April is Over

One of my all time favorite 10,000 Maniacs songs is “The Painted Desert” off the album, Our Time in Eden. If you have never heard it, the premise is simple. A couple is trying to have a long distance relationship. Or…one of them is anyway…While one is off in the Southwest, the other waits patiently for the time when he? she? can join the other. But, soon the patience tarnishes and the one left behind find themselves pleading, “I wanted to be there by May at the latest time. Isn’t that the plan we had or have you changed your mind? I haven’t heard a word from you since Phoenix or Tuscon. April is over. Can you tell how long before I can be there?” The underlying poison is that the partner has moved on and the answer to the question is “never.” How ironic.

Having said all that, April IS over. As far as the run is concerned, I begrudgingly ran a half mara and a 10k and despite not training for either, I am pleased with both races.
And I read a fair amount of books:

Fiction:

  • Amber Beach by Elizabeth Lowell

Nonfiction:

  • Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
  • The Corner: a Year in the life of an Inner-City Neighborhood by David Simon and Edward Burns
  • The Evolution of Everyday Objects by Henry Petroski
  • Bogey Man by George Plimpton
  • To the Is-Land: an Autobiography by Janet Frame

Series continuations:

  • Charmed by Nora Roberts
  • The Venus Throw by Steven Saylor

Poetry:

  • “Unexplorer” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • “Travel” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • “Wild Geese” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • New and Collected Poetry by Czeslaw Milosz

Early Review:

  • Deeply Grateful and Entirely Unsatisfied by Amanda Happe

Deeply Grateful and Entirely Unsatisfied

Happe, Amanda. Deeply Grateful and Entirely Unsatisfied: a Book for Anyone Wondering if Life is Giving You Magical Gifts or Just Messing with You. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2018.

Reason read: this is the March selection from the Early Review program of LibraryThing.

At first glance, you think Deeply Grateful should only take you ten minutes to read. At second glance, you reconsider. Maybe thirty minutes in order to give the illustrations a proper scrutiny. But. But! Once you get into Deeply Grateful and really read it (like reeeallllly read it) you realize you want to say to hell with time. It is simple and complex all at once. Yes, the illustrations are a little repetitious. You’ll see a lot of straight lines that look like rays of sunlight and curly lines that resemble snakes. Then there are the ribbons and pipes and boxes. Circles and science projects. Never mind all that. It’s really all about the words. Some will have you thinking more. Some will have you wishing you thought less. Even way, Deeply Grateful makes you think.

Author fact: Happe runs Three of Wands, “an independent creative practice.”

Book trivia: Deeply Grateful is Amanda Happe’s first book.


Oneiron

Lindstedt, Linda. Oneiron: a fantasy about the seconds after death. Translated by Owen Witesman. London: OneWorld, 2018.

Reason read: I requested this book as an Early Review from LibraryThing.

How to describe this book? Odd? Maybe. It is the imaginative story of seven unique women who are caught in a space somewhere between death and the final destination, wherever that may be. It is obvious all seven women have passed away but they themselves are not fully cognizant of that fact. They aren’t even sure they know where they are except to say they are in a white room devoid of detail. Each woman has a thoroughly detailed personality and an elaborate past to match. More time is spent telling the reader where they have been instead of moving them forward to where they are going. It gets heavy at times. Certain scenes are graphic.

Disclaimer: I normally only chose two different types of books from LibraryThing for the Early Review Program: nonfiction and debut novels. For some reason, the premise of Oneiron (pronounced o.ne:.ron from the Greek, meaning dream) fascinated me: seven women meet in an undefined space only seconds after their deaths. They are in the space between life and afterlife. The don’t understand this in-between world.

Second disclaimer: I was not prepared for the lesbian sex scene right off the bat, only four pages in.
Truth be told, I had a hard time with this. I could put it down for days weeks and not miss the characters I abandoned. I didn’t find a likable woman in the bunch. Maybe that was my problem.

Author fact: Lindstedt’s debut novel was Scissors. Another useless piece of trivia: Lindstedt has amazing cheek bones. She could model in her spare time. Maybe she does.

Book trivia: Oneiron has already won the Finlandia Prize, Finland’s highest literary honor. Another piece of trivia: Oneiron is organized a little differently than American published books. Table of contents is in the back while the author bio is in the front.


Marching Out

March was one of those weird months. A few Nor’Easters. A few miles run. A few books read. We had two school closings in back to back weeks so that helped with the reading, but not the run. I finished the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race just two minutes off my time last year. Considering I didn’t train (again) I’m alright with that. There’s always next year! Here are the books:

Fiction –

  • The Good Son by Michael Gruber
  • Roman Blood by Steven Saylor
  • White Man’s Grave by Richard Dooling
  • Witch World by Andre Norton
  • Cards of Identity by Nigel Dennis

Nonfiction –

  • All the Way Home by David Giffels
  • Slide Rule by Nevil Shute

Series Continuations –

  • Coast of Incense by Freya Stark – to finished the series started in honor of her birth month in January.
  • Entranced by Nora Roberts

Early Review for Librarything –

  • Oneiron by Laura Lindstedt (started)
  • Infinite Hope – Anthony Graves

Poetry –

  • New and Collected Poetry by Czeslaw Milosz (not finished)

Fun – I’m not finished with either fun book so I won’t list them here.


Infinite Hope

Graves, Anthony. Infinite Hope: How Wrongful Conviction, Solitary Confinement and 12 Years on Death Row Failed to Kill My Soul. Boston: Beacon Press, 2018.

Reason read: this came as an Early Review for LibraryThing.

I think the title sums up Anthony’s story. I am not spoiling the plot by saying he was wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit after his “accomplice” blatantly lied on the witness stand. The title sums up the story, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. What the title cannot convey is Graves’s spirit; his faith; his resilience to survive mentally and spiritually. Solitary confinement could have broken him. The mere fact he was on death row could have filled him with enough despair to shatter his hope in humanity. There were times Graves was angry. There were times he was afraid. But, he never lost the will to prove his innocence. Even after his freedom was restored, Graves did not stop fighting. See Author Fact below.

I need to talk about perception for a minute. There is a reality show called Cold Justice that “stars” Kelly Siegler. Have you seen it? When I first started watching the show I was disappointed more cold cases were not solved. Then I began to wonder if Ms. Siegler felt the pressure to close cases, not only for the sake of the victim and family, but because America was watching and judging… just as I was when I experienced disappointment. Did she get to the point she wanted to solve cold cases “by any means necessary” which in my mind meant find a suspect first and then build a wall of evidence around his or her guilt? This first question prompted another; when you find a viable suspect, do you spend all your energy and efforts trying to make the charges stick and never mind looking for other possible suspects?

As an aside – do yourself a favor and listen to “I’m Not the Man” by 10,000 Maniacs. I know lead singer Natalie Merchant is sometimes hard to hear, but pay attention to what she says at 0:38 seconds in, “He knows the night like his hand. He knows every move he made.” Just like Graves. Actually the whole song could be Grave’s story – an innocent man on death row. It’s haunting.

Author fact:  Graves is the cofounder of Join Hands for Justice.

Book trivia: This was too short! Less than 200 pages I know Graves had more to say and I would have listened.


Marching with Words

The only run I have planned for March is St. Patrick’s Day. No surprise there. Here are the books planned for March:

Fiction:

  • The Good Son by Michael Gruber (AB) – in honor of the start of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
  • White Man’s Grave by Richard Dooling – In honor of Dooling’s birthplace (Nebraska) becoming a state in March.
  • Roman Blood by Stephen Saylor – in honor of Saylor’s birth month in March.

Nonfiction:

  • All the Way Home by David Giffels – in honor of Ohio becoming a state in March.

Series continuations:

  • Coast of Incense by Freya Stark – to continue the series started in January for Stark’s birth month. This will end the autobiography.
  • Entranced by Nora Roberts (EB) – to continue the Donovan Legacy started in February in honor of Valentine’s Day.

Early Review:

  • Infinite Hope by Anthony Graves

Poetry:

  • New and Collected Poems by Czeslaw Milosz – in honor of National Poetry Month.

If there is time:

  • Slide Rule: the Autobiography of an Engineer by Nevil Shute – in honor of the birth month of William Oughtred
  • Which Witch? by Andre Norton – to remember Norton (who died in the month of March).
  • Cards of Identity by Nigel Dennis in honor of Reading Month.

January with the King’s Men

January started with my first official appointment to a chiropractor. I mentioned elsewhere that he wasn’t really confident he could put me back together, but that’s there and not here. Not being able to run has given me more time to read…much more than I realized. You can get a lot done with an extra 4-5 hours a week! With that being said, here are the books:

Fiction:

  • Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright. This story stayed with me for a really long time.
  • Tea From an Empty Cup by Pat Cadigan. I think I was most disappointed by this one because I saw the ending a mile away.
  • On the Beach by Nevil Shute. I listened to this on audio and I still can’t stop thinking about it.
  • Black Alibi by Cornell Woolrich. I read this one in a day.
  • Wake Up, Darlin’ Corey by M.K. Wren. Another really short book.
  • What Did It Mean? by Angela Thirkell. I gave up on this one after 120 pages. Boring!

Nonfiction:

  • Partisans: Marriage, Politics, and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals by David Laskin.
  • War Child by Emmanuel Jal. Probably the most raw and captivating story of the month. Read in a weekend.
  • Traveller’s Prelude by Freya Stark
  • Practicing History by Barbara Tuchman. No one does history like Barbara. (AB/print)
  • Last Cheater’s Waltz by Ellen Meloy. She has a wicked sense of humor.

Series continuations:

  • Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle by Dorothy Gilman. The last Pollifax mystery I will read.  Read in a day.

Early Reviews:

  • Brain Food: the Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Health by Lisa Mosconi. This took me a really long time to read. You may have seen it on other lists. There was just a lot to it.