"You can’t go backward. You’re never going to have what you had."
Interesting how your circumstances open your eyes to all sorts of things. There's a w...more"You can’t go backward. You’re never going to have what you had."
Interesting how your circumstances open your eyes to all sorts of things. There's a whole crop of songs in my iTunes collection that suddenly jumped up 2 star ratings in the past few weeks. And there are books like this, which I spotted while scanning the "new and popular" table at Chapters.
A month earlier and I would have looked right past, writing it off as sappy, inspirational Oprah's book club material. But that was before April 15, 2014, and now it was after, and so I gingerly flipped through it, wondering whether this was the sort of thing I should be buying myself from now on.
It may be a bit soon for me to fully appreciate everything in this book. The 'Saturday night widows' are 5 months to several years out from their partners' deaths at the start of the book. I'm barely past the one month mark, and far from worrying about dating and boyfriends just yet. But at the same time, there's some comfort in knowing that at the other end of this shitty widow thing, there is hope.
Aikman recalls a conversation with a psychiatrist, in which he tells her, “You are not depressed... You don’t have it in you.” And I guess that must be me, too, because I find myself unable to wallow. How can I, now that I've been reminded of how short and precious life is? Instead, I find myself sticking on thoughts like this:
“My husband was the best thing I ever had. When I lost him, my life changed in an instant. But this has made me totally fearless. Because the worst thing that could happen has already happened.”
I hadn't looked at it that way, but it's true. I'm hard pressed to imagine something more horrifying than what happened to me. Though I was already pretty fearless when it came to trying new things, I can feel myself changing still, calling a version of this thought to mind with every decision I make these days. What's the worst that could happen? Oh, wait...
It's very liberating, to dig deep for a silver lining.
So, should you read this book? I have no idea. If your husband/partner/boyfriend died recently, sure. (And you can flip the genders there if needed, because I imagine this would be an interesting read for widowers, too). I also appreciated that this book avoided spirituality, included several widows without children, and frankly discussed topics like casual sex. As an atheistic, childless, modern woman, it was a useful perspective for me. (I swear, between the "help, my partner died and left me with x young children!" and the "he's in a better place/he's with God now", there isn't much left in the way of support for young widows on the Internet)
If you haven't lost a partner yet, first go give him or her a hug, and then, go read some other reviews because I'm not the one to tell you whether you'd like this book or not. It'd be like me and my engineering degree trying to write a layperson's review of a calculus textbook. I have no idea what you'd get out of it - might be good, might be bad, I just don't know. You might come away with new insights on the shittiness of losing someone you love much too soon...
“This task of grieving was so much more than missing. It was more like homesickness for a home that was no longer there.”
...or you might just think it's boring feel-good chick lit crap.
So I admit that this is a useless review on my part. It serves to commit the book to my memory more than anything. Sorry Goodreads.
If anyone knows of a group of hip young widows doing this sort of thing in the Montreal area though, I'm in. (less)
Interesting and readable look at the past decade of Toronto politics. Especially recommended if you've been watching the Rob Ford saga unfold and wond...moreInteresting and readable look at the past decade of Toronto politics. Especially recommended if you've been watching the Rob Ford saga unfold and wondered how things got that way.
At the core of Toronto's problems is a divide between suburbs and city which no other Canadian city faces on the same scale - Vancouver is unaffordable everywhere, while Montreal struggles to prosper at all, and Calgary and Edmonton are nothing but suburbs. Only Toronto has such a marked contrast between idealized urban living (lattes, streetcars, condos, density) and stereotypical suburban living (middle-class, car-centric, spread out), all within city limits.
Though the author (like myself) is clearly an urban left wing pinko who probably rides a bike and takes transit and visits farmer's markets on weekends, he acknowledges the demographically-changing middle-class population that fill Toronto's suburbs, and questions how to bring them into the fold of a growing and prospering Toronto.
It's a problem I care about, too, even if I never end up living in Toronto again. I love my mixed-use, mixed-wealth neighbourhood in Montreal - how do we make sure these places live on, and prosper, without become exclusive enclaves for wealthy yuppies?
(P.S. If you're one of those people who can't understand why anyone likes Toronto, this book may also shed some light)(less)
Read the first few chapters... then skipped to the last few chapters. It started out really interesting but the middle section is plodding. Lots of cu...moreRead the first few chapters... then skipped to the last few chapters. It started out really interesting but the middle section is plodding. Lots of cutesy stories about the author's dog, lots of long-winded descriptions about what it might be like to smell everything in the park if you were a dog, but little of the actual substance I want from a non-fiction book. Probably won't go back and read those 3-4 skipped chapters, but maybe if I actually get a dog someday.(less)
An easy-to-read collection of snippets about life in Provence. It made me want to go to the south of France and eat a lot of 6-course meals. (Luckily,...moreAn easy-to-read collection of snippets about life in Provence. It made me want to go to the south of France and eat a lot of 6-course meals. (Luckily, I have an opportunity to do exactly that, so off I go at the end of October!) Mayle is a good writer, though, and I look forward to reading A Year in Provence next.(less)
A few works of children's fiction allude to the event, but the story lines of these books generally focus on fun and adventure in a fanciful "world of molasses," rather than depicting the event as the tragedy that it was.
And there is the book in a nutshell. This is certainly one of the most unusual disasters out there, and I'm glad that, many many years after hearing about it as a kid (though not in one of the aforementioned "world of molasses" books), I discovered this book, which attempts to tell the full story.
As an engineer, I would have preferred more discussion of the technical details of the molasses tank's construction and subsequent collapse, rather than so much exploration into the lives of the people involved, but that's down to personal taste I suppose.
The author also tries too hard to emphasize the impending doom:
When the sound happened again, Isaac's chill became an icy pang in his chest, like the flat of a knife-blade pressing against his heart.
I could have done without so many of these melodramatic segments; they seemed to happen every few pages at the start of the book.
Still, Puleo does a good job of setting up the historical context for the disaster - Italian immigration, the anarchist movement, life in Boston's North End, the war - and the time period is one that often doesn't get much attention.(less)
Gould is an excellent writer, and tells a compelling tale with what might, at another author's hand, be no more than a dry textbook subject: the histo...moreGould is an excellent writer, and tells a compelling tale with what might, at another author's hand, be no more than a dry textbook subject: the history of intelligence testing. In short, IQ tests were BS in the past (and might still be - this book certainly makes a convincing case for it), and it's horrifying to think of the prejudices and stereotypes that emerged out of "What is the capital of Hungary?"-type 'intelligence' tests given to immigrants or illiterate soldiers in the early 20th century.
It's not 5 stars because: a) the last chapter on factor analysis was a tough read even for me, and I've taken several university-level statistics courses, and b) Gould doesn't hesitate to directly attack critics and criticisms of his earlier writings (and of the earlier printing of this book), which gives some passages in the book the feel of 'Gould's letters to the editor'. This really isn't a huge gripe on my part, and wouldn't be one at all if I followed the debates in the field of intelligence research. (less)
Only for the devoted. It is a very interesting book, but I doubt I'd ever have read the whole thing if I hadn't spent time in Africa and pondered at t...moreOnly for the devoted. It is a very interesting book, but I doubt I'd ever have read the whole thing if I hadn't spent time in Africa and pondered at the Chinese involvement I saw there.(less)