Saturday, December 31, 2005
Kira is the main character - though having a deformed leg, she was saved at birth by her mother and has an unusual talent in her fingers for sewing images with colored threads. When her mother dies she is taken by the council to live in an old building with indoor plumbing to work on her sewing. Shw connects with Thomas, a boy who is a skilled carver and Jo, a skilled singer. They are the ones to provide the creativity to the community in an annual ritual. But they discover there are communities outside who live differently.
Kira is a wonderful character - strong through her suffering, fascinating through her art. we watch her learn the art of dyeing threads different natural colors. (Makes me almost want to try it myself.)
As with The Giver, Lowry leaves us thinking about how we relate to each other - the division of labor, the parenting methods, the way we govern ourselves, the way we exclude some, creativity among us, how we deal with handicapped, how we deal with our dead, the rituals in our lives and much more. I knew my son would hate the ending - the future is left to your imagination. (finished listening 12/22 and 12/28)
One of these times I will stop apologizing for reading this fluff, but I still think Roberts does a better job at fluff than most. Again, I learned something more about the gardening business, an important piece of this trilogy. This time it was about Harper's job propogating plants and developing hybrids. What a painstaking process! I continued to like the geneological research done on the ghost, though I thought - wouldn't it be nice to always have a ghost around to tell you what really happened. The part that really drew me to this particular book was Haley's story of how she got pregnant - in grief over the loss of her father she turned to a friend. When he went off to college she realized she was pregnant and for various reasons chose not to tell him about the pregnancy. I am glad Roberts describes this variation of single motherhood. Of course the patness of it all sometimes drives me nuts, the perfectness of the relationships - how all three couples and their kids get along so smoothly, and they all get married within a year's time. But the rest keeps me reading Roberts.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
(listened to in November, 2005)
(read in October, 2005)
(finished reading in October, 2005)
(read sometime fall 2005)
(finished listening to 9/20/05)
(finished listening to 8/24)
Monday, October 24, 2005
Part One occurs in the present in New England, where we meet the antique dealer telling the story. As a result of an accident, a man dies, and she is asked to sell the contents of his house. Here, she finds the painted drum, and in an atypical move, she keeps the drum herself, knowing she is somehow connected to it and has to return it to the people that created it.
Part Two starts in the present in the Native American community in the northern Midwest. Bernhard knows the story of the drum and tells it, as it is the story of his ancestors - a story of love and betrayal.
Part Three occurs in the present day, where a couple of children almost die of cold and hunger, and in the process burn down their house, but are saved by the mystical sound of the drum.
Then we return to New England, where there is a certain closure to the story.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Amir soon left Afghanistan with his father and ended up in the San Franciso area. I could relate to the immigrant story - coming over with just the clothes on their backs, working hard in menial jobs, maintaining a community of Afghans (the author kept pronouncing it Afrans). They soon learned to scour yard sales and then resell the items in a flea market. This was not only a source of income, but a social event among the Afghans. For a while I was thinking - I am not seeing women in this story and how Muslims treat their women, but then the author himself says, that the boy doesn't know about women, since he grew up in a male household. That turns out to be a good thing, becasue he doesn't have the ingrained traditions of treating women as second class, and treats his wife in America well. I liked learning about their customs, their dating and marriage customs.
I do have to say the book was quite predictable in it's plot twists, even doing some heavy handed foreshadowing, and a friend called it melodramatic, but I didn't mind. When Amir returns to Afghanistan while the Taliban is in charge, he runs into a very sadistic character. This helped me understand that the Taliban is not so much a religious movement as a power trip.
(Listened to early October. The library copy was lost, so I ended up buying the book to check spellings. It will make a good gift for someone.)
Friday, September 30, 2005
(listened to in August, going through it a second time with my son in September)
(read late July)
(listened to all 17 tapes twice! July & August)
(read half early in 2005)
(finished July 24)
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
(finished reading July 21, will be listening to the tapes with son later this summer)
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
(finished reading July 18)
One story is about couples and how one researcher can analyze 15 minutes of a conversation between them and predict with 95% accuracy if they will stay together.
I loved the marketing section - it started with a musician, that didn't fit into any category, and though music experts found him wonderful, but he had a hard time breaking into the business, because he didn't do well in surveys of sample listeners. The book told of the classic Pepsi - Coke story, where taste tests showed that people liked Pepsi better, so Coke changed it's formula making a huge mistake and having to bring back Coke Classic. This series of stories was about how people often can't tell you what they think, or it is out of context (sip test for the drinks instead of drinking a whole can at home), or just don't know how to react to something new (like the musician) and it is interpreted as dislike.
I also like the Pentagon war games story, where they spent enormous sums analyzing an enemy and building a virtual force to fight them, but the person who was asked to lead the virtual enemy defenses used his gut military instincts and did unpredictable things, that toppled the great virtual US army.
(finished listening July 17)
Another quick read, but I really enjoyed this retelling of the Pied Piper story in modern times with explanations for some of the older versions of the tale. 14 year old Callie gets to interview the band the Brass Rat during their concert in her small town. But something doesn’t feel right and she can’t seem write the article for the school paper. When her little brother and the other kids in town disappear on Halloween… anyway, you get the gist.I am wondering: How DO authors collaborate. I can understand on a scholarly article, but on a novel? Did Adam write the song lyrics/poetry in the book? Did he provide the background on the rock band’s life while Jane provided the mythology? In either case, I’m glad I bought it. I’ll have to keep reading Yolen.
(finished reading July 11)
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
I immediately recognized this as the second of the Garden Trilogy at the store, so I grabbed it. I needed something light after all that heavy history stuff and this fit the bill. As I predicted after reading Blue Dahlia (in Jan), Roz, the matriarch of the Harper House and owner of a garden center falls in love with Mitch, the historian/genealogist. Stella & Logan are getting ready for their wedding and Haley and daughter Lily are cementing their relationship with Harper (Roz’s son), though that relationship will develop in the third book – Red Lily. Again, I liked the gardening details – I wished I had Roz’s flair, my garden is fun at times, but a chore at others, and I hate digging up new beds or fighting the tree roots that try to claim all my good soil in flower beds. Back to the story. I like an older couple falling in love after their children are grown. I still like the mystical “ghost” which wreaks a lot more havoc this time around. I am starting to tire of Roberts’ one dimensional, very evil bad guys – this time it is Roz’s ex-husband – a brief mistake of a marriage. But all in all I again enjoyed reading about strong women and their complex relationships with children, lovers, society and each other.
(finished reading July 6)
(finished reading June 30)
(finished reading June 27)
(finished reading June 27)
(finished reading June 27)
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
The books mentioned in Angry Housewives and my comments if I’ve read them:
Hotel by Arthur Hailey – maybe I’ve read this, I’ve forgotten
Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver – read long ago
Middlemarch by George Eliot
On the Road by Jack Kerouac – tried reading in the last few years, but couldn’t get into it
Main Street by Sinclair Lewis – I’ve read Lewis
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion – I’ve read Didion
The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather – I’ve read a few by Cather
Dr. Faustus by Thomas Mann (a banned book)
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe – read in mid-late 1970’s
Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask by Dr. David Reuben – read in high school and hid under my mattress
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong – read
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
The Total Woman by Marabel Morgan – I think I tried to read this, I was definitely aware of it
Roots by Alex Haley – saw most of it on TV
The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank by Erma Bombeck – read this and a few of her other books
Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell – sounds so familiar
Terms of Endearment by Larry Mc Murtry – saw the movie
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – just had to answer a reference question about this the other day
My Home Is Far Away by Dawn Powell
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole – read, but can’t say I liked
Out on a Limb by Shirley MacLaine
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler – read last year
West with the Night by Beryl Markham – read
The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Handling Sin by Michael Malone (funny)
The Stand by Stephen King – I’ve read some of King and don’t want to read any more
My Antonia by Willa Cather – read
Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway – read
The Beginning and the End by Naguib Mahfouz
Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset – I have read something of Undset in Latvian
Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler
Eastward Ha! By S.J. Perelman (funny)
Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy
Martian Chronicles - read
Age of Innocence
The Drifters by Michner – read a few of his books
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
Mma Precious Ramotswe – a wise middle aged woman, traditionally built, has her own detective agency. In this book she looks into a few beaus of a rich woman who hires her to check if these men are after her or her money. Most of the story is told from her point of view, with a beautiful, traditional view of the world, which has a lot to teach us today.
Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni is engaged to Mma Ramotswe and has his own car repair shop. He is concerned about not having refused to jump out of a plane with a parachute as a fundraising event for an orphan farm he helps. He also notices a fine Rover owned by a butcher has been fixed with cheap replacement parts by another mechanic.
Mma Makutsi is Mms Ramotswe’s assistant and secretary, who graduated from secretarial school with a 97%. She has opened a typing school for men and has a bit of money left over, so in this book she moves to a new living space.
Mma Silvia Potokwane runs the orphan farm and manages to talk people into doing things they did not necessarily intend to do. There is also a great scene where she talks down a bully. (finished reading this 5/30/05)
Monday, June 20, 2005
This is a time when I went to get the physical book from the shelves of the library to check on a few things like the spelling of the town of what I heard as “Norridge.” Turned out to be Norwich, so I could find Julian’s writings. There was also an Author’s Note that was not in the tape version, but the tape had an interview with the author, and it turns out she is a retired school teacher, who loves to write, but this is her first novel since she never had time to complete a whole book. One of her interests is the early history of the church. (finished listening to this 5/26/05)
This book is about Fidelis, a man who is trained as a master butcher by his father in Germany, but leaves for America sometime after WWI. He lands in Argus, ND, where he ends up starting his own butcher business, brings over his wife and sons, and starts a singing club. Singing clubs in Germany were organized by guilds or professions (strangely enough, historian Kaspars Klavins told me about these guild singing clubs when he came to the Medieval Conference, while I was still listening to the book), but in the US, men of various professions gathered to sing and share songs they knew.
The other main character in the book is Delphine, who comes back to her home town to take care of her alcoholic father, and she is accompanied by Cyprian, a juggler and balancer with whom she had an act together. Though they get along very well, he is gay, and she wants a partner in all aspects. (An interesting glimpse into what it meant to be gay at that time.) Delphine goes to work for Eva, Fidelis’ wife, in the butcher shop. She loves Eva, spends a lot of time with her, helps her with all the chores and the boys, and when Eva gets sick, takes over the household.Enough about the story – I just enjoyed the detailed description Erdrich gives of this time, about the way relationships worked, how the community worked. It was really poignant with the coming of WWII, and Germans in Germany versus Germans who had moved to the US. (finished listening to 5/12/05)
(Finished listening to by April 1, 2005)
Just saw an interview with Helen Hunt on David Letterman – she is in a movie version of this book and plays the wife that has just lost a lot of weight and is discovering sex with the shallow health club owner, and is divorcing Miles the main character. (5/11/05)
Friday, June 17, 2005
(read over spring break, completed April 6, 2005).
(Read March 2005)
(read Feb 2005)