Oh, Michelle Tea, how I have loved thee! As soon as I saw this book at the store I knew it was only a matter of time. As I already own all of her otheOh, Michelle Tea, how I have loved thee! As soon as I saw this book at the store I knew it was only a matter of time. As I already own all of her other memoirs (though not all of her fiction), what would be the point of resisting?
That said, this memoir is pretty far removed from her other books. Tea has, as she asserts, grown up. Whether or not that makes for as fascinating reading as her young, broke, drug-fueled, yelling-at-cops-topless, occasional sex-working days, back when she indicated speech by playing with capitalization rather than just using quotation marks, well, I suspect your mileage may vary.
Tea has held a lot of strong opinions in her life, and the evidence of her mellowing on most of those certainly will (and has) offend some people. But this isn't a struggling-girl-writer-makes-good-and-sells-out story, even as Tea sometimes seems to struggle with whether or not she thinks it is. When your whole identity has been based so long on youthful hedonistic rebellion and an identification with the broke and disenfranchised, it can be hard when you wake up one day and realize you want a life where insects living in your refrigerator is not a normal thing.
I think Tea continues to display a lot of integrity here. Even as she sobers up, moves to a nicer apartment, occasionally splurges on travel and clothes, she mostly manages to not judge those whose priorities haven't undergone similar shifts. (Except those who --gasp!-- don't moisturize!) Kidding aside, there are a lot of references early in the book to Tea's ex. Now, it's pretty well-known among those who've followed Tea's career exactly who this ex is. Despite their break not being the cleanest, and despite there being some easy ammunition in her ex's identity to make him look freakish/unstable/the bad guy, she never plays those cards.
The main weakness, in my opinion, of this memoir, is that it is really a collection of memoirish essays. It often felt like it could take a little more structure/editing. That aside, I left this book with a warm feeling, a compulsion to buy moisturizer, and a little more comfort around the idea that my sudden affection for nice (kinda expensive) sandals doesn't mean I'm a bad feminist, or a sell-out. Maybe a sneaking suspicion that I'm growing up, too. ...more
I spent a lot of time processing this book, as it was very dark but yet not nearly as dark as I'd feared. After having followed some of the coverage oI spent a lot of time processing this book, as it was very dark but yet not nearly as dark as I'd feared. After having followed some of the coverage of the big federal torture report, I was pretty familiar with what a lot of the possibilities were. The fact that I didn't find this book more shocking was disturbing to me.
Of course, Slahi was also deliberately trying to not be salacious, to report just what happened to him, as accurately as he could. And his ability to find, and sometimes successfully connect to the humanity in his torturers also undercut the depravity of what was being done to him.
My overall impression after finishing this book, and reading several reviews and essays about the book, was to be impressed less by the cruelty of the CIA torture program, but more by its ineptitude. That they captured, held, and tortured a man all based on such tenuous evidence. That when they finally committed to full-blown torture, it resulted in nothing more helpful than a man prepared to confess to absolutely anything that they asked him to write down, which is almost exactly what he told them, and they seemed happy with that result. But the most ridiculous was the redaction of Slahi's manuscript, which was often laughable. Such as the oft-remarked case that all pronouns related to a guard/torturer were redacted only when that person was female. Or the number of times that what was redacted was easily reconstructed by its context, and the number of times those redactions were publicly-known facts.
If you want to bear witness to the cruelty of the CIA's torture program, read the torture report. If you want to be struck by how misguided it is, or be impressed by someone who could retain their full humanity in the face of it, read this book. ...more
I found this book so very compelling and haunting. It was hard to put down. I read it ages ago, so I can't remember all the details, but I do feel likI found this book so very compelling and haunting. It was hard to put down. I read it ages ago, so I can't remember all the details, but I do feel like it seared a permanent mark into my consciousness. ...more
This slim volume (76 pages) is an author's attempt to process his mother's suicide. It ends up being both the story of his mother's life, and more genThis slim volume (76 pages) is an author's attempt to process his mother's suicide. It ends up being both the story of his mother's life, and more generally, about what it was like to be a poor woman in Germany, living through World War II and its aftermath. About a woman's sense of identity or lack thereof in a pre-feminist society.
But mostly it is a book about grief. The reader is constantly reminded that this is not so much a biography of his mother as it is a way to deal with his loss, to try to gain perspective and distance from his pain and from the memory of his mother. Of course it doesn't work as he hopes that it would. But that's what makes it moving. That's what saves the book from his attempted detachment from the specifics of his mother.
I wonder if he ever wrote or ever will write the more thorough story of his mother promised in the last line of the book......more
Another book I bought for myself on Mother's Day, from a little shop in Ann Arbor specializing in well-preserved first editions. I picked this up hopiAnother book I bought for myself on Mother's Day, from a little shop in Ann Arbor specializing in well-preserved first editions. I picked this up hoping for hints on how to live in a time when all around you seem consumed by power and hate and scapegoating. What I got was a somewhat disjointed memoir of a man looking back at his teen years from many years distant. It was as much of a memoir of the ways memory deceives and disorders and lumps impossible things together as it was a memoir of coming of age during the rise of the Nazi party.
It's very stream-of-consciousness and rambly. And while that did often leave me wishing for more context or thoroughness, it did pretty effectively convey that for the most part, life just goes on. It's hard to see the context when you're living that context every day. How much time can you spend wondering what's to become of the country, or the world, when the question of "What's to become of you?" is so uncertain.
But this book isn't going to connect the dots for you. If you want to derive any meaning from it, you're going to have to do the work. ...more
Earlier this year, Andrew was heading to pick up Jefferson in Chicago, and wanted a book to entertain him in the car on the way home. I handed him a cEarlier this year, Andrew was heading to pick up Jefferson in Chicago, and wanted a book to entertain him in the car on the way home. I handed him a children's biography of Helen Heller that I had loved as a child. Evidently Jefferson loved it, too. So for our Christmas road-trip I was sure to include a biography of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, also from my childhood, in my bag of tricks. These things, combined with coming across references to Helen Keller as a progressive icon in her adult life, made me grab this memoir for my stack of prospective New Year's Eve reads.
As it turns out, Keller wrote this autobiography at the age of 22, so it didn't get me any closer to understanding her activism in later life. But this slim book is still remarkable for the joy in life that leaks through the print, and then conversely her intensely introspective self-criticism for limitations that I feel NEARLY EVER OTHER HUMAN BEING HAD AT HER AGE.
I am happy to have read it and will be glad to share it with Jefferson, but I think I'll wait a few years, so the descriptions of her prep school and college studies will be more relatable. ...more
Like seemingly every other internet user who has ever experienced depression or failed at feigning adult responsibility, I wanted this book the secondLike seemingly every other internet user who has ever experienced depression or failed at feigning adult responsibility, I wanted this book the second I knew Brosh was writing one. I forgot that I put it on my wishlist and very nearly bought it for myself a few weeks ago, but it's lucky that I didn't, because Penny bought for me for Christmas.
It turns out to largely be comics as they were originally published on her website, now in book form. Which is okay with me as, I think I've already established, I like having things from the internet in book form. Also, I've never gotten around to reading all of Brosh's archives, so I can't really tell you how much of this is original, just that a fair amount was familiar.
I would think that this would have a very similar audience to The Bloggess Jenny Lawson's Let's Pretend This Never Happened, as both walk that fine line between human and flat-out wrong/tragic/horror. Many times as I was reading, my laughter felt perilously close to crying.
I'm probably an ideal reader for this book, as I am broken in many similar ways to Brosh, making her rants and stories seem familiar and relatable, but not broken as badly as Brosh, so I can also have the relief of thinking, "Oh, thank God! I'm not as bad off as that!"
Quick read. Hilarious. Feel the need to go stalk Allie Brosh and give her a hug. ...more
It would be difficult to not feel a little intimidated in writing this review when my sister wrote the introduction. Which is of course why I bought iIt would be difficult to not feel a little intimidated in writing this review when my sister wrote the introduction. Which is of course why I bought it. I mean, I would have been intrigued by the description anyway, and it is from one of my favorite publishers, but with my sister's name on the cover -- it was practically a contractual obligation.
And her introduction was on fire with enthusiasm. It sounded like the kind of book we would have given our eye teeth to have discovered in high school, in our tiny one (flashing) stoplight town in Kansas. I worried, a bit, that I would be oversold, and that I would turn the pages feeling hollow, waiting for the fireworks to start. But no, I loved every page of this book with a fierceness, and wish I could deliver a copy to every rural library in the plains states.
So, why? What makes this book so electric? Mary MacLane was a self-proclaimed genius, who wrote this memoir of sorts at the age of nineteen, in remove Butte, Montana in 1902. It is, primarily, a book about yearning. Yearning to be known, yearning to be loved, yearning for something, almost anything of note to happen to her. MacLane feels totally alienated from the people around her -- by her genius, by her philosophy, by her disdain of their petty hypocrisies. Of course, these sentences could describe nearly any teenager in America. What makes MacLane unique is the thoroughness with which she examines herself, the starkness of her prose. She knows how to truly exist in the moment, how to hold all its beauty, or its melancholy, or its despair, or all of these at once, and then how to serve it up to us so that we can exist in it, too -- can step into her beloved landscape and feel the air bite us, watch the flash of red in the sunset.
This is another book from my to-read shelf, a book I've owned for years and years but never read. Until last night, home from an unusually busy and tiThis is another book from my to-read shelf, a book I've owned for years and years but never read. Until last night, home from an unusually busy and tiring day of work, having recently spent a lot of time thinking about homelessness, especially being homeless in Michigan in the winter, this book jumped out at me.
I read the entire book in a single evening.
This isn't the kind of book that is going to give a lot of Answers. It doesn't explain why people are homeless or what being homeless is like, but it does tell the story of one man who was homeless and addicted to crack for a long stretch in the eighties and early nineties. He is processed through shelters, arrested several times for vagrancy and other minor offenses, is sentenced to community service, sleeps in subway ramps, witnesses crimes and commits a few (mostly trespassing, vagrancy, drug possession.) He also writes, becomes the senior editor for Street News, intervenes in a mugging, appears on Geraldo, and survives years of homelessness with wit and dignity intact.
Stringer is a good writer. There are shades here of Vonnegut (one of his earliest, most vocal supporters), London, Bukowski. But in the end his voice is all his own. He succeeds in humanizing homelessness, and also in showing us that most of the ways we respond to homelessness, both as a society and individually, are pretty crap. Shelters that scam various systems, teaching the homelessness to become scammers themselves, laws that penalize the powerless on behalf of the powerful, and the misguided, self-involved, and sometimes downright mean ways people behave.
This one wasn't actually on my hold list, but when I saw it in the staff recommendations section of the library, I had to pick it up, despite how largThis one wasn't actually on my hold list, but when I saw it in the staff recommendations section of the library, I had to pick it up, despite how large my stack was already. It's been many years since I read the first installment of this story, but still, opening this book to her familiar, heavy black and white illustration style was like catching up with an old friend.
Satrapi is from Iran, and this book is her memoir of her teen years in Europe, sent away by her family to keep her safe during years of fighting back home, then her return to Iran, college there, marriage. Satrapi tries to fit in and make a life for herself wherever she goes, but struggles to discover where she really belongs.
I would like to slip Satrapi's books into the hands of everyone who confuses the people of Iran with its government. Also recommended to anyone who has ever felt alienated from the culture of their birth....more
Nina Sankovitch lost her sister to cancer and immediately started running. (Metaphorically.) As if she could just keep herself and her family moving fNina Sankovitch lost her sister to cancer and immediately started running. (Metaphorically.) As if she could just keep herself and her family moving fast enough to somehow escape the pain and loss. As it sinks in that this isn't a terrifically effective coping mechanism -- an idea takes hold of her. Books have been so important to her for her entire life,, and important in her relationship with her sister. She will read and review one book every day for one year. 365 books for 365 days.
That sounds like heaven. Until I just now suddenly realized that I'm pretty sure she only read fiction. A full year of reading only fiction? Now I'm sickly horrified.
Okay, my own personal proclivities aside, I did really enjoy this book. Meditations on how books shape us, shape our relationships, shape our understanding of the world. How even "trashy" genre fiction can lead to profound insights. How processing the lives of others through fiction can ease our grief, remind us of purpose, and give perspective.
At times the depth of the author's grief made me wonder if I hadn't made a poor choice for a vacation read. But it was redemptive, in the end. In fact, I've already passed this copy on, to a friend and fellow reader I was vacationing with. (A chapter on lending and borrowing books with friends was perhaps my favorite chapter in the book. Thanks for the recommendation, Emma!)...more
Jenny Lawson is The Blogess. She writes a blog about her life that is so funny, every time I read a post, it is a revelation. It takes me completely oJenny Lawson is The Blogess. She writes a blog about her life that is so funny, every time I read a post, it is a revelation. It takes me completely out of my own life and I sit at my computer cackling until my husband asks me what I'm doing. And every time I read it aloud to him, in fits and starts as I'm laughing so hard I'm crying and can't breathe and have to gasp out the story before collapsing.
This book is just like that. But longer.
Reading this book, I was laughing so hard that that space in the webbing between my thumb and finger ached. You know, that place that throbs when you've drunk a 78 oz soda and then held it through an entire movie and then you get to the bathroom and there's a line and then you finally get to a toilet and as you're voiding the EIGHT GALLONS of fluid you've been crossing your legs against FOREVER that spot on your hand throbs so much you want to gnaw it off?
Well, this book is like that, too.
This book takes all your sacred cows, skins them, stuffs then, and then dresses them in funny outfits to make postcards to sell at gas stations.
Cannot recommend highly enough, to those who like their humor as twisted as a barrel of snakes. ...more
It is widely accepted in the scientific community that Kary Mullis is a kook. Which is a rather odd reaction t(review originally written for Bookslut)
It is widely accepted in the scientific community that Kary Mullis is a kook. Which is a rather odd reaction to a man who has won a Nobel Prize in chemistry and who invented PCR, a tool that not many microbiologists or biochemists would happily live without. But I suppose that it's to be expected, as most press attention that Kary Mullis receives is not centered around his scientific achievements, but rather around his passion for surfing, his past use of LSD, and his reputation for chasing women.
So a book by Kary Mullis is bound to be more interesting than the average book of essays written by a chemist. And oh, is it. To sum up: Mullis believes in astrology, traveling through the astral plane, recreational use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs, and glowing raccoons that talk. He doesn't believe in global warming, the advice of nutritionists, or the fact that HIV causes AIDS. To put it mildly, the theories and opinions expressed in his book, Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, are controversial.
They are also terribly fascinating. Amongst the many things that Kary Mullis is, he is also an excellent story teller. I ended up reading at least 80% of this book aloud to my husband. It would start out, "Oh, you have to hear this!", and then I would inevitably back up and read him the whole chapter. In this book, Mullis meets the empress of Japan and calls her "sweetie," nearly kills himself with nitrous oxide, is bitten by several brown recluses back when the only known treatment was surgery, speaks to a glowing raccoon in the forest, accidentally causes an explosion during a science demonstration, and also accidentally makes tear gas in a friend's garage the summer after they graduated from high school. He has no shortage of interesting stories to tell, and he tells them well.
He's also very persuasive. I read the chapter on astrology and was ready to go out and buy an astrological chart. I read the chapter on appropriate use of scientific funding and inquiry and was ready to write a letter to my congressman, asking him to defund the relativistic heavy ion collider (RHIC) in favor of funding the search for near-Earth asteroids that could collide with our planet. (This is especially significant because I spent two years working on projects related to RHIC while pursuing my masters degree, and actually have two friends employed at RHIC right now.) Of course, most of these conversions were short-lived, and on some issues he never had much of a chance of convincing me (in fact I think it's dangerous to assert that human beings could not possibly alter the climate), but some of his arguments linger. For instance, there is a disturbing lack of scientific evidence supporting the claim that the HIV virus causes AIDS. It sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory at first to doubt something that we've all taken for granted for so long, but if it were true, why aren't there articles in peer-reviewed journals offering evidence to that end?
Kary Mullis can mess with your mind just as effectively as a dose of LSD. So if you read this book, read it with a healthy dose of scientific skepticism. As Mullis himself points out, just because something is published (and even in a scientific journal), that doesn't make it so. And just because the man won a Nobel prize, that doesn't mean he's an expert on every topic he discusses. But read this book because it's fun.
I promise it will make you laugh. And shake your head in disbelief. The only thing it won't do is bore you....more
I have had this book for ages, since college, probably, though I don't remember at all how I acquired it. I do know it has sat on my shelves for manyI have had this book for ages, since college, probably, though I don't remember at all how I acquired it. I do know it has sat on my shelves for many a year. I'm sure I felt there was no urgency to read another AIDS book after I've read Paul Monette and And the Band Played On. And once I'd gotten to this point, well, why now? Now that the crisis has passed its hottest point of urgency. Not that an unreasonable number of people aren't still being infected, not that prevention still remains shrouded in secrecy and superstition in much of the world, by those who don't want anyone talking about "dirty" things like sex or drugs, and not like most of the world isn't content to wring their hands briefly and then look away, especially when it's mostly people of color doing the dying. But now, now that we're gaining a better understanding of how the virus works. Now that AIDS fundraising and advocacy groups are generally afforded the same level of respectability as cancer and heart disease organizations. Now that a diagnosis no longer has to mean that you die of AIDS. Not if you can afford the meds.
Maybe it is this exact sense of blandness that has accumulated around the AIDS crisis that made this book, once I'd picked it up on a random impulse, so gripping and hard to put down. To be reminded that it was life and death once, to everyone who had it, is to be reminded that it is still so, for so many, now. Then it was Reagan, a slow drug approval process, and the public's general apathy in the face of what was seen as a gay man's disease. (I'm reminded suddenly of Eddie Izzard's line on foreign dictators -- "We've been trying to kill you for ages! So kill your own people, right on there.") Now it's international patent law, squeamish conservative restrictions placed on international aid, and the public's general apathy in the face of what is seen as an African disease.
But this changing face of AIDS is not what this book is about. Queer and Loathing is a collection of extremely personal essays by one gay man grappling with his HIV status in New York City in the late eighties, early nineties. For the most part the essays were written as stand-alone pieces, freelance articles for magazines and speeches for protests and demonstrations. But arranged chronologically, they form a solid narrative, a compelling portrait of the author, and a glimpse into the activist community during the heyday of ACT-UP demonstrations.
The stories of the demonstrations offer an interesting comparison between how cops and other law enforcement reacted to the persistent, recurring demonstrations of AIDS activists then, and Occupy protesters now. Even when the police overreacted then (and they most certainly did, on occasion), there were no mentions of tear gas or pepper spray. No telling people it was okay to cross a certain line, then cordoning off and arresting all who did. But I suppose that's another conversation for another time. ...more
It should be said right up front that this is sort of a strange book. This is not his autobiography as Asimov wrote it. During his life Asimov publishIt should be said right up front that this is sort of a strange book. This is not his autobiography as Asimov wrote it. During his life Asimov published three volumes of autobiography. After he died, his (second) wife edited these volumes, supplementing with letters she and Asimov exchanged, and also added an afterword. There is often very little and sometimes no transition between excerpts from his original volumes, which can be jarring. In places, it feels as if you're always coming in during the middle of a story. I do not know how much was cut out, or why, but given the strength of Asimov's writing on nearly every subject, I cannot imagine that the missing material was dry or uninteresting. Perhaps Janet (his wife) felt there was just too much of it.
That issue aside, Good Life is a fascinating and enjoyable read. I had enjoyed all of Asimov's work that I had read before -- The Foundation Trilogy and some of his robot stories, but I had absolutely no idea how tiny a portion of his writings this made up! He wrote hundreds of books -- both fiction and nonfiction, as well as edited probably dozens of anthologies and his own SF journal. While he was a scientist, he was a far better writer and educator than researcher, so it wasn't long before he managed to get out of his research duties altogether in order to devote himself to his true calling -- that of amassing, processing, and conveying information. He could become an expert on virtually any topic, write a book on it, then move on to the next interesting idea. As much as he is known for his SF, his fiction writing seemed often to be something that was squeezed in when time allowed rather than the focus of his life.
He's just plain brilliant and funny, and that comes across very well in this book. I was away from home for a few days while I read this, and I kept a list on the back of my bookmark of all the anecdotes and their page numbers that I had to read to Andrew when I got home.
Also included was his favorite short story (that he wrote), which was indeed wonderful (and which I cannot read aloud without at least verging on tears.) And in the afterword -- Janet reveals for the first time that what Asimov finally died of was AIDS (contracted via blood transfusion during an operation.) They kept it quiet for fear of prejudice, and because another public figure had recently revealed they had AIDS -- so they didn't feel the revelation would add anything to the cause or the public good.
I must just go back to say it was a particular joy to read Asimov speak of "the problem" of women in science fiction -- particularly why he had so few female characters in his early writing, but then as he was married and began to know other women professionally, his work included more and stronger women. I also really enjoyed when he briefly wrote about the other popular SF writers in that age of SF when Asimov, Heinlein, Dick, etc. were churning out novels. I would so love to read a history of that period -- those men and their relations, how their writing was affected by the Cold War and the dawn of nukes, etc. I wonder if such a book exists?
Anyway, even for the choppiness of some of the material, the uneven way different periods and subjects were treated, etc., on the whole, this book was pretty delightful. I was left convicted that I need to increase the size of my Asimov library -- and look for that book on the early greats of science fiction!...more
I don't remember where I heard about this book, but I put it on my paperbackswap wishlist and finally scored a copy. It spent a few weeks perched on tI don't remember where I heard about this book, but I put it on my paperbackswap wishlist and finally scored a copy. It spent a few weeks perched on the corner of our kitchen table, but once I finally picked it up, I couldn't put it down.
I inhaled this book over the course of two days in April, staying up late at night to read, every once in a while stopping to re-read stories aloud to Andrew. Absolutely fascinating, this is a memoir encompassing the legal, societal, and hospital politics of the modern midwife movement, the story of one midwife and the impacts her work had on her family, and a collection of birth stories, told from the midwife's perspective. You'd think I would have had my fill of birth stories by now, but apparently I can't get enough. And seeing these from the point of view of the midwife is fascinating -- even Ida May's book and its collection of birth stories was almost entirely mother-perspective.
Of course, the author, a midwife, has reason to be biased, but after reading this the whole medical establishment anti-midwife attitude seems even more ludicrous and self-serving. And that's saying something, as I was leaning fairly heavily that way before I ever opened this particular book.
Highly recommended to all mommas and other birth junkies....more
So I've been spending a lot of time at my local library lately, taking advantage of the free wifi while Jefferson is in preschool. In the process, I'vSo I've been spending a lot of time at my local library lately, taking advantage of the free wifi while Jefferson is in preschool. In the process, I've done more than a few laps around the new acquisitions shelves. Few of the books on those shelves tempted me (probably a good thing, considering my history of library fines), but this one did. So when one day I found myself in Mecosta for the afternoon without my laptop, I went straight to this book.
Despite the immense size of Stitches, it's a blazingly quick read, even for a graphic novel. Partially this is due to Small's style -- heavy on scenery and light on text. Partially it's because Small's family life is just that kind of train wreck that you can't take your eyes away from. I turned each page wondering how people could treat each other this way.
The true miracle of Stitches is, that despite a childhood that would give Small every right to bitterness, every excuse and reason to be a miserable human being and terror of a parent himself, ultimately Small shows insight and compassion for all the characters portrayed, himself included. And while he documents a pattern of abuse and neglect, there is also evidence that each generation did what they could, with what resources and grace they had at hand, to not perpetuate that violence. Even those still miserable and doling out misery were doing what they could to hold back what they could. At least in Small's generous reckoning.
Not that this is what I saw when I first put the book down. In that first moment, collaborating with a recent discussion I'd had about people perpetuating cycles of abuse and continuing it with their own children -- I was overcome by the darkness of it all. But distance gave perspective, and I think thanks to this book, I can now appreciate that even the man who was the subject of our discussion -- surely in his own mind is not abusing his daughter. In his own mind, he must be holding so much back from the abuse inflicted on him. And with grace, and with the resources given by her mother and stepfather, perhaps his daughter will finally be able to step free, and raise her children in a home without abuse.
Maybe there is more hope for this poor, broken human race than just these acts of abuse themselves would suggest. ...more
This is the story of unlikely conversion: A radical lesbian activist, who spend much of her youth involved in people's uprisings in Mexico & CentrThis is the story of unlikely conversion: A radical lesbian activist, who spend much of her youth involved in people's uprisings in Mexico & Central America, one day walks into a church, receives communion, and is transformed. She becomes filled with the idea of "sharing the body," which for her becomes a command to feed the people. Which leads her to setting up a weekly food bank in the church, and then to helping others in the city start new food banks as well, challenging her congregation, those in her neighborhood, and even those who visit the food bank to expand their ideas of community, service, and comfort.
What I appreciated most about this book was the author's meditations on what it means to "be the body of Christ," and sharing in that call with those whose religious beliefs differed significantly from hers. (And vice versa!) It's a thought that I've been mulling over all summer, and it's helping me be less reticent expressing my beliefs around those with more conservative views (Pretty much everyone.)...more
I resisted this book for a long time despite the appeal of its topic, largely because of its popularity as a book club book. And we all know I'm a snoI resisted this book for a long time despite the appeal of its topic, largely because of its popularity as a book club book. And we all know I'm a snob like that, despite my claiming of the bookslut title. Anyway, when Tava sent me a copy, it erased most of my excuses not to read it.
I'm very glad I finally did read it. The author, through a chance encounter, develops a relationship with the people of a small, remote village in Pakistan, and pledges to build them a school. This, despite his limited income, working only enough as a nurse to finance his many mountain-climbing expeditions, incredibly limited contacts, and complete lack of fundraising experience. Still, he somehow succeeds, and goes on to build dozens of schools, despite the opposition of corrupt local organizers and mullahs, a kidnapping at gunpoint, wars and rapidly changing political climates. What he accomplishes is truly amazing, though it makes the rise of violent Islamic factions toward the end of the book all the more depressing.
Highly recommended to anyone who wants to better understand what's going on in the region, and to anyone who believes in the power of education....more
A graphic novel of a young woman trying to figure out her father's life in retrospect. Only in college, after she comes out as a lesbian, does she finA graphic novel of a young woman trying to figure out her father's life in retrospect. Only in college, after she comes out as a lesbian, does she finally learn that her father is gay. A few weeks later, her father dies, leaving hundreds of questions unanswered. Her father's distance and the author's early discomfort with her own gender create a massively hollow feeling at the center of this book. It's there for good reason, but still, it's disconcerting.
This book won a lot of acclaim when it first came out, and I've no doubt that it's well-deserved. Still, it will probably never be one of my favorites. ...more
While I far prefer his short stories in Beware of God, this book still contained some brilliant writing. And enough horror stories to significantly upWhile I far prefer his short stories in Beware of God, this book still contained some brilliant writing. And enough horror stories to significantly up my anxiety over ever putting Jefferson in Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. I want to send Shalom (who acknowledges my sister at the end of the book) a copy of Love Poems from God, particularly the poem that asks why the men and women of this world keep drawing in their coloring books pictures of a God that makes them sad....more