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)
Not often does a book have the ability to tranform words into emotion, in a 'good' book you can get sucked in, but you still feel like a bystander, li...moreNot often does a book have the ability to tranform words into emotion, in a 'good' book you can get sucked in, but you still feel like a bystander, listening to a story. From the start Khaled Husseini made me feel the love, jealousy, anguish, remorse, fear... that Amir speaks to us about. I avoided this book for, what a year? Why? Because I'm anti-hype---it always lets me down, so why bother? But, too many people whose opinion I respect raved about this- and i was not to be disappointed. (less)
You know, most days I sit around being angry. I’m in the car, I’m doing dishes, I’m waiting at the dentist (25 minutes after my scheduled appointment...moreYou know, most days I sit around being angry. I’m in the car, I’m doing dishes, I’m waiting at the dentist (25 minutes after my scheduled appointment time.) and the thing is I’m not really conscious of it. It’s just there. It might present itself in my clenched jaw or that weird stabbing that runs right through my chest and out my back (I’ve been meaning to get that checked out, btw.)
So, I’ve been trying to analyze this. It’s like I’m mad about the ‘what might have beens’, or I’m mad that I’m such a wuss about taking chances. Mostly I’m just mad. Where’s that whole quality of life thing fit in, anyway?
So, when I picked up this book I wasn’t really sure what I was going to get. I honestly thought it might be one of those self help books, sort of in the vein of Fast Food Nation--something that would try to get me to change my wicked, wicked ways. That’s a pretty cynical outlook---I think I need more help than I originally thought.
I loved this book. I loved every single character in this book. From Anhil, the existentialist donut man, to the overworked ex-wife (she who shall not be named, I guess), to misguided, sweet Ben, to the misunderstood, sweet Nic, to Cynthia---who I can so relate to---but most of all, I love Richard.
Richard is that guy. That person that you sort of hope to be. He’s far, far from perfect, basically a fuckup. After a somewhat traumatic event, he, like most people -- I assume, starts to analyze his life and through a series of incredible events, you start to see his goodness. That thing that people think that they might be capable of, but either because they’re not presented with the situations or because they’re conscious of being ‘good’ then, well, it’s less real, right?
Yeah, I don’t expect you to get it. I’m still sorting it out.
Okay, do you ever get that feeling? That sense of… oh, I can’t find the right words, I can only describe it as a warm fuzzy. It’s this sense of childish hope, that people ARE good---and not good like someone letting you cut in line at the grocery store because you have 2 items to their 20 or someone following the correct etiquette of ‘merging into traffic’, but have you experienced true goodness? I have. I know I have. I’ve remembered coming home and being so excited to retell the story of something that renewed my faith in mankind. I remember grinning, not just smiling or smirking but full on ear-to-ear, pearly whites, make your face hurt, grinning.
Of course I can’t even give you one example of that kind of warm fuzzy.
Isn’t that telling? Hmmm…
So, Richard embarks on this crazy, sometimes too surreal to be true, but maybe it can be, sort of journey. And he becomes The Good Samaritan, The Good Neighbor, The Anonymous Benefactor. He’s the kind of guy I would hope to be if money were never an issue.
Yet, through all this you see him struggle with himself. His fear of dying, of not being a better son, brother, husband, father. This is what makes me just want to be in his presence, like maybe I’d catch some of what he is. I’d be tempted to use the word ‘aura’ but it might just be the Californian influence within the book, This is what made me hate to see the book end.
Bittersweet? Does that work? Hell, I’m going to throw it out there.
There’s this great scene towards the end. Richard takes his 17 yr. old estranged son to DisneyLand. You can see that Ben is fighting something, trying to recapture some sense of his lost childhood. He’s fighting with his father, yelling at him while riding the teacups or waiting for Space Mountain and Richard is taking it, feeling like he deserves it. Ben’s trying to work out all these emotions, worried about an expiration date or something---afraid to see this day end. And there’s this scene:
They get in line for the driving ride. You must be at least three years old and so high to go on this ride.
“Aren’t we a little old?”
“How can we be too old? We never did it before,” Ben says.
I love this sentiment. It brings tears to my eyes and gives me that hope that someday that warm fuzzy will be more than a passing flicker. Or at least that I’ll be able to recall it next time.
Wow... I wasn't expecting much from this book... but Wow... what a great love story... I know... a sappy thing to write, but this totally sucked me in...moreWow... I wasn't expecting much from this book... but Wow... what a great love story... I know... a sappy thing to write, but this totally sucked me in. Maybe because the characters were similar to me (age and tastes) and maybe because the story is so bittersweet. I thought, huh, time travel... okay, I'll give it a shot, but um... did I mention, WOW. These characters stuck in my psyche for days (still) after I finished the book. Mucho impressed.(less)
If you’re being kind, that is. I’m the one that says ’Seriously?’ when being told of some tragic event--like someone...moreYou might think of me as a cynic.
If you’re being kind, that is. I’m the one that says ’Seriously?’ when being told of some tragic event--like someone would actually make up the horrific thing. I’m the one that views the whole process of death--the telling, the grieving, the service of any kind, the ’after’-- as playing out like I’m in a soap opera bubble. Which camera should I look into when I break down again? Strike one against me.
Strike Two: I've never been much of a fan of Joan Didion... I think it began in college…being forced to read Why I Write and On Keeping a Notebook. I didn’t enjoy being told, essay-like, how I should go about writing. It’s not my thing. That didn’t help that urge to rebel that goes along with college either. My Didion backlash was further proven when Up Close and Personal came out. Wait, you want to add Jessica Savitch to the list? Awww. Hell no. It just wasn’t happening.
Strike Three (??): Maurice bought this for me a few Christmases ago. I winced, like I usually did when receiving a book from him. Must I relive the college debacle? I can’t just NOT read it, because he WILL grill me on it. Buck up, Kim… read the damn thing already. This was 5 years ago and I just recently found it in the back of the bookshelf. I did end up reading it then… and I thanked Maurice time and again for giving me such a gift. Because, that’s what it truly was. Words can hold such extraordinary power..
So, here’s an enigma: Can cynics really believe in magical thinking? What is magical thinking anyway? I mean… yeah, I’ve read the Psychology Today articles, I’ve gone to freedictionary.com. Is it something that can actually be described or do you need to experience to fully get it? Talk to me.
See, because now I’m either going crazy or I’m seeing the signs. I’m remembering in distorted ways… did that really happen or is my head just trying to make me believe… am I replaying the events because I’m looking for clues?
Maurice is dead. I can type that. I can be matter-of-fact about it via keyboard. Hell, I can put it in a damn book review. But, you get me to actually SAY the words and I’m using the ol’ ‘Maurice has passed’, ‘Maurice is gone’, anything but the ‘D’ word. Like it may make it less real.
“In the midst of life we are in death.” Not just some awesome Smiths lyrics… but a common graveside prayer--and the rest? “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Still looking for clues. As I’m reading the first few pages of TYOMT again, I’m struck at how similar the process is:
“ Later I realized that I must have repeated the details of what happened to everyone who came to the house in those first weeks, all those friends and relatives who brought food and made drinks and laid out plates on the dining room table for however many people were around at lunch or dinner time, all those who picked up the plates and froze the leftovers and ran the dishwasher and filled our (I could not yet think ‘my’) otherwise empty house even after I had gone into the bedroom (our bedroom, the one in which still lay on a sofa a faded terrycloth XL robe bought in the 1970s at Richard Carroll in Beverly Hills) and shut the door. Those moments when I was abruptly overtaken by exhaustion are what I remember most clearly about the first days and weeks. I have no memory of telling anyone the details, but I must have done so, because everyone seemed to know them.”
This book is full of this type of sameness. Two peas in a pod, Joan and I. I may not be keeping his shoes because when he comes home he might need them (like Joan) but I’m still hanging on to that bottle of Moxie in the fridge…I’m still wondering if him telling me that morning that he wanted to hear my voice because it soothed him was really him telling me that I should have… what? What could I have done?
Joan has other tragedies… memories that stretch out to before I was born. She is insightful in such creative, tenacious, concise ways that sometimes I just want to curse her for bringing me there… for making me believe and start to question every action/memory/event of the last 20 years looking for the damn signs… because they were there, right?
In the midst of life we are in death. Don’t fucking forget that. (less)
I was listening to NPR one rainy day in my car and there was, I think, a This American Life segment that mentioned this and it stuck... Amy Rosenthal...more
I was listening to NPR one rainy day in my car and there was, I think, a This American Life segment that mentioned this and it stuck... Amy Rosenthal gets it. And I hate her for it. I hate her and I love her. I should BE her… but that would require motivation and inspiration and for me to go back six years and kick her butt into NOT writing this so that I could.
Just from the cover… ’I have not survived against all odds. I have not lived to tell. I have not witnessed the extraordinary. This is my story.’ How cool is that? And when you actually delve into the book… wow. It’s more than just a book, it’s a collection. It’s like scrap booking, but wicked cool (sorry scrapbookers…it’s true)
There are a few things that I really really want to do but fail at miserably.
Drinking tea. I so want to be a tea drinker. It looks sophisticated and homey and everything that I want to be. I even have a shirt that says ‘Make Tea Not War’ What a hypocrite I am! But, I’ve tried the stuff and the after taste is NASTY. I want to sandpaper my tongue just to get it out of my mouth. So uncool of me.
Knit. Okay, so I’m trying to remedy this. I have an incredible knitter buying me books and good yarn and good needles and being patient with me trying to get me to remember how to actually DO it (dig under and then AROUND then under? Behind? UGH!) I want to be the person who shows off her wicked awesome handmade socks. I want someone to comment on my incredibly comfy blanket. Yeah, I want to be freakin’ Martha Stewart, okay? Sue me.
Keeping a Journal. Yes, this is the big hang-my-head-in-shame moment. Why is this such a thorn in my side? Obviously I love writing. Obviously I don’t seem to have an trouble talking about myself. I think I know what it is… it’s the whole rigorously punctuality of it all. Seriously. I have issues with going to the gym and it literally takes threats of death to get me there… so to ask me to log in details of my life, however easy that may seem… it’s so not. What Amy does here is take ordinary people, places, things and events and writes an entry about it that’s totally subjective yet could totally be relevant to you too. (Hate Her) Her insights to everyday musings (does that make sense?) are incredible. She has a police sketch artist draw her with only the descriptions that her husband and her father gives him--what she looks like through their eyes. The entry about her husband made me weep (page 117)
This is her entry under ‘Stupid Slow Driver’:
“When I see a slow driver, I have to pull up alongside him to see what this person looks like, to confirm my suspicions. I am certain I will find a distinctly stupid-looking person. Ah yes, he looks totally stupid. Stupid slow driver.”
And this one follows, it’s for ‘Sunday‘:
“Though this has never materialized, I still think of Sunday as the day I will stay home and make a large vat of chili for the neighbors, and also boil a sack of potatoes so we can use them in various ways throughout the busy work week.”
This is exactly what good reading' is about. A story doesn’t need a opening paragraph, plot, settings, summary. It doesn’t have to even contain words. It has to jar you, it has to pull you in and make you laugh, cry and relate. And who can't relate to having an obsessive need for coffee and trying to balance that with raising children, listening to the radio, remembering that you need trash bags when you hit the grocery store and is it this week that your kid has yoga? I walk that line daily.
If you liked this book you should definitely visit the website.
I love this book... I love Lorrie Moore.. she made me realize that there are people like me out there and I am eternally grateful to her for this.. a...moreI love this book... I love Lorrie Moore.. she made me realize that there are people like me out there and I am eternally grateful to her for this.. 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)