It was okay. I probably should have stopped reading about half way through though. While I liked Gallagher's story scenarios and her characterizationsIt was okay. I probably should have stopped reading about half way through though. While I liked Gallagher's story scenarios and her characterizations, the endings often seemed half-hearted or trying-too-hard clever. I probably won't read more of her short fiction. ...more
This is a Pulitzer prize winner by an author I've read before and liked. And yet I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. Perhaps it wasThis is a Pulitzer prize winner by an author I've read before and liked. And yet I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. Perhaps it was a victim of high expectations after how much I liked Crossing to Safety. The writing was wonderful; Stegner is a master of place and emotion. And I usually like a book that examines relationships; how they work, evolve, fall apart. But boy, I had trouble connecting to or liking any of the characters in this book, except perhaps the main couple's son, Ollie. It wasn't just that the main characters were flawed. All good characters are flawed in some way. It was that I kept asking myself the same question as the narrator: What kept this relationship going as long as it did? The point of the book seemed to be to answer that question and, as far as I'm concerned, it never did. It was never clear to me why they stayed together. Stegner didn't make them sympathetic enough to see what they saw in each other. I couldn't see anything in either of them that would engender loyalty in the face of misery. In the end, I was glad to say goodbye to the pair of them. Good riddance. ...more
Donald Hall's wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, died of leukemia in her 40s. This is an intimate look into the process of supporting her, while suffering thDonald Hall's wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, died of leukemia in her 40s. This is an intimate look into the process of supporting her, while suffering the pain of the coming loss and it's aftermath.
Alone together a moment on the twenty-second anniversary of their wedding, he clasped her as she stood at the sink, pressing into her backside, rubbing his cheek against the stubble of her skull. He gave her a ring of pink tourmaline with nine small diamonds around it. She put it on her finger and immediately named it Please Don't Die. They kissed and Jane whispered, "Timor mortis conturbat me."
I listened to this in the car with my son. Neil Gaiman is a wonderful reader; what a voice. I think my son and I were having quite different experiencI listened to this in the car with my son. Neil Gaiman is a wonderful reader; what a voice. I think my son and I were having quite different experiences listening to that voice. We loved the book. It was pretty much perfect. ...more
It's a bit dry at times, but an amazing amount of information about how the past really was, no rose-tinted glasses involved. Mostly focused on the 19It's a bit dry at times, but an amazing amount of information about how the past really was, no rose-tinted glasses involved. Mostly focused on the 1950s, but does include some data and analysis about other eras. I've already read extensively about family and home life in the Victorian era and in the 1920s, so it was good to branch out. ...more
I really loved Miss Read's series about the fictional village of Caxley (which neighbors Fairacre), so I thought I'd check out these. I am reading theI really loved Miss Read's series about the fictional village of Caxley (which neighbors Fairacre), so I thought I'd check out these. I am reading the first three Fairacre books in one big, hulking volume. I enjoyed this first installment. Miss Read is a schoolteacher in a small village in the 1950s, although in many ways it feels more like the 1930s, as the war and its subsequent continued rationing and unemployment kept England from modernizing much, especially in small, working-class villages like the fictional Fairacre. As I studied to be a teacher and now homeschool my own child, it's interesting to read about the attitudes and methods of teaching and parenting in that time, place, and circumstance. Much of it is more modern than I would have thought, and certainly gives kids more credit and more patience that schools do these days. For example, on a lovely summer afternoon, Miss Read takes her children outside. I enjoyed this passage and her willingness to admit that lazing on a sunny day can be as important as any school work:
"The lesson on the time-table was 'Silent Reading' and in various attitudes, some graceful and some not, the children sat or lay in the grass with their books propped before them...With so little encouragement to read at home, in overcrowded cottages and with young brothers and sisters clamouring round them until bedtime and after, these schoolchildren at Fairacre desperately need peace and an opportunity to read. But on this particular afternoon I wondered how much reading was being done and how much daydreaming. My marking pencil slowed to a standstill and the geography test papers lay neglected in my lap. What an afternoon, I mused! When these boys and girls are old and look back to their childhood, it is the brightest hours that they will remember. This is one of those golden days to lay up as treasure for the future, I told myself, excusing our general idleness."
Also, I liked this passage, where she marvels at the lax and sweet parenting she sees and its surprising (to her) results:
"I am always amazed at the servitude of parents in these parts to their children, particularly to the little rascals between two and five years old. These engaging young scoundrels can twist their doting parents round their fingers by coaxing, whining or throwing a first-class tantrum. The parents thoroughly spoil them, and the older children are also encouraged to pander to their lightest whim. Sweets, ice-cream, apples, bananas, cakes and anything else edible that attracts the child's fancy flow in an uninterrupted stream down the child's throat, as well as normal meals and the quota of orange juice and cod liver oil which is collected from the monthly clinic at the village hall, and, I must say in all honesty, that a more healthy set of children it would be hard to find. They seem to stay up until the parents go to bed, and I see them playing in their gardens, or more frequently in the lane outside their cottages, until dusk falls. Then, sometimes as late as ten o'clock on a summer's evening, they finally obey the calls to 'Come on in!' which have been issuing from the cottage unheeded for an hour or more, and dragging reluctant feet they resign themselves, still protesting, to bed. And yet, as I have said, under these methods which are a direct violations of the rules of a well-regulated nursery, these children thrive. Furthermore, when they enter school at the age of five, one might reasonably expect some trouble in maintaining discipline; but this is not so."
Which is not to say that they book doesn't also touch on some of the darker parenting tactics, particularly those of alcoholic parents. In general though, she focuses on and promotes the gentle, kind, and respectful treatment of children and the happy results of that. I think I enjoyed the Caxley books a little more, as they were more of a historical epic, following the family fortunes of multiple generations, but I am still happy to continue reading these sweet Fairacre stories. On to the next volume! ...more
I liked it okay, but it's not a book I'd buy for reference later. I found it amusing to page through and see what they prescribed for each state of miI liked it okay, but it's not a book I'd buy for reference later. I found it amusing to page through and see what they prescribed for each state of mind or problem. But in a lot of cases, it was only one or two titles. I don't think I'd use it as it was intended. ...more