I'm gonna reread this – maybe after I finish On the Road, for the second time, and Desolation Angels – and do a better-thunk-out review, because I thi...moreI'm gonna reread this – maybe after I finish On the Road, for the second time, and Desolation Angels – and do a better-thunk-out review, because I think this book deserves it. After a first read, my impression was that the path of The Dharma Bums has highs and lows, like the mountainous country around which most of the book is based. I liked the first half-ish, the climb with Japhy and Morley; the third quarter was a bit dull (read: hitchhiking and family disagreements); the last quarter I loved and found to be the most poetic, the most poignant and hopeful. A quality of hopefulness is not (in my experience) as common with Kerouac as with Ginsberg or other Beat poets, so I really appreciated it here, though it still made me sad. Made me want to live in the mountains alone myself and find simplicity. But emotional reactions aside, it's good to get into reading Kerouac again. TBC.(less)
This book is helping me to get my head out of an awful depression and toward self-love and acceptance. I've read similar Buddhist self helpish books b...moreThis book is helping me to get my head out of an awful depression and toward self-love and acceptance. I've read similar Buddhist self helpish books before, since that spiritual path is one I feel drawn to – but none of the other books affected me quite like this one. If anyone could motivate me to meditate – a good habit I always quit in favour of yoga, though I knew that both would be beneficial – it's Cheri Huber and this easily readable, relatable intro to some Zen Buddhist philosophy. Of course, in order to really grow from this book I'll have to maintain a meditation practice. Yet I feel that the boulder in my brain has shifted enough to allow me to do that and not drown in despair first. So I highly recommend you read There Is Nothing Wrong With You – if you feel open to learning that there really isn't.(less)
A hustler's memoir. A smooth weave of prose, glosa, haiku, free verse, like different shades of hair on the same scalp. I went to a public reading of...moreA hustler's memoir. A smooth weave of prose, glosa, haiku, free verse, like different shades of hair on the same scalp. I went to a public reading of How Poetry Saved My Life by the author at Venus Envy (Halifax, NS). I even got to chat with Amber Dawn for a minute, a bit nervously, because I'm always nervous talking to accomplished writers (but I had to ask her to sign my freshly-purchased copy, so it was worth my awkwardness). If the topic of this book hadn't fascinated me, her reading definitely would've. Amber Dawn reads so beautifully. I can barely hope that I'll ever learn to read my own writing, or anybody else's, half so skillfully.
But I found in reading it to myself that the lyricism is just as much in the written word as in her spoken voice. The sure intonation and sharp lilt in her (true) stories and poems of survival, truth-telling (or sometimes lying, because that is also survival), and solidarity – mercifully without useless pity for self or others – were audible and convincing to me. I read it alone, stretching the small volume over a week, because it deserves at least that much time. It will stay in my head and heart for much longer.
I don't think there's much I can say that will draw the strands of this artwork together any more succinctly than is already done in its pages. And it's hard for me to think about what this book even means to me - as a relatively-privileged, white, straight (publically speaking), university-educated woman who has never suffered from any kind of sexual exploitation. Dawn doesn't try to draw an us-vs.-them line between herself and more privileged people. There aren't necessarily outsiders and insiders in her narrative. She writes with a significant degree of understanding and even compassion for those 'on the other side' of her experiences, which to my mind is one of the most awe-inspiring aspects of this memoir. It's the sign of someone who has undergone so much transformation in her life that the tired old going-strong dichotomies, however much they command all of our lives, no longer hold much stock for her. And I don't know if this is how she feels all the time about how her life represents the lives of many she writes about and for. But that's what I read, on this first reading at least, and to communicate that seems as difficult a feat as really believing it. For that and many other reasons beyond my articulation, I hope this book will be honoured.(less)
I finished this ages ago and I loved it to pieces. Well, except for two or three long passages trying ardently to defend animal slaughter for human co...moreI finished this ages ago and I loved it to pieces. Well, except for two or three long passages trying ardently to defend animal slaughter for human consumption – I'm sorry, Mrs. Kingsolver, not even you can make this palatable or remotely excusable to me. Aside from the typical forms of hypocrisy in evidence (e.g. Kingsolver says she couldn't bear to kill pigs because of the intelligence in their expressions; chickens, though, are "stupid" so it's all cool to murder them), yes, ASIDE FROM these sections, I truly admire the goal of this book and the family who undertook to write it. Their dedication was clearly immense, and depicted honestly but with great love for the purpose behind it. As in all Barbara Kingsolver's work, the lyricism on any subject under the sun is at times mind-boggling. This book has helped me become much more aware of local eating and its vast benefits. I enjoyed (almost) every minute of reading it.(less)
I finished this over a month ago and forgot to review it then, so I won't go into too much detail about the things I loved ... It was just beautiful,...moreI finished this over a month ago and forgot to review it then, so I won't go into too much detail about the things I loved ... It was just beautiful, an outwardly-simple and beautifully complex story. It carried in strong arms what I imagine was the feeling of a genuine fairy tale, back when fairy tales were genuine. I wanted to visit Lettie's farm myself and never leave. The picture of the universe that this story paints, from a mere patch of farm and wild land in Britain, is astounding and gratifying. Only my second Neil Gaiman read, and a quietly, unassumingly marvellous one.(less)
I goddamn loved this book so much. One of my housemates provided it to me through an Exmas book exchange, and I read it with total glee over the durat...moreI goddamn loved this book so much. One of my housemates provided it to me through an Exmas book exchange, and I read it with total glee over the duration of my holiday. The energetic plot, the ... loveable-in-spite-of-themselves characters, the wry dialogue, lightly-treated crumblets of philosophical meditation, and relatively obscure cultural/literary references (I'm certain I didn't get them all, but I got enough to thoroughly delight me) -- there was nothing I can think of that I wouldn't praise about this novel. This is my first book by either Gaiman or Pratchett, and I'd happily look at their solo work.(less)