Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Finish

I finished After Lucy a couple days ago and have been pondering what I would write for the final post for this book. It didn't end the way I thought it might. It ended in a way that has everyone getting along (even if superficially) and moving forward as if not much had really happened - but maybe with a few less walls in the end. In a way I was irked about that, but I guess that's the way it usually is - people just stop fighting the battle because it wears them down after a while - it's so much easier to just shut up and deal. At least with inter-personal relations, but maybe not for your own inner person.

That is what this book was about more than anything I think - inner honesty. Being real with yourself and even if no one else knows it - because you keep up the facade , at least your not fooling yourself- as much. The main character came to a different conclusion than I would of - if I could get away with just being me that is - no editing what I am thinking or hiding what I am dong to keep others from reacting and either coming unglued or being so silent and tight-lipped that you just want to tell them to spit it out already - they've already thought it loud enough for everyone to hear anyway. This book was a good read for me because it opened up my personal journaling in even deeper ways. I have several entries where I let it all out - all the frustrations of interfering meddlesome people. People who think so highly of themselves and their ways that they elevate themselves as judge over you in all their interactions - either openly in the "name of love" or silently - glowering eyes and fake smiles. The author tackled some "taboo" subjects (I hate the idea of "taboo" subjects, by the way) in fairly blunt ways, especially with the main characters inner dialogue. Although the character rarely followed through in action what he was feeling and thinking - at least things were addressed that normally get swept under the rug. And the ending was, although not the way I would have ended it, decent enough - one possible outcome to a life with complex interactions and situations to be dealt with. And the kittens were a nice touch.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bookstore Confessions and More Thoughts on After Lucy

First the confessions. I bought three books yesterday. All used. All children's books. Obviously my Inner Child had snuck to the front. I went in thinking maybe I would find something in the writing or essays sections - but came out with A light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein (I've always wanted my own copy!), Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke (it's a New York Times Bestseller and has a dragon, a boy and a cat on the cover- it has to be good), and Earth Magic by Mallory Loehr ( the second of a series of books that involve kids, adventures and elemental magick). So now there are two more books on my list to read and a poetry book to dip into from time to time for a refreshing and ridiculous look at life. Maybe next time I'll find the Basho, Muir and Thoreou for my Higher Self.

Now continuing with After Lucy. I am about three quarters of the way through. There have been some twist and turns - unexpected plot building that leaves me really wondering how this book is going to turn out. The author has covered a lot of different issues so far and amazingly keeps adding more - cancer, death of a spouse, in-law relations, children coping, unusual social situations, counter culture, life choices and paths and more.
I like that. I like how occasionally you can feel where the author hit his inner nerves just right and the words flew out onto the pages expressing difficult things to express and in blatantly honest ways. It feels uncensored - like what life is like for real but so often gets touted as something else.

I'll end with a particular poignant quote from the book.

"Privately he'd fancied himself as the emerging Springsteen of the art world. God knows the painting world needed a Bruce Springsteen to cut through all the elitist crap and reveal what a pure struggle life was for most working people out there -- the meat-and-potatoes stuff artists used to care about but didn't seem to bother with anymore. No wonder the average person didn't give two shits about going to art galleries and museums. Nothing inside spoke to them. It all had to be explained, and even then the explanations wouldn't make any sense unless you'd studied cubism and feminism and postmodernism and read Kant and Freud and Kierkegaard and had memorized the complete history of all the world's religions."

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Pause and A Cheat

I've come to a rather serious section in the book with no wish to be serious at the moment - so I have stalled. It won't last long. The book is good, it is worth reading even if the cover did not accurately show the Gratetful Dead-esque, swirly paint job camper the main character ended up purchasing. A camper that proves to be an important part of the plot - almost another full blown character at this point.

Now for the 'cheat' part. Is it really cheating if it's a book about writing? A non-fiction book that you read a little of and then do the exercise? Isn't that more like reference or text books? Well, I don't think it counts. (And yes, I probably can validate anything if I try.)

Now that I've confessed, maybe I can get back to reading the 'A' book, because I'm being awfully slow about this and the list of books to read is just getting longer and longer.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

So Far So Good

This one book at a time thing is working fairly well. I have managed to only lightly browse other books and those have been more reference type books than full on literature. At the library this project leant it's restraining hand and I left several interesting books on the shelf - now I just have to recall the titles so I can put them on my list. (No, it wasn't easy - but I behaved). Oh and thankfully magazines don't count since I just recently got the new copy of National Geographic Traveler as well as Yoga Journal.

The book has been a good one so far. Interesting, straight forward, and bluntly honest. It has inspired quite a bit of personal relfection along the way. What follows is one of those reflections.

The first sting at the back of the eyes came on page nine for me, when it mentions his wife's light yet serious way of telling him what she wants at her funeral. It turns out to be a shrine of memorobelia from her life, the things that showed who she was, where her path took her and what was important to her. It reminded me of going through my mom's stuff after she died. How she wasn't there any more,so suddenly - so harshly not there, but everything that she interacted with on a daily basis was. Her kitchen and stained coffee mugs. The old round table she would sit hours at reading book after book and the piles of books as well. The huge collecion of cookbooks she just couldn't resist when she broused through her favorate thrift stores. All the teapots given to her over the years or picked up herself. The cats that she had been so happy to get from Mark and I after we had rescued them and nursed them back to health. They were sitting there looking up at me, wondering what was going on and obviously greatful someone they new and trusted was there with them, to comfort them after loud sirens and rushes of men in big boots and mom being carried out to an ambulence, never to return home. It was the oddest thing to have been surrounded by everything that reminded me of her and have it feel like she was going to walk into the room any minute and offer me a cup of coffee, sit down at the table and slide a pile of books towards me that she's saved because she just knew I would enjoy them and then give me a few spoilers just because she couldn't help herself, only to sit down at that very table,myself, petting one of those cats and realizng with a heaviness it would never happen again like that, never.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A is for After Lucy

I had not heard of After Lucy or its author, Daniel Jones, until this evening. I came across it while wandering through Third Place Books shortly after getting the idea to work through an alphabet of titles. Having a book fresh from the library that I eagerly await reading (the title starts with 'B'), I needed to find a book beginning with 'A', and quickly. So I begin at the begining like a good orderly woman. That in itself, when relating to my reading (or my writing) habits, is enough to send anyone who really knows me into a fit of laughter.
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