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04/08/09

  02:14:00 am, by Airycat   , 454 words  
Categories: Book Reviews

Tuesday Night Chitchat

Went to the therapist today. I need to remember to do the simple little exercises she gave me. I did feel better (and worse) after I left therapy. The worse was my back, where she'd pressed it. The better was the leg/hip/foot pains. They're not gone, but they did feel better for a while. She confirmed my PC's diagnosis of both a back and a separate (but related) muscle problem. The back problem causes the muscle problem, but it's the muscle problem that is the more painful of the two.

So, today, after I got home, I have been sort of catching up with my Google reader. I say 'sort of' because 1) I still have over 200 posts listed and 2) several of the blogs in the Google reader are not ones I mean to read every time. With those, I just skim through to find the particular entries I'm interested in. But I also just sign up to read too many blogs!

I was good, today. I didn't add any more, although I did follow some interesting links. The thing is that the last few I read have been craft/fiber/art blogs. Now I want to get creative and it's just plain too late to start anything. Hopefully, the "itch" will carry over until tomorrow, when I might have an hour to spend with it. More if I'm lucky. In part depends on the chair in my sewing area. That's the way I'm leaning, but I could also do something with graphics here at the computer. As far as that goes, I have two short stories in my head that I could do a first draft of. If I try to start any of this now, I will be up until sunrise.

Although I don't mind staying up until three or four am, I hate to be getting up later than noon. (If I feel really good, I tend to linger even after noon, lately, because I know I'll hurt once I'm up, but that's a different problem.) The thing is, I'm still going to be up for an hour or so and my mind is thinking about doing something, not just thinking about doing something. So I'll read a bit.

books

The book that I started Sunday, My Sister, My Love by Joyce Carol Oates, is going much faster than I had expected. It's also not as depressing as I had thought. It could be. The topic certainly is, but something about the writing makes it not. I also like that Oates is playing a bit with her reader with this one. More about that when I do the review.

My cable cut off twice since I started this, so I'll finish up, now.

daffodils

It's Springtime!

04/06/09

  12:56:00 am, by Airycat   , 557 words  
Categories: Chitchat

OW! & Reading Joyce Carol Oates

I am so happy (a relative term) to be seeing my doctor tomorrow and the physical therapist on Tuesday. Not that I think either visit will end the pain, but both should bring some relief. I would love to be totally free of all medications, but right now I'd like a stronger pain med. I took double last night and it helped, but my prescription is limited. I'm really hoping the doctor will up it for the next month. I'd rather be in labor than this pain. At least that was more or less all in one place. This feels like someone's trying to saw off my foot, kick me in the shin, nail into my hip, with fierce muscle cramps in my thigh and backside, and an ache along my lower back -- the only "real" pain (where something is actually wrong). Sometimes these are all at once, which is enveloped in an electric-like shock feeling (usually short, fortunately), sometimes it's a few, sometimes only one. The pain across the top of my ankle (sawing off my foot) is the worst, individually, though none of them is pleasant.

To keep my mind off the pain, I try to sleep, although I realized that I'm actually getting less sleep that I was a week or so ago. Sitting at the computer is no longer as comfortable as it was, so I recline in my recliner and read. I try not to get up too often, so I'm not drinking as much, but I'm also not snacking as much, either. Hurts too much to move. If I find a comfortable position, I DO NOT want to move.

All that whining just to say I read another book today. LOL. I'll have a review tomorrow. To tired to do one now. It's not the same as prattling on the way I do here. But I will say it was a good mystery and I plan to look for more in the series.

I've already picked up the next book. I'm 99% certain I won't have it done by tomorrow night. It's over 500 pages and smaller print than the last three books. It's My Sister, My Love by Joyce Carol Oates. The few pages I've read tell me it's going to be depressing, so I may end up reading a few lighter books before I finish this one. It took about two or three lines to figure out the inspiration for the story, although I only just remembered the name JonBenet Ramsay (I don't know if I spelled it right). It's fiction, merely inspired by that case, not based on it. Anyway, you can see why it won't be cheerful.

I got the book because I forgot to refuse my bookclub order. (Actually, I didn't forget, but the site was not working and I forgot to go back and see if they got my refusal.) I got another one, too and I hope it's more cheerful. I kept them because... Well, I'm sure I've already mentioned that I'm a book addict.

Also I've read so many times that Joyce Carol Oates is such a great writer. I haven't even read more than 3 or 4 pages, but I think I agree. I'll decide for sure after I've finished the book.

Now I must go recline again. I'll read a little and then try to sleep.

04/05/09

  01:34:00 am, by Airycat   , 261 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction, Short Stories

You Are Not A Stranger Here by Adam Haslett

You Are Not a Stranger HereYou Are Not a Stranger Here
by Adam Haslett

Someone once asked me "Why is 'literature' always so depressing?" My answer was that it isn't, but when it's this well written, I don't mind a depressing story.

If you take chunks of life, add a little sorrow and grief, a little madness, gobs of uncertainty and say "make something of this," Adam Haslett comes up with something like You Are Not A Stranger Here. It can be depressing to read, and yet, there is something hopeful about it, somehow, amidst some hopeless situations. The book creates questions. What is the best way to treat mental illness and what causes mental illness, in the first place? How does it affect the one who is ill and the people around the ill one, not only family, but anyone who has contact with that person? How should/do we treat those who are different from us? What is mental illness and what is just different?

At times as I was reading the story seemed destined to become a horror tale. While many of the stories contained herein have some real horror in them, it never quite crosses the line into the horror genre. Only two stories even hint at the supernatural, and in one it's barely even a hint with schizophrenia as the diagnosis. The people here are real. We've met these people. Maybe we are these people. Haslett gives the reader a glimpse at rather unique and ordinary people who may be quite unlike us, or he may be describing us as no one else has.

You Are Not A Stranger Here

04/03/09

  10:33:00 pm, by Airycat   , 205 words  
Categories: Chitchat

'Tis Friday

I was going to say TGIF, but around here one day of the week is pretty much like all the others. It'll be TGIT(uesday),  when I find out if therapy will help... maybe. It's always possible that I do the six weeks of therapy and still need surgery. I hope not, but the way the pain had gotten worse since last week, I dunno...

Because the only thing that feels halfway good is sitting still, I haven't done much in a long time. It annoys me... a lot. I have so many things I want to get done. Even simple things are hard, today.

OK I should focus on the positive.

  1. We got to eat out tonight. We had Mexican. Mmmm.....
  2. I also caught up with about three or four of you.
  3. The weather is supposed to be warm this weekend.
  4. Tomorrow is the Fred Meyer pland sale where we get our fuschias and geraniums (and maybe some other things as well). Last year we nearly froze picking out our plants, so warm weather will be nice.
  5. I read a book and wrote a review, last night (previous post).

 

Picture Time!! Clickety click! (You're going to Xanga 'cause I don't feel like re-uploading the photos twice more.)

  01:19:00 am, by Airycat   , 409 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction

For the Good of the Cause by Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn

For the Good of the Cause by Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn

This is both a simple and a difficult book. It proved to be a much shorter story than I expected -- only 97 pages. What I liked about it was the way it opened. The entire first chapter is dialog and nothing else. The reader feels as if she were plunked down into the place, hearing many of the things, though not all, said by several people and not knowing who is saying what. The second chapter brings it into focus and we start to get to know some of the characters. Solzhenitsyn is good at making even briefly appearing characters real.

The term "right and wrong" is used several times in the story and it is clearly the point of the story, to make readers think what is right and what is wrong. And that's where the story becomes difficult. It's not a situation we're likely to encounter in the US. Americans will immediately side with the principal of the school. The main fuss about this is the political importance of the story. As a story, without taking into consideration the politics, it feels incomplete. It takes the reader to the climax and stops with no resolution of any sort. There are seeds for a fight to resolve the issue and there is also the sense of defeat because it's "for the good of the cause."

At first I thought that there is no point of this story with the Soviet Union no longer in existence, but upon further thought I've changed my mind. This isn't a story to be read simply for the pleasure of reading. Whether something is right or wrong is something that will always be a concern. After reading this story, our minds will debate how it ends, how it should end, how actually did/would end if it were a true story. That, I suppose it the greatest value of For the Good of the Cause. There is nothing to grasp from it that can deter the reader form the point of the story - no love story or grand adventure, just ordinary people with an relatively ordinary dilemma.

My copy of this book was published in 1974 and contains a short biography of Solzhenitsyn as a preface, and discussions from various Soviet sources as an appendix. My comments are on the the story and (since I haven't read them yet) do not take preface or appendix into consideration.

For the Good of the Cause

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