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things I'm reading/have just finished

I have a good collection of things on the go/just finished.

Just Finished
The Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant. It's a novel in the form of reminiscences of an 85-year-old Jewish grandmother, Addy, talking to her granddaughter, Ada, in 1985. It was delightful. The voice reminded me so much of my own grandmother's voice, even though my grandmother was Italian, not Jewish. The picture of immigrant life in Boston in the 1910s and 1920s felt absolutely genuine to me because my grandmother has said similar things. I liked Addy tremendously. Here's a quote--she's reminiscing about a camp that she was lucky to be able to attend in her teens:

It was so quiet that I could hear the bees buzzing around the roses and a bird singing from far away. Someone upstairs called, "Has anyone seen my hairbrush?" In the kitchen there was chopping. Every sound was separate--like framed pictures on a wall. I thought, Aha! This is what you call peace and quiet.

Currently Reading

Breath of Stone, by Blair MacGregor
This is the second in the Desert Rising series, a fantasy of political intrigue in a harsh desert setting, where the rulers have dangerous charisma and some are trying to recapture godlike powers that had devastating effects in the past. It's *very* gripping. I'm at about the 40 percent mark.

Ruby on the Outside, by Nora Raleigh Baskin

This is a short, middle-grade book about Ruby, a eleven-year-old whose mother is in prison. She's been a loner, but this summer she's becoming friends with a new girl, Margalit, whose family--though Ruby hasn't figured this out yet at the point I'm at--is somehow connected with her mother's case. (Seems her mother was coerced by her husband--not sure yet whether this is Ruby's father [ETA: read a little further--he's not Ruby's father]--into something drug related.)

So far the details about prison visits ring VERY true to my tangential experience, and Ruby's tentative negotiation of this new friendship feel right too. I'm only about 20 percent in; when I finish, I'm going to leave it in the free books/libros gratis rack at the jail. There's always a varied assortment there; kids really do take them. I don't know who ordinarily stocks it, or if it's all by people like me: I try to leave new things for various ages now and then.

Iris Grace, by Arabella Carter-Johnson

I won this gorgeous hardback book in a Goodreads giveaway. It's the story of Iris Grace, a child in England on the autism spectrum, and her parents' attempts to help her adjust to and flourish in the world. Art turns out to be one way: Iris loves to paint, and the book is full of full-color reproductions of her paintings. I could look at them all day, and also the loving photos of Iris herself, taken by her mother, who is a professional photographer.

As for the text, I have complicated, but mainly positive feelings. Arabella does a great job at conveying both her love for her daughter and her feelings of being at her wits' end, of arriving at something that seems to be working only to push too hard and have a setback, and then be filled with remorse. All that makes me feel warmly toward her. I guess it's just that I have a wee bit of vicarious resentment on the part of all the parents of neuroatypical children who don't have the resources that Arabella and her husband have.

Didn't Finish

The Silver Curlew, by Eleanor Farjeon

I really loved what sovay posted about this book here, and shewhomust has a great post on the book, too. But, for me, the book had a large helping of whimsy of a sort that I never liked as a kid and can't manage to plow through even now, even though I know there's luminous beauty in the story too.



( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 1st, 2017 01:08 pm (UTC)
I hope this doesn't make you sad
I love The Silver Curlew. And how I would have adored to see the panto it came from.
Apr. 1st, 2017 01:11 pm (UTC)
Re: I hope this doesn't make you sad
That doesn't make me sad at all! I hope my failure to enter into it doesn't make *you* too sad. I really did love the quote Sovay posted, and I could see, but not reach, what the book was offering, if that makes any sense.
Apr. 1st, 2017 01:53 pm (UTC)
Re: I hope this doesn't make you sad
Nope, not sad. :)

When I have finished work on the sermon I'm writing for tomorrow I hope to post on her autobiography, A Nursery in the Nineties, which I think you'd enjoy.

I do know what you mean about the whimsy. :)
Apr. 1st, 2017 02:16 pm (UTC)
Re: I hope this doesn't make you sad
Oh excellent! I look forward to the post.
Apr. 1st, 2017 01:24 pm (UTC)
*reads delghtedly*

I should send you some books for the free book rack...
Apr. 1st, 2017 02:17 pm (UTC)
That's a lovely idea! Picture books are always nice, and up through middle-grade books. But really anything!
Apr. 1st, 2017 01:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, I used to love Farjeon as a kid. I don't think our library had that one, though. I don't recollect the cover. (Of course, if it's too whimsical, I might have put it back on the shelf and forgotten it.)
Apr. 1st, 2017 02:15 pm (UTC)
Well it's clearly well-loved by many, many people, and from what sovay and shewhomust write--and even from what I saw myself, in beginning it--it's got a story that's far more than just whimsy. It's just that the whimsy that *is* there is more than I can deal with.

Momo, by Michael Ende, is an example of a story that also had whimsy in it that I didn't care for, but where I fell on the other side of the line. There wasn't very much of it, and it was somewhat toned down (though it still did irk me), and the rest of the story was just totally right for me at the time I read it--and it's stuck with me ever since. I'm sure that's the way this story is for people--maybe could have been that way for me, if, for example, I'd had it read to me when I was small (I saw one review by someone recalling being read it as a child).
Apr. 1st, 2017 02:39 pm (UTC)
I totally understand. I fell afoul of Ende--found him unreadable, which made me sad, because so many loved his work. But a lot of people love strawberries, and the smell drives me right out of a room. Taste is unpredictable.
Apr. 1st, 2017 02:41 pm (UTC)
Yes it is! And I picked Ende for the example because I know he's one who people can *dis*like intensely--or like intensely.

I've never read anything else by him.

PS (Good to know re: strawberries!)
Apr. 1st, 2017 03:34 pm (UTC)
I think that must be the original cover - Goodreads have the Oxford reissue that I have.
Apr. 1st, 2017 03:35 pm (UTC)
*nodding*--I went looking for an image of the cover on the book I got via interlibrary loan.
Apr. 1st, 2017 04:08 pm (UTC)
The style of that looks later, indeed.
Apr. 1st, 2017 03:37 pm (UTC)
If you're allergic to whimsy, Farjeon is probably not for you - other books are less whimsical, or maybe it's balanced by more of the magic. But I don't think she's ever entirely whimsy-free.

The Anita Diamant sounds worth watching out for. Thanks for that pointer.
Apr. 1st, 2017 04:20 pm (UTC)
The Boston Girl
You're welcome--I really enjoyed it.
Apr. 1st, 2017 04:05 pm (UTC)
It's a novel in the form of reminiscences of an 85-year-old Jewish grandmother, Addy, talking to her granddaughter, Ada, in 1985.

That sounds great!

I'm sorry The Silver Curlew did not work for you; the numinous was strong enough for me that the whimsy did not overshadow it.
Apr. 1st, 2017 04:17 pm (UTC)
I wish it *had* worked for me. I loved what you showed me. I feel like a character in Pilgrim's Progress who is lacking in fortitude :-\ I think if I had had exposure to it young--very young--I might have felt differently.

The Boston Girl was wonderfully good spirited.
Apr. 1st, 2017 04:20 pm (UTC)
think if I had had exposure to it young--very young--I might have felt differently.

I don't think it helps for you to feel as though there's something wrong with you for not loving this book, any more than with other book you don't love—or books you love that other people don't. People have different tolerances for different things. People get different things out of different stories. You might have read Farjeon as a small child and still not liked her. It happens.
Apr. 1st, 2017 05:07 pm (UTC)
I know you're right, but I can't help feeling colorblind, or tone deaf. Only it isn't even that I'm not seeing or hearing something that others see or hear; it's that I'm bothered by something that others aren't bothered by. But it's only a mild regret, not a huge one.
Apr. 1st, 2017 07:17 pm (UTC)
Only it isn't even that I'm not seeing or hearing something that others see or hear; it's that I'm bothered by something that others aren't bothered by.

That doesn't mean that you're less bothered by it, though. And while there are cases where you might wish to interrogate why something bothers you—being asked to identify with non-white protagonists or cheer a queer romance, to pick some obviously prejudicial examples—this doesn't sound like one of them. Everyone has a different point at which charm or whimsy turns to twee, or a different point at which they run out of the ability to ignore the twee while focusing on the other aspects, and that's all right.
Apr. 3rd, 2017 04:40 pm (UTC)
what i am reading
Seduction of the Minotaur is an autobiographical novel by Anaïs Nin

Seduction of the Minotaur Anaïs Nin
Apr. 3rd, 2017 04:53 pm (UTC)
Re: what i am reading
Very cool! I've heard great things about Anaïs Nin, but I've never read anything by her.
Apr. 3rd, 2017 07:42 pm (UTC)
Re: what i am reading
i like some of her writing, and there is also her connection with henry miller..

so i see a romantic aspect to it, unlike for instance, ayn rand..

this one in particular is like being on a little holiday with her. i need a holiday desperately, but this is all i can afford.. escapism

; P
Apr. 4th, 2017 12:23 pm (UTC)
Re: what i am reading
Reading really can be a holiday--it's all I can afford, too.
Apr. 4th, 2017 12:34 pm (UTC)
Re: what i am reading
my perfect holiday would be traveling on a train reading d.m. thomas 'white hotel'

happy trails...

; )
Apr. 3rd, 2017 09:14 pm (UTC)
Breath Of Stone sounds interesting.
Apr. 4th, 2017 12:22 pm (UTC)
I like it a lot! Try the first book, Sand of Bone first, or start with this one--I think you can understand this one without having read that one, though some of the stuff about relationships between gods, dead people, and the still-alive characters may be complicated.
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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