update: Well-researched and written, a fascinating account of six white women who passionately involved themselves, to varying degrees of success, in t...moreupdate: Well-researched and written, a fascinating account of six white women who passionately involved themselves, to varying degrees of success, in the lives of Blacks in Harlem.
Heard the author speak yesterday at the Mount, Edith Wharton's home. Highly informative, passionate and engaging. Looks like a great read. (less)
The sort of story that once started, I have to finish in nearly one sitting. A fascinating account of a woman whose childhood was spent in part among...moreThe sort of story that once started, I have to finish in nearly one sitting. A fascinating account of a woman whose childhood was spent in part among monkeys in the Colombian jungle (as a five-year-old, she was kidnapped, then abandoned in the jungle). Later, surrendering herself to a stranger, she is sold to become a slave-worker in a brothel but her wits, along with a kindly neighbor's warning, keep her from actually becoming a prostitute. Street life and more follow but Marina's wits, well-honed in the art of survival, as well her need for genuine human connection, keep her safe for the most part and alive.
I am fascinated by wild child stories: what makes us human? What makes us 'civilized'? What are we without the human family? Marina's account of her time among monkeys adds to my appreciation of animal intelligence. More than once she is saved by a member of the clan: once, terribly ill from something she ate, she is brought to water by an elder, made to drink and hence, vomit.
Some of the other goodreads reviews doubt the veracity of the account. I do not, or at least no more than I doubt other memoirs to be 100% "true." Intrinsic in the act of writing about one's life is embellishment, and the line between memory and imagination is not always clearly drawn in our mind. But those who doubt, it seems to me, fail to consider both the incredible cruelty humans beings can have for others, the mercenary ends we engage in, the extent of human trafficking, and the capacity that the animal world, in particular primates, have for connection, empathy, and awareness.
There is one aspect that I'm not sure I believe and that is the actual length of time Marina lived with the Capuchin monkeys. Looking back with her daughter, she calculates time in terms of how much her daughter's hair grew in childhood with memories of how much her own had and comes up with x number of years. But who's to say whether her own hair would have grown at the same rate, especially given her limited diet, and more to the point, how can time spent alone as a child be calculated? I remember summers feeling like years... Seasons in the jungle are not so noticeable, so not a reliable marker of time passing. I question whether she really spent the 3 or 4 years she calculates. I don't doubt, however, that the author did live with monkeys, followed their ways and learned much that was important: what to eat, where to sleep, for example, along with playfulness and affection.(less)
A mostly fascinating study of the little understood science of sleep. Two chapters are devoted to dreams (I'd have liked more) but lots on why we need...moreA mostly fascinating study of the little understood science of sleep. Two chapters are devoted to dreams (I'd have liked more) but lots on why we need sleep, how it helps us, how it used to be (First Sleep, then Second Sleep) in the pre-Industrial Age, how we can sleep better, use it better. Will be recommending it to my sister and good friend, both of whom have trouble sleeping, and I definitely recommend it to any of you who have any interest at all in the subject. As for me, well, sleep & dreaming are two of my favorite activities. Along with reading, of course.(less)
3.5 stars. an odd book...quiet, unassuming, a bit repetitive but surprisingly compelling. The wealth of the neighborhood, the fact that most of the nei...more3.5 stars. an odd book...quiet, unassuming, a bit repetitive but surprisingly compelling. The wealth of the neighborhood, the fact that most of the neighbors are physicians of one sort or another may be a turn off for some. In general, I liked the book...but there's a ploddingness to the metholodoly and writing that I couldn't relate to; perhaps it's the sociologist in the author. There is one unforgettable neighbor/character here: Lou Guzetta, someone I'd have been very happy to know and have as my neighbor.(less)