Goodreads blurb: An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story oGoodreads blurb: An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization's collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity... Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty.
I loved this book. I adore stories where links between people arise in far away places and far future years. I find that to be very like the synchronicity of real life on this magickal planet. Here, tangential links to a dying actor are the center around which a number of lives are strung.
I like stories where loose ends are tied up, but done artistically and well. (I vividly remember one mystery where the killer is revealed 30 pages from the end, and then each loose end is methodically tied up, every red herring sequentially explained, one after another after another... zzzzzzzzzzzz.)
I like stories where people of diversity appear because they are interesting characters -- and (GASP-uh) the source of their differentness is not the subject of the narrative. Thus I was happy to realize that survivors of the Georgian Flu in this book are pleasantly diverse and interesting, not all white folks, as so often is the case in many post-apocalyptic novels. Sometimes, you can surmise from their names, like Sayid or Jeevan. Sometimes, you hear from a third party that someone is Asian or Black. Midway through the book it becomes clear that Clark is gay. Hurrah! While we may have some different desires and histories, our spirits and needs as humans are pretty clearly the same.
I like books which help open my eyes to the beauty of the world. This book certainly did that. Mandel doesn't stint on allowing her characters to feel devastating loss after the plague (and rightly, most of that longing is for lost loved ones, not comforts or things), but she also doesn't stint in allowing them to appreciate the beauty of the world with fewer human beings. There is terrible pain, but also deeply felt connection and joy.
I like visions where art and music are an important part of what is needed for survival--not just food, water, sleep, safety. Although the quote that is revered by the Traveling Symphony is "Survival is Insufficient," it's clear that art and music ARE PART of survival and rebuilding.
Overall, a dark but deeply true and resonant vision of a not-that-unlikely future. Mother Nature is going to have to flick her skirt and get rid of a majority of the exploitative and out-of-control humans some way. It could be this way.
I don't know how to do this book justice. Primarily, it is the story of grief and loss and its consequences, coupled with the challenges and joys of pI don't know how to do this book justice. Primarily, it is the story of grief and loss and its consequences, coupled with the challenges and joys of parenting. I think, a story many people (and perhaps, all parents) could relate to. However, it is told in a gay context, which will be a twist for some, and in the context of the Palestinian/Jewish conflict in Israel -- perhaps a deal-breaker for many.
I hate story summaries and I usually leave folks to read that on their own, but in this case I'll comply: Matt is in a 4-year relationship with Daniel. Daniel is Jewish, Matt is not. Daniel's twin brother is married with two kids and has chosen to live in Israel. Daniel and Matt have some disagreements with Israeli politics and live in the USA (in the lesbian haven of Northampton, MA). Yet, despite some conflicts between the brothers, Daniel is named as guardian in his brother's will, should something happen to him & his wife. Something does. They are killed in a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem, leaving the two kids, Gal & Noam, orphaned. This is where the story starts. How Daniel and Matt handle sudden parenthood in the face of debilitating grief (not to mention in a homophobic world) is the central conflict. Fasten your seat belts; it's a bumpy ride.
So much was right and true in Judith Frank's story -- and it was all so personal to me. I feel that I could have written this story based on my own life and experiences. I also was thrust into parenting without legal rights. (view spoiler)[I also lost access to a nonbiological child, as Matt does. (hide spoiler)] I also struggled to share parenting with a new partner. I also have wrestled with my love of a Jewish partner, my questions about Israeli politics, and how to talk about that without being tarred as anti-semitic. I also am in a same sex relationship of many years, struggling with the meaning of legal marriage, how to remain deeply connected over time and while parenting. And much MUCH more.
I thank Judith Frank for finally giving me a story about gay men that I could relate to, that allowed me to take a critical look at my own lesbian subculture. I thought setting the story in Northampton was a stroke of genius for the story (although the author lives there herself, so it was a natural choice). But for the purposes of the novel, it universalized the story in a way. So often, lesbian stories exclude gay men, and gay male stories exclude lesbian experience, though we are relentlessly lumped together in straight culture as homos. In many important ways, lesbians and gay men are at the opposite ends of a bell curve, with straight people comprising the bulging center--it can be frustrating to have our differences so regularly erased. Yeah, all us outsiders are natural allies, right?!? Frank brought the tail ends of the affectional bell curve together in a humorous, ironic way. I particularly enjoyed the graphic descriptions of the couple's sexuality (and inner thoughts during) and even found those scenes hot -- which I never ever do. My sole (and tiny) complaint is that the butch character of Cam disappears about 2/3 of the way through the book and never reappears. Hey!
This book made me cry for the agony of homophobia in a way I haven't done in years. One gets so accustomed to a steady state of denial just to get through the day. I gloried in Frank's descriptions of the rewards and challenges of parenting. I am re-examining my single- and coupled-parenting, as I now experience grand-parenting, and one more lens on the subject was welcome. Right at the end, where the toddler gives Matt a handful of dirty pebbles and commands him to "Take Home!" (dutifully he slips them in his pocket), my heart turned over with warm recognition of those moments of love & disgust in equal measure!
Judith Frank, you are a mensch! Can't wait to read her earlier work, Crybaby Butch.
Goodreads blurb: The third novel in the Last Policeman trilogy, World of Trouble presents one final pre-apocalyptic mystery – and Hank Palace confrontGoodreads blurb: The third novel in the Last Policeman trilogy, World of Trouble presents one final pre-apocalyptic mystery – and Hank Palace confronts questions way beyond whodunit: How far would you go to protect a loved one? And how would you choose to spend your last days on Earth?
The series is unforgettable -- replete with achingly poignant descriptions of the way the world goes (with a whimper). I couldn't put down any of the three books. Hank is a guy with a terrible past who has patched together something of a life, something to care about, and work in the world that gives him something to live for. He's kept the tattered remains of his family connected. And yet, despite all of his striving, the world's still coming to an end. It's the ultimate CLI-FI heartbreaker. It was so suspenseful that I just had to put off all life's responsibilities aside to finish it. I laughed, I cried, I identified. Kudos, Ben H. Winters. ...more
The mystery was great, but frankly, the story of the "pre-apocalyptic" world and Winters' description how people were responding to imminent annihilatThe mystery was great, but frankly, the story of the "pre-apocalyptic" world and Winters' description how people were responding to imminent annihilation was really at the heart of what I loved. I can't wait for the next one -- could it possibly be as good as this???...more
I was not aware of Charles Blow since I only read the NYTimes occasionally. I heard him interviewed a couple of times on NPR and that led me to read hI was not aware of Charles Blow since I only read the NYTimes occasionally. I heard him interviewed a couple of times on NPR and that led me to read his memoir -- SO VERY GLAD I DID. It was some of the most beautifully written prose I have ever had the joy to read. As many other reviewers commented, it would be difficult to choose one or two (or ten) of the "best examples;" there are just far too many, from the most simple descriptions of daily life to the most painful and challenging self-examinations, his sentences sang to me. I must admit, I never believed that I could read a man's writing about sexual abuse and feel that he had reached inside my soul and pulled out descriptions that felt like my own words, my own feelings and thoughts. As he goes through his youth and tries to understand the meaning of these incidents, I continued to feel his struggle as true as my own. I so resonated with his interior liminality, his feeling of being outside his life & family, his inner screams and outer competitiveness. I deeply felt the many ways he attempted to find his place in the world.
And is *IS* very confusing to be a member of an affectional minority who has experienced sexual abuse -- being targeted as "deviant" sexually, with this painful history, leads to oceans of self-doubt and trying to become acceptable. His struggles to understand and heal his damaged sexuality were very poignant throughout. He said that he felt compelled to write his memoir after hearing about two separate 11 year old boys killing themselves as a result of homophobic bullying, horrific incidents that also shook me.
Charles Blow is about 10 years younger than me, and I was fascinated to read how his life experiences in the deep south continued to be laced with such violent episodes of racism (though not surprised) through the 1970s thru 90s. I wished that his writing was grounded a bit more in what was happening in the greater world. I found the book deeply personal and insular, but we all live our lives in a context. I had to keep reviewing my age, minus 10, and then thinking about what was going on in those times.
Another reviewer wished that Blow had brought to bear some of his visual editor skills in the memoir, for example a family tree. I struggled to keep track of his large family, and would have appreciated visual aids!!!
Blow toed a fine line between self-acceptance and self-aggrandizement -- a minor quibble, and so understandable in light of his history. I felt his astonishment in being chosen for positive attention and his competitive need not to be chosen for victimization.
I got this book out of the library but I will be adding it to my permanent home collection. A treasure that will bear re-reading! Thank you, Charles, for this courageous and beautiful memoir! ...more
Exceptional work that deconstructs the stories told by the "canon," that is, the familiar photographs that we all know about the American Civil RightsExceptional work that deconstructs the stories told by the "canon," that is, the familiar photographs that we all know about the American Civil Rights struggle. I found Berger's take on the importance of depicting black activists as powerless, attacked, vulnerable to whites' violence fascinating. He points out that these classic photos are usually taken from the point of view of the whites -- allowing the viewer to distance her/himself from the violent white racists while inspiring altruistic, Good Samaritan impulses and confirming whites' sense that they can use their societal power to help. These classic photos were often taken by white journalists who quite understandably wanted to support and further blacks' struggle and use their skills to that end -- yet, their own biases filtered through and now have been enshrined in our cultural understanding of race. Berger offers other photos which show blacks as resisting, angry, powerful, joyful, self-actualized. It was an excellent book that I'd like to own. ...more
Based on the idea that Michael Pollen had about simple rules for eating, Lerner writes simple rules for relationships. I love this book and found itsBased on the idea that Michael Pollen had about simple rules for eating, Lerner writes simple rules for relationships. I love this book and found its lessons applicable in love, friendships, in the workplace, with one's children, etc. A classic -- so glad I followed the recommendation and got this one. ...more
I loved the personal narrative also, about their goal of a creating a duplex "nest" to which they might hope to attract the women of their dreams. It all worked out! I loved the urban thrust of this book -- most permaculture tomes assume endless access to land, which is contrary to the trend of more and more urban dwellers in our world. So much remains possible on the very small scale!
With the words "Plant Geeks" actually in the subtitle, I'm surprised at some other reviewers' surprise that this is a detailed examination of urban growing by two extraordinarily learned individuals. It's not an introductory text. If the word "ecosystem" is not used in your daily life, this book probably isn't for you.
I loved this book. I adored how Gussow told the truth about the defecits in her marriage. I so admire a truth teller. As one who has been in a 25 yearI loved this book. I adored how Gussow told the truth about the defecits in her marriage. I so admire a truth teller. As one who has been in a 25 year marriage, I understand the urge to "prettify" all the places where struggles reside -- and how deleriously happy is one supposed to be throughout a life, anyway? "And they lived happily EVER AFTER" is true only in the books we love here on Goodreads.
Another thing I love is that Gussow involves All Her Relations in this life story. Like her, the players in my life aren't just humans. They are dogs, trees, flowers, herbs, honeybees, insects, yeast, and many others. Her approach feels true and right to me in this regard.
The book itself was like taking a short walk with Gussow thru her late seventies and projected up until her Obituary. I related to the mortality thoughts that have begun to creep in as I traverse my fifties. It's so good to learn strategies for active engagement with the land as I contemplate aging. THANKS SO MUCH, Joan! ...more
Thought this was an excellent popular read and I appreciated the tone of Ms. Cain's writing. Much scientific research was covered on the introverts amThought this was an excellent popular read and I appreciated the tone of Ms. Cain's writing. Much scientific research was covered on the introverts among us. It was helpful (having worked in a research lab) to have all the academic jargon and in-speak translated into something enjoyable.
This book helped me understand the complexities of my intro/extro marriage -- and why so many people gasp with shock when I cop to being an introvert. I already understood the basics: that large gatherings drain me, that I recharge in silence, that an intense conversation with one person is many hundred times more enticing to me than small talk with a group. But Cain's book took my understanding much deeper. Much like Brian Little, I am able to play an extrovert in the service of my heart's work: agriculture, sustainability, community building. She helped me see why I am so overstimulated by the end of a day at the office. Why I have a history of others asking in exasperation, "why are you getting so upset?!"
And better, she offered strategies for surviving and thriving in this extroverted world. I'd love to own this one......more