Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 28: Time Flies!

Burial RitesBurial Rites by Hannah Kent
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, Julie sent me this book and followed it up with the full page rave review from the NYTRB, so I read it. Hmmmmm. Here I wish Goodreads had another response format than "like", because that chatty verb doesn't quite cover this novel. It is dark, despairing, depressing, and, in many ways, the hopeless story of a hopeless life. It's full of mucus, excrement, urine, rain, snow, cold, blood. Lots of blood.

So, my thoughts were, "Why would anyone want to read this book?" coupled with "why would anyone want to write this book?" and seasoned with ""How could people survive living like this?" and "What incredible details and impact! I am living this life!"

There is no humor in the book. There is little love or redemption (when you see it, you pretty much know the end is near for somebody), and there are very few likable characters at all, including Agnes, who is mysterious, troubled, and downright weird in places.

I do think Kent's craft is remarkable. I also feel the book appeals to the side of us that rubbernecks at a car accident. I did not like it, I don't know why anyone should read it, but it is impressively researched, well-written, and powerful. That said, I'm off for something cheery.

Winter's BoneWinter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Again, "liked it" doesn't really fill the bill. Woodrell is an amazing writer, and his first few pages knocked my socks off: his voice, his descriptions, his ability to put the reader completely into the head of a backwoods survivor like Ree in about a page--WOW. But the story of these people's lives is tough, tough, tough. There is humor, there is love, there is some hope, but overall the story is dark, sad, haunting, and gorgeously written. Ree as a character is both like and unlike the people she lives around and with, and she's a remarkable creation. I'd choose this novel as a less devastating read that Burial Rites, though it's surely damning in its depiction of the lives people still struggle to lead in the US today.


View all my reviews

Saturday, September 21, 2013

September 21: Saturday Evening: Bring It On!

It's getting grey and chillyish out there, and it's due to rain. I'm tucked up on the futon, having had a day that featured
rise at 6:30, tidy house, meet with Nate, Andy, and Sam Eliot for college talk, quick errand run with Camilla, make a batch of greasy o'malleys for care packages, run, shower, correct AP papers for two hours (woot! woot!), deal with laundry, FLOP onto futon, 

Andy is watching something on tv but will probably fall asleep soon, Camilla is at homecoming and then an overnight with some friends, and N just got home from Aaron's, mowed the lawn, and is putzing on his laptop. We are all breathing deeply after a busy week, but we're doing well!

I wish I could make zucchini relish and also watch some good movies while knitting. . . . alas. . . but in general I feel pretty happy. I have just gotten some good backup drive advice from Anne Swann, so we'll see how that works. Leftovers for dinner, and more greasy o'malleys to box up!

Monday, September 2, 2013

September 2: Rainy, Sleepy Labor Day Monday

Well, this is the official, no-matter-how-you-slice-it, absolute last day of summer vacation. Tomorrow I'm up and off for a full day of real deal classes, as is Andy; the kids may pretend they're still on vacation, but everyone *except* 10th - 12th graders at their high school are back to school, and Nate has to go help orient 9th graders, so their Wednesday start is inevitable.

So this am is full of rain and still very dark: Katniss, pictured above on my skilled photobooth shot, spent the night outside but raced inside as soon as I opened the door and crashed into sleep; Zeus the dog is sleeping on the couch; the teens are still snoozing, their Blue Hill Fair plans probably on hold due to the rain; I am enjoying this quiet time with no pressure to get outside as a way to do various final/loose endy tasks that remain.

We had a lovely lawn party yesterday, designed to introduce the hosting families and their students to each other, and it was a lot of fun and not a lot of work. Both our kids were hospitable, helpful, and outgoing--we're so proud of them!--and the memories of Silas, Mia, Dani, and Lyle from three years ago were strong. Pic below: well, maybe not. I have to get some off Facebook, and that may take some tweaking. HA! Did it!

However, my goals for today:

--pack Julie's care package, designed to prep her for her new job as an English/social studies tutor at Ridgefield High School. I am *so* proud of her for taking action and happy about the position! I think she'll gain happiness and some calm in her busy life. Yay! I'm sending her a nice dressy tshirt, a gorgeous soft dressy scarf (perfect for dressing up a wardrobe that is pretty outdoors oriented at this point), and a box of really strong black tea--nothing like it for the 1 pm drowsy fits.

--finish the toe and finishing on Andy's socks that have been taking time, time time. I have about 30 rows and the ends to deal with. Git 'em done!

--prep a syllabus for AP and GL so I am ready for the week!

--get flowers in my role as Sunshine Club assistant for two teachers who are returning tomorrow after various health issues. Yay!

--POSSIBLY: iron some clothes (linen, I love you, but I never seem to get to the ironing. . . ) and write a few thank you notes. AND talk Nate into baking something luscious.

Shazamm! I don't know if the kids will go to the Fair in the afternoon (totally weather dependent, I would guess), but I am NOT swimming Branch Lake with Steve and Andy this morning in the gloom and rain. Ah well.

What a lovely summer this has been: lots of reading and sleep; lots of live theater; a wedding; much family; lots of use of the Park and outdoor activity; much appreciation in general. Onwards!