I was introduced to Weetzie in college during my children's writing class and it was the best return on investment of those college loans. Never think...moreI was introduced to Weetzie in college during my children's writing class and it was the best return on investment of those college loans. Never thinking that I would be a fan of L.A., and never really caring... I completely fell for Francesca's version of it. Not just in these books, but also in her others... I think using Houdini's mansion is wonderful. This changed how I approached my own writing. I know that they label it as young adult, but I feel that anyone with this mindset could fall in love with these books. (less)
I'm not sure what had me pick up this book, but it warms my heart whenever I read it. I know it's told from the point of view of the male character, b...moreI'm not sure what had me pick up this book, but it warms my heart whenever I read it. I know it's told from the point of view of the male character, but as a wife of a, let's be nice here, music fiend... I completely get this. It might have actually given me some insight as to why he is as he is. Nick Hornby is, in my opinion, one of the great modern writers and I hope that he continues to treat us.(less)
I found Sonya Sones in our library on one bored snowy day and I won't lie.. the titles of the books caught my eye. And now I'm lost....more*another rewrite*
I found Sonya Sones in our library on one bored snowy day and I won't lie.. the titles of the books caught my eye. And now I'm lost. I love her writing and her style and her voice and at the same time envy all of that too. I just re-read this book because the sequel came out and I wasn't surprised that I loved it even more the second time around. It's a quick read, no longer than an hour if you're not interrupted. The main character, Sophie is a 14 year old, high school freshman whose intelligence and insightfulness isn‘t tragic or leaves you thinking ‘yeah, this character is formulaic or too good to be true thus IS fictional. Sones method of chronicling ’love’ from a 14 yr old girl’s perspective isn’t trite or precocious. She doesn’t talk down to the reader, she gives them some credit, no matter what their age. She communicates to us the typical teenage infatuation : ’I wake up thinking about him. All day long I’m dreaming about him. I fall asleep thinking about him.’ and ‘I wish I could drink a magic potion and shrink way down until I was small enough to fit into his shirt pocket and live there tucked near to his heart listening to it beating in rhythm with mine every minute of every day.' Reeks of Stalker? Hell yeah, but who HASN’T felt that? Don’t lie. Wait, it’s not just me, is it? Oy.
Some other reasons that I love this book:
* It’s a novel in verse. I’m always searching for fiction that pushes the formula boundaries. That doesn’t play up the ’It was a dark and stormy night’ or ’And they lived happily ever after’ angle. By writing this in poems, it brings this colors the story with this sweet sentimentality.
* It’s set in Boston. And since this is ’all about me’ each scene brings its own poignancy. From the Ritz Carlton to Filene’s Basement to the Museum of Fine Arts…. Been there, done that… wish I’d written this book (read: story of my life.)
*MFA (Museum of Fine Arts)--When I was in college we were able to get into the MFA for free and since the very mention of ’college’ indicates just how broke I was… I spent a great deal of time here. I used to roam the rooms pretending that I was talking to my imaginary boyfriend who happened to love John Singer Sargent and was an expert in all things impressionistic. I used to get these endorphin highs of inspiration that had me scribbling madly on napkins/notebooks/receipts/anything in my jean pockets. I went back there this summer for the first time in oh… at least 15 years and the feeling was still there. Oh, and there's one of those flipbooks of Renoir's Dance at Bougival... which is ultra cool (in my world)
I put off reading this for the first few months that I knew it was out there. I always get nervous that the sequel won't live up to the original. But,...moreI put off reading this for the first few months that I knew it was out there. I always get nervous that the sequel won't live up to the original. But, alas, I was wrong. This book is just, if not, as endearing as Stargirl. Here, you get to see Stargirl inside out. Instead of just being a prairie skirted, ukelele playing object of Leo's eye, you see her point of view and the year that she spends after Leo. The characters are amazingly original and I grew to love Stargirl even more. A definite read. (less)
Nick Hornby rocks. This, being his latest book, tickled me to no end. It's catagorized as a young adult book but it doesn't have to be. It's main char...moreNick Hornby rocks. This, being his latest book, tickled me to no end. It's catagorized as a young adult book but it doesn't have to be. It's main character, Sam, is most likely someone that I knew at one point in my life and the way that Nick draws out this character... well, it would have been helpful to read when I was sixteen and had to deal with skateboard addicts and boys in general. There is a great line near the end of the book: 'I hate time. It never does what you want it to.' Bingo. (less)
Okay, we're back with Sophie and Robin. I admit that I had to re-read What My Mother Doesn't Know and I don't regret it for a single moment. This book...moreOkay, we're back with Sophie and Robin. I admit that I had to re-read What My Mother Doesn't Know and I don't regret it for a single moment. This book is from Robin's point of view and written in the same short poem style and with as much poignancy, maybe even more since you see how tortured it was to be Robin and how cruel high school can be. I think that almost everyone in high school had their own 'Murphy' to remember. I asked my husband and it took him less than a minute to remember his. I won't lie, there were times that I had to put this book down and cry. Sonya Sones, in my opinion, captures this alienation perfectly and my heart surged when he found people that were bright and mature enough to look at Robin as an equal. Bravo. (less)
In my kid's library there is one of those posters that pretty much says something to the effect of books are an escape. Begging the newly pubescent to...moreIn my kid's library there is one of those posters that pretty much says something to the effect of books are an escape. Begging the newly pubescent to take up the challenge, forget the traumas of youth.
The Book Thief delivers.
But, probably not how you'd like. Unless bleak historical fiction is your idea of beach blanket bingo parties.
I'm not going to retell the tale. You can read the synopsis or browse the back when you're at the library or bookstore. I will tell you that it left an ache--dead center.
I tend to consume books nocturnally. The kids are asleep, no interuptions. Bliss.
No such luck here, from prologue to last page, I've been pulled apart by words, images, colors....
I think my favorite part has to be a short story within the story. Written by a jew in hiding in Germany, 1940, to an orphaned german girl. He paints over pages of Mein Kampf and it begins "All my life I've been scared of men standing over me".
So, I have this Dunkin Donuts receipt that I was using for a place-mark for this book. It’s from March 14th and it’s for 3 iced coffees… and now it’s...moreSo, I have this Dunkin Donuts receipt that I was using for a place-mark for this book. It’s from March 14th and it’s for 3 iced coffees… and now it’s torn and there’s a gaping hole right over the total, it looks like it got wet at some point. There are numbers written all over it, some circled, some underlined, some with exclamation points. There’s something sticky on the edge. I was number 750.
I sort of feel like that right now. It did a really good job holding my spot (twss) and it didn’t complain or get lost or anything. I ran out of space to write on it so I had to switch to a cleaner note pad piece of paper and yet it stuck with me because it knew that I would need it someday.
Let’s start at the first number… 25:
“I reread Stop-Time because Frank Conroy is so eloquent and moving about books and their power at the end of Stone Reader. I don’t reread books very often; I’m too conscious of both my ignorance and my mortality. …But when I tried to recall anything about it other than its excellence, I failed. Maybe there was something about a peculiar stepfather? Or was that This Boy’s Life? And I realized that, as this is true of just about every book I consumed between the ages of say fifteen and forty, I haven’t even read the books I think I’ve read. I can’t tell you how depressing this is. What’s the fucking point?”
Well said, Nick. This is why we are soul mates. You may not know that right now. You may sit in your flat in London listening to music and reading emails and such, drinking tea and watching your children play. Maybe you should close your drapes in case someone is watching? You are oblivious that I am the one for you. I am the Annie Wilkes to your Paul Sheldon. (You dirty dirty bird.)
Nick used to write a column for something called The Believer. It sounds like a magazine or something, I don’t care. He writes about books that he’s purchased and books that he’s read each month. Hmmm… sounds somewhat familiar. (except, like, he gets paid for it) How many reviews have I read over my 3 ½ years here on GR? What did I do before GR? Scan the NYTBR? Not really. Okay, sometimes… but, this--- this beautiful community has expanded my vistas… I have 409 books on my to-read shelf. How awesome is that? I know that GR gets a lot of flack, mainly from within… too many vote whores, too many silly reviews that have nothing to do with the book, too many pictures, too many cliques, yadda yadda yadda… As Steppenwolf once sang “Nothing is like it used to be.” So what? It is what it is (Lifehouse) and I like it. I am guilty of many of the aforementioned grumblings and I don’t care. And I really like that Nick Hornby likes to do it (heh) too. (Oh forgive me Paul for prattling away and making everything all oogy )
I recently wrote a review for Julie Orringer’s How to Breathe Underwater--a collection of short stories. I stammered and driveled throughout it. Nick read it too and this little summary: "Orringer writes about things that everyone writes about--youth, friendship, death, grief, etc.---but her narrative settings are fresh and wonderfully knotty. So, while her themes are as solid and recognizable as oak trees, the stuff growing on the bark you’ve never seen before.” BAM! (God, I love you.)
This, by the way, is the only book he reviews that I’ve read. I’m such a lacking stalker.
Next number: 58 “One of the reasons I wanted to write this column, I think, is that because I assumed that the cultural highlight of my month would arrive in book form, and that’s true, for probably eleven months of the year. Books are, let’s face it, better than everything else. If we played Cultural Fantasy Boxing League, and made books go fifteen rounds in the ring against the best that any other art form had to offer, then book would win pretty much every time. Go on, try it. “The Magic Flute” v. Middlemarch? Middlemarch in six. “ The Last Supper” v. Crime and Punishment? Fyodor on points. See? I mean, I don’t know how scientific this is, but it feels like the novels are walking it.”
(MISERY IS ALIVE!! MISERY IS ALIVE!!! Oh, this whole house is going to be full of romance! Oooooh! I’M GOING TO GO PUT ON MY LIBERACE RECORDS!)
Don’t fight it, Nick. It’s like the fates have spoken, my love.
“I am, I think, a relatively passive reader, when it comes to fiction. If a novelist tells me that something happened, then I tend to believe him, as a rule. In his memoir Experience, Martin Amis recalls his father, Kingley, saying that he found Virginia Woolf’s fictional world “wholly contrived: when reading her he found that he kept interpolating hostile negatives, murmuring ‘Oh no she didn’t’ or Oh no he hadn’t’ or ‘Oh no it wasn’t’ after each and every authorial proposition”; I only do that when I’m reading something laughably bad.”
Ok, there’s a difference between passive and passion. I only passionately throw books against walls and yell at characters who do stupid things. It’s because I CARE. This is why I love this site, because people write with enthusiasm and it’s not all textbooky and crap. This is what I love about this collection. The ranting about football and why finishing David Copperfield left you feeling bereft. There’s always MORE to the story because we are self centered narcissists. And that’s okay.
125 “I don’t have the wall space or the money for all the art I would want, and my house is a shabby mess, ruined by children…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. Maybe that’s not worth the thirty-odd quid I blew on those collections of letters, admittedly, but it’s got to be worth something, right?”
I don’t feel so guilty that I have a whole bookcase of un-read books or that I haven’t read Dickens yet or that I still go to the library every week and I still look forward to sharing my thoughts with this wacky ass community on GR. Wow, this was as rewarding as a shrink session. The weight has been lifted, Nick! Grumblers grumble on. I’ve been vindicated, time to get another iced coffee. (less)
There are books that affect me and then there are books that kill me. This falls in the latter. I cried on the couch, I cried on the bus, I cried at s...moreThere are books that affect me and then there are books that kill me. This falls in the latter. I cried on the couch, I cried on the bus, I cried at stoplights, I cried at work.. I cried more over this book than I did on the actual September 11th. Then I became upset that this piece of fiction could invoke such melancholia. Can I use the excuse of being in shock during the actual event? That it seemed like a movie?
I have no excuse.
Flash back: The second half of 1994, my then boyfriend and I living in the East Village, 23 years old and clueless. We were broke most of the time, not much into clubbing, so about 4 out of 7 nights we would walk. Never north.. only through the Village or SoHo and eventually our meandering would lead us to the Towers. No matter what path we’d take, it was our destination. I remember many nights sitting on this ratty red paint peeled bench staring across the river at Jersey, specifically the Colgate sign, and just talking about everything. Hours sped by and we’d drag our sorry asses back to the train and to our tiny apartment. I remember nights where I’d hug the side of Tower One, pressing against it and lift my head as far back as I could and stare up until the glass met the sky and I’d get so dizzy I’d stumble back. I remember the night that we decided to marry, I remember exchanging our vows leaning against the railing staring up, always up.
I haven’t been to New York in 13 years, I can’t even imagine a New York without those buildings.
There are 43 ‘Incrediblys’ and 63 ‘Extremelys’ within this book. Does anyone really ever use those adverbs anymore? Is anything ever extreme or incredible enough for us? My daughter has taken to using ‘perfectly’ in almost every sentence and it brings a smile to my face each time.
The journey that the boy, Oskar, takes in this book is beautiful. The need to feel close to his father who died in the attacks, to spend just a bit more time with him. While Oskar is a bit unbelievable as a character, I felt that that was soon overshadowed by the images presented. I know I do this a lot in reviews, but I can’t help it: Lines like “Being with him made my brain quiet. I didn’t have to invent a thing.” or “ My insides don’t match up with my outsides.” and “It takes a life to learn how to live.”
I’m a sucker for a good line.
When Oskar is anxious he describes it as ‘wearing heavy boots’ and when his Grandmother likes something or in a good mood she uses the term ‘that was One Hundred Dollars’ and then there’s a whole mention of a ‘Birdseed shirt’ that I’m still unclear about but enjoy the imagery of.
But, this isn’t just Oskar’s journey.. this is also about Oskar’s grandparents and that piece is as strong as his story, sometimes stronger. I won’t go into that anymore, I’ll let you read about it.
Some have called this ‘gimmicky’ or ‘precious’ but I was truly moved by this story and combined with the images presented, it will stay with me for a very long time to come. As will 1994. (less)
Stamp it on my forehead, folks. I'm here, I'm a blubbering fool, get used to it.
I didn't have high expectations going into this novel, I'd heard it wa...moreStamp it on my forehead, folks. I'm here, I'm a blubbering fool, get used to it.
I didn't have high expectations going into this novel, I'd heard it wasn't as good as 'The Book Thief'(pfft...whole box of kleenix on that one). But, I finished it in 7 hours and what can I say?
Okay, I can see the flaws, I mean..I'm not a stupid sap. I could see the formula... I knew what was coming. But, the writing makes up for it.
Plus, a 19-year-old-suffering-from-low-self-esteem-who-has-a-severe-case-of-unrequited-love-that-is-moved-enough-by-circumstances-presented-to-him-that-he-does-whatever-he-can-to-improve-their-situations?? HELLO??? Um...my 19 year old self would have been utterly smitten. With lines like this: "The yawn of a girl can be so beautiful it makes you cringe". swoon. It didn't change my life---but it gave me a nice reprieve.
Okay, my groupie side is showing. Maybe this is a 'chick' book, maybe I've never matured past the age of 15, maybe I'm one of those dreamy doe=eyed girls that you snarky bastards make fun of.
I've got a pint of Chunky Monkey, When Harry met Sally cued, and Peter Gabriel's 'Your Eyes' on infinite repeat.
Okay, I’m totally going to ruin this book for you---major spoiler alert coming up, folks. pssst… All the Presidents mentioned in the book, DIE. I know...moreOkay, I’m totally going to ruin this book for you---major spoiler alert coming up, folks. pssst… All the Presidents mentioned in the book, DIE. I know, right? You’re saying ‘Aww, cheese and rice! Kim! What’s the point in reading this book then?'
Well, lemme tell you….
This book has been quite an educational journey for me. In both that, I’ve learned all this great stuff about the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley, but also in that I’ve learned that people think I’m a freak.
I’ve been carrying this around for the last few weeks, trying to read a page or two on the Shuttle between work campuses or while I scarf down my dressing free rabbit food… and of course people ask that dreadful question: ‘What are you reading?’ and of course I enthusiastically show them the cover and say ‘OMG! (okay, I actually say ‘Oh My God!’) it’s this great book about this woman who takes this pilgrimage to the sites of the assassinations of three presidents and the homes of their assassins!’ and then I get the look. You know the one, right? The ‘how come I know you?’ look or the ‘You are not what I thought you were’ look and I’m thinking, sometimes to myself and sometimes aloud ‘What did you expect of me? Am I really that soccer mom-ish that I wouldn’t be interested that Guiteau was involved in a sex cult in Upstate NY (that would later go on to design the gravy boat I inherited from my grandmother) but got so frustrated that none of the young girls would sleep with him that he later went and shot President Garfield? (okay, not really, but it’s out there). Am I so that boring that you wouldn’t think that I would find that absofuckinglutely fascinating?’ and then I hmpfh off and continue reading my book with a piece of sprout daintily sitting on my cleavage.
It’s all good.
Then I get depressed that this woman is my age (okay, it’s a little better that she’s 11 months and six days older than me, but not by much) and that she’s done so much and can still readily admit that she loves Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows (umm..who doesn’t?)and that the most violent thing that she’s done is shove a guy who spilled a beer on her at a Sleater-Kinney concert. I want to be her BFF. (But, I want her to take voice lessons first because I would seriously rip her voice box out if I had to actually listen to her speak)
Other things that I Love About This Book
--Her obsessions with all historical plaques. Because who doesn’t slow down when they see one of those signs on the side of the road and go ‘ooh! Was there some sort of carnage committed here? Did someone important die?’ One of my jobs in college was working at one of those souvenier-y type carts in Boston and for a summer, we were set up right by the Boston Massacre site. I loved watching tourists come and gawk at this. (they had a neat red line painted on the ground to lead them around to all things historical) I can see Sarah (yep, first name basis with her, so what?) reading from her copy of The Townshend Acts.
--Her description of Emma Goldman (Or should I say Emma Goldman’s description) losing her virginity and I quote: ”For Example, in one breathtaking paragraph she is (I think) losing her virginity to Berkman (she had been married but to an impotent husband); meanwhile, what’s going through her head is the question, “Can idealists be cruel?” It’s thrilling, even though I did want to reach into the page and pat her head, breaking it to her that, Oh my dear, idealists are the cruelest monsters of them all.”
--Her admission that if she could, she would go back into history and rub out her great great grandfather who had joined up with Quantrill’s Bushwackers and was involved in the Lawrence Massacre of 1863 where at least 182 men and boys were killed. (read about it)
--The fact that I cried after reading her walk around the National Mall.
--And finally, that Sarah has made me drop everything to run to Google many, many times.
Then.. ahh.. my poor husband, who at first gave me the stink eye because I was ranting and raving about how great it is that an author can put this historical crap into a book that I would actually read and enjoy and learn from while he stares at the Dos Passos and Gore Vidal books that I’ve hidden so inconspicuously under the coffee table all the while saying ‘I’ll get to it, honest!’. And now that he’s also interested in reading it well, since I started talking about how she compares McKinley’s dealings with the Spanish American War and Bush’s dealings with Operation Iraqi Oil, I take every stoplight opportunity to tell him about the part that I just read involving how cute she and scientist who works at the Funeral Museum find John Wilkes Booth and the conversation that they have about him.
I’m sorry, honey. I’ll shut up now, but let me just tell you this ONE more thing, okay?’ (less)
I love Sarah Vowell. I can't say that enough. She re-affirms my belief that someone out there gets 'it'. That... it's not crazy to have these thoughts...moreI love Sarah Vowell. I can't say that enough. She re-affirms my belief that someone out there gets 'it'. That... it's not crazy to have these thoughts. (well, some of them, anyway). I'm not even sure that 're-affirms' is the word I'm looking for. I don't know... I'm just extremely grateful...
I'll admit that I”m not one to eagerly debate American politics, the economy or foreign policy, I'm just not articu-literary enough in that way. As you can see, I like to make up words and then people don't really take me seriously, you know? I've always just figured that what I felt was common sense---I just assume that people, when presented with the facts, can see how inane, well... the last eight years have been.
A majority of The Partly Cloudy Patriot revolves around the 2000 Presidential election. Back when I was naive-when I thought that the choice was so obvious that any other outcome was inconceivable. Damn---was I proven wrong. There is this one part where she is describing the 2000 inauguration that comes to mind:
“I told myself I came down to 'protest'. But I choose to display my dissent by bursting into tears as Bush finishes up his oath. Alas, my tears are my picket sign. It's happened. It's over. He's it.”
Oh, I just want to hug her.
And then I read the essay The Partly Cloudy Patriot, her narrative of NYC immediately after 9/11...her passion for the idea of 'America'... when she has a hissy fit because the VFW placed a flag on her lawn during a 4th of July parade and called them up screaming 'The whole point of that goddamn flag is that people don't stick flags in my yard without asking me!' and then goes on to quote Thomas Paine???
I will admit that I didn't cry over the 2000 election, I think I was too stunned. It wasn't going to happen, you know? People were going to smarten up? It was surreal. I can't say the same for 2004, there were tears, soon replaced by complete disillusionment.
Sarah's essay entitled 'Dear Dead Congressman' is my favorite. I think that all, ALL, high schoolers should read this. An homage to her first voting experience, a wonderful recount of Letterman's tirade about being called a 'non-voting republican' (Have you heard about this? Oh, please google it) and finishing up with:
“During the New Hampshire primary I got in a screaming fight with candidate Gary Bauer – okay, I screamed, he didn't – who had just whipped out a little paperback copy of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution out of his pocket and said that anyone who doesn't believe in God, doesn't believe in those documents because of the phrase 'endowed by their Creator.' I told him that, on the contrary, those documents for me have superceded God, that they are my Bible.”
This collection of essays was bittersweet. I felt her frustration, I enjoyed her family stories, but mostly, I'm so so so appreciative of her. She gives me real hope. She is what is getting me through these next 32 days of mavericks, joe six-packs, and hockey moms.
I’m torn on The Wordy Shipmates. I’m still a relative newbie to Sarah Vowell. With Assassination Vacation, I had that new love vibe go...moreOkay, here goes:
I’m torn on The Wordy Shipmates. I’m still a relative newbie to Sarah Vowell. With Assassination Vacation, I had that new love vibe going on. All that gushy ‘You’re so awesome, I’m so glad that I found you, where have you been all my life’ feeling. With The Partly Cloudy Patriot, I moved to that next step in a relationship, where you start to learn about the person and some of it reminds you why you fell in love and then sometimes it’s all like ‘My God, you can stop talking now. I know enough about your weird ass family, thankyouverymuch.’ But the love is still there.
So, this is my third venture---I realize I’m missing out on the early years—I’ll get around to it, promise. Initially, I was pleased as punch (??) I thought ‘WHOO!! NEW ENGLAND!! WHOO!!’ because, if you know anything about me, you know that I am a self-proclaimed New England elitist. I’ve lived my entire life here, save a few years in my early 20s when I thought to venture a wee bit south. I have learned that I cannot function outside of it. (Bear with my N.E. rant for a moment) I find that when I leave New England that people are so SLOW. They walk slow, talk slow, and are TOO laid back.. c’mon people! Where’s the urgency?!? We’re movers! We’re founders! WE ROCK. We’ve given the world Stephen King, Harvard, Larry Bird and that guy from the Patriots. Ben & Jerry’s and Robert Frost. Think about Aerosmith and Boston Crème Pie, think johnny cakes, the Farrelly Brothers, Arthur Miller, and Noah-freaking-Webster.
Yeah, we’re pretty awesome.
So, anyway… I was super excited to discover that Sarah’s (yes, she is Sarah to me, what of it?) new book was based on the Puritans settling down in what will be New England in the 1630’s. I spent my formative years in Boston… I followed that red line up and down Tremont and walked the cobblestoned streets of Beacon Hill. I got a really bad perm in Charleston and saw my first Rocky Horror show in Harvard Square. This was home.
Yeah, so, it starts off with this great part about John Cotton’s speech to the Puritans about to set sail to Boston. It’s all ‘Rah! Rah! Yay God! Go forth and spread the Word!’—it’s pure Vowell from page one:
’By the time Cotton says amen, he has fought Mexico for Texas, bought Alaska from the Russians, and dropped napalm on Vietnam. Then he lays a wreath on Custer’s grave and revs past Wounded Knee. Then he claps when the Marquis de Lafayette tells Congress that ‘someday America will save the world.” Then he smiles when Abraham Lincoln calls the United States “the last best hope of earth.” Then he frees Cuba, which would be news to Cuba. Then he signs the lease on Guantanamo Bay.’
Then there’s the City on a Hill speech of John Winthop’s, which further solidifies how awesome we New Englanders are. And the whole Reagan comparison (vintage Vowell) which Shelly does a great job going into in her review. I’m practically weeping because I’m so happy.
Then…well…umm… I got bored. (sorta like you guys are, if you’re still reading this, right?)
I’m sorry, there’s only so much Puritanical Speak I can handle before I start to fade. Maybe I get sidetracked when she mentions the Brady Bunch Thanksgiving episode and decide to watch TVLand for a bit… Maybe I nap… who knows?
It takes a month before I can get through this and I’m about to give up, admit my lack of retaining anything that isn’t shiny or produced by Norman Lear (who’s from CT…awesome.) When she starts in on Anne Hutchinson; then I’m back in the game.
Her passages re: Anne and Mary Dyer are wonderful. And I’m not just oohing and ahhing because ‘Yo! Women Rule!’ or anything (okay, maybe just a little…) I think that Sarah does a great job with her interpretation of Anne’s trial. And the banter between Winthrop and Hutchinson.
(Genealogy buffs might enjoy learning that this lopsided battle of the wits will be repeated between Winthrop and Hutchinson’s descendents during the presidential debates of 2004. Winthrop’s heir, John Kerry, debates Hutchinson’s great-something grandson, George W. Bush. Only in this instance it’s the Hutchinson who is flummoxed by his opponent’s sensical answers. Bush’s constant blinking appears on television as if he thinks the answers to the questions he’s being asked are tattooed inside his eyelids.)
I’m definitely pleased that I stuck it out. Especially when I get to the last 4 pages when she talks about Kennedy and brings it all back to Winthrop’s City on the Hill speech:
’Then [Kennedy:] boils down the two phrases from “A Model of Christian Charity” that mean the most to him: ‘We must always consider, [Winthrop:] said, that we shall be as a city upon a hill. That eyes of all people are upon us.’ I fall for those words every time I hear them, even though they’re dangerous, even though they’re arrogant, even though they’re rude.’
Because, yeah, we New Englanders are proud (and sometimes rude.) And even if we sprout from crazed religious fervors that you know lead to gossipy hormonal teens like Winona Ryder to accuse Joan Allen and have her burned at the stake all for Daniel Day Lewis… we’re still cool. (less)
I’m a freaking mess. I realize this and I accept it.
Why, Jonathan Safran Foer? Why? Why do you do this t...moreSometimes reading makes me so angry
I’m a freaking mess. I realize this and I accept it.
Why, Jonathan Safran Foer? Why? Why do you do this to me? And why the hell are you so young? I know that some call you gimmicky and think that you are just a phosphoresce in the pannikin (yes, I, too, have access to Thesaurus.com) but I just…just…spleen them. They can read their Anderson and their Coetzee and leave us dreamers alone. I am ‘Team Foer’; others be damned. (I still wish you weren’t so freaking young, though)
The story is fragmented, told through letters and hodgepodges of writings that might or might not be parts of a novel. There is the story about the people of Trachimbrod, which might be Trochenbrod, a city in western Ukraine that was decimated during WWII by a Nazi Invasion. There is the story of Alex and Jonathan and their journey to find out Who is Augustine? And to thank her for saving Jonathan’s lineage. There is the story of Grandfather and Herschel (copious amounts of tears during that one).
And then there are the stories within the stories. The story of Brod, Jonathan’s great great great great great grandmother and her struggle with loving the idea of love and her 613 sadnesses ( “Mirror Sadness”, “Sadness of not knowing if your body is normal”, “Beauty Sadness”, “Sadness of Hands”, “Sadness of knowing that your body is normal”, “Kissing Sadness”, “Sadness of wanting sadness”, “Sadness of feeling the need to create beautiful things”, What if? Sadness”, “Sadness”, “Secret Sadness.”)
The story of the would-be ‘Augustine’ and her house with its many labeled boxes ( ‘Silver/Perfume/Pinwheels’, ‘Watches/Winter’, ‘Darkness’, ‘Pillowcases’, ‘Poetry/Nails/Pisces’, ‘Dust’, 'Menorahs/Inks/Keys', 'Death of a Firstborn', 'In Case')
I loved them all. I love the awakenings and the not-truths. I love the humor and the tragedies and the friendships. I am giddy and heavy hearted. I am in love with the idea.
What I loved most, what I clung to after I finished the book, was this:
Jews have Six Senses Touch, taste, sight, smell, hearing….memory. While Gentiles experience and process the world through the traditional senses, and see memory only as a second-order means of interpreting events, for Jews memory is no less primary than the prick of a pin, or its silver glimmer, or the taste of the blood it pulls from the finger. The Jew is pricked by a pin and remembers other pins. It is only by tracing the pinprick back to other pinpricks—when his mother tried to fix his sleeve while his arm was still in it, when his grandfather’s fingers fell from stroking his great-grandfather’s damp forehead, when Abraham tested the knife point to be sure Isaac would feel no pain---that the Jew is able to know why it hurts. When a Jew encounters a pin, he asks “What does it remember like?”
The idea of memory as a sense. Okay, I’ve admitted it before and will again and again. I’m a shiksa—a French-Canadian/German/NH bred—Shiksa. I can’t fathom the horrors of having the Holocaust in my past, I won’t even begin to pretend to imagine the ramifications. But I can appreciate this idea: “What does it remember like?” Aren’t we all tied to the past? Aren’t all of our future actions predetermined by a memory? “Everything is the way it is because everything was the way it was.”
So much for Free Will.
At one point, Alex begs Jonathan when writing their story: “I beseech you to forgive us, and to make us better than we are. Make us good.”
We have that power in writing. To take away the bad and to recreate. We usually choose not to. It has to be gritty…fairytales are for the young…we need to set the story straight… we need to exorcise our demons….and so on. Make us good. God, that just about killed me.
And this is why I will always defend Foer. His ability to bring me to this awareness and to break my heart in 300 pages or less.
This book is about two things that I know very little about.
Brothers & Boxing.
So, I thought maybe I'd sort of float through it. Large font, li...moreWow.
This book is about two things that I know very little about.
Brothers & Boxing.
So, I thought maybe I'd sort of float through it. Large font, little over 200 pages... an overnight shift... no biggie.
Markus, I'm sorry I gave you such little credit. What was I thinking? I'd read I Am the Messenger. I bawled over The Book Thief. So, why was I so surprised by this? Maybe because I didn't want to believe that someone so young could deliver like this from the get-go.
Again, sorry about that.
So, yeah this is about 2 brothers, Ruben and Cameron Wolfe. It's about pride, fear, complacency, ego and a small Pomeranian named Miffy. I really could go on or you could you know, read the book. Here's one of my favorite quotes, that's one of the things that I love so much about Markus.. the way his lines translate so well into everyday kinda situations:
'Smile with instinct, then lick your wounds in the darkest corners. Trace the scars back to your own fingers and remember them.'
Like I said earlier, I know little about brothers (and boxing) but I have a son, he's 4, his favorite word is 'awesome' and he knows all the lyrics to 'Renegades of Funk.' And I pray to any deity of your choosing that he turns out as amazing as Ruben, Cameron or Markus.