From my desk, I watch rain dump sideways, then clouds splitting to make way for a sunny blue, back and forth, filling up gray, emptying, a strip of red clouds reflecting the sunset over Forest Park, the sky eventually fading in that slide toward dusk. I like how the sky moves here, where the Willamette … Continue reading Introduction: Moving, Being Moved.
Tonight I learned that Brian Doyle, who unquestionably ascended to status as my favorite writer, has been diagnosed with brain cancer and will undergo surgery tomorrow. In this brief window of availability to write, to post, to have wifi, I anticipated feverishly catching up on the many titles I've audiobooked since my last postings. Instead, … Continue reading Mortality. Connection.
A Visit from the Goon Squad is another multiple point-of-view novel, though unlike another recent listen, The Mare, which included two primary and a few supplementing POVs, this book by Egan took a much more kaleidoscopic POV approach. The end comes back to the beginning, though twenty-plus years after the beginning, with the middle dipping … Continue reading A Visit from the Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan)
The Mare is one of those novels with multiple voices, the same story told from a few perspectives. This one addressed class, race, privilege, propriety, paternalism, and the ill-conceived and self-congratulatory farce of "making a difference." And it did this addressing by showing, rather than telling, and included apt sensory language around emotion, and language, … Continue reading The Mare (Mary Gaitskill)
What Happened, Miss Simone? provided the most comprehensive work I've experienced thus far about the iconic artist, as I've not (yet) seen the Netflix documentary by the same name. Since I've recently listened to a string of memoirs, the form of biography was a bit rattling. Yes, there were some of Nina Simone's words about … Continue reading What Happened, Miss Simone?: A Biography (Alan Light)
Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living was my antidote for self-hatred. It was not effective. For years I've avoided the body/fat acceptance movement. I've nodded along blithely as friends have extolled the virtues, I've agreed with the "fitness at every size" model. But I've held myself at arms length … Continue reading Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living (Jes Baker)
I am not sure how It Was Me All Along came into my queue. I think it was a library recommendation based on the high number of memoirs I consume. I downloaded it without reading the description. Upon listening, my breath caught in my throat. Her descriptions of food, in terms sensual but never tawdry, were … Continue reading It Was Me All Along (Andie Mitchell)
In general, I enjoy a good memoir, and it happens that celebrities get a lot of memoirs published. There are the comedic ones, like Samantha Bee's I Know I am But What Are You?, Tina Fey's Bossypants, Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Jane Lynch's Happy Accidents, Amy Poehler's Yes … Continue reading Celebrity Memoir
Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, the follow-up to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, delves further into suggestions for how to implement what the first book outlines. By demonstrating how the relationship with material goods is one of mutual support, Kondō (aka KonMari) asserts that our relationship with … Continue reading Spark Joy (Marie Kondō)
Bastards was sharp and with a self-reflective insight I found impressive, given the relative youth of the author. A memoir whose culminating moment is at the tender age of 27 could give rise to skepticism, but I found this telling both moving and thoughtful. It left me ruminating on family, and biology, and adoption, and … Continue reading Bastards (Mary Anna King)
The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life's Perfection was, frankly, a time-filler, a distraction, and although I didn't unequivocally love it, I did enjoy the descriptions of the north Florida woods, and the concepts of suspending personal preference or will in lieu of seeing how the plan of Life (as a feminine-personified Force in Singer's … Continue reading The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection (Michael A. Singer)
Animal-Speak: Understanding Animal Messengers, Totems, and Signs was a quick listen, just over three hours. The author/narrator was clearly well-versed in the subject, and displayed a fervor for promoting stronger connections betweens humans and the rest of the natural world. Takeaways, most of which were gleaned from the last ten minutes of summary: Noting the universality … Continue reading Animal-Speak (Ted Andrews)
A Tale for the Time Being is a book for which I waited patiently through my library system. Just when I was about to surrender and pay for the book, the email of availability arrived from the library system. I savored it, in large gulps. I stopped, and started over, not wanting to reach the … Continue reading A Tale for the Time Being (Ruth Ozeki)
A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories pierced me, leaving discernible puncture points. I was uncertain how she arrived in my queue, but wild-blind grateful. That collection was stunning. The weaving of truth and fiction and perspective and compassion and the long view of life and loving and family and redemption have left lingering threads in my … Continue reading A Manual for Cleaning Women (Lucia Berlin)
Ah, the Sookie Stackhouse series. This was a lot of hours of audio candy. Not especially nourishing; entertaining for the time; the inspiration for the HBO show True Blood. Brain candy. It qualifies as a chunk of titles I'm not especially proud to list here, but list it I shall.
Mink River was a revelation, far and away the best book I listened to in 2015. I listened and re-listened at least three times over six months. Brian Doyle touched something in me, about place and time and belonging. The Plover, not exactly a sequel, but related, an afterstory with characters introduced in Mink River, … Continue reading Mink River & The Plover (Brian Doyle)