Words. This week I have none. Literally. My words from last week became prophesy on Monday afternoon when the sickness began. I couldn’t even watch The Game past halftime. The Traveling Companion however taped it for me and because he is a wise man, and because he has learned from our unfortunate taping history he stayed up to make SURE that it taped so that I can enjoy that when I am well. What has been interesting about this whole thing is that when you have no voice, you literally HAVE NO VOICE, and when you do try to talk the world rushes at you begging you not to speak. So this week I am afraid I don’t have much to say. Because I can’t. So enjoy that. Or not. This week we have turmoil, a fun home, a convalescent home, an unreliable narrator, paperbacks, and some narcotics. Playlist? But of course!
Let us begin!
Abby is here with what is rapidly becoming a staff pick. “Like Virginia before me, I was charmed by the film Begin Again. Starring Mark Ruffalo and Kiera Knightly, the film tells the tale of two people whose lives intersect at just the right point in time. Ruffalo is a once influential music producer experiencing a personal and professional decline. Knightly is a free-spirited songwriter dealing with a cruel betrayal. When Ruffalo happens upon Knightly reluctantly performing at a small club, he can see something vibrant and special. Ruffalo’s character Danny exudes both pain and amazing creative energy. Their collaboration and friendship allow them to find their way back to what they most cherish. Real life pop star Adam Levine does a nice job playing Knightly’s beau, and there is a terrific concert performance of a song written for the film I cannot get out of my head. Ruffalo demonstrates why he is one of our top actors and it’s nice to see Knightly and playing a lighter role. “
The Always Effervescent Julia Rae has been joining us on the Front Lines while she is home for Holiday Break. Here is what she is excited about. “I am lucky enough to attend a college that assigns books for winter break that are actually interesting. My favorite was a graphic novel called Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel. The author gives her readers a very personal and engaging overview of her experiences with her interesting, to say the least, family life. She tackles the issues of coming to terms with her sexuality and aloof father. Not only is Bechdel a talented artist, she is also a phenomenal writer, each page was so rich with honesty and stark descriptions I could hardly put it down. The other book I was pleased to spend Christmas reading was Amy Poehler’s book, Yes, Please. It is so difficult to be funny yet engaging and authentic, and yet she pulls it off marvelously. I had a good chuckle at least every page and I always felt uplifted while reading. She gives so much to her readers; detailed anecdotes, hilarious jokes, and heartfelt advice. These two books are definitely getting packed into my already-stuffed bags and going back to school with me!
Barbara M is reading dark this week which is a change for her. “I’ve just finished reading The Stone Boy by Sophie Loubière and it is a psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the last pages. Madame Préau is now elderly and frail both physically and mentally after having spent several years in a convalescence home. She’s moved back to her old neighborhood which has changed drastically since she last lived there. Across the street where there was once a garden, there is now a house and from one of her windows she can see directly into the backyard. Her neighbors seem to have two young children but Madame Préau sees a third child in the background who she feels is being abused. She tells the authorities, she tells her doctor and she tells her son but no one can find any proof of her accusations. Is this the result of Madame Préau reliving her difficult past or is it real?”
Here is Steph’s take on the same book. “This week I read The Stone Boy, by Sophie Loubière, on the recommendation of Barbara M. Now, if you know anything about Barbara’s reading habits, you know she doesn’t read many thrillers, even French ones. So when she recommended this book, a true thriller from start to finish, I knew it had to be good! The book follows Madame Préau, who has just moved back into her home in the Paris suburbs after taking a break from life for unspecified but seemingly dark reasons. Her days are highly regimented; dinner at the same time each night, cleaning at the same time each morning, shopping every Friday, and a bit dull, so she takes to keeping an eye on her neighbors. She quickly realizes that her next door neighbors have three children, one of whom she sees very rarely and who appears to be abused. She begins to investigate and get the authorities involved, but several previous occurrences keep anybody from taking her seriously. Madame Préau is a terribly unreliable narrator, but a sympathetic one, and the tension in the story ramps up quickly. I burned my dinner slightly because I was trying to read this book at the same time I was cooking. I know The Girl on the Train is supposed to be the new Gone Girl, but I didn’t care for it. I’d recommend this book instead, for sure.”
Miss Elisabeth of the CL is back again this week! “Dipping my toes into adult book pool again, this week I read the fantastically inspiring When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win WWII by Molly Guptill Manning. This is the remarkable true story of the Armed Services Editions, portable paperbacks that American publishers produced for troops headed overseas. Before the publishers stepped in, there was the American Library Association’s National Defense Book Campaign, which organized book drives all over the United States, collecting over 10 million volumes to give to the armed forces. All told, the United States sent over 120 million books overseas during the war. The entire program came about as a reaction to the book-burning habits of the Nazi’s, with President Roosevelt saying, ‘Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever.’ Reading this book made me proud to be a reader, proud to be a librarian, and proud of my country. It’s a gripping, quick read. I can’t recommend it enough!”
My delightful friend Golda R of WW Norton Publishing (that’s her real name..Hey Hey Golda! What’s doin?) had been telling me about this book for months before she sent me a copy. She promised me a book that would help scratch my never-ending itch for dysfunctional family literature. It finally appeared before the holidays and I really have to say Golda knows me well. Maybe too well. Bastards by Mary Anna King opens with Mary flying to Oklahoma to bear witness at the bed-side of the dying woman who raised her, and her brother and sister. But at the start we learn things are not as they seem. Because while she is indeed going to pay respects to a dying woman who did indeed raise her, she is not in fact Mary’s mother, she is Mary’s maternal grandmother. How did Mary make it from New Jersey to Oklahoma to be raised by old folks? Mary’s real mother was incapable of caring for her children due to crushing poverty and an absent father whose main talent seemed to be looking for Jesus via the use of narcotics. This however did not stop her mother from having his babies. Like clockwork. And then she would just give them away as if they were kittens. Mary has four sisters who were given away and who, as teenagers, came looking for their birth family. This funny, wise and very moving book comes out in June.
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here as always from That State Up North and as always she comes bearing good tunes and even greater wishes. What’s good Pats?” So here we are at the height of the cold and flu season and our lovely JD is down for the count. I know it’s hard to imagine our fearless YAWYR leader speechless but it’s happened folks. Since I can’t bring her broth, I trust that all of you will and when you do make sure you congratulate her on that big football win. I think that will bring a smile to her face and I’d like to know that even if she has no voice that she is smiling. Seriously, everyone here in The D is hoping you feel better soon, Jen!
Comfort. I’ve always taken comfort in words, books, libraries and museums. Words have the ability to soothe, inspire and conjure other worlds when our own might feel less than ideal. Reading allows us to experience life through a different lens. In light of the recent tragedy in Paris, I hold tight to my own hope for a positive evolution that advances the written word and art in all its forms without fear of retaliation. This week’s playlist shares a little music love and I think we could all use some of that right now.