Wherever you go, despite the "bigness" of the world, you are still you and bring your own issues and problems. In Lori Ostlund's short story collectioWherever you go, despite the "bigness" of the world, you are still you and bring your own issues and problems. In Lori Ostlund's short story collection, Minnesotans are exposed to different environments around the world and find more similarities than differences.
In the titular story, two young children make a connection with their caretaker Elsa. Their parents try to create order for them and hold heavy disdain for Elsa's unorthodox ways. However, it is Elsa that leaves them the most prepared for the "bigness" of the world. Sort of an antidote to the Prarie Home Companion characters (it takes place in Minnesota). Handling the unknown and nonsense of the world is a better preparation than order. In the short story, Bed Death, a suicide leads to the end of a relationship. One person chooses life against these odds.
In other stories, A daughter attempts to bring her father into the present while his stubborn refusal undoes all of her work. A father uses his daughter to unload his burdens. She learns too much about the world at too young of an age. It makes her tragically stronger. Two women look for a connection on the other side of the world, but a shared religion does not equal shared customs. Upon completion of baldness, the relationship of two teachers is revealed to their students.
All the stories are very character driven with a focus on separation. We find the distance from home and the distance in relationships haunt these characters. Wherever they go, they carry their problems. It is the problems at home they must face first.
“She had decided that each family has a member whose absence rounds out the family far more than his or her presence ever could. " p 200
“There are, I have learned, numerous ways to make this statement. There is the Don’t cry that is issued as a demonstration of solidarity and sympathy and that is succeeded, most often, by the words or you’ll get me started. There is the more detached and perhaps reflective Don’t cry, one suggesting that the situation, and often life in general, does not merit tears, a tone that I generally find both reassuring and persuasive. Then there is the Don’t cry that is pure threat, that warns, Do not start because I am not in a position to think about you or your needs, and if you do start, you will see this and most surely be disappointed.” P154 ...more
For the books that we love, there are times when we would love to crawl inside a story. From a translator's perspective, this idea takes on new dimensFor the books that we love, there are times when we would love to crawl inside a story. From a translator's perspective, this idea takes on new dimensions as they actually can become part of the narrative. The choosing of each word and understanding the deeper meaning of what needs to be said. It is an intimacy with the author that goes beyond simply reading. The translator and author can make it joined and new. Sometimes in climbing into someone else's story, you can break free of your own.
In Idra Novey's novel, Emma Neufield gets the opportunity to become with the narrative when her long-time author, Beatriz Yagoda, disappears up a tree in Brazil. She thinks she can discern her location by being a master of her thinking, but she finds more than she bargained for. The story also tells the perspective of Beatriz's daughter and the real danger that surrounds them all the time. The writer's life seems glamorous, but up close it is not always on firm ground.
Ms. Novey may have some experience with this as she is a translator herself. She translated one of Clarice Lispector's most famous works The Passion According to G. H. The premise of this work reminded me a great deal of Javiar Marias's A Heart So White. The translation takes center stage more in his novel than in this one. In Novey's work, the main character becomes part of the story. ...more
Brownstein's memoir begins at the end. She describes the destruction of her band Sleater-Kinney by her own hands. It was a band that had saved her lifBrownstein's memoir begins at the end. She describes the destruction of her band Sleater-Kinney by her own hands. It was a band that had saved her life more than once and now she must face life without it. She then takes us back to her beginning.
Just as much a travelogue of the early 90's Grrrl Riot punk movement in Seattle and Olympia as it is a memoir of Brownstein. She becomes one within the movement. She records her excitement and the need to be lost in the sound. Her memoir reads like her music. It's deep, emotional, and visceral. It made me realize that I really should read Girls to the Front to fully appreciate everything that's going on with this memoir.
What's really gripping about this memoir is how well the story unfolds. It is extremely well written. The exciting beginning, her origins, and her struggle with success and the need to be authentic drive the narrative. She juxtaposes an incident with her shelter animals with the death of her music. She then fast-forwards to the reunion of the band and the catharsis that comes with it.
“The role of a woman onstage is often indistinct from her role offstage—pleasing, appeasing, striking some balance between larger-than-life and iconic with approachable, likable, and down-to-earth, the fans like gaping mouths, hungry for more of you.” P169
“At our show opening for JSBX at La Luna in Portland, I grew agitated at their crowd’s indifference toward us and kicked the microphone stand into the audience. Jon voiced his dissatisfaction at my puerile behavior, more aware than I was that there is a difference between conjuring a sense of danger and actually harming someone. But I wanted our shows not just to be galvanic, I wanted to destroy the room. More than that, I wanted to obliterate myself, to unlock and uncork the anger, to disappear into the sound and into the music. In subsequent years when I kicked my legs out toward the crowd or swung my guitar close to the heads in the front row, it was about trying to physically harness the moment, to crash into strangers in a horrible but ecstatic impact, a shared bruising.” P176 ...more
To begin, I have never read anything by Nick Hornby. I have, however, seen the movie, High Fidelity. There is that particular scene in which all bookTo begin, I have never read anything by Nick Hornby. I have, however, seen the movie, High Fidelity. There is that particular scene in which all book lovers and record collectors can connect. The organizational scheme. Is it organized by the band or the album title? No, it is autobiographical. This is a fantasy of organization in which one could define life events and find their books and music by remembering key points in his or her life. In Nick Hornby's book Ten Years in the Tub, he takes us through his book journey autobiographically. As the reader, we get to go on his journey with him. It's like reading over his shoulder as he is experiencing his books.
There is one aspect that I really enjoy about great book reviews. It is when the reviewer takes a personal turn in connecting with the book. It is like creating a new narrative and creates another layer of experience for the potential reader. This, in particular, is what made this book really fun. I can compare my own experience with the books he has read and get reading recommendations for those I haven't. The entertaining and very personal stories help readers make connections with his books.
Narrative highs are the creative process behind him adapting the screenplay to Brooklyn and Wild. Lows include something about Motley Crue and a breakfast burrito. He spends a great deal of ink on U.K. authors and U.K. issues which work well, but not necessarily of great general interest. He also has the world's shortest review on Huckleberry Finn ever published. Altogether, it is a fairly raucous and entertaining walk through literature and non-fiction from the past ten years.
But with each passing year, and with each whimsical purchase, our libraries become more and more able to articulate who we are, whether we read the books or not. p. 106
But the trouble with influential books is that if you have absorbed the influence without ever reading the original, then it can sometimes be hard to appreciate the magnitude of its achievement. p. 145
The received wisdom is that novels too much of the moment won't last; but what else do we have that delves so deeply into what we were thinking and feeling at any given period? In fifty or one hundred years time, we are, I suspect, unlikely to want to know what someone writing in 2010 had to say about the American Civil War. I don't want to put you off if you're just writing the last paragraph of a seven-hundred-page epic novel about Gettysburg—I'm sure you'll win loads of prizes and so. But after that, you've had it. P310 ...more