Sunday, August 30

Lady Audley's Secret



355 pgs
Worth: Photobucket
Enjoyed:

Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, is a sensation novel of Victorian England that rivalled Wilkie Collins' own efforts. What's a sensation novel? Just as it suggests - it causes a sensation because it deals with women of deception, crimes committed, adultery, and general immorality. Compare those themes with the gentility of Austen.

For this reason alone, it is an important work. It was one instrument in the creation of a genre, as well as being amongst the earliest crime novels.
This novel includes murder attempts, child abandonment, bigamy, and deceipt.

The plot is complex and well-structured, overall a generally good story, and the characters are well-rounded enough.
However..... the writing is dull. No, not the dullest, but dreary nonetheless. I enjoy a lengthy well-described scene, but Braddon writes more like a screen writer. It's just lifeless and flat. Perhaps that's the style of crime novels? After 100 pages, they became mind-numbing. Also, it draaaaags on. I mean, I worked out the initial mysteries (it was just obvious) within the first couple of chapters but had to wait until the middle of the tale to have them revealed. So I lost interest very quickly. Obviously a contemporary reader wouldn't have had years of tv dramas and other novels that formed a schema of crime writing in her mind.

I now have to admit to my fellow bloggers that I skipped some chapters! I never do this. I would have stopped reading actually, but one can't start a crime-mystery novel and not read to see everything revealed.

I can certainly see its appeal in its day, very shocking indeed. But today? I think that I can only recommend it to those who are fans of both crime-mysteries and classics. For it's importance it's worth having read it, and may deserve another star for that, but if 19thC crime doesn't do it for you, you'll likely be disappointed and find it a waste of time. I'm a classics fan and this was very below par. Yet it has many fans. I didn't hate it, but I didn't enjoy it either.

You can read it online here.

Saturday, August 29

Weekly Geeks: one title

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So, Weekly Geeksters, tell us, do you have a collection, (or are you starting a collection,) of one particular book title? If so, what's your story? Why that book, and how many do you have, and what editions are they? Share pictures and give us all the details.
Or perhaps you dream about starting such a collection. What title would it be and what would it take for you to get motivated to start collecting?






I own 3 copies of Pride & Prejudice, and that's it.

Although I have had as many as 1300+ books at one time, I am trying (tryyyyying) to view books like other objects. That is, that I only want to be surrounded by what adds value to my life. Yes, I'm trying to be very Zen about it... or something.

So now, when I finish a novel, if it wasn't amazing, I pass it on. If it's non-fiction I ask - will I use this again?

So having more than one copy of a single title works against this ideal.


However, what I would enjoy owning, is a first edition or early edition collection of certain titles. Such as all Austen's works, or poetry of Frost, Poe and others. I have an early edition of P&P and one of Shelley's poetry. Books with leather or older styles of binding are lovely objects.

What are the other geeksters dreaming of?
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Friday, August 28

the week that was

The metaphorical weather round these pasts has seen the storm pass, though it remains in the horizon, a small glimmer of light, winds changeable - anything's possible.
The actual weather is still too damn hot. And there are still more mosquitos than the world really needs.

I indulged in a few films. Can't believe what youtube offers. Watched Lost in Austen (here for full episodes), which was great fun if annoying in places. Persuasion (recommended by sarah after having watched both versions), of which I had disliked the BBC version, and found this 2007 one much better. As well as Their Eyes Were Watching God, which was fine on its own but after having read the novel it was disappointing. Incidentally, I had read it years ago and forgot. *roll of eyes*
The Wildflower's current favourite book is Silly Sally (I reviewed here). And I finished Bel Canto (my review) and North and South (my review) and I'm now reading Lady Audley's Secret.

No crafting (can't do it all and it's OKAY) but do have this in progress... and will hopefully look half as good as this...


A lovely award bestowed upon me by flowers at Infinitely Learning. Thank you, always humbling to be recognised. And I love the chance to pass on recognition and find new blogs.


Guidelines of this award:

1. List 7 things that I love
2. Link back to the blog that awarded it to me
3. Choose 7ish blogs to award as ‘Kreativ Bloggers’
4. Comment at each blog to let them know they’ve been chosen

1. spicy teas with honey
2. words spilling out
3. large floppy bags
4. Autumn
5. going barefoot as often as possible
6. the promise of a new notepad/journal
7. labyrinths

I'm passing this on to 6 bloggers (I know you might have already had this award, but you deserve the recognition, and I want to gives it to ya!).
Docwitch - for her creative words, her dresses (GIMME!), and determination for a creative life.
Lisa - for mind-blindingly creative homeschooling ideas.
Ruth- for doing her art, because she refuses to ignore the need.
sarah - for her deceptive minimalism, of which lurks blossoms of creativity every day.
Caroline - for gentle gorgeousness, herself and her work.
Mel - for being my creatively indulging purple sister.

I have added two bloggy things. One, a really groovy gadget that allows readers to do things quickly with my words - tweet them, google them, etc. Just highlight any word/phrase on my post and check for yourself.

And the networked blog widget on my sidebar. I think this is just for FB?? Anyway, if you're on FB you can 'follow' my blog through that and get my post updates on your news feed. Might be more convenient for some. And of course, others can find you through my widget.

Ooh, ooh, and I just realised that we are peeking at September! So you might want to consider a month in review post in the next few days.


Also blogging at Crooked Hooks & chewing on a leaf

Thursday, August 27

Thankful Anyway Thursday

It's easy to be thankful for the good stuff, can you be thankful for the not so good?
(as serious or light-hearted as you like)
read more here



Whine.
whine
whIIIIIIIne
whine
Whine
whiiiiiine
whiiiinnniiiiiiiiing
WHINE!!!!!!!



I am thankful anyway...........

c'mon Mon, you can do it....

... because it means my daughter has a voice and feels safe to use it.
... because as she vocalises unhappiness, I'm able to know something is wrong.
... because a struggle is a chance for me to look further into myself.
... for a chance to practice patience, Love, acceptance.
... for the chance to rediscover again and again my own strength.

Let me know (comment) if you've done your own Thankful Anyway and I'll add your link to this post. Grab the button up the top (right click & Save As) and a link back is always nice.

A Full Monte Life
The Not So Tired Any More Mummy
My Voice, My View


Also blogging at Crooked Hooks & chewing on a leaf

Wednesday, August 26

Their Eyes Were Watching God



Worth: Photobucket
Enjoyed:

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston was a really enjoyable read.... but, how ridiculous! I had already read this! I didn't realise until the last quarter of the story. Ah well, it had been so many years that I couldn't remember how it ended. I think I read it back in my early 20's.

Now you might think, well, if you didn't recall it it couldn't have be so good. Well, it isn't a story that haunted me and remained with for years to come, that's true, but it's no less a great read. Her prose is lyrical and with all the richness of the black community of the time. I do tend to find novels with a lot of dialect a little too much like work, but it's essential here. The idioms are tasty morsels in the banquet of this tale. And of course, we know now how the initial outrage at Hurston's use of dialect has been replaced with admiration. What matters, is that she allowed these people tell their own tale with their own voices.

My suggestion is that if you really struggle with reading dialects, then try this one in audio format. For me, I found two things helpful. That I have watched enough American films depicting similar vernacular speech to 'hear' the dialogue in my head, and that the style was consistent and regular throughout.



So the story of Janie is told through her own eyes. She's married off to one man, runs off with another, and then finds love with a third.

The familiar people and things had failed her so she hung over the gate and looked up the road towards way off.


Although the drama is set against freedom from slavery and the building of the first black communities, these are mere distant details, a frame to hang Janie's story. Yet even the story isn't what makes this novel. It's interesting enough, though not the most compelling, but it's the prose and the themes that are captivating. Hurston has us considering female bonds, female and male differences, injustice in (rather than to) the black community, true love, independence, and personal fulfillment.

Us talks about de white man keepin' us down! Shucks! He don't have tuh. Us keeps our own selves down.


There is such a raw honesty in the depiction of the characters. Though again I wouldn't say that they are the most engaging, as the themes and prose take centre stage. However, they are real enough, and none is too bad or too good. Not even Janie's true love is spared of flaws. Janie's initial idealistic hopes are not so much fulfilled nor are they trampled on, but rather merged with the grit of reality. It is a personal fulfillment that defies idealism.

This is both an important work, almost lost to obscurity, as well as an enjoyable read.

Tuesday, August 25

writing for life

I've made a big decision.

What, bigger than the recent one that has shaken your life upside down?! you ask.

No, not bigger, but big.

I was going through my stuff. Doesn't the Dark Moon have amazing letting go energy? The letting go also included a Day of Tears on Saturday, which was very cleansing thankyouforasking
Anyway, what I went through I went through meticulously.
Did it add to my life?
Will I care if I never see it again?
Does this deserve a place in my I Must Own These Things Pile of life?

Anyway, as you do, I ended up looking through some old diaries/journals. In one, I mention how I gave up my dream to write. I knew back then that I didn't have the eloquence of some, but I used that as an excuse to mask the real reason - that I gave it up to accommodate my new married life and what was expected of me. I did myself a great disservice.

In my previous life, I had been travelling around Australia and writing on an old-fashioned typewriter. I wrote while a bunch of us, friends and strangers alike, sat in a circle sharing a piece of ourselves under a haze of smoke and dusty stars. Talking, sharing dreams, ideas, weirdness, laughter, deep thought. There I sat with my typewriter, sometimes joining in discussion, sometimes sinking my head low and typing, typing, typing.

Or I wrote on the back of napkins, or in beach sand, on my friends' arms, or on a small notepad during a stop for petrol (gas). It wasn't just writing, it was the freedom, the letting go of pieces I thought good.

Basically, I wrote. Poems, snippets, thoughts, starting lines, characters.... I had the germ of an idea of becoming a novelist, but I wrote because words simply spilt out.

And then life became traditional, fixed, bounderies were set, obligations formed, emotions in turmoil.

I stopped writing.

I think that studying, on some level, was a way to feed my need to write. All those essays... But it also aided in killing my creativity. It required exactness, pedantry, forcing my ideas into prescribed nooks. Not that there isn't any creativity in this type of writing, but I am of course talking about something wilder.


photo: Daniela Duncan

Years later, healing my Arrogance Shadow helped me to see that it would be unlikely for me to be a successful writer. Honestly, this is a good thing. Because that Shadow insists on perfection and perfection is a burden and an obstacle.

It does mean that today I can say this...

I'm going to write again.

It doesn't matter if it's any good, or if it will ever be published. I will write because it brings me joy.

I'm going to tap into that muse. I feel her waking. I'm going to have a notebook by my side, like the old days, and jot it all down. I'm not going to concern myself with whether I have enough time being a mother and all. Time is subjective.
I'm going to possibly work on something meatier, a novel. And just see where it goes.

It doesn't matter what I write. It isn't the result, it's the journey. Not the one we convince ourselves we are supposed to be happy with. But the journey of what brings us into our authentic selves.

I believe that we all deserve to take that ride.



Also blogging at Crooked Hooks & chewing on a leaf

Monday, August 24

Mama Records #1

I'm going to attempt to record her doings monthly (by age). Although I post about what she's up to regularly, it's mostly the bigger stuff and I know I'm missing out lots of little but wonderful things. I think it'll be groovy for her to look back on. Feel free to skip this!

In July, your favourite book was Room on the Broom. You asked for it with, 'broom... broom'. That sounds very different to broom broom for car noises. And you like to say 'yes!' when it's time for the witch to say it. And you very much like the dragon saying roar every time.

You had your cousins from England over and you astounded them with your verbal skills. Saying so much for a 15 month old baby. You had a wonderful time with them, asking for them when you woke up.


During their two week stay, you showed us that you understood the concept of two (and say it). Although mami was in denial as she doesn't want to be one of those mamas that thinks her child is soooo smart.

You also started to speak in 3-word sentences. Hug de milk, gone de milk, gone de budder (butterfly), and now, a couple of weeks on, you say several more.

Your cousins bought you your very first children's DVD. Pingu and Angelina Ballerina. The latter is too mature for you, but you have fallen in love with Pingu. Mami is a little miffed that you ask for Pingu before your books, as you used to. hrmph However, Mami can't help but be grateful for the 30 minutes of time to do things without baby attached to legs/hip.

Last month your favourite book seems to be The Tiger Who Came to Tea. You've had it for a couple of months but only now are really into it. You ask for it - tee (tea), or, kita (tiger)

You had your first fairground ride. You didn't appear to like it much, but protested when we came off. It all reminded mami just how young you still are, despite understanding so much. You were too small for almost every game.

By the end of their stay, the 12th Aug, your first molars were pushing through. All four at once - ouch! You've been irritable and even more clingy. But otherwise you take pain very well, better than your ma.

When we are out and about, your first inclination is to point to birds, tree, cat, and pup, even in the town.

You now like to hug just about everything, while saying, huuuuug. Tomato plant, shoes, your own hand. Funny girl.
And you're learning to kiss. You often make the sound after you've removed your lips.

It's still so very hot here and you suffer with it, so we spend our days inside. We venture out in the evenings for a little stroll together.

You've now become 16 months old.

Sunday, August 23

North and South



425 pages
Penguin edition

Worth: Photobucket
Enjoyed:

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell tells the story of a young woman, her change in circumstance, her sorrows, and her loves. Margaret lives in comfort in the South of England. Her father is a parson and their situation is in a small village surrounded by the New Forest. Add to that that she spent a good portion of her youth amongst her aristocratic relations. However, her father's dissention from the Church, results in them leaving all that they love behind for the smoky air of the industrial town of Milton. Of course she meets a man of the town, Mr Thornton, who is in marked contrast to herself. While she has been relatively privileged and of Southern, and thereby 'refined,' sensibilities, he is a rough diamond and a manufacturer no less!

Margaret and Mr Thornton play out their story, which serves as a reflection to Gaskell's secondary plot, and commentary, on the clashes between worker and master. As well as the geographical aversion between the South and North of England. One that is repeated in many countries around the world, between the industrial - trade and working class - and the agricultural - landowners and upper class.

Gaskell doesn't own the brilliance of Eliot. She has neither her keen insight nor intellectual capacity to reflect upon them. She isn't as witty and mischievous as Austen. Yet I enjoyed her because of these differences.

Her prose was clumsy on occassion but otherwise stands up alongside Austen. Austen's humour, however, would not have done for Gaskell's subject matter. But I was very glad to read something more manageable than Eliot, however brilliant she may be.



The characters are well-rounded if showing occassional displays of caricature. Overall though, they are believable and likeable. I was anxious as soon as I discovered Margaret's father was a parson because I didn't think I could stomach another severely pious main character such as Maggie or Daniel. Never fear, Margaret is 'good', but she is flawed. She is haughty, proud, and a little prejudiced. That makes her more real and, in my eyes, more likeable.

The story lulled for me a little in the middle, where a good chunk was taken up with the strike and conversations took to commenting on labour and whatnot. But by the end, I came to appreciate this discourse on class differences. The story paces along quite well on the main, and the ending is oh so satisfying. This has been the most enjoyable classic of the year of me.

I recommend it to lovers of the classics, and those who wish to try something less girly than Austen but less weighty than Eliot.

Saturday, August 22

Weekly Geeks: been meaning to read this...

Norwegian Wood, Murakami

I haven't read any Murakami, why?.... which to start with...?
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou

This one has been out forever and I've owned it for 2 years. It's on my 2009 reading list.
His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass)
I have the whole set and did start reading the first one. I don't know, perhaps it was the time, but I couldn't get into it. Give them away, or try again?





Take a peek what the other geeks have yet to read.

moon sign support (ii)

You might find the little introduction of help to see what I'm getting at.
Go to this site or this site to work out your moon sign.

Keywords - a quick idea of what makes up this moon placement.
Needs - what you need emotionally if you have that moon sign.
Provides - the type of emotional support you give to others.
Compatible - generally most emotionally compatible with these moon signs.

Cancer moon
Key words: sentimental, security, intimacy, family, dependent, sensitive, nurturing.
Needs: Peace, tenderness, and to feel needed. Quiet time to replenish and to remember self-needs. Time with supportive family members.

Provides: Sympathy and compassion. A friend for life. This is the friend you go to cry to and with. Tea and cake and gentle listening. The substitute mother. Not so good if you need action or to move past a weepy stage.

Compatible: Taurus, Virgo, Leo, Cancer.

Leo moon
Key words: independent, proud, creative, generous, strong, loving, dramatic.
Needs: To feel appreciated. To be a leader. To express generosity. They need to be in a position of authority and benevolence where others follow their wishes. They are tortured by being ignored or rebelled against.

Provides: A generous and open heart. This is the friend that gives you a warm and comfortable emotional landing pad. Great person if you need hugs, requests for help, and loyalty. Not so great if you are overwhelmed by your emotions and unable to listen, or if you need rational advice without melodrama.

Compatible: Libra, Sagittarius, Cancer, Leo, Aries.

Virgo moon
Key words: analytical, practical, distant, reserved, reliable, loyal, critical.
Needs: To feel useful and needed. They find security having the details sorted, and in sorting the details out themelves.

Provides: Practical solutions. This is the friend who will stand by you and take care of practical matters that may be overwhelming you. Also great at working rationally through complicated issues and giving advice. They will be most sympathetic if they see you are ready to help yourself. Not so great if you are still feeling vulnerable, need tenderness, or are unable to take constructive criticism.

Compatible: Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo, Cancer, Libra.

Wednesday, August 19

The Bone People



464 pages
Worth: Photobucket
Enjoyed:

The Bone People by Keri Hulmes is an original first novel that weaves together the lives of three very different people living in New Zealand. An eight-year-old mostly mute boy, his adoptive Maori father with a drinking problem, and a white reclusive female artist with a creative block. They are stripped to the bone. Leaving themselves bare and vulnerable. Coming together reluctantly, fated perhaps. Questioning the concept of what makes family.

It's a lighter stream-of-consciousness than say, Toni Morrison's works. As well as a much lighter allegory than say Life of Pi. Maori mythology weaves in and out throughout the tale. Along with those styles, the chapters are structured in such a fluid style that keeping track takes work. The first half is part of the weaving, whilst the second focuses on their individual journeys. Hulme's prose is poetic and possibly the pivotal reason I remained with it. I was glad I did. The ending chapters feel disconnected from the first and that's possibly my only real criticism. Even the Maori symbolism takes centre stage in a way that is less appealing than her subtle use in previous chapters. I feel that it removed us from the very human rawness of the characters' emotions.

Hulme does a fabulous job of creating a sense of isolation. Of place and soul. The rugged landscape of New Zealand's South Island coastline is a magnificent backdrop and symbol.

I found the child abuse difficult work to walk through. Yet, not as difficult as I would have thought. Perhaps it's the novel's other-wordliness, the child's maturity, the child as Christ symbol, the necessity to know about these occurences, or Hulme's storytelling abilities. Troubling yes, but somehow it all made sense and was necessary to understand.

They were nothing more than people, by themselves. Even paired, any pairing, they would have been nothing more than people by themselves. But all together, they have become the heart and muscles and mind of something perilous and new, something strange and growing and great.

Together, all together, they are the instruments of change.
I didn't feel deeply for any of the characters, and yet, they are so well-developed, that I needed to know about them. They are too terribly flawed to connect with, but that is their purpose in this tale. This is a character-driven novel where just enough occurs to keep them tied to the real world of movement, but always playing second-fiddle.

It's an intense ride, one that I'm unsure whether to recommend. Possibly only to those who care for such intensity and mysticism. I am glad for reading it. It touched me and troubled me. Yet it was a lyrical journey that stayed with me for some time afterwards.

Thankful Anyway Thursday

It's easy to be thankful for the good stuff, can you be thankful for the not so good?
(as serious or light-hearted as you like)
read more here



The Dark Moon comes so I'm getting this in early.

I am in the calm of a storm. I feel peace, stillness after torment.
Yet I cannot deny the ever present storm. It swirls around me, menacing, unpredictable. How much damage will it cause? I feel heaviness in the pit of my gut.

Anger
Bitterness
More anger.

Not mine.

And the support that I stand on is fickle, creaking under my steps. Threatening to give way at any time.


image: big wallpapers

I am thankful anyway...

... for the calm when it's there.
... for the inner peace despite the external turmoil.
... for a chance to practice integrity, Love, acceptance.
... for the chance to rediscover again and again my own strength.
... because whatever support breaks under the weight of this, the Earth is there, overflowing with it's solid energy.
... as all storms pass.

Let me know (comment) if you've done your own Thankful Anyway and I'll add your link to this post. Grab the button up the top (right click & Save As) and a link back is always nice.

Stacy at Mama-Om

Monday, August 17

finds

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Oh this is just so wonderfully creative and useful and inspiring [insert various enthusiastic adjectives].

I think that almost every creative/homeschooling parent has, when reading to their little one, thought, "I could write something just as good/better than this".

I know of some mummy bloggers who construct stories in Word - boring for them and their kids. But here's a wonderful alternative where you use an easy wizard with clipart and animation and lots of editing possibilities. Of course, the storyline is your own, but now you can make your ideas come alive, so to speak.

There's a nice and easy demo to check out at Big Universe.
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book blog

It gives me so much pleasure, reading that is, that I'm devoting a blog to it. And as finances are really tight and will become even more so, it'll be a way to keep ads away from my life blogging blogs, if you know what I mean.

I've written up reviews for Bel Canto and Kitchen.





Still lots of work going on over there, mind your step... Come join me at chewing a leaf, it's soooo lonely at the moment!

Bel Canto



Worth: Photobucket
Enjoyed:

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett was an intriguing read. It actually took me almost half of the novel to get drawn in. The whole situation was of little interest to me. Yet Patchett's writing - nothing amazing but a lovely easy style that is very engaging - kept me going.

It wasn't her writing nor her character development that made this one enjoyable to me. It was the story. That simple. Sometimes, a good story, and this one is unique I think, and well-told at that, is enough for a reader.

Now, you need to suspend disbelief. If you look too closely and think too much you will see the situation as improbable and dismiss the novel. However, if you allow yourself to fall into the realm of fiction, Patchett does a grand job of making it as believable as it needs to be. It seems like the soap opera that is watched throughout the story by some characters reflects on how we are meant to read this. I think if she took it a little further into a realm more outside realism, she would have a better work.*

While the story seems to be about a hostage situation, it isn't really. What drove it forward, what engaged me, were the relationships. It's a novel about being human, even the terrorists. It's about finding beauty and joy in the sublime - Opera, and in simplicity - smelling a good soap.

If what a person wants is his life, he tends to be quiet about wanting anything else. Once the life begins to seem secure, one feels the freedom to complain.


It's about stepping out of our (often confining but ultimately self-imposed) roles. It's about doing what we love, what comes naturally. It's about being in the moment.

Once I was caught, Patchett reeled me in and I couldn't put it down. I was eager to know what would become of the characters' relationships, personal transformations, and new discoveries. It made me gasp in shock and proclaim a silent 'no!', so that's good story telling.

I think the strength of this novel is in it's most prominent idea, the beauty of the arts and their ability to transform our spirits. But I feel that a writer of better skill and talent would have ensured that the idea of the sublime reached its higher potential. The idea is beautiful, I can't quite bring myself to call the novel beautiful.

If there was ever such a thing as a second chance, he would have his coffee outside in the morning.


But the epilogue? Rip it out. What complete nonsense. What was she thinking? Almost ruined what was a satisfying climax (perhaps needing a few more paragraphs in lieu of the epilogue).**

I recommend it. Nothing sublime, but highly enjoyable. It's a good choice for summer reading. Took me just a few days. Even with a teething baby.


* That and the several minor flawed facts shouldn't have won this novel an award.
** I actually read an uncorrected proof copy. Is that epilogue kept in? Do they ever mention the name of the host country?


Currently reading: North and South, Gaskell
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i wanna be a whale

No idea if this is true or not, doesn't matter... important message and amusing.

Recently, in a large French city, a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym. It said: ¨THIS SUMMER DO YOU WANT TO BE A MERMAID OR A WHALE?¨

A middle aged woman, whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.

To Whom It May Concern:
Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans). They have an active sex life, they get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp. They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia, the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia. Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs. They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans. They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.

Mermaids don’t exist. If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of psychoanalysts due to an identity crisis. Fish or human? They don’t have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them not to mention how could they have sex? Just look at them.....where is IT? Therefore, they don’t have kids either. Not to mention who wants to get close to a girl who smells like a fish store?

The choice is perfectly clear to me; I want to be a whale.

P.S. We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver and a piece of chocolate with my friends. With time we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room it distributes out to the rest of our bodies. So we aren’t heavy, we are enormously cultured, educated and happy. Beginning today, when I look at my butt in the mirror I will think, ¨Good grief, look how smart I am…¨



Sunday, August 16

wind daughters... and frog

The wind had much to share today. I couldn't open my arms and soul wide enough to let in the Autumn tales.

The Wildflower stood nearby just letting it whisper about her head... and then it picked up...

[video]
video
Difficult to tell... but she is breathing deeply, anticipating the high winds.


Gleeful at been thrown about by the wind.

agen agen!!
I'll ask darling, I'll ask...



We stood and stretched, we danced, we giggled, we sat and waited, we heard...... and we were filled.

candlelight paradox

I know, I've gone somewhat AWOL (unless you're on FB with me, and I'm still commenting out there). Things have been really tough here. However, I crossed a junction.

I've been at that crossroads for what feels like the longest time. Not because I didn't know which road to take, but rather because I needed to wait for Fate to complete her tasks. Not all is in our hands.

And so I crossed, and behind me I see pain, pain still occuring. I see broken pieces.

Le Guin once wrote, “To light a candle is to cast a shadow.”

Those words have many meanings for me. But one meaning that is relevant at the moment, is that sometimes making choices towards happiness creates sadness somewhere else. Either in ourselves, or in others. Sometimes we give up something precious, or the hope of it, for a better chance at happiness.


photo: ragstatic

And that's what I've done. I feel for those in the shadows cast by the candle of my choice. But there is only one life, and if happiness is in our grasp, isn't it right that we reach for it?

And so I bask in the light. I feel like I can breathe again, as if I had been wearing a face mask guarding me from poison air. My heart is lighter. I can't say it's joy just yet, because while I won't be brought down by the shadows, I acknowledge they are there. I validate them.

It's difficult to experience joy at a tearing down, but we can see a break in the clouds. And that feels lighter.... better.

Saturday, August 15

Kitchen



Worth:
Enjoyed:

I have no idea why I have this book, it's not something I would normally pick up. But as I tend to buy them and not read them until months later (and this one I've had for over 2 years) then that's not surprising is it?

There are two tales in this tiny 150 page book. The first is of a lonely orphaned young woman, Mikage, who moves in with people, a boy and his 'mother', that she doesn't know, but know of her. Their lives entwine and the boy's life quickly mirrors her own.

The second, and shorter tale, is a haunting telling of a different young woman and her loss. This one delves further into the realms of magical-realism.

I almost threw this book across the room. The writing was so irritatingly poor. But it's short length made me press on. The worst was the use of the most trite cliches.

It's original is in Japanese so I came to wonder about a few things. Was the flaw in the writing, the loss in translation, or the translator's skills?

Putting the writing style aside, I found two quite atmospheric little tales. There is nothing profound or new here, but they are touching. It's Yoshimoto's ability to reflect emotions and states back into the environment that are its strongest point.

The theme of loneliness moved into despair and I found it too depressing for me right now. I would have liked this one more so in my early 20's or teen. Yoshimoto attempts to give a glimmer of hope, about moving on after loss. Not in any obvious tying-up of their lives, and I respect her for that. Yet I think she pushed her point too far in the second story and she loses a tiny bit of credibility.

I was surprised to find myself, if not caring, at least deeply interested in Mikage's life. Surprising considering the time we are given to know them.

edit: since writing this review I searched out other reviews and it seems that the flaw was in the translator's ability. Good to know because apparently it was a best-seller in Japan.

I don't particularly recommend it. If you come across it, it's short enough read in world literature.

Tuesday, August 11

Kite Runner & Daniel Deronda




The Kite Runner

I really enjoyed The Kite Runner. It had the potential to be something quite special, 5 star even, if it weren't for the second half. Yet I forgave any shortcomings on the strength of the first half.

The first half is touching, poignant, subtle, heart-wrenching, gently fascinating. One of the characters stole my heart.

And the second half? It's like a different book! Suddenly there's crazy action, unlikely situations, more coincidences than you can shake a karmic stick at, obvious cliches, and all round predictability.

So why did I enjoy it anyway. Like I said, the first half won me over. When I realised the obviousness of the rest, I didn't cringe. Instead, I saw it all as a high drama. Something akin to a (better) Bollywood film or soap opera. Sure, it was over the top stuff, but it was so thrilling. Well, in a harrowing sort of way. It's a terribly sad story.

I also enjoyed reading into a different culture.

It's a short book. If you can accept the drama, it's worth it. If Hosseini had maintained the story's integrity and subtlety, it could have been a real gem.

Daniel Deronda


Another Eliot for me this year. Enjoyed it many times more than Mill on the Floss.

I was even more impressed with Eliot. She really is wonderously observant. Such a keen eye and ear. But more significantly, a keen inner ear. Reading the motives behind what charcaters do is simply delicious. I wish I had read her more back in my university days as a psych major.

However, she is also very heavy going. It feels like you're reading a classic. And that holds true for even if, like me, you read plenty of them. There were paragraphs in this one that were monstrously cumbersome. I mean, I was reading them twice over and still thinking, wth!?

And if she were writing today, an editor would cut out her lengthy ponderings. They are much too self-indulgent. Yet, they are goooood. They are lengthy, but they're not rambles. They are monologues of high intellectual order. She's just so spot on. But it makes for a classic that is 500+ pages of regular head-spining linguistic complexity. I'm okay with that, but I know everyone will enjoy it.

Okay, so what of the story? This heroine, Gwendolen, is more real for me, compared to Maggie in MotF. Maggie is good and sweet and how could we dislike her? But for me, I can't relate to the piously sweet. We may not necessarily like Gwendolen, but she sure keeps our interest. I was a little frustrated with how Eliot evolved her, but won't say more at risk of spoiling anything.

The second story, about Daniel Deronda, that weaves in, out, and through the first, was not so interesting to me. Again, characters being oh so very, very good. Too good. Yawn. But don't think I'm dismissing it entirely. There is much in the way of fascinating ideas, exchanges between characters, and historical interest, to make it worth the read.

Recommended to readers of the classics, or anyone wishing to enrich their souls.

Currently reading: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

my last reads

I read these quite a while ago. I ought to have written up the reviews when the books were fresh in my mind, but, as some of you know, things around here have been.... unstable.

The Kite Runner



I really enjoyed The Kite Runner. It had the potential to be something quite special, 5 star even, if it weren't for the second half. Yet I forgave any shortcomings on the strength of the first half.

The first is touching, poignant, subtle, heart-wrenching, gently fascinating. One of the characters stole my heart.

And the second half? It's like a different book! Suddenly there's crazy action, unlikely situations, more coincidences than you can shake a karmic stick at, obvious cliches, and all round predictability.

So why did I enjoy it anyway. Like I said, the first half won me over. When I realised the obviousness of the rest, I didn't cringe. Instead, I saw it all as a high drama. Something akin to a (better) Bollywood film or soap opera. Sure, it was over the top stuff, but it was so thrilling. Well, in a harrowing sort of way. It's a terribly sad story.

I also enjoyed reading into a different culture.

It's a short book. If you can accept the drama, it's worth it. If Hosseini had maintained the story's integrity and subtlety, it could have been a real gem.

Daniel Deronda


Another Eliot for me this year. Enjoyed it many times more than Mill on the Floss.

I was even more impressed with Eliot. She really is wonderously observant. Such a keen eye and ear. But more significantly, a keen inner ear. Reading the motives behind what charcaters do is simply delicious. I wish I had read her more back in my university days as a psych major.

However, she is also very heavy going. As sarah mentioned on the last Eliot review, it feels like you're reading a classic. And that holds true for even if, like me, you read plenty of them. There were paragraphs in this one that were monstrously cumbersome. I mean, I was reading them twice over and still thinking, wth!?

And if she were writing today, an editor would cut out her lengthy ponderings. They are much too self-indulgent. Yet, they are goooood. They are lengthy, but they're not rambles. They are monologues of high intellectual order. She's just so spot on. But it makes for a classic that is 500+ pages of regular head-spining linguistic complexity.

Okay, so what of the story? This heroine, Gwendolen, is more real for me, compared to Maggie in MotF. Maggie is good and sweet and how could we dislike her? But for me, I can't relate to the piously sweet. We may not necessarily like Gwendolen, but she sure keeps our interest. I was a little frustrated with how Eliot evolved her, but won't say more at risk of spoiling anything.

The second story, about Daniel Deronda, that weaves in, out, and through the first, was not so interesting to me. Again, characters being oh so very, very good. Too good. Yawn. But don't think I'm dismissing it entirely. There is much in the way of fascinating ideas, exchanges between characters, and historical interest, to make it worth the read.

Recommended to readers of the classics, or anyone wishing to enrich their souls.

Currently reading: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett