Sunday, April 29, 2012

Little, Big - John Crowley

Long time ago, I always finished books.  Life is short and now if I don't like a book I put it down and move on.
That's the way it is with this novel.  I don't remember where I got the recommendation for it, but it was on my TBR.  I read the first 187 pages and quit.

It is a fantasy novel, fairies and a family living together in an estate for generations.  I agree the writing paints beautiful pictures but the characters never clicked with me and the story was going no where.  If you've read it, fill me in on what I missed.


Published: 1981.  Read:  April 2012 (not-finished)  Genre: Fantasy

Buy it now: link 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Blindsided - Richard M Cohen

sub-title: Lifting a Life Above Illness

This is the autobiography of the author, who, at age 25, discovered he had multiple sclerosis and later in life also battled colon cancer.  He is a former CBS News producer and a journalist by training.  I found his explanation of coping with illness to be enlightening and thought-provoking.

(p. 40) Life, after all, is a meritocracy.  Happiness is earned, at least until serendipity steps in with that inevitable moment that proves the silly assumption untrue.

(p. 56) There are no secrets in a community that cares.

(p. 130) I was beginning to view myself as a diminished person and holding myself accountable.

(p. 171) The strength to get by, I realized, is understated and powerful.  We all do what we must as we try to make our lives work.  Work, it is.  Coping is quiet.

(p. 219) The final battle of illness is for the high ground of emotional health, to accept limitations and pursue the dream of a successful life.  My crusade is to make peace with myself.

I was surprised he makes no mention of spirituality but only describes his battle with his illness as something for him and his family and friends to wage.  I would recommend it for insight into daily life with a chronic illness.

Published: 2004   Read: April 2012   Genre: Biography

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

This was a selection for one of my Reading Groups; I would not have found it on my own.  The author is from Norway and the writing is similar to other Scandinavians - understated, quiet, thoughtful.  It's a story of a man who retires to the country on the border of Norway to live the rest of his life and when he meets a neighbor recalls his youth with his father. The story slowly unfolds to reveal the losses in his life in his youth and the effect it has on him as an adult. From his father he learns "we decide for ourselves when it will hurt".

"People like it when you tell them things, in suitable portions, in a modest, intimate tone, and they think they know you, but they do not, they know about you, for what they are let in on are facts, not feelings..."

"...I wonder whether that is how we get to be after living alone for a long time, that in the middle of a train of thought we start talking out loud, that the difference between talking and not talking is slowly wiped out..."

I enjoyed the writing, the descriptions of the scenery, the mood of the story and the slow way we learn bits of his life both in the past and present.  A recommended read from me, and one of the NYT Book Review 10 best books of the year.

Published: 2003  Read: April 2012  Genre: Fiction