Sunday, November 30, 2014

Savagery Is Inevitable?

"And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man's heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy."  from William Golding's Lord of the Flies

I finished Lord of the Flies a few days ago.  This book has the distinction of being the only book I've read along with both of my children during their senior years in high school.  Before the recent re-read, I thought I didn't like it.  Upon re-reading, I discovered I had missed a lot the first time.   Honestly, I'll have to say that I remembered almost nothing except that it was about a group of boys who were stranded on an island and who descend into savagery.  I remembered that there was something about a conch and some pigs, that someone dies, and that the boys were eventually rescued.

But what I know is that the book is a metaphor for how quickly we descend into savagery.  I'm sure we'd all like to think, in our high-tech, highly cultured world, that we are above barbarity.  Look around.  Watch the news.  Violence is our go-to reaction.  My "group" can rest, well-fed, in our warm homes, unmolested, always safe because our race and socio-economic status protect us.  We can believe, because it's easier and more comforting, that savagery is far from us.  The truth is the danger of that descent is all around us, all the time.

We can choose to see only ugliness and division.  We can choose to perpetrate divisiveness.  We can choose to reflect only the negative.  Or we can choose to see and reflect the good, the beauty, the hope, the prospect for redemption.  When did reserving judgment and seeking the truth become passe?  Instead of just praying for peace, work for it.  Be the light, everywhere, all the time.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Opposites Attract?


"He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would hear.  But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken.  It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage."  from 1984 by George Orwell

My two recently finished books are so totally opposite:  1984 and Gone Girl -- kind of like my seemingly constantly-shifting personalities.  I get frustrated with myself in that I don’t ever seem to know exactly what genre I will wake up in the mood for on any given day.  I guess that’s why I’m always in the middle of multiple books.
Upon re-reading 1984, what I found I remembered about it was only the first part, the happy part.  I had completely blocked the memory of the last part.  I remembered the love and the sex but forgot the torture and the soul-killing loss of true life that ends the book.   That could be an analogy for my own memory choices about my past, but that’s a different blog post.  Anyway, I am glad I re-read the book, which was very well-written, inventive, and forward-thinking, given the time of publication.   It put me in the mood for some more dystopia.  I still haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  Maybe that will be up soon.

Gone Girl is harder for me to write about.  So many people loved it.  I liked it.  Ish.  I did.  I just think I should have read it when it came out before all the hype.  Expectations, you know, I don’t do well with them.  I did find it to be entertaining and diverting.   I’m going to leave this one as having been over-hyped by the time I got to it.  I do think I will like the movie.
My current reads are Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, which I am loving, and The Divide by Nicholas Evans, which I am liking.  K and I also are still reading The Good Earth aloud, and I'm listening to A Tale of Two Cities in the car.  Audiobooks are a new experience for me, but I'm enjoying it.  I may read the sections after I've listened to them just for clarity.  I read A Tale of Two Cities in high school, but I remember little about it except that I loved it then...lo those many years ago.   This weekend I'm reading Lord of the Flies along with Anna.

Have a great reading Thanksgiving week!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mini Reviews and Hibernating for the Winter

Photo by Anna Reavis

    But words are things, and a small drop of ink / Falling like dew upon a thought, produces / That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.  – Lord Byron

If you're looking for me for the next few months, you'll find me as above.  I love winter because it gives me an excuse to spend days doing exactly what I'm doing in the picture...pajamas and all.

After years of avoiding it, I finally read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.  Seemingly all the readers I knew had read and loved it and recommended it to me as a story of redemption and hope.  I put off reading it because I knew there would be drama and heartache.  I especially avoided it after I read A Thousand Splendid Suns by the same author because that book was so full of heartache.    While I liked The Kite Runner better than A Thousand Splendid Suns, neither is really my kind of book.   I did find it an important work in that it offered an insight into life in Afghanistan over the past decades of which I was woefully ignorant.  I just don’t like books with that kind of heartache and drama.  I’m more of a fan of understatement.  Also after having read both books, I find them to be a little formulaic.

Recently, Ken and I finished reading Father Melancholy’s Daughter by Gail Godwin.  This was a re-read for me of what I had remembered as being one of my favorite books.  I did enjoy it again but not quite as much as I had expected to.  Partly I think this was because the book really doesn’t lend itself to being read aloud -- too much introspection and deep thinking.  I was thinking our next read aloud would be A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, but last night K suggested The Good Earth by Pearl Buck.  I've been wanting to read it for a long time, so maybe we'll put off the Bryson book for now.

A few weeks ago, upon Ken’s and my father’s recommendation, I read The Shoes of the Fisherman by Morris West.  I did enjoy the points made in the book but found the plot a little scattered and disjointed.  I found the characters to be likeable and engaging and wonder if the current pope has read the book, as the pope in the novel seems to have been a model for him.

I was reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert but half-way through I became weary of some of the things happening to the main character so have abandoned it for now.  Currently, I'm reading 1984 by Orwell with my daughter for her senior English class and am finally trying Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  I originally read 1984 in 1984 when I was a junior in high school.  I am loving it even more now than I did then. 

Happy Winter Reading Everyone!

Less Sure About Less

" And at fifty, Less muses drowsily, you're as likeable as you're going to get." I experienced a strange transitio...