This is a hard one to rate by stars--I found it well-written with a strong voice and some wonderful turns of phrase; it was gripping and hard to put dThis is a hard one to rate by stars--I found it well-written with a strong voice and some wonderful turns of phrase; it was gripping and hard to put down, even when I really wanted to, and I found myself thinking about Kristin as I went about my day; it was also almost unbearably sad and real at some points.
I think I've become a mom. Even though I had some pretty dicey moments at nineteen (Kristin's age at the time she describes here) and that wasn't the closest period in my relationship with my family, I still kept thinking as I read "where were her parents?!!!"
It also seems that I think that suffering for art is a bad trade. I loved Kristin's songs, but if that's what she had to go through for me to hear them, then I almost wish I could give them back. This was lent to me by a hard core Throwing Muses fan and for him the equation is significantly different and the glimpse into the process of creation was more meaningful.
In the end, therefore, I think that while there is much here to appreciate, how much you like it may come down to how well you know and like the author's early music. ...more
I requested this from the library after hearing part of a review on NPR about it and in the first chapter I thought I was going to have difficulty likI requested this from the library after hearing part of a review on NPR about it and in the first chapter I thought I was going to have difficulty liking this woman. She does a lot of things that I have little patience for--looking for a Life Purpose and taking nineteen years (including a six-year break) to figure out that she had a great guy and there's no such thing as True Love, whining about her First World Problems (oh noes, they'll have to cut their renovation plans back to only $130,000!). But the prose was very readable--except for the jarring tense shifts--and as I kept turning the pages and learned more of her story, I found myself having more compassion for Rachel Simon.
The framing device for this memoir is the renovation of their home in Wilmington, Delaware. But the real story is the personal history that Simon rehashes and the realizations that she allows to come to her through the process. She deals with that pesky Life Purpose question. She struggles with worry for her aging parents, with her own decision not to have children, with her fraught relationships with her sibling, with her ideas about commitment, and many more. She is remarkably honest about her own flaws and personal demons and brings the reader with her to new levels of understanding, even as she relates the setbacks and frustrations of the building project.
There are so many quotable passages and important life lessons that she relates along the way. But I think the one that I will really take with me is her husband's response to the question "Why me?!" which is "I think there's only one answer and that's 'Why not me?' None of us is so special that we can avoid suffering."
I think I may have to buy several copies of this book and give them to people in my life that I think would find other passages to be their favorites, who would enjoy this story of a woman rebuilding her home and her idea of herself. ...more
I found this book not only interesting, but very moving. It details Brooks' childhood in suburban Sydney and the influences that led her to seek out pI found this book not only interesting, but very moving. It details Brooks' childhood in suburban Sydney and the influences that led her to seek out penpals from around the world and then to find them again, more than twenty years later and see where their lives had taken them. Her musings about similarities and differences in the dreams of childhood and where they may take us were thought-provoking and moving and felt very personal. ...more
This was a really fun read, much better than Julie & Julia, probably because I liked Julia more than I ever did Julie. It's amusing to me how muchThis was a really fun read, much better than Julie & Julia, probably because I liked Julia more than I ever did Julie. It's amusing to me how much I enjoy stories about Americans living in France, when it's not something I have any interest in doing.
The details of meals and wines and places and people made me feel as though I was there and the personal details of Julia's marriage and her relationships with her family and friends made me wish I could have known her. Even though I don't have the patience for her style of cooking, I would happily have eaten at her table any time....more
Unlike his other works, Uncle Tungsten focuses on Sacks himself--his boyhood in wartime England, his extended family of highly intelligent and eccentrUnlike his other works, Uncle Tungsten focuses on Sacks himself--his boyhood in wartime England, his extended family of highly intelligent and eccentric characters, and his first great love: chemistry. Interwoven the years of his childhood he recapitulates the great discoveries and insights of the field of chemistry, recounting the history along with his own experimentation under the guidance of his "chemistry uncle," Dave, also known as Uncle Tungsten, who ran a tungsten-filament lightbulb factory. Like all of Sacks' work, it is imminently readable and conveys the excitement of discovery and thrill of scientific knowledge in a way that is accessible and engaging. ...more
The arrangement of this book thematically, rather than chronologically, sometimes made it harder to understand Buford's progression from casual cook tThe arrangement of this book thematically, rather than chronologically, sometimes made it harder to understand Buford's progression from casual cook to one who could be in the pros. The inside look at the kitchen of one of New York's top restaurants was fascinating and I was particularly glad he picked one with a number of women in it. And the profile of its chef, Mario Batali, reminded me yet again about the functionality criteria between fine and totally, frakkin' nuts. The interspersed sections of interviews with Batali's mentors and former partners and the sections on Buford travelling to Italy for instruction in specific techniques took the book in such different directions that the throughline was lost once again. Perhaps unsurprisingly, coming from a former staffer for The New Yorker, this reads more like a series of interesting articles around a theme than a book. But each of the articles is filled with information, experience and insight that I am happy to have. This is one of those books that make me long for full hypertexting--while the writing was rich and clear, it would be nice to have accompanying diagrams, illustrations, photos and videos. It definitely made me psyched for some knife classes!...more
While not without flaw, this was a fun read. There wasn't enough talk about the food, oddly enough--out of the 524 recipes she made in a year, she migWhile not without flaw, this was a fun read. There wasn't enough talk about the food, oddly enough--out of the 524 recipes she made in a year, she might have discussed 10 of them in detail and another 20 in passing. I found her relationship with her husband endearing, but her anger and seemingly nightly hissy fits were pretty annoying. I admire her willingness to show us her life, warts and all, but those are some pretty nasty warts. And the amount of drinking she and her husband and friends seem to do was impressive and a little startling. Also--I love cooking, but does something have to be sexual to be pleasurable? The most interesting part of the book is the last chapter, in which she discusses the meaning she found in Julia Child's work and what it was about it that, in retrospect, drew her into the project.
Being in the midst of my own, much smaller cooking challenge (100 new-to-me recipes in a year) I did feel a lot of sympathy, but it also gives me the perspective that no, 524 in a year is insane. I have to applaud her for cooking and learning to like a lot of things she'd never tried or previously thought she hated. Pushing our own boundaries is the biggest challenge there is and she came through it a person changed in some very interesting ways....more