she ends up listing this huge group of people.. delightful idea.
A little farther: Now in Italy, I'm just so weirded out by the tone. Because, we know she's a grown woman, that's been established. But her tone - to me - is more like a 12-15 year old girl. The resolute silliness, the resolute studiousness, the resolute traveler; that overly, consciously, 'I'm going to be this because I've decided to be' - seems a way younger point-of-view that what is supposed to be the case.
So I hold the book - figuratively - way farther away than arm's length, because I have no idea what to expect. If it's not real, then the door is open for just about anything.
Ok, now I like it again, the part about where she writes in her most-personal notebook and a self (of some sort) answers, perhaps " 'locutions' - words from the supernatural that enter the mind subconsciously, offering heavenly consolation," .. "But the very fact that this world is so challenging is exactly why you sometimes must reach out of its jurisdiction for help..". p. 53.
Very tedious going, at the end of Italy, for me. The problem with being excessively self-indulgent is that there's a large risk of being *too* excessively self-indulgent, and for me, she's there. Her paradigm seems to be that the reader will be unquestionably interested in every foible of her and her journey, writ across the landscape of this or that foreign locale. For me, I'm not interested sufficiently and the locale-as-backdrop doesn't delight. Her life - especially around the central issues (for her) of whether to 'have kids' or not and how to best deal with her relatively substantial mental/emotional health challenges - is different enough from mine as to make it irrelevant on the personal level she's writing at. She could have translated it into more universal applicability, which she does from time to time and I get something from it then, but otherwise the repelling forces are great.
Maybe it'll turn another corner for me soon though, I would really like to finish it.
Oh, and one more big difference - she's totally male-focused, as in she has been in one relationship or another since she was a teenager. Me - I'm a solitaire. So another repelling force. And now, in the Ashram, she's latching on to a guy who makes all her struggles there easier. Great.
Ok, then I also really like the part on p. 184-185, the ritual to let things go. Shit like that, you know, always useful to have in mind. Cause seems like the times we need ideas like this is the time when we forget all such ideas, and so having them nearby is good.
Her tone towards various things including aspects of India is how I'd imagined it would be - unselfconsciously flippant. As Americans, I still hope for better of us, one of these eons. Like one part, she's talking to a young girl about what makes a woman harder to marry off, and light skin is a positive. She compares herself to the checklist later, and concludes, 'Well, atleast my skin is light. I have that going for me.' Yeah, unawareness of all the situations and realities around light-skin privilege sure does make things happy and nice...
Once I'm done I'll turn this into some actual review-type thing, but right now snarky works for me.
On the other hand, I really like the part about her process with tehe Gurugita.
I also like her idea about fate vs. free will, and the two horses (just added it as a quote), and that the trick is to tell the two apart. Which is similar to the Serenity prayer, the strength to tell the difference between what we can change and what we must accept.
I got it - this is a gemini book! Two disparate selves, polar in various ways. Atleast for me.
So I'm pretty comfortable with most of the spirituality stuff, and still on a spectrum of dislike with much of the personal content the author shares.
There's content that makes me cringe as an American white woman; kind of a 'more things change, more they stay the same' feeling - the condescending tone, the feel that the world is her playground.
But the optimist in me likes to see it as imperfect, strenuously slow progress. In that: she's written it, thinking it was great and all ok. I and others read it, seeing progress to be made. The next book will be written by an author who things it's great; others will read it and see further progress to be made.
Being aware of the deficiencies may feel like it puts the goal further away, but it's actually a necessary part of goal-attainment: re-calculating the goal in reference to one's position from time to time makes it much more likely that it will be eventually attained than if one starts off and ignores the goal altogether, all happy and self-satisfied. And if the goal keeps getting extended/re-defined; one's journey may surpass earlier goals as it continues, bringing one to new, previously-unimagined heights.
Woo-hoo! Finished it! Yeah for me.. Will finish this review shortly..(less)
This one is a bit off-putting, everything is described so very vividly and usually negatively. Or, let's say, flippantly. And superficially. Sometimes...moreThis one is a bit off-putting, everything is described so very vividly and usually negatively. Or, let's say, flippantly. And superficially. Sometimes talking superficially about something can yield insight, like sifting through sand on a beach can yield bits of organic matter.. But that sifting process wasn't worth the jarring unpleasantness of writing style. Which was to my preferred writing style as a childish flipbook is to a well produced gorgeous coffee-table book rich with fascinating content and evocative photographs.
I was uncomfortable a lot of the time, his inner workings for most of his life were marked by the same slippery slope/twisted thinking methodology of...moreI was uncomfortable a lot of the time, his inner workings for most of his life were marked by the same slippery slope/twisted thinking methodology of addiction. Which doesn't do it for me. Was entirely interesting throughout, and I enjoyed it through my discomfort a lot of the time. Will look forward to reading more from him, in which the protagonist doesn't have these particular attributes.(less)
My edition is different - it has the cover based on shots from the film, and is titled 'slumdog millionaire', but it's not the shooting script, it sho...moreMy edition is different - it has the cover based on shots from the film, and is titled 'slumdog millionaire', but it's not the shooting script, it shows also 'originally published as q&a'.
Anyway, am fascinated by this whole thing, the book, the film, the reality portrayed. What the point of the book was (by one interview, was about English acquisition in India, and the potential effect of that on a person's life), how that relates to the film (Ram knows English by the time of the quiz show - but how? As the way in which he learned it in the book was not in the film. But also, by then the film is in English, so it kind of confuses that part...), how either/both relate to reality in India.
I liked this book a lot at first, being told from a woman's perspective and all. But then, about 2/3 of the way in, something about it began to wear o...moreI liked this book a lot at first, being told from a woman's perspective and all. But then, about 2/3 of the way in, something about it began to wear on me. I started to feel like the strenuous parts of the journey weren't necessarily true enough to make it worth it. It's a historical novel, made up to fit in with known details - so it's all up to the writer. I have to look back and see more clearly what it was all, then will add more to this. (less)
Has been among those things which formed the basis of my political self all along. The idea that direct action is often too risky and often ineffectiv...moreHas been among those things which formed the basis of my political self all along. The idea that direct action is often too risky and often ineffective; and that more simply 'breathing with' one's kindred spirits can be as/more effective - while being by definition less risky - has enormous appeal to me. Actually only read the first chapter all the way through, and then skimmed the others; but the amazing content is laid out pretty completely in that one chapter. I also use to read her brain journal back then, also very good and absorbing.(less)
Was an interesting escape from day-to-day life, and a great portrayal of actual women, not caricatures or accessories. Moves along pretty well. The mo...moreWas an interesting escape from day-to-day life, and a great portrayal of actual women, not caricatures or accessories. Moves along pretty well. The most interesting thing about this for me now is reading March by Geraldine Brooks, can't wait!(less)
This book is one of those that's a lot of work to get through of course, and I felt throughout like I didn't have an academic-enough background in wha...moreThis book is one of those that's a lot of work to get through of course, and I felt throughout like I didn't have an academic-enough background in whatever subjects were necessary (religion, politics, history, etc..) to have a comfort level. But even uncomfortably, what I read was really interesting. I didn't make it all the way through, but will try again some time. But the transition from Christian-hating Romans to Roman Catholic Church is something I feel like I have a little bit of a handle on now. And so on.(less)
I 'liked' this book in the sense that I know a huge amount of research went in to it, and I appreciate that and am glad I read it. But I disliked inte...moreI 'liked' this book in the sense that I know a huge amount of research went in to it, and I appreciate that and am glad I read it. But I disliked intensely some aspects of this book. In particular, what I find to be troubling is the way the various cultures are portrayed. I have to get my copy back out and will probably add to this then. But generally I have very mixed feelings about this one.(less)
This is one of the books that I indexed during that phase of my life. I really enjoyed working with it, found the content absolutely fascinating. Each...moreThis is one of the books that I indexed during that phase of my life. I really enjoyed working with it, found the content absolutely fascinating. Each chapter explores a religion, and the psychological make up of its adherents. Also basics about how that religion deals with ideas of sin, sex, place of women, heaven, etc.. Learned some things that have formed a crucial basis of understanding, which I really appreciate in these days of religion-fueled politics. Time read is approximate.(less)
Read this in keeping with my teenager's english class. Fascinating to read, about the lifestyle before intrusion; and then how life changed for these...moreRead this in keeping with my teenager's english class. Fascinating to read, about the lifestyle before intrusion; and then how life changed for these specific people. Interesting specific instance about how missionaries did what they did exactly. Really found it depressing as the missionaries took over, although of course the twins thing was horrible. Every culture has its weaknesses though, the take over of one by another is a negative for me throughout.
Want to re-read now, Chinua Achebe is among those writers mentioned early on by President Obama in his book, 'Dreams From my Father.'(less)
This is a magnificent work of enormous importance, laying bare the multitudes and layers of errors made by all involved in the last 9 years in Afghanistan in particular, and delivering prescriptions for positive change.
‘If we can better understand what has happened before, what has gone wrong, and what needs to go right, as this book attempts to do, then we can better face up to our collective future.’ p. 404 (final sentence).
Rashid does focus throughout on the ‘what went wrong,’ within each period, within each country, within each layer of strategy. This enormous data set should be extremely useful as we here in the US all hopefully move towards a more nuanced, principled, integrity-rich practice of foreign policy.
The more you already know about Afghanistan and Pakistan and the last decade, the more easily you’ll be able to layer in all of the wealth of information contained here. Myself, I was relatively ignorant, and so felt uncomfortably overwhelmed for some periods. But it eased, and I would strongly encourage everyone to read this book. The writing is lively, engaging, fascinating (even breath-taking in parts) and flows into every nook and cranny related to the subject. So the content is wide-ranging and always rewarding of attention.
Highly recommend to everyone but especially all US citizens as - actively or passively - we played a huge role in the birthing and nurturance of the global threat of terrorism facing us today. And simply detaching is - I don’t believe - a valid option, atleast not until the significant accumulation of damage done from our last several decades of involvement is healed. (less)
This collection of short stories is massive and fascinating; succeeding in its goal (in my opinion) of presenting life at the edge of multiple culture...moreThis collection of short stories is massive and fascinating; succeeding in its goal (in my opinion) of presenting life at the edge of multiple cultures as lived by folks of South Asian ethnicity. First, about the name. The word 'wallah' in South Asia means some or all of the following: vendor of, craftsman of, expert in. It is a very common term there, and carries connotations of abundant supply of all that is good. In the introduction the editor, Shyam Selvadurai, describes his journey and struggle of self-identification as he went from Sri Lanka to Canada (moved at 19). He uses the term diaspora over immigrant to include weight to each person's (sometimes secret) history, and also to include the struggles of each person in reshaping their identity in relation to both their old and new home. Those areas are some of the main essential contents of this collection. While these themes are very specific, the truth of them reaches the universal. For instance, in Anita Desai's 'Winterscape,' the space between people who are in intimate relationships is explored with ringing clarity. Anita clearly creates four characters: a man who moved to the West, the white woman he married, and the man's two mothers who remained in India. And the moment captured is his wife's defining as 'other' the man's two moms, in their reaction to snow. He feels bewildered and somewhat hurt by her reaction. In that is contained so much of the human experience: and thinking about ok/not ok; good/ bad fascinates me. Another universal (and particular) aspect of life included in this collection is religious extremism, which is cut wide open in Zulfikar Ghose's 'The Marble Dome,' which explores Pakistani society and is another of my favorites. In editing this collection, Shyam includes aspects of his own being. One of those aspects is that he is gay which - in many South Asian cultures - continues to be outside the definition of normal. I realized when I was reading some of the stories that I was reacting as myself, a straight-but-not-narrow US resident who's been aware and supporting of lgbtq culture for over 20 years; and that the cultures involved in these diasporas were very different. In those contexts, the sub-set of these stories with lgbtq content are ground-breaking, brave and probably difficult for many in the intended audience. Two in particular are especially poignant. The first, by Shyam Selvadurai himself, is called 'Pigs Can't Fly,' and tells the story of gender definitions being imposed on a person who had been happily living outside the norm to that point. His mother, answering the question of 'Why?' would say: "Because the sky is so high and pigs can't fly, that's why." Seems as valid a support for normalcy as anything I've ever come across! The second, Sandip Roy’s ‘Auld Lang Syne’ has lingered on my mind. It is about the reunion of two men who had been lovers, on the return of one from San Francisco to India. And mentions a third man, a mutual friend of these two, who has committed suicide. It shows the three choices available to people outside their culture's norms: escape away, suicide, stay and pretend and be internally dead. That later choice is in place for millions of course, in every community almost, required by a variety of conditions. Brings 'Angels in America' and 'Brokeback Mountain' to mind, which show that the pain and damage of that choice is not restricted to the individual, but is shared by their spouse and others. Other themes in this ambitious collection include cultural differences related to historical and cultural variations. He discusses in the introduction some of these primary divisions: the first wave of movement in the 1830's, when South Asians were brought in to many British colonies (in particular) to replace slaves; the second movement beginning in the mid-1950's, in which people moved to major metropolitan centers of the West. One fascinating tidbit about British motives in encouraging businesses to import South Asian populations: 'The aim was to get people in as guest workers who, even after they acquired citizenship, would continue to function as "passive citizens" as opposed to "active citizens" who participated and represented the nation-state of Britain." That is fascinating to me, but not referenced, and the stories (those few set in England) don't really get into that sort of political question at all. I'd love to learn more about that. Anyway, additional variances among the writers he describes include relationship to South Asia - some were born elsewhere and have never visited, most travel back intermittently, regularly or frequently. Some are 1st generation, others are 2nd, 3rd, even 4th generation. While this anthology is in English, the language is a huge variability, as native vernacular is used in quite a few stories (mainly those by writers of that earlier migration): and for me that was a big challenge. In a longer work incorporating native voice, one gets used to it. In this collection, each time it's a transition to master, and each vernacular is significantly different. Fascinating, but I hadn't been ready for that. I personally found it challenging as well to determine the setting of each story, the time period, and details like that. Comes with the short-story territory; and I am disadvantaged with not having the background to catch the significance of the information that is given much of the time. What it all adds up to is that this collection of short stories both demands and rewards active reading. Prior to reading each story, there is information available about the writer and their context that is of use to contextualize their work; the content then is rich and varied on all these multiple axis. And be warned: Shyam is apparently among those who believe that Indian Diaspora in inextricably linked with India’s extreme poverty: the last story in the collection - 'Chokra', by Numair Choudhury - is a short, brutal instance of that shocking misery. This would be a great book to include for any number of classes on culture, history, identity, population, work, many different topics. I personally would encourage the reader to take your time and read according to what you are seeking and/or slowly, one at a time. Rushing through would only dilute the essence and dull the fine points of this breathtaking collection.(less)