Monthly Archives: May 2008
Need a new drug…er…book
I’ve recently finished “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clark. A friend recommended it. Usually, we have the same taste in books, but this one sort of unnerved me. Maybe it’s because I am not so into Sci Fi anymore.
And now I’m reading “Never Let Me Go” by Ishiguro. I didn’t know it was another piece of sci fi!
The book is annoyingly well-written such that I don’t want to give it up. I’ve got less than 50 pages to go, so I will finish it tonight if it kills me. But, I dislike the premise of the book. The story is, all the people in the book are clones that were created as infants, and then raised up to adulthood in order to have their organs harvested.
But they add this interesting twist to raise the question of the status of the clones souls. Do they have them? So far, the people seem just as ordinary as anyone else, except for their absurd willingness to allow their organs to be harvested..
It’s creepy. And I don’t believe it. What society would allow children to be raised to adulthood for the purpose of slowly killing them by taking an organ at a time? Let’s be real, the first thing that a society that would do that sort of inhumane things would do to clones is turn them into a prostitution ring. That’s what my co-workers thought of immediately, anyway, and then began to plan how a netflix type situation of “releases” off their favorite models would be arranged for their convenience.
Almost as creepy as the book, that. Sometime the male-dominated workplace has its trials.
Anyway, the book is annoying me. And two books in a row that annoy me…It’s hard to take.
I haven’t found a new thread…I mean, a new author to read through or a new genre..I don’t know. I can’t find a good set of books to get me through.
I’m about ready to go back to Victorian times. Some Henry James would set me up for a long visit in the book-world. And I can TRUST a man like James not to creep me out about the existence of clones.
But I can also trust him to take FOREVER to finish. I loved the victorian long form of novel when I was a teenager. I had all the time in the world then. Austen? Dickens? No problem, what else was I doing with my time? Although I will admit, I got put off Dickens after finishing “Little Dorrit.” Lord in heaven, THAT was a chore to finish. I guess Dickens had his crank-’em-out-you’re-on-a-deadline works, too.
A good chewy, but not too chewy book, that’s what I need. I’d like to find an author that’s still alive that I enjoy.
I already finished all of Amy Tan. She would be perfect. But “saving fishes from drowning” was a deadline kind of book. I’m sure she has more hooks in her, but she needs some time off to find them. Take it slow, Amy. Let it come when it’s ready.
Haruki Murakami, MOST excellent. But I finished all of his a while back.
Gregory Maguire was fun, with “Wicked” and all the other fairy tales re-explored. But finished those too.
Philip Roth is okay. But he’s an on-again-off-again kind of writer. Also influenced by the publishers deadlines. I’ve read a lot of his, but…Well..many of them are regrettable losses of time.
John Irving is pretty good, as well as still alive. But I started in on “The world according to Garp” and got as far as the part where the kid gets his eye put out through an accident that happened because his parents were separately cheating on each other. I simply could not forgive the author for that act of violence on an innocent child. It was maybe a third of the way into the book, and I was willing to let the characters convince me of their worthiness. But once the kid got hurt, I had to take a stand. NO! The author had to right to take time to unwind the story, but that violence was a cheap shop. I couldn’t do it.
I could give some of his other books a try though. Maybe.
John Updike is still alive. But he is so…so…Baby boomer. I should read the Rabbit series. But it’s probably very navel gazing and existentially angsty.
Is it too much to ask that a story act like people have a chance of influencing the course of their life through the choices they consciouly make?
Okay, yes, we are at the mercy of larger societal forces, and acts of God such as the weather. But can we have a protagonist that remembers to pack an umbrella and a little honest ambition, and therefore gets a little bit of a foothold while managing to NOT die of consumption?
Maybe I should respond to the subtle urgings of my 7 year old friend and read Harry Potter. I am not certain, but I have an inkling that maybe children’s books have a possible edge of optimism left in them
Sucking post-modernist world view. What’s the post post modern thing already? Can’t we move on?
Alright. Before I get totally bitter, I’ll head for the children’s section. A few flights of fancy would do me some good.
a worthwhile exploration
Okay, it’s not my usual thing…But it’s amusing
Sunday afternoon, a bee got in the house.
Chris chased it out with a newpaper. We shut the door, so it wouldn’t come back in.
Then there wer two more.
They were coming in from the stove vent. on the roof.
Chris taped a priority mail box flat against the hole, so no more bees would come in.
We went to sleep.
Monday, they were back. The tape had come loose, and after he taped it up again, there was an angry buzzing.
Oh no. We do not want to extend hospitality to bees.
Chris climbed into the attic to make sure the vent was no leaking into the attic. The roof creaked as he carefully stepped from rafter to rafter, freaking out the dog.
The vent was secure.
And the buzzing contiumed.
We got into a bit of phone tag with bee exterminators.I left a message, and then kept calling down the list till someoen answered. THey said they might be able to come.
The first guy called back, and had great doubts about the ones that actually answered.He would have been cheapre, but he said he would need holiday pay.
The other people finally came, and de-beed our stove vent.
The buzzing is done. But we are leaving the priority mail box there for another day, just in case.
Words that break your bones
A friend told me he’d just been on a rant inspired by his daughter, age 13.
“I can’t think of any worse insult than to be told I’m stupid. Calling someone stupid is just about the worst thing. Don’t you think?”
So, I had to think about it. Being called, truthfully, stupid is pretty bad. I would hate to be stupid.
But the thing about insults, is they so often have little to do with truth.
It reminded me of a book, The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man by James Weldon Johnson. He was a light-skinned black man, and it turned out he could pass as white if he wanted to. The book explored what it meant to be identified as one thing or the other.
It would be what he was called that made the difference.
What became the turning point was when he saw a man called out in the South, called out as ‘Ni***r’. He was then lynched, hung from a tree for no other cause.
The narrator of the book refused to be called black after that. Or, in the word of the day, “coloured”.
I can understand why my friend was not considering those sorts of insults. He was a strong, empowered white man in a society where white men are empowered. It would be an occasion VERY far out on the bell curve to be insulted in a way that would cause him harm or death.
But I know, that there are certain words, certain insults, that mean I am in physical danger. As a woman, if someone called me a “b***h” or a “c**t” in certain contexts, it would be as if they were flashing a permit allowing them to hurt me.
“Because I am this, and you are that, I may now rape, hit or even kill you. It’s part of the way of the world.”
I am not going to say I’m agonized over this fact. I just know that, if I hear certain words in certain settings, I better find a very quick and obsequious way to get OUT of there.
I fear those insults worse than being called stupid
So, one of my co-worker friends gave her daughter the Miriam book for her 13th birthday.
Daughter was SO impressed that her mom KNEW a real author
That was about a year ago.
Yesterday, co-worker mom sent me an email:
Hi, My daughter Laura has now read your book 12 times (she told me last night) she wanted me to ask you when the next book was coming out :)???
wow. I have a fan.
I promised that I would stop slacking on the next book.
too hot to walk
it’s a heat wave. Not a hundred, but too far up the 90s for comfort, that’s for sure.
Chris is out this weekend doing ship business, and so I thought I would get a lot of things done. I have, but not nearly as many as I thought I would.
The heat drove me to get ice cream. I should not be eating ice cream, because it’s not good for me, and my shorts are tight from previous lack of self-control.
I lay on the couch, bowl of ice cream on my chest, eating as I watched some dumb movie that was on.
Dog sat and stared at me. Not moving, and her face about a foot from my face.
walk she was willing at me. But it was still too hot, and I had this ice cream to finish.
She was not moving.
I didn’t want to walk. But she did, and it was only me to take her.
I suppose the self-discipline came back when I finished the ice cream. We had an extra-long walk.
Metaphor for Marriage
This sunday was mother’s day. Chris’s mother and Grandmother live nearby, and we were having them over for dinner.
One of the gifts we wanted to give them was flowers. A few years ago, I suggested to Chris that we give his grandmother (who is notoriously difficult to buy for) a dozen roses. She was delighted, saying she’d never recieved a dozen roses before. Now, it’s a good bet to give flowers.
Chris also has learned to rely on my arranging skills. Florists are basically crooks, in his opinion. He knows I can throw a bouquet together and make it look just as good for a third the price. I love arranging flowers, so that works for me.
So he went to Costco and bought flowers. Roses, lilies and tulips.
I would never have bought those three kinds of flowers together. There is a sort of principle of flower arranging. Some showy flowers, some filler, some small, some large, etc.
These three were all showy.
But that’s what I had.
My instructions were to make three arrangements, One for his mother, one for grandmother and one for me.
As I arranged them, I thought that it was a metaphor for marriage. On my own, I would not have picked these flowers. On his own, Chris would have not gotten flowers at all.
But between us, we created these things of beauty:
They were a hit.
Five Skies by Ron Carlson
About five years ago, Chris bought me Plan B for the Middle Class by Ron Carlson. I looked at him blankly. He said I had mentioned that I enjoyed that author.
I had no memory of the author or what would have prompted me to say I liked him. But it is completely typical of Chris to be paying closer attention to what pleases me than I do.
It was a good book, a nice collection of short stories.
I found the CD of Five Skies by the same author a couple weeks ago and thought, “Wasn’t that the guy…?”
The selection of CDs at my library is small, so I grabbed it. It was either that or one of the LEFT BEHIND series (not gonna happen).
Five Skies is a gorgeous story. It smells of men in the open air. I tend to like men at any time, but this book had me besotted with terse masculinity.
Gorgeous. Nothing is what you’d expect, but the surprises are not the a cheap kind. They are honest and stuff that seem perfectly right in the setting.
Now I have to go find the rest of what this guy wrote
Little minds are so impressionable
This weekend, I ran into some procreative friends. Their oldest daughter, 7 years now, has finished reading the Harry Potter series.
Yes, little seven-year old genius has finished the magical tomes.
Once I finished wrapping my mind around her feat of literacy, I began to feel concerned for the poor little thing. If I complain that I, with my decades of years behind me, run out of book regularly, poor little precocious princess will have nothing whatever to read by age ten.
Not only that, her parents might be hard-put to find appropriate things for her to read. I personally would hate to have her stumble into Danielle Steele merely because she had read everything else in the library.
I came up with a list for a teenage reader a while back. But for a child-mind, a different list would be appropriate. With the idea of books of a series, I came up with some titles.
It’s fun to remember the books I plowed through before I was ten. For all I know, she finished these off when she was 4. But here they are, some of them anyway:
Andrew Lang’s Colored Fairy Books
Hugh Lofting Dr. Dolittle Series
The Story of Doctor Dolittle (1920)
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (1922)
Doctor Dolittle’s Post Office (1923)
Doctor Dolittle’s Circus (1924)
Doctor Dolittle’s Caravan (1926)
Doctor Dolittle’s Garden (1927)
Doctor Dolittle in the Moon (1928)
Doctor Dolittle’s Return (1933)
Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake (1948)
Doctor Dolittle and the Green Canary (1950)
Louisa May Alcott:
Little Women (1868)
An Old Fashioned Girl (1870)
Little Men (1871)
Aunt Jo’s Scrap-Bag (1872-1882)
Eight Cousins; or, The Aunt-Hill (1875)
Rose in Bloom (1876)
Under the Lilacs (1877)
Jack and Jill: A Village Story (1880)