I was given this book as a joke way back in the 80s by my friend Derek. Derek was the kind of guy that, when most people met him, usually people said,I was given this book as a joke way back in the 80s by my friend Derek. Derek was the kind of guy that, when most people met him, usually people said, "Wow, what an asshole!". But if you could get past his usual abrasive personality and predeliction for scathing reparte, Derek was a great friend; at times very soulful... almost always funny. So he gave this book to me after hearing the story of how, at age 16, I had driven the white 1967 Pontiac Bonneville stationwagon I had been given for Christmas into a vineyard. I did not yet have my drivers license at age 16... and some might argue I was unqualified to be driving. Okay, the fact that I wound up driving into a vineyard is probably a dead giveaway that I was unqualified to be driving. But I was 16 and, you know, I knew everything then. I blame the CocaCola, which rolled off the seat onto the floor, requiring me to lean down to find it. Nevermind that I forgot to keep watching where I was going. I blame the CocaCola.
Anyway... the point is... Derek gave the book to me as a joke. A pointed joke. A jibe at my troubled history, which was a source of constant entertainment to us all. Well, to be fair, we all afforded each other with fairly constant entertainment by our rather ridiculous mishaps. But I may or may not have been the most ridiculous of all.
However, ultimately, I had the last laugh. The book turned out to be quite wonderful when I got around to reading it 10 years later. Having actually learned to drive by then... and mostly having figured out how to keep my eyes on the road... I realized when I read this book that I actually mostly practiced Zen Driving. The way of finding the rhythm of the road. To be in synch with the hum and flow of traffic. The find one's own place in the scheme of things, relaxed and present, ready to respond to what breaks and curls and recedes. Like surfing.
I may need to find another copy of this book and re-read it. I'm fairly certain that it's not terribly Zen to drive around thinking that other people are not driving in the correct rhythm, and that if they would just get it right I could drive the way I should be able to, goddamn it! It also is probably not Zen to shout obscenities to people for not signalling soon enough, changing lanes too slowly, and driving *exactly* at the speed limit in a no-passing zone on a two lane road. Yeah, I'm definitely no Thich Nhat Hahn. In the Buddha Dharma Club they would totally take my saffron robes away and send me out to the hut to meditate on a single kernel of rice for 97 hours with no space heater.
But hey, maybe if everyone else reads this book and drives the Zen Way I will never be bothered by crappy drivers again!! Yeah, that's the ticket. I think that would be very Zen. Right?...more
I saw this author interviewed on PBS and quickly decided I had to read his book. So glad that I did. This man, a former British soldier who now worksI saw this author interviewed on PBS and quickly decided I had to read his book. So glad that I did. This man, a former British soldier who now works at Harvard, walked across Afghanistan entirely on foot in 2002-03. His story is a deep look into the culture of Afghanistan outside the cities. Basically what we hear about on the news takes place inside the cities. But most of the country is comprised of villages. When we talk about "winning" in Afghanistan we need to realize what that means. This book gives a very important insight into that reality.
Rory Stewart is advising President Obama about a better way to approach the idea of "success" in Afghanistan. I think he would be wise to listen and incorporate his insights into our plans there.
Great book... great read... I recommend this book for every American who wants to really know what is going on in another part of the world completely different from ours....more
In the troubled early years of motherhood this book was like a beacon of light into a dark place for me. So much happened in my mind, body and soul whIn the troubled early years of motherhood this book was like a beacon of light into a dark place for me. So much happened in my mind, body and soul when I became a mother that I didn't understand. This book was the first inkling I had into the profound metamorphasis that had taken place for me. No one talks about the spiritual transformation pregnancy can engender, at least no one where I came from. Our culture doesn't really acknowledge the role that mammalian forces play in it all. This book touched on those things for the first time for me and started me on a long and grateful road into the deeper mysteries of being alive on the planet in body, mind and spirit....more
This book was given to me by my writing mentor and friend, Thomas Centolella. During the period of time he gifted it to me I was going through probablThis book was given to me by my writing mentor and friend, Thomas Centolella. During the period of time he gifted it to me I was going through probably the most difficult period of my adult life, my divorce and custody trial. The poems collected here were some of the most sustaining pieces I have read in my long love affair with poetry. I love how the structure of the collection is a movement from dusk into night, dawn into day, day into dusk again. It is one of the most elegant and archetypal arrangements of poems I have come across. Here is one that he marked for me, and has remained one of my favorite fragments of all time:
If each day falls inside each night, there exists a well where clarity is imprisoned.
We need to sit on the rim of the well of darkness and fish for fallen light with patience.
~ Pablo Neruda Translated from the Spanish by William O'Daly
and from Mary Oliver:
there is still somewhere deep within you a beast shouting that the earth is exactly what it wanted -
this is one of the best dystopic/futuristic/apocalytic fics I've read so far. Definitely right up my pessimistic little alley.
the relationship betweenthis is one of the best dystopic/futuristic/apocalytic fics I've read so far. Definitely right up my pessimistic little alley.
the relationship between Snowman (protagonist) and Crake gleams with repressed homoeroticism, which adds a tension to the story that is more compelling than it would be otherwise. Complicated even further by their relationship with Oryx, it turns a blaring light on the flaws which drive humans to damage the world the way we do: jealousy, arrogance, revenge, lust, greed, apathy.
the science behind the scenario is well-researched (as one would expect from Ms. Atwood). I found this tale to be less overtly bleak than "Handmaid's Tale". However, the images of genetic engineering gone awry are not for the squeamish. One thing I don't want to be when I grow up is a pigoon. Nor do I wish to consume any Chickie Nobs. :::shudder:::
This book is the poster child for what we ought to avoid. The cynicals in the crowd may speculate it's our future. It certainly is a candidate for shadows yet to come. Oh that we are smarter than that....more
This was the first non-fiction history book that read so much like a good novel that I screamed through it almost without pausing for breath. I knew bThis was the first non-fiction history book that read so much like a good novel that I screamed through it almost without pausing for breath. I knew bits and pieces about World War I before this... but the persistent idiocy of so many involved simply held me riveted to the pages. One of my favorite bits is how the French kept insisting on wearing their red uniforms as they charged through field and forest toward machine gun fire. They just couldn't wrap their heads around the idea that "elan" just wasn't going to make up for the fact that they were bright, shiny targets waddling towards their quick death. That small piece of trivia about this war pretty much sums it up. A foreshadowed beginning to the 20th Century... carnage all around, stupidity, technology rolling over the past like so many broken eggs... I am always reminded of that Loony Toons Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd scene where one starts out with a pistol, the other gets a shotgun, the other gets a cannon, the other brings in a nuclear weapon... or something like that. This book is a perfect window into the character of various European nations... things have changed somewhat since then... but not a lot (if you know what I mean).
Best history lesson ever. Tuchman's finest writing. Highly recommended. Should be required reading....more