Saturday, November 01, 2008

Book Read, 2008

YEESH. I'm 3 books behind!

"My Brother's Keeper" by Paul Pines.

"God's Middle Finger" by Richard Grant.

"Then We Came to the End" by Joshua Ferris.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Book Read, 2008

"Strange Piece of Paradise" by Terri Jentz

In short, this book blew me away. It is the memoir of one of the survivors of a most bizarre camping attack on two young girls in 1977.

I can very much remember as a kid camping that my Dad had an acute need to scan the grounds for trucks that might "run us over". Now, if you aren't familiar with the incident which led to this fear practically nationwide, this sounds completely insane. And the weird thing is, those memories I had were just blips - I was too young to know where the fear came from.

Until I found this book in City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. I could not get to the register with it fast enough. Here was something I am really interested in (crime) in book form, with an answer to a question I've had since I was a kid.

And here's the best part. This book is so majestically written, that you can't help but devour it whenever you get a chance.

I have a few phrases and bits from the book that normally I'd have put in a separate entry, but I think I'll just put them here:

"I was fixated only on the randomness of how we all could be taken out - the 'accidental' aspect of the incidents of fate, that something you could never invent in a fiction if you were plotting your own fate could happen from nothing and nowhere, even in the places that seemed most innocent."

"It was some kind of cosmic prank. Even the skeptic's eyes were widening."

"...I still needed evidence, data, constant confirmation of what I didn't want to believe -- that I shared human nature with people like him, who lived life guided by a spirit of perverseness, who did wrong for wrong's sake only."

Friday, July 04, 2008

Book Read, 2008

"An Unquiet Mind" - A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison

I didn't take note of memorable quotes from this book, because I'd have ended up re-writing the entire book here. Not one word is wasted in this thing. I especially like the way she calls the disease madness. Because that's what it is. But nobody ever says so.

For the first time, someone pointed out the good things that come with manic depression. I have personally never seen/read/heard that done before. Don't get me wrong, this book isn't the most uplifting tale. It's an awful existence and the good there is can't outweigh the pain. But for a time, those who suffer can actually let go (in some circumstances, not all) and perhaps enjoy the positives that do come out of it - as long as there's no other option but to live with it.

This memoir (I believe) was written at a time when we still had not the best idea of what is going on in one's brain. It was much more stigmatized than it is now, and anyone out there living it knows it is HIGHLY stigmatized even today. If there is any hope of allowing someone who has not dealt with manic depression to experience it through a book, this one is it. There's no excuses here, just honest reporting by a fabulous story teller.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Book Read, 2008

"The Year of Living Biblically" - One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. By A.J. Jacobs.

AWESOME. Funny, inspirational, enlightening, fascinating and thought provoking.

There is so much about my daily life that I can now see is linked to religion. There is so much that I've experienced that I had NO IDEA was originally linked to the bible and its laws. I am not a religious person, I guess I am atheist if a label has to be put on it.

Mr. Jacobs actually tries to live/practice ALL of the laws of the bible for one year. He exposes the fact that it is impossible to do so, no matter how much your heart is in it. The main roadblock is the "interpretation" of the words themselves.

As an added benefit, he actually takes various groups, like Amish, Hasidic Jews, etc. and gives a cursory examination of what people believe, how they interpret it, what they really really want others to know about them and what they do - without being threatening or condescending in any way. It is very much a window into those people I'd never approach on my own for fear of offending them with my ignorance.

I am fascinated by all things religion, ALL religions. Which might be one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much, but I promise you it is not the ONLY reason.

I had read Mr. Jacobs' "The Know It All" a year or two ago, and thoroughly enjoyed that book too. Whatever he puts out next, I am buying it.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Phrases by Jacobs

From "The Year of Living Biblically" by A.J. Jacobs

"I've rarely said the word Lord, unless it's followed by of the Rings. I don't often say God without preceding it with Oh my."

...mental orgasms

bloviating putz

...otherwise people will think I'm a psycho who keeps a cup of noses in my freezer.

"It's hard to be passionate about a lack of belief."

I'm too attracted to the idea that everything has untidy origins.

...maniacal charisma

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Book Read, 2008

"Things I Learned About My Dad (In Therapy)"

Heather B. Armstrong (dooce)

This is several essays by various bloggers. Dooce and her husband, and Defective Yeti are the authors I was familiar with before purchasing the book.

Having no children of my own, nor wanting any of my own, AND not being a dad because I'm a chick - this book still made me laugh (yes, out loud) in many places. And I do feel like I understand Dads and my own Dad just a teeny bit more than I used to.

While enjoyable, this book did feel a little hit and miss though - which might be common with a collection of essays. I don't usually read collections. And to my knowledge, this is the first book I've ever experienced with the excitement of the EDITOR being who she is as opposed to the actual authors of the pieces. But then again, I don't read these collection type books much.

But who could resist anything with dooce attached to it? Not even I.

Book Read, 2008

"Sit, Ubu, Sit."

By Gary David Goldberg.

Some really interesting facts about the 80s t.v. shows I very much remember as a kid. The thing that stands out about many of the shows written about by Goldberg is that those shows were the ones that my whole family DID sit around and watch together. That had never happened before, nor has it since.

The read itself, while not bad, felt a little forced and disjointed. I'm not sorry I read it though.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Book Read, 2008

"Beautiful Boy" by David Sheff

This is the Father's version of the tragedy of addiction and its effects on family and addict. The son's version is put forth in "Tweak" by Nic Sheff.

Mr. Zoom didn't know these two authors were related, he just knows what kind of books I love and when he saw both of these, he brought them both home.

I am amazed at the rounding out of the experience I feel having the opportunity to see (read) it from both points of view. And having lost a family member to the same addictions that Nic experienced, David's book actually brought me a lot closer to understanding my parents' actions in our own struggles.

I believe that addiction is biological, and a lot - if not entirely out of the control of the addict. But before I read these two books together, I realized that believing that on one hand, I was still quietly blaming our lost family member for the turbulence in our lives. I wasn't able, until now, to let him off the hook. I don't think I've come around to being able to do it effortlessly - as I still have to force a deduction process.

Several times I had to remind myself that my family did not write this book. There were so many things that were hauntingly similar to my own family, and probably hundreds of other families too, but I had to keep making sure the author listed was not my own Father.

I am left feeling a lot lighter about what happened to my own family.

Phrases by Sheff, David

From "Beautiful Boy" by David Sheff

A woman at an al-anon meeting said "....I can't take my life as long as I can still laugh."

How innocent we are of our mistakes and how responsible we are for them.

Therapist tells him "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

Book Read, 2008

"Tweak" by Nic Sheff

I have to admit, this book felt a little rambly and pointless. That is not to say that it was a bad experience to read it. It gave me a better insight into what addicts deal with. And then I realized that in a total coincidence, Mr. Zoom had bought this book and Nic Sheff's FATHER's book about the same experiences - so the Father's book was in my waiting to read pile. I dove for it. How rare is it to get two perspectives on the same events like that?

Phrase by Sheff, Nic

From "Tweak" by Nic Sheff

"... or maybe that's just me comparing my goddamn insides to everyone else's outsides. But I swear to God, I just seem to wrestle with everything more than anyone else."