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“Single women and men should be able to float toward each other on the waves of lust and goodwill!”

Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel by Anya Ulinich

The number of post-it notes I used on this book alone could cover a small dog house. Can I say this is the best adult graphic novel ever without having read every other adult graphic novel? Do I sound like my mother after she praised that really bad eighth grade haircut and told me that we would just “run to Target and get some cute clips.”  Thanks for the alliteration, Mom, but it was disastrous, for both my seventh grade high-status at the lunch table and my personal beliefs in my own self-esteem.

My choice of reading space.

My choice of reading space.

God made my mom sorta-Catholic so she could lay down the guilt via lectures, missed phone calls, and sweetness (yes, even her sweetness is guilty).  I can ONLY imagine if she was a Jewish Russian Immigrant mother from the U.S.S.R like Lena Finkle’s mother in Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel by Anya Ulinich.  The world would literally be quaking. Literally. Literally. Literally. Isn’t it annoying when people say that when you know they meant it literal to begin with and it’s not a hyperbole at all? Ask yourself that. Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel  is like the story of womanhood as it pertains to the male sex, and girlhood in general.  It begs several questions: *How many friends do you have that disappear as soon as they get boyfriends? *How many of those friends become the stuck-up dark, unknown regions of their boyfriend’s body as soon as they begin dating? *How many times have you been unhappy, and unable to be yourself because you’re trying to keep the peace between you and the obnoxious invaluable boy you’re dating? *How many times has a guy smiled at you and BAM you’ve planned your 3.7892 children?

Miracles.

Miracles.

*(Longest sentence ever) How many times have you let one small miracle of a man blast your entire view of manhood and your princess experience into this other-worldly category that no one will ever be able to compete with because he was too good at ________ and all others will miserably fail in comparison and forever be the “frogs” you have to kiss because OH MY SWEET LORD, HE WALKED ME HOME IN THE RAIN AND MADE FACES AT ME IN ENGLISH 101 which I, unfortunately, got a C in because I was too busy MAKING FACES AT A BOY who would ruin my whole ideal of what it is to fall slowly.  There is no slow with these miracle men who tell you fascinating things about yourself and then become chain-smoking losers. Yep. You know who I’m talking about. *How many times have you said, “Well, it isn’t really about how he looks?” Girl, please. It is 120% about how he looks in the first moment you meet. And you have already judged the scar next to his mouth and the way one of his eyes looks a little bit smaller than the other.  And you’ve already texted your equivalent to a Seth (my best guy friend) to tell him all about him…in the bathroom.

When Anya Ulinich originally illustrated in color. From her Tumblr BLOG

*How many times have you let your past experiences with men like all of the above dictate what kind of dater you are now? *How many times have you wished for a magic barrel? And no, I don’t mean online dating here. (Even though she does that in the story on OK Cupid…which reminded me to never, ever, ever online date, ever. “Vampire of Bensonhurst,” that’s all I have to say about that one). Well, ladies, all of your (desperate, berating, disgusting, upsetting, I-dont-want-to-be-this-girl-but-I-am-this-girl, when-did-I-become-this-girl) questions have been answered by Anya Ulinich and the story of Lena Finkle. Lena Finkle is an immigrant girl living in Arizona/New York.  During the story we learn about her childhood, a very disgusting happening in an elevator, and then her teenage love, Alik, who she continues to fantasize about …until she’s 36.  She has some bad habits; sleeping around on the first date, sleeping with married men in foreign countries, being too blunt with her friends when they don’t have the same feelings towards her month-long flings as she does, but she’s SO likable.  There were moments in this book when I had to remind myself that Ulinich wasn’t telling my life story. After reading it, I progressed to have a conversation with my best friend (Seth) about which countries we were because of the following images: image 3   I wonder if everyone has dated the “tourist.”  The guy that comes and goes without giving even a half-nod towards closure.  Which makes the girl stay up until 2 a.m. because she can’t quite figure out what she did wrong.  Turns out, it’s him. But she won’t know that for 7.2 years when she forgives herself for being “that girl,” and finally moves on. image 4 Seth said, “Cassie. you are Sweden. // but we both can’t be Sweden // I’ll be Norway. boys are more exotic there.” And then he said, “You are Santorini // white pale and stunning // and surrounded by beautiful men.” And that folks, is why you keep best friends since 6th grade.

Real Conversations. Between Real Best Friends

Real Conversations. Between Real Best Friends

By the way, he’s the following: “You are Alaska where they have 37 words for snow and only one word for love because when you feel it like that it doesn’t need 700 words.” ———————————- Anyway, enough about me. This book is wonderful.  It made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this endless pool of Mr. Right/Soul Mate/Marriage business.  I don’t know why there’s so much pressure on women anyway to put on that white dress and take another last name.  Lena Finkle made me feel like that was okay.  Although, she was a little desperate, a little quick, and a little uncanny at times, so am I.  I had a 30 minute conversation today about how blunt one should be with their friends.  In case you’re wondering, I’m the blunt, bitchy friend in my circle of friends so usually people only come to me with a problem when they want the truth as I see it.  (That was all about me, sorry). The graphics in this book are stunning. Most of the time I just wanted to laugh out loud at the illustrations to the side of all the words.  I think that’s what makes this graphic novel so perfect, Ulinich found the perfect genre to tell a tale of sadness, pity, and redemption because there were laughable moments due to the comic nature of the graphic novel.  (I guess they can be dark and brooding as well).  When words got too dark on the page, I could count on an illustration that made it just that little bit better.  The hope was in the hand drawn panels, faces, and bittersweet graphics.

One of my favorite pages.

Penguin had the right customer when they sent me an ARC of this one.  It’s just beautiful in all ways.  I think every woman should have to read this book just to think a little different about their friend’s experiences.  Yes, we all get annoyed with that friend who’s constantly talking about a guy that is SO NOT RIGHT for her, but that’s what friends are for, because they’re forever.  Yvonne and Eloise lift Lena up to be a better woman.  She may not always listen to their advice, and they might not even follow their advice, but they give her that little nudge she may need to see things differently.  Not only are they gem friends in this novel, but Lena’s subconscious acts as another character as well.  At one point, Lena is obsessed with a man who already broke her heart, and she becomes the graphic image of a duck.  Her subconscious picks at her, tells her inner thoughts and her “what ifs” just like that small inner voice that we all carry that whispers “stuff” when we just don’t want to hear it. Mine always says, “Told ya so,” A LOT.

Lena as Duck

Her subconscious is an integral part of the illustrations (she’s small, the same size as the duck Lena becomes), but she’s also witty and forward.  She’s what we want to say to ourselves when we should put our foot in our mouth.  I really liked that real-life aspect of this novel because it’s true.  Our inner self screams everything we would never say aloud (unless we’re the blunt friend). In a world where no one is sure of themselves, this novel could make women feel just that little bit more accessible to one another.  And that, is golden. AND AH – ANYA ULINICH HAS A TUMBLR. GO HERE NOW. 


Feminism: Getting Sticky With It.

I’m sitting here eating a handful of mini-oreos because last week my best friend and I had a sleepover and made sundaes. Leftovers are the best.

Clearly, I am not concerned about the potential poundage that could be added on from the mini-oreos, even if I did check the calorie count and how many I could eat per serving to meet the endless food intake quota that women everywhere are trying to live up to.

Is this a quality of my feminism? No.

Is this a quality of societies expectations for women? Maybe.

Does it matter if these Oreo pieces are damn good? No.

Rosie the Riveter @ Wikipedia Commons

Feminism is a touchy word these days.  Well, let’s be honest, since we got the vote, feminism has been all the rage on both sides.  I think part of the problem with the entire feminist movement is the word that we came up with to introduce ourselves. The very root “fem” became a slang word for women in 1936.  Just by opening the word with that root we’ve already eliminated the likelihood that men will feel comfortable in calling themselves by this name (That’s not the point though is it, however, men can be feminists. I’m here to break your stereotypes).  The rest of it “femini” is basically the word “feminine,” just two letters short.

Computer Engineer Barbie @ Eric Steuer (Flickr)

This brings us to a whole new argument about societal expectations of gender.  Why is the girl aisle covered in pink and the boy aisle covered in blue?  Why is Barbie so skinny (which is just a sad argument for women all together because do you know that Barbie is one of the few female toys that has offered careers for girls in male dominated areas.  Barbie went to space, people, Barbie worked for NASA.  Think about it).  With all of these already bias, already argued about, already heated ideas attached to the beginning of the word, how will it ever reign tall?

While my definition of feminism is just a person who believes in equal rights for all genders (I’m looking at you, LGBTQ), I think other people look to stereotypes for their definition.  So let’s knock a few of those out before I give this review, shall we?

Have I ever burned a bra? Nah, brah, those things are expensive.

Do I hate men? No, I have a lovely boyfriend and have had many lovely and not so lovely boyfriends.  I try not to hate anyone, but sometimes the fact that getting higher up in a company means fighting your way through an “old boys club” is not very likable.  And the people that continue to follow that system of hiring, firing, giving raises and promotions, might be on a list of people that I don’t particularly want to work for or be friends with.

What I might hate is people like this:

Yahoo screen grab

Yahoo screen grab

I would like to think that in four years, he’s had some new experiences and learned not to write the word “b*tch,” even with a star, in a feminist conversation.  However, he did make up the word “vaginamony” so I should give him credit for enhancing the English language, right? Just for your information, and his, I suppose, I believe that the best thing a woman can have is her “shit together” and I will raise my daughter with this in mind.  She can get hers, before she relies on any man to get it for her. However, if once she’s followed her dreams and she’s found a man that respects both her and her dreams, she can by all means trust and rely on him.

Hair @ Wikipedia Commons

Do I whine more than the average man? Actually, I’m on a no complaining campaign so I’m trying to rule out all forms of whining in my life.

I do shave my legs. That’s not even a question.  Sometimes I miss a spot, go ahead and judge me.  And I swam in high school, so I might grow longer than the average woman, but I still shave those suckers.

Do I respect stay-at-home moms? Being a Mom or Dad is a full time job.  If either parent wants to stay home and raise-up babies to be wonderful, open-minded, movers and shakers in society, go on with your bad self.  One of my best friends hasn’t had more than four hours of sleep since her child was born (13 months ago), please believe if I lived in that state of exhaustion, everyone would see my diva side.

“We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

These issues were all brought to you by We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Readers may be familiar with her book Americanah. She gave a TEDxEuston talk called “We Should All Be Feminists” on her brother’s insistence.  She says in the introduction that she “hoped to start a necessary conversation.”

Talk below:

Vintage Short turned this talk into a short essay and here we are.  It also happens to be featured on Beyonce’s self-titled album, which Adichie told Vogue that she’s sick of hearing about.

She begins the book talking about her best friend, the first person to call her a feminist which she knew immediately wasn’t a compliment.  From then on, she began attaching other things to feminism to make herself seem less radical, because with the word feminism, comes the extremism. She attached things like “Happy Feminist,” then “African Feminist,” and finally, “Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men and Who Likes To Wear Lip Gloss and High Heels for Herself and Not For Men.”

This begs the question: why can’t a girl just wear high heels? I feel that Carrie Bradshaw would have something to say about this.

In the talk’s essay, she tells stories from throughout her life when she was considered less than to her male counterparts.  There was the classroom monitor choosing, which led her to this amazing statement:

“If we do something over and over, it becomes normal.  If we see the same thing over and over, it becomes normal.  If only boys are made class monitor, then at some point we will all think, even if unconsciously, that the class monitor has to be a boy.  If we keep seeing only men as heads of corporations, it starts to seem ‘natural’ that only men should be heads of corporations”

Beast & Princesses @ Wikipedia Commons

This is also where I really started to believe in Adichie’s argument.  Her argument wasn’t about women getting paid less than men for the same job, or women hitting a glass ceiling in major corporations, but more about the subtle inequalities.  In Nigeria, even though she paid a valet, the man she was with received the “thank you” (as she says, because of course, if she has money, it must come from the man).  When at a restaurant, the “tab” is always given to the man at the table, and usually the oldest man.  This is a huge societal factor in the ways that we see men and women.  TLC makes so much money catering to a population of women who grow up in the hopes that they will one day marry a Prince Charming.  Disney teaches girls to be damsels in distress (until recently), and the aisles in Target teach girls to like dolls so they can grow up and be mommies.  I’m not saying any of this is a problem, but these things in our society are also the things that can be used against feminism, turned against women, turned into something that they might not be.

Adichie discusses history in the best sense.  She says that when men ruled the world before, it was a world based on physical strength. Now, the world is “vastly different.”  It is based on “more intelligent, more knowledgable, more creative, more innovative” capabilities and not just physical strength.  She says, and I love this, “We have evolved.”

Math Club Image @ PBS Math Club (Creative Commons)

This is the strongest point in her argument.  I think we’ve evolved when it comes to feminism as well, but have we evolved as much as the world has evolved, I don’t know.  I’ll give a personal example. In high school, I was incredible at math.  I placed into the second calculus in college and I hadn’t even taken pre-cal or calculus in high school.  I just generally didn’t like math.  Did I not like math because no women in my family, and no women in my school, and no women in my community had ever been representations of what a women can do in science? I’m not sure.  I didn’t major in STEM, I majored in English, but I probably could have majored in something heavy in math because I was good at it.  I’m not saying that my school, or community did anything wrong, but I never saw a woman engineer until I was in college.  I never really had the knowledge that a world like that existed for me.

Suffrage Parade, NYC. 1912. @ Wikipedia Commons

I’m not angry about it.  I do get angry when I feel that women are being treated unfairly because their women.  Or women are not being valued because their women.  I won’t harp on this one, but guys, Ray Rice got a two game penalty for beating and then dragging his wife out of a hotel room, and a man that says racial slurs is expelled from the NBA and any ownership of teams (not that I disagree with that at all, because I don’t, I think he got what he deserved). The worst part, Rice’s wife…she apologized. Why do we live in a world where this is acceptable?

Why is “blaming the victim” of a rape even a concept?

I believe in raising girls that know what’s appropriate, but since when is it okay to “feel a girl up” because her skirt is short or her belly is showing.  Why is it the girl’s fault that we haven’t raised men with morals and deep respect for women?

These are things that I’m still working through. These are the things that make me angry. And Adichie told me that’s okay.

The first SlutWalk in Toronto, Ontario, April 3, 2011 @ Wikipedia Commons

“Not long ago, I wrote an article about being young and female in Lagos.  And an acquaintance told me that it was an angry article, and I should not have made it so angry.  But I was unapologetic.  Of course it was angry.  Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice.  I am angry. We should all be angry.  Anger has a long history of bringing about social change.  In addition to anger, I am also hopeful, because I believe deeply in the ability of human beings to remake themselves for the better.”

Like her, I am both hopeful and angry.  I am hopeful that I can live in a world where it’s okay to be feminine and a feminist.  I can live in a world where yoga pants do mean cat calls.  I can live in a world where the glass ceiling is broken and we are “movin’ on up,” like George Jefferson.  And I am hopeful that the world will not make this about another issue that isn’t relevant to equality.  And I’m really hopeful that I won’t feel the need to censor myself on my own personal blog to cater to the beliefs of other people.

On a final note: I feel less compelled to fight for feminism in my own country when teenage girls are being shot, tortured and killed just because they want to attend school or get an education for themselves.  By fighting for feminism in our country, we can hope that our voices ring true and pure to other countries, other populations, and other outlooks, where women may have so few rights that they are categorized as “property.”

Links on feminism education:

Here are some tweets from the #WomenAgainstFeminism hashtag.  Tweets are both for and against feminism as the feminists went viral using the same hashtag.

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Saudade.

Words and Their Meaning by Kate Bassett (Flux Publishing)

This book had perfect timing.

This book was too overwhelming to read in a day.

This book was too tender to feel all at once.

And yet, it wasn’t bleak, it was fervent.

It’s hard sometimes to be pushed by a book.  You don’t want to believe the heat of your own nerves.  But this book is unfathomable.  I was moved more than any book I’ve read this year and I think this book is categorized YA.  However, it’s one of those books that will sit in every section of the bookstore.  It actually aches to know that because this book was published by Flux Publishing (quickly becoming one of my new favorite publishers) it may not get a chance at large retail stores.  So, before we get into anything, here is the link to preorder this book.  Which, you must, you must. I will become fervent, the word of this review.

Grief by Edgar Bertram Mackennal (Wikipedia Creative Commons)

Okay, I know right now that everyone is obsessed with the okay? okay. of The Fault In Our Stars. However, grief has other angles.  Grief isn’t a box, it has too many sides, and can’t be constructed together with engineering, or math.  It has several smells, several letters, and there is no google search that will tell you how many words for “sad” that any language has.  (If you find one, link to it). Wikipedia hasn’t even tried to tackle the “sad” arena.  The best way I can describe the characters of this book is by using the word: saudade. I wrote it on my very first pair of pink converses from 9th grade.  It’s a Portuguese word for “melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing may never return” (Wikipedia).

COMMISSION: Coffin Set 1 by CiLiNDr0 @ Deviant Art (Google Image Creative Commons)

Anna is a girl consumed so much with grief that she practices coffin yoga.  The art of making yourself so still that death is close, breathing on your cheek.  It means holding your breath, it means stillness, it means the calmness that comes from within the closed coffin.  She thinks of the coffin as her secret keeper, where all the thoughts she doesn’t want to think can go and die.   Her grief, like everyone’s grief, is not rational.  Her family life has fallen apart.  Her sister, Bea, tracks her grief by hiding for hours in areas like the oven (Holy shit is right).  Which leads to Anna’s references to literature (Hey, Sylvia, I’m lookin’ at you girl).

“The shrinks all want to talk about coffin yoga.  They can’t fathom the way some people have no rhyme or reason to their mourning.  How maybe there are more ways to grieve than the stupid five steps outlined in their colorful pamphlets.  Next time I see my new doc, I’ll probably tell her I’m adding a no-thinking rule into coffin yoga.  She’ll ask what it might symbolize.  And I’ll glare at her ridiculous red-rimmed glasses and flowing tunic.  I’ll speak slow and clear, so she might understand there’s nothing representative about this.  My mind just needs the break.  Because: That crack in the ceiling looks like a vein” (Words and Their Meanings).

Notegraphy-Made Quote from Words and Their Meanings

Notegraphy-Made Quote from Words and Their Meanings

Anna’s grief is real.  It will break you as you read.  It would be especially hard to be her best friend, Nat, because I can’t imagine trying to build a bridge to reach her.  She’s so inside the tunnel of herself that nothing exists outside of that shadow.  She’s in the darkness so often, it’s impossible to even reach under into the “coffin” and pull on her arm.  While Anna is the main character, the other character’s are just as strong.  Nat, the best friend, has her own story of love and loss.  Gramps is a maker of machines, a fixer, an upper, (separately and together), and he folds creases into cranes with his grandchildren.  Joe is the cause of the grief, he is Anna’s Bruncle.  They share roof and cloud philosophy and then they begin to separate.  They try to hurt one another in order to save one another.  It’s a difficult relationship, and it’s even more difficult for the reader because Joe never has a voice in the novel, he is built by the characters around him that are crumbling.  The family is beautiful and broken and the best part is that you never hate one of these characters.  They are consumed with otherness and yet, they are still lovely.  It just proves, love the broken things; don’t throw the mug away without the handle, don’t laugh at the girl with the scars, hug the people who were built on a foundation of cracks.

“Our relationship still has too many blank spaces, and I’m sick of people I love being defined by stories I haven’t heard first hand” (Words and Their Meanings).

Then, there’s a boy. We all knew that was coming. However, like Frozen, he is not the answer to all of Anna’s problems. And he has his own story.  That’s the best part of this novel, each character has a distinct story that is enough to make them.  He is swoon-worthy though, as expected.  We all would have wanted to meet him in high school.

I loved this book.  I was a mountain while I read, it was that good.  In the end, I had tears in my eyes because of Anna’s own becoming.  She’s a writer, this book is full of art and lies and the dynamics of family that has been torn apart to be put back together.  It’s a story of the flower of grief that can clog our throats and trap our humanness in its roots.  The plot was so new, and so inviting.  It left me.

“I can still taste what it feels like to be sixteen and totally f#$ked up” (Words and Their Meanings). 

Holly Kuchera Leftover Camera: Canon G9 8.21mm – f3.2 – 1/60 sec (@ Flickr – Creative Commons)

It just left me. There’s no way it left me, it just left me. I sat there puzzled and immediately wanted to review it.  I can’t even explain how good this book is, what an amazing story and what an important story for teenagers and people who once were teenagers (cough, cough).  Anna is all of us.  She’s me when I cut all my Barbie’s hair at seven and they all forever wore pixie cuts.   She’s me when I taped sad Tumblr quotes to my mirror about teenagehood when I was sixteen.  She’s me when I stood in a row of bleachers tonight and prayed with over two hundred people for our county quarterback.  Grief is a thing.  It grows, it forms fists, and it listens while people beg for it to leave.  But it’s a silent killer.  And I think this book shows how grief can own someone.

Someone once said, “Be Kind; Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle,” and this book is the truth of that statement.  Every single person in this story has an inner self and an outer self and they’re always at odds.  I think we all live that battle a little bit, especially in a social media world where everything is how we present ourselves on the interwebs vs. who we are in real life.

Kindness Quote @ Creative Commons (Flickr – http://www.RepairLabs.com)

“We’re all made of opposites, and they often crucify us” (Words and Their Meanings).

And if we could each get closer to that small spark that makes us who we are in real life then just imagine what kind of things we could conquer.  We could be the Beyonce.  We could be the cornerstone. We could be the flashlight that alights someone stuck in their wood coffin.

This book is out September 8th from Flux Publishing.  It can be preordered now.  Be sure to comment your thoughts below or visit the Books & Bowel Movements instagram @bookishcassie to see my 15-second book review.

 


Don’t Save The Drama FO’ YO’ MOMMA.

Empire State Building (Wikipedia Commons)

This book tried to stand very tall in its own way. It was the Empire State Building of self-sabotage. And the only spot of damage control it had was the fact that Amy Bloom is the author.  Let’s be fair, the characters weren’t all wretched human beings, and it was a soap opera of WWII proportional drama.  Literally, it was set before and during WWII, and figuratively, there was just a whole bunch of she said, he said, drop your kid off on someone’s front porch, become a lesbian, be the only white man drinking whiskey sours at an all African-American jazz club, and death by fire.

No soap opera is complete without death by fire.

Veronica Lake, 1940s noir film star (Wikipedia Commons)

And these characters were anything but subdued.  It opens with Eva who is living a honky-dory lifestyle with her single mother where her father visits to “bounce her on his knee” every Sunday.  His mojo is a classic case of the other family.  Heck, before social media, we could have all had alien brothers and sisters, making the phrase “brotha from anotha motha” so outdated and unfortunately, unable to be used in the literal sense at all anymore.  What happened to the good ol’ days when Cheaters wasn’t on call and messaging was taken by a swirly cord phone in the living room with your stifling father sitting right there.  I tell ya’ folks.

Eva enjoys her blissfully ignorant life until her father’s other family has an unfortunate death and her mother leaves her and her dainty little nine-year-old suitcase on the steps of the front porch.  Eva meets her beautifully disadvantaged, indifferent, unapologetic half-sister, Iris, who does little to coddle, but a lot to teach.  Iris and Eva advance to Hollywood where Iris is THAT much more disadvantaged by her beauty.  People just don’t understand her.

If you’re a heroine, here’s where you throw the kerchief and the back of your soft, pearl hand against your forehead and sigh about luxury and first world problems.

Devastating.

All My Children Cast Members, 1972 (Wikipedia Commons)

Eva and Iris meet a make-up designer to the stars (keep in mind we’re just before WWII at this point) and he picks up the pieces of Iris’ misunderstandings.  The girls return to their hometown with their father where they all live happily ever after, causing no more drama, and eating warm bread from the oven that they have worked on while buffering their nails.

Just kidding.

Creative Commons – Tom Woodward – Flickr

Drama ensues.  More characters are added, including this witty American fellow, mistaken for German, who sweet talks his way into card games with the little sister while his wife….does other things.  This is actually the serious part of the novel where we get a glimpse into America’s missed seams during WWII.  We see this through the character, Gus (also the name of my first and only hamster who died of a mere heart attack, scared to death by the cat).  Gus is …. well, he’s the witty American fellow, who’s wifed up to a dime piece who works in the kitchen of a “new money” family in the suburbs.

At this point you have to be starting to understand the soap opera of it all.

If I could tell you about Iris’s infidelities then this twisted plot would become even more odd, but I can’t.  You must read.

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom (Goodreads Cover Photo)

I will tell you that there’s a pop-up psychic, a woman who brings ham to a funeral that has to be hidden, a young lesbian starlet, short glimpses into WWII paparazzi, two city hair dresses with big attitudes, a Harlem jazz singer, and Edgar (father without a conscience).

If the psychic wasn’t enough to convince you, there’s another psychic who solves murders…. in french.

I’ve certainly won you over at this point. And, I haven’t even told you the name of the book.  Lucky Us by Amy Bloom came out on August 26th, I got a magnificent review copy off of NetGalley and I think I’ll continue to talk like a 42-year-old Elizabeth Taylor for the rest of this week because it’s just too fabulous darling, I can’t live it down.

Just imagine this review was brought to you by the same campaign that brought you ICE YOURSELF by Matthew McConaughey in “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.”

Deck yourself in expensive jewelry, creep around in costume diamonds, sass your way through with sparkle, and come out the other side having read an absurd book, with even more absurd pacing.  Truly, I’m not even going to mention the pacing because I want you to read this one.  It brings a strange new glow into the fiction world.


BOOKSTAGRAM

A lovely acquaintance, Mollie, made a bookish instagram for her editing called Molliereads (mohrediting.com).  AND it inspired me to make an instagram for bookishness and blogging and happiness and words and connecting.

Find me on Instagram @ bookishcassie

You can view my bookish life as it unfolds and we can share favorite books, book photos, and book comments together in a smaller platform.

See photos like the following:

BOOKSTAGRAM

BOOKSTAGRAM

YES. LET’S DO IT. If we can get a few followers from the blog maybe I’ll do Project 365 the Bookish Edition. That would actually be incredibly fun.  I’d have to read everyday for sure (not that I don’t, you know you have to get your before bed read on).


Corvo Azul

Crow Blue by Adriana Lisboa

Who doesn’t love a Brazilian treasure hunt set partway in the sands of Copacabana, brushed through the natural Amazon forests where Araguaia freedom fighters leave their protests on the knives of military forces, and a slow drive through the sucked dry beds of New Mexico.  The coyotes come at night. The military darkens the bolded words of “SECRET” at the top of folders marked with the deaths of guerrilla fighters.  A young girl, Vanja, finds a home on the signature line of a birth certificate.  This is Adriana Lisboa’s first publication from the UK and is on sale in the US TODAY!  Get excited, people.  Don’t listen to my unhappy rantings about the missing double-fs in every word that had them like, coffee, official, suffering, but instead look at the positives. Let’s start there as this is a Tuesday filled with happiness and a globally-important young adult release called Crow Blue.

“Beautiful Little Fool” @ OnHerVanity (WordPress Blog)

I was so enamored with this book for one of the very reasons that I didn’t really enjoy it.  Like To Kill A Mockingbird, I find it hard to read young adult books (which TKAM really isn’t) that write from the perspective of the adult looking back.  It almost isn’t truly young adult because the author is no longer in the shoes that they were in and can’t really tell the story as accurately as a teenager with teenage notions.  I look back on my fourteen-year-old self, in love with a boy named B. Jones who was bad news and blues and would pick fights at football games and I think, how silly that little girl was, what “a beautiful little fool,” to make this a full out allusion day.  (Thanks, Daisy, owe ya one).  In the time I was that girl, I thought myself a funky fashionista who needed to hide things from my mother and acted as a witty damsel in distress to earn the affection of “hot” boy-faced boys.  That’s probably not true either though, as I write this my from my adult, NPR-listening, eat alone in restaurants perspective.

Translation Day @ World Accent

Books like this are sometimes hard to read, but what made this accessible for readers like me was the BEAUTIFUL LANGUAGE.  I have no time to regret the point of view when I experience language as powerful and persuasive and philosophical (had to finish off the alliteration) and truly thoughtful as this.  It was like the author was in my head and putting my “Explainer” qualities into words.  And this book is a translation from Portuguese so that says a lot about both the translator,  Alison Entrekin, and the reasons behind my wishing to speak every language in the world so I could read books in their true form and their true beauty.  Just take a look at some of these quotes and more importantly thoughts on the world and thoughts on writing (clearly this writer has an artistic gift).

  • “Elegance? I wondered. No, not elegance.  Perhaps a certain mistrust of the act of walking.  Perhaps she was trying to remind us that we need to be ceremonious with the world, that this here is no joke, that this is something serious and dangerous, and that the mere act of walking on the ground bestows an unimaginable responsibility on you.”
  • “The mountains of Rio de Janeiro were laughing, deep in their intimacy of earth and stone and roots and organic matter from dead leaves and animals and dumped dead bodies: they were laughing at all that anxious human drama: people love one another, kill one another, roll boulders, and at the end of the day none of it makes much difference.  The mountains’ time is different; so are their time frames of reference.”
  • “A curious phenomenon happens when you have been away from home for too long.  Your idea of what home is – a city, a country – slowly fades like a colorful image exposed to the sun on a daily basis.  But you don’t quickly acquire another image to put in its place.  Try: act like, dress like, speak like the people around you.  Use the slang, go to the “in” places, make an effort to understand the political spaces.  Try not to be surprised every time you see people selling second-hand furniture and clothes and books from their garages (the sign on the street corner announces: garage sale), or the supermarkets offering tones of pumpkins in October and tolls for sculpting them, or corn mazes.  Pretend none of that is new to you. Do it all, act like.”

Her thoughts on the world were just so aligned with this stagnant, spongy place that I think it is.  And if we have souls, and they float when we no longer lay claim to our scarred, nicked, and stretched skin, then my soul likes this book because it believes in this world where it must try to fit in all its odd shaped and shifting glory.

There are also elements of this book that were really interesting in young adult literature.  The author didn’t dumb-down her information for a young audience, she faced dead-on history that most Americans wouldn’t know.  I had no idea that Brazil contained a guerrilla army in the 1960s and 70s.  Lisboa is almost sympathetic with the guerrilla movement in the story, but she also shows the terror in plan-lacking military force.  Using one of the main characters in Vanja’s story, Fernando, Lisboa tells the untold story of Fernando’s experience as a guerrilla who walked away and only learned the outcome of his groups’ fight after he deserted them in the forest.  He moved to Colorado and never thought of the experience again, after years of training in China, following a communist doctrine, and leaving a woman that he loved and continued to love in all the elements that she left in her daughter.  Fernando takes Vanja in and they share their stories with one another.  A young girl who is lost in a world she is forced to understand in its grandness and its hesitance in sharing it’s own story (land wise and people wise), and a man who has been lost his entire life and needs someone to call home.

I loved this book as a road trip collection.  The journey was far better than where I ended up at the end.  I trusted Fernando, both rebel and keeper of secrets and I trusted Vanja in telling the story of her country and the story of herself.  Instead of being a girl lost and forced into a bubble of a forced freedom, she becomes a girl with a story so thick with characters that she creates a map of family. Plus, there’s a boy who believes in the power of papers to create a hometown and he gets to discover it’s people, not papers that make you a citizen of the world.


39% Horror, and 18% Forced Coincidence | I never said I was a math teacher.

WARNING: spoilers and non-sequential conversation.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

It was a teacher workday today, so instead of cleaning out my desk drawers and taking down posters with inspiring thoughts “Some days you’re the pigeon, some days you’re the poop,” I spent the day finishing The Kite Runner.  225 pages in last night I was tweeting that I’m not sure I can teach this book because I found out the major hunch of Baba and Hassan and Amir.  And then I was PISSED at Baba.  I understood the two halves of himself coming together, but in the beginning I hated him for being a parent annoyed with the fact that his child is not a mini-him, then I grew to love him and his slight hobble asking for the sweet hand of a hook-nosed girl for his son, and then, I loathed him a little more than the beginning due to the secret he took to the grave.

Apparently, The Kite Runner is a graphic novel as well.

Around 300 pages in, I had to walk down to Hawke’s room and ask her if I should keep reading and if Assef “gets his.”  I’m putting a few almost spoilers in this review because I’m assuming that I’m the last person to actually read this book.  It spent 101 weeks on the NY Times Bestseller List, so someone out there had to read it and then recommend it to all of their friends. I seriously wasn’t sure in those climactic moments that Amir could take the nazi (never deserves capitalization, I don’t care if it’s a “proper” noun) that is Assef.  What a dick.  The last time someone was stoned at a sporting event for me was reading “The Lottery” in my classroom and letting my students throw paper balls at the kid who won.  (We weren’t killing trees, they had to write all their work on those papers and then de-ball them in order to turn them in.  Sometimes fun is worth the crinkle of paper from a pocket binder).  In other words, no one has ever been stoned at a sporting event…in my conscious….ever.

I felt so dang American when I read this book.  I was beyond out of my element.  I wanted to simultaneously look away in horror, fly a non-paper-cutting-kite, hug a small child, serve tea, and reanalyze France’s decision on banning burqas.  It was 70% tragedy, 100% humanity, 39% horror, and 18% forced coincidence.  I never said I was a math teacher, which is precisely why I finally read this book.  I had already heard about the first horror of the book and knew just from that-that I wouldn’t be interested in a book like this.  Who wants to read a book where their favorite character will be abused before the hundred-page mark?  It’s like getting sick at breakfast and not being able to eat for the rest of the day due to your disturbing and wretched food poisoning.  BUT, tenth grade at my school teaches The Kite Runner, so I had to trial run it.

Movie Image @ Crash Landen

Taliban @ Wikipedia Commons

As soon as I finished, I knew my students would love this book if they could get through the density of it.  My freshman really appreciated Night, I’m not sure anyone can claim they enjoyed that one, and in Of Mice and Men, I had three girls cry and a choir of tense pressure build up by the end.  Kids who claimed to hate reading told their friends “even I liked that book.” They were both wins for the academics of high school forced-reading and for humanity as a whole as my students learned what empathy truly means through the best superpower, reading. If we covered World War II in 9th grade, maybe covering the Soviet War in Afghanistan, the introduction to Americans of Taliban, and the lead-in to America’s role in a war with Afghanistan might be something golden to teach in 10th grade, especially to students who weren’t even walking when September 11th happened.

Slingshot @ Pixabay (Creative Commons)

To own our history, we must understand the history of those around us.  I’m not sure one person can ever analyze, or study all the histories of the world (obviously), but I am sure that students can understand history that directly relates to their lives and the times in which they have lived.  I am SO looking forward to teaching my students this book.  Although it was kitschy at times; the slingshot, the kite, the brotherhood, the unveiling of Assef and unbearding of Amir, it was still such an amazing book.  I found myself getting nervous in the stadium with the characters, hearing the woman in the already dug grave screaming, seeing the old man ask for coins with his one spoiled eye, carving my name in the pomegranate tree along with Hassan and Amir.

I almost cried at the death of Baba especially when Amir said, “And for the first time in his life, Baba was alone.”  I never want anyone in death to feel lonely even though they’re not bodily with their relatives. BAH.  I fell in love when Amir met Soraya because she was such an honest female character. She’s one of the best-written minor female characters that I’ve read in a long time.  Khaled Hosseini made her so likable in so few paragraphs.  I’ll admit, her husband, it took time for me to like him, but what I like about that is that I only liked him at the time he also finally liked himself completely.  It wasn’t until he had fully forgiven himself that I fully forgave him as well.  Tone and mood came together, my feelings and his matched from that naked bathtub scene to the very end.

Old Television @ D.F. Shapinsky (Creative Commons)

Just, what a great book.  What a great book for the education it makes you research, for the simple fact that sometimes it’s important to feel like an “other,” like you know nothing about the world and pitfalls of the people in that world that live nothing like you (they didn’t even have television, just imagine America in that telescope). There are few books that are both enjoyable and drive their reader to keep reading books on the same topic.  I want to learn more about literature of the Middle East and I want to start right now.  I want to load up my cart and suck the life out of this history so that I can teach as many aspects as I please next year.  This is a book that you will read through the dead heat of night this summer if you haven’t yet picked it up.

I do wonder if I will ever get at the true feelings of what it is to be an Afghani if I can’t read Farsi.  This is one of those times that that the translation can never be as good as the book in the actual language.  I will always be reading from the point of view of the “other” if I can’t learn different languages.  What a disappointing epiphany brought out my an honorable work of literature.

Catster_LetsTalk1_28

Any recommendations for literature from or about the Middle East? What did you think about The Kite Runner and other books by Khaled Hosseini (that I need to read)? If there are any teachers out there, how do you teach this book? What is your favorite lesson?  SHARE AWAY!

 


“A Strange Nature, Only Partly Within My Understanding”

International League for Peace and Freedom @ WILPF.org

One could probably argue that only during war does America experience “the other” in similar ways that third world countries experience the other as they are monopolized, corrupted, overtaken, and kneeling at the hands of their captors in order to face basic survival. Just after September 11th, America united over an idea that the Middle East was our fiercest “other” and all stops were taken to put an end to a distant fear, but a fear made of news stories that criminalized Islamic culture and taught the American people to have a hint of wonder (or something more powerful) if someone stepped on their plane in a hijab or a niqab.  In 1995, President Bill Clinton gave a speech about Racism in America. In it he discusses the rift between whites and blacks present well beyond the Civil Rights Movement, but in this case provoked by the wildly covered OJ Simpson trial.  He says that white people need to acknowledge and try to understand black pain and that black people need to be conscious of the roots of white fear.  In America, I have found that “the other” this person so unknown to us and we so ignorant of their ways is often our neighbor.  They may sit in the desk next to us at school.

A student told me just today that because her father was black that she was asked to move from a library table, the crowd of girls had just assumed from her skin tone that she was white and they could speak honestly about their built-up hatred.  This idea of “the other” never, and I say that word with all the force that could come behind it, creates unity, creates freedom, creates friendliness, or creates the power that comes from people understanding the diversity in the world’s backgrounds.  The only good “the other” creates is the acknowledgement that we are not all the same, but it lacks the depth enough to invoke a search for the stories behind these differences in order to find the truth – the similarities and an appreciation for a different side of humanity.

Books can change these engrained prejudices.

Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya

One of these books is Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya.  Please, please, please trust me on this one and not the Goodreads reviews. Many people have said this is a story of “utter hopelessness” and another reviewer called it “grimsville.”  It is none of these things.  At the heart of the novel is a series of interwoven love stories; the love a mother has for a child, even a child marked with “the other,” the love a wife has for her husband (swoon) and the love a family of the land loves the land of rice patties and cow dung where they have built an honest home.  This is the story of colonization in India, but it isn’t a story of hatred towards “the other,” those whites building the tanneries, the hospitals, but instead a story of how welcoming the people of these villages are to the newness of industrialization and faces unlike their own.

Bad things do happen to this family and they are overcome with more than their fair share of suffering, but in this beautiful told tale, it’s almost more important that they suffer.  In the calm stillness I saw him open his eyes, his hand came to my face, tender and searching, wiping away the unruly tears (139).  The narrator of this novel is a woman who has left her family at a young age, a priced bride, and moved in with her husband Nathan, a home he has built by hand.  From that moment on, Nathan protects her from burden, rocks to sleep her worries, and stokes the deep threads of the rice field that he does not own like he is feeding a fire.  He is a man of his word, but that word doesn’t come often and their relationship is one of true compromise and compassion.  I am in love with their love.  During the in-between of night when it’s not yet morning, but too far from evening, I read some of the lines to my boyfriend because I couldn’t deal with that much beauty by myself.  It opens with this, sometimes at night I think that my husband is with me again, coming gently through the mists, and we are tranquil together.  Then morning comes, the wavering grey turns to gold, there is a stirring within me as the sleepers awake, and he softly departs (1).  The relationship is subtle as the flecks in a light beam.  One of my best friends talked about this kind of love when he was discussing his latest crush.

Rice Paddy, India @ Columbia.Edu

“They touched my face, with their palm. Touched my face.  Laid across from me and put that hand against my stubbled cheek and left it there.”  This small description of his experience is the thing I think of when I think of the relationship between Nathan and his wife.  They are the couple that lay on a mat and touch the burnt cheeks of one another without saying a word.  Rough hands, scarred hands, hands smelling of wet rice paddy, disturbed water, but hands gentle for the face, for the night.

The intruder in this novel is obviously “the other” of colonialism and industrialization which leads without a heart towards the people of this small country village.  They are not asked whether they can afford to buy the land, they are told to move from it for the new tannery.  They are not asked to fill jobs, as the brick layers have brought in their own men.  They are not told to fill positions at the hospital because at this time, the money is begged for.  This is a village that cannot compete with the prices of the newcomers and so they suffer through not paying their own because they can bargain better with the industry.

Indian labourers stitch buffalo leather at a tannery workshop in Kolkata. Piyal Adhikary / EPA @ TheNational.AE

It’s a sad revelation to know that you’re in a country that uses other countries for their goods and their people’s working spirits.  I actually avoid thinking about it because it upsets me so much to know that somewhere a woman is hammering stones in a rock quarry to feed her family dinner and I am sitting in my cozy bed typing a blog that will reach only those with internet connection.  I’m not sure how I can fix anything being capitalist and needy, and “the other,” that doesn’t understand, but has empathy that she can’t really use and so it’s stored up for the next heartbreak on the shoulders of someone she cares about.

Kenny is “the other” in this novel, but he blends beautifully with the people of the village. He tries so hard to help them in little ways and the wife of the novel is very dependent on his comings and goings as he helped her conceive early in her time in the village.  Kenny is light-hearted, but knows he will never be one of them as they know they could never let him mingle in their culture.  I nodded.  There was no sense in agreeing or disagreeing, the gulf between us was too wide; it was no use at all flinging our words at each other across that gaping chasm (68).  He is a likable character although he symbolizes so many terrifying things.  In America, I guess I can’t speak for all Americans, but for me, I’m not sure which is worse, the thought of people starving in villages owned by corrupt landowners, but this is the way they have lived for generations, or introducing a world of industrialization that doesn’t invite them in for generations, but possibly teaches them a new way of life.  It’s the first world, “civilization vs. savage,” as if if you don’t have a personal commode in your house than you aren’t a civilized people.  Not true, obviously, but are there first world dwellers who believe this is a savage way to live? Probably.

Human Rights @ Wikipedia (Creative Commons)

There are moments of ruthlessness in this novel that are hard to gulp down.  “Sometimes from sheer rebellion we ate grass, although it always resulted in stomach cramps and violent retching.  For hunger is a curious thing: at first it is with you all the time, waking and sleeping and in your dreams, and your belly cries out insistently, and there is a gnawing and a pain as if your very vitals were being devoured, and you must stop it at any cost…” (65).  I definitely had trouble reading moments of grief, starvation, and times they lacked basic necessities.  This is a book I needed to read though.  It taught me about my own bias.  It taught me how to teach my students about their own bias, unconscious or otherwise, and it introduced me to a new way of reading literature.  We always try to suspend our own judgmental natures when we read, but to really try to experience the world as someone not so ourselves,  if only to understand for a moment the life of someone who is not built on public school and colored eyeliner.

Catster_LetsTalk1_28Read any books that changed your perspective on the world lately? Teaching this to my 10th graders I’m going to also use excerpts from Teju Cole’s Everyday Is For The Thief as I think it represents the idea of “the other” in a new way.  Does anyone else have other recommendations that could go along with this book? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts. I also feel like this review might have offended some people, if you’re offended, I promise I didn’t mean to offend you.  I just speak how I feel and sometimes it doesn’t always come out with the right words.

 


Ah, The Fragile Workings Of Our Sense of Smell.

I’m a little rusty on my reviews, try not to judge too harshly.  17,000 words down on writing.  The words don’t go together yet, but they are somehow a part of the same story.

All The Birds, Singing – Evie Wyld

Sheep make excellent book characters.  Whether they’re being sheared, or the reader can hear their cries through a broken fence, I can’t think of any novels where the sheep have not added something to the story.  In this story, they appear over and over as a mirror to the main character, Jake Whyte.  Jake has finished running from a haunted past and is standing still in the dark of a small English town where she keeps a sheep farm, a lone barn dweller, and a few pyro teenagers.

Shadow of A Man @ Helgi Halldórsson

I won’t go into the details about Jake’s haunted past because the killer part of this novel is the pacing and the structure.  The novel has alternating chapters between who Jake was before a series of incidents and who she is after.  In the before chapters, the reader learns her life as a teenager was not built on stars.  She had a large family who she (in present day narrative) calls and just listens to the space of breath on the other line rather than talking to her brother or mom.  The only person she does talk to is her sister who is not friendly.  The reader doesn’t understand why until the final chapters of the book.  Jake is a runaway that has now remained on her farm with a gun and a dog named Dog.  She refuses all humanity that approaches the farm and only really trusts Don, the man that sold it to her.  I will tell you that Jake has to run away twice in her life, once by her own undoing, and once by a forced lock and hidden keys.

It’s marketed as a mysterious thriller, which I think it is.  I think that’s justified.  There were moments in this book where my heart beat was pattering because I wasn’t quite sure what was coming next.  There’s a terrifying dog character named Kelly, owned by Otto who is a pathetic sack of arsehole, if you ask me.  It wasn’t a scary book, well, it was a scary view of human qualities gone shaky, but it isn’t a horror story.  It’s more just a really dark novel that remains dark until probably the last sentence.  There’s even a mysterious looming shadow that is hunting the living at the brim of the woods behind her house.  The reader finds out just what this force is by inference, it is never really revealed, but truly I thought this force was going to be an awkward encounter with Bigfoot.  No, seriously, that’s the kind of reader I am.  I also almost believed in the Google Maps Lochness siting from today.

Running Away @ Darted Rose (Creative Commons – Deviant Art)

The problem I had with this book was that not all my questions were answered.  Sometimes, I like if the author leaves a few points hanging.  I won’t lobby around the fact that the reader never finds out what happens to Greg, who Jake dated on a runaway stint to a sheep sheering gang where she was ousted by a friend of her boyfriends who saw posters of her face a few towns up.   I will lobby around the fact that there is no warning that this book is going both forward and back at the same time.  I liked that because it was new to my reading plate.  Other than Cloud Atlas, I had never read a book that could multitask in tenses, and move back and forth through a time spectrum in such a backwards way.  It was a bit rocky at times, Back to the Future rocky sometimes, but it wasn’t REALLY obnoxious.  It took me a few to-and-fros to understand what she was doing, but this was also the time when I thought the chapters were from two different people.  I really thought the girl’s stories would intersect, turns out it’s one girl.  WHOOPS, must have missed that one.  As you can see, this was a little bit of work for my amateur reading mind to really figure out, which isn’t always a bad thing.  Sometimes we need a little reading arithmetic in our lives.  Word problems of the bookish and blowzy.

Smell of Tammany @ Wikipedia (Creative Commons)

The things that are on my list of grievances are shorter than they are long. I liked this book, it was mysterious, difficult to follow at times in a good way, and interesting.  My problem was that it wasn’t fully thought out.  Some things in books, readers just can’t fill in because they don’t know where the author wants them to go.  I wasn’t sure of her ending story with the fire (if you’ve read this, you know what I mean).  The description was missing logical steps to follow to understand how everything happened.  There was no information on how she left home, how she recovered, what happened to the townspeople.

I also had trouble with the barn dweller.  She accepts this man into her home with very little forethought.  She does prove to be spontaneous and run her life on impulse previously in the book, but I also found her to be really untrustworthy with anyone, not just unsavory characters.  I have mixed reviews of her hasty turn of feelings on this whiskied man. (Yes, I just made whisky a verb).

I’m not sure of the pacing (how many days he was there before he took over the guest room and the dog training), but it felt like very few.  And this is a woman who trusts no one, sleeps with tools to kill under her pillow (I sleep with my car keys).  It’s nuts that that relationship came so willingly.  All you romcom girls out there, this isn’t one of those “it was love at first sight,” or “I met him and just knew” kind of thing, Jake is not that kind of woman.  She has tiger stripe scars on her back and can shear a sheep without cutting to the quick.

This book was worth the read if the reader is willing to fill in the blanks, and follow it through, if only to see how delicately and with much fragility a writer can weave in the sense of smell (and other well-worn senses):

“I’d been up that morning, before the light came through, out there, talking to myself, telling the dog about the things that needed doing as the blackbird int he hawthorn started up.  Like a mad woman, listening to her own voice, the wind shoving it back down my throat and hooting over my open mouth like it had done every morning since I moved to the island” (79/3191).

“The night sky is crisp with stars and I sit on the fence, listening to the cicadas and the night birds, the bandicoots and rats and all the live things that are out there, breathing with me.  Not far away, the sheep are a dense and silent cluster” (497/3191).

“I smoked a cigarette.  Down in the bottom field, one of the ewes ate from where the grass was still darkened from the dead sheep.  They didn’t hold a grudge, sheep” (519/3191).

“The headlights lit up a lot of insects for that time of year, white in the beams, large-winged flakes like ash. It took me a while to understand that they weren’t insects, that it was snow” (1628/3191).

“The hot smoked air, the birds. The salted ends of my hair when it flew in my mouth.  My family” (2594/3191).

Catster_LetsTalk1_28

 

Read any good books starring sheep or with sheep as side characters.  I think they’re kind of like the setting as a character, that oddly noisy sidekick.  Have any thoughts on the darkness in this book, or the narrative structure? Let other readers know what you thought.


Newsday Tuesday

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Favorite Tweets:

(Sorry about the non-picture tweets.  My internet sucks sometimes. Thanks, Time Warner).

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Favorite Search Terms:

  • the man who walked between the towers book literacy: My FAVORITE children’s book to share with my high schoolers.
  • ricardo nuila’s dog bites: Can someone explain to me what this means?
  • short films on petticoat discipline: Is this a weird porn search or do these actually exist as manners classes?
  • spell to make him have a bowel movement while cheating with another woman: HOLY COW.  I’m a little scared of this search.

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