Lawrence, D.H. Lady Chatterley’s Lover. New York: Signet Classics, 1959.
Reason read: Let’s talk about sex.
You know a book is trouble when it’s published privately in Italy in 1928 and again in France a year later. It wasn’t published openly to the masses until 1960 when it was promptly banned across the world. The United States, Canada, Australia, India, and Japan all found fault with it. Finally, when it was at the center of a 1960 British obscenity trial, things came to a head. No pun intended. Not really.
Who doesn’t know this story? Lady Chatterley is an attractive upper-class woman married to an equally handsome man who happens to be paralyzed from the waist down. Connie is young, spoiled, and has certain…needs. Her husband says he understands, but a man and wife’s varying perceptions of the same marriage are striking. Clifford Chatterley doesn’t really understand the resentments of his wife. A poignant scene is when Connie watches a mother hen protect her eggs and feels empty. She wants a child. She wants a lover. She finds solace in the gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors, who lives on the grounds. His cottage is a short distance from the estate…It is the classic tale of class differences. Lawrence goes a bit further by exploring themes of industrialism (Clifford wants to modernize mining with new technology) and mind-body psychology (the struggle between the heart and mind when it involves sexuality, especially when it is illicit in nature). The ending is ambiguous, as typical of Lawrence’s work, but it ends with hope.
As an aside, I would have liked more insight from Connie’s sister, Hilda. Hilda helped Connie have her affair even though she sided with Clifford Chatterley. Another aside, I have often wondered how many people self-pleasured themselves with Lady Chatterley or her lover. Wink.
Lines I liked, “What the eye doesn’t see and the mind doesn’t know doesn’t exist” (p 18) and “If I could sleep with my arms round you, the ink could stay in the bottle” (p 282). Sigh. So romantic.
Author fact: Lawrence went into self-imposed exile because he refused to stop writing about the human condition. His critics couldn’t handle the truth and often banned or censored his work. Lady Chatterley is rumored to be autobiographical in some places.
Book trivia: The genre for Lady Chatterley’s Lover is literary erotica and yet some libraries (including my own) catalog this in the juvenile section. True story. I happen to be reading the Signet Classic edition which is the only complete unexpurgated version authorized by the Lawrence estate. According to the back cover, “no other edition is entitled to make this claim.”
Nancy said: Pearl included Lady Chatterley’s Lover in the list of “stellar” examples of literary erotica.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Sex and the Single Reader” (p 218).
I am consistently running (yay). My head is finally screwed on straight – somewhat (yay). Things are not perfect but I can say February is mostly fixed.
- The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber – in honor of Charles Dickens and his birthday being in February. Weird, I know.
- Anna In-Between by Elizabeth Nunez – in honor of my childhood.
- Little Havana Blues: A Cuban-American Literature Anthology edited by Virgil Suarez and Delia Poey – in honor of Cuba’s reformed constitution.
- The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley – in honor of February being friendship month.
- Rome and a Villa by Eleanor Clark – in honor of Clark’s birthday.
- All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half Century of Brown v. Board of Education by Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. – in honor of February being Civil Rights month.
- Barrow’s Boys: A stirring Story of Daring, Fortitude, and Outright Lunacy by Fergus Fleming – in honor of Exploration month.
- Making Tracks by Matt Weber – a Christmas gift from my sister.
Jong, Erica. Fear of Flying. New York: Signet, 1973.
I think I started this book about eight different times, starting when I was 16 or 17. As a kid I always misunderstood the cover art – a naked woman under an unzipped… something. I thought she was in a body bag which, now that I think about it, doesn’t really make sense because if that were the case, she would have been sideways in the bag. Therefore she shouldn’t fit. Having no idea what the book was actually about back then I didn’t know it was a man’s unzipped fly. Now I say, “but of course!” The takeaway from Jong’s Fear of Flying is the underlying message of freedom (especially freedom from fear). To fly is to be free and this is one woman’s story about wanting that ability to become unfettered and free. Her sexuality and psychology are just metaphors for the deeper meaning of feminism and a woman taking control of her life…like a man. Yes, there is sex and lots of it but that’s not what Fear of Flying is all about.
Favorite lines, “A little girl who was neither bitchy nor mealy-mouthed because she didn’t hate her mother or herself” (p 46),
Reason read: May is considered the “Birds and Bees” month so let’s talk about sex.
Author fact: Erica Jong has a sexy website here. I love the colors and the use of multimedia – very eye catching.
Book trivia: According to Jong’s website, Fear of Flying was her first published book.
Reason read: from Book Lust in the chapter called “I am Woman – Hear Me Roar” (p 120).
Irving, John. A Widow For One Year. Read by George Guidall. New York: Random House Audio, 1998.
While meandering at times A Widow For One Year follows the life of Ruth Cole. In Part One it is 1958 and Ruth is only four years old. The plot doesn’t necessarily focus on Ruth at this point but rather on her Long Island parents – their endless grief over the accidental death of their teenage sons and the bitter end of their tumultuous marriage. Ruth’s father is a celebrated author of books for children, a closet alcoholic and a raging adulterer. He wants to divorce Ruth’s mother, Marion, but he first needs to make sure he’ll win the custody battle over Ruth. Given his drinking (he can’t even drive due to too many dui arrests) and sexual conquests outside the marriage he needs Marion to have an indiscretion of her own to level the playing field. Enter Eddie O’Hare, a sixteen year old high school student from Philips Exeter Academy. Ted hires Eddie to be his writing assistant for the summer but really Eddie is supposed to seduce Marion. It’s Eddie who I like the best in this part one. He plays the fool perfectly (oh, but what a sweet and pretty fool). Unwittingly he is a pawn for both Ted and Marion.
In Part Two Ruth, at thirty-six, is an accomplished writer living in New York. The section begins with the very same Eddie O’Hare. He is in town to introduce Ruth at one of her readings. While their paths cross only briefly at this point in the story Ruth is enlightened by Eddie’s memories of her mother. She begins to see her parent’s divorce in a whole new perspective. Before leaving for a European book tour Eddie gives Ruth a murder mystery he thinks was written by Marion. While in Amsterdam Ruth is witness to the murder of a window prostitute from the red light district.
This sets in motion Part Three which, in the beginning, focuses mostly on the murder of the prostitute from five years earlier. The lead chief inspector has a conundrum. While he was able to solve the murder he now wants to find the witness. The story jumps back fill in the story of the prostitute (which could have been a whole separate book). I don’t want to spoil the end except to say it’s nice that Irving brought the story full circle.
Favorite lines: “There are few things as seemingly untouched by the real world as a child asleep” (p 151). Don’t you love the image of that? Another favorite line, “I appear to have an old disease to share” (p 324).
As an aside, Ruth’s attitude about her American fans reminded me of how Natalie Merchant reacts to autograph signings and picture taking with her American fans. Both Ruth and Natalie are more comfortable with their European fans.
Reason read: John Irving celebrates a birthday in March, on the 18th…or so I’ve read on LibraryThing.
Author fact: John Irving was not an author Nancy Peal included in her “Too Good to Miss” chapters. Too bad because he should have been. He has written some amazing stuff.
Book trivia: The 2004 film adaptation of A Widow For One Year was “A Door in the Floor.” Note to self: put this on my movie list.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Wayward Wives” (p 232). I think Pearl got it wrong. Yes, the wife is wayward but her situation is completely more understandable than her husband’s. I think her husband is despicable. But, another thing: the book isn’t really about the wayward wife or husband.
Keesling, Barbara. Sex So Great She Can’t Get Enough. Lanham: M Evans, 2012.
Before you start scratching your head and thinking I’ve lost my mind let me say but one thing: yes, I am reviewing a sex book for men. Call me a raging feminist but as a woman I had something to prove by requesting this book from the Early Review program. LibraryThing called my bluff and here I am. I want to believe I can review any book and that I’m not restricted by my gender or narrow mind. When asking for books to review I don’t want to be limited by genre or preference. I think I am capable of taking any subject matter and giving it a fair shake – MY fair shake. I also requested Sex So Great to play devil’s advocate. What if a man is too shy to buy such a book? What if a guy is just the opposite, too egotistical to believe he needs such a book? Either spectrum of a man’s ego could deter him from furthering a sexual education with Dr. Keesling. What if I dated a man and knew he needed the good doctor’s help? Could I buy the book, translate her knowledge into my own words and garner a better sex life for myself in the process? Not exactly. This is a book primarily written TO men with one curious section for women discussing vaginal shaving. (As a side note, what’s a man supposed to do? Hand the book over and say, “here honey, this part is for you”? So, having said all that let’s turn to Sex So Great She Can’t Get Enough.
I want to commend Barbara Keesling for her calm, gentle, and understanding (and sometimes humorous) manner with which she writes. You can tell immediately by the language she uses and the tone she conveys that she is has expertise when talking to people about sensitive subjects, not just men about sex. She is super careful not to offend. Let’s face it, men are sensitive about their private parts. As a woman, you can never call him “little” or “wimpy.” Leave that up to him. Self degradation is completely acceptable. Based on Keesling’s writing style I would say she is a good therapist and her other books (at the least the ones related to sex) are equally approachable. Sex So Great is mostly common sense advice that would sound just silly coming from my mouth. Keesling exaggerates the vulnerability and timidness of a woman to prove a point. Every moment a man makes must be slow and thoughtful. He could easily frighten his woman away. That’s not entirely true, but I get it.
Don’t get me know. Sex So Great had it’s educational moments for me, too. For instance, I never knew men should exercise their pubococcygeus muscle or practice a series of breathing routines for improved sex.
So. In the end, could I read the book and pass along the information to my lover? Some of it, sure. But like trying to give myself a foot massage it won’t be as effective and it certainly won’t feel as good.
Max, Tucker. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. New York: Kensington, 2009.
If there really is a Hell down? there, those fated to that destination will have this book to read, over and over again. Seriously. How can I describe this thing? Honestly, in one sentence, it’s the escapades of a guy in his early 20s. Big deal. That’s it. Only this guy happens to be an alcoholic womanizer with money to burn and a posse like-minded friends to have tag along. The book is nothing more than a series of drunk-to-excess adventures hooking up with ditzy, drunk, trashy women. Sex described in minute detail. Reading it is like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, only each story gets progressively worse and worse. Every misadventure is more and more exaggerated until you start to question the author’s grip on reality. Drink to the point of puking. Have outrageous sex with big chested blondes. Repeat. The most stupefying thing about this book is that not only was it born out of conquest-written blogs, but it was so popular that it was made into a movie. People love it (the blog, the book, the movie). Women (supposedly) throw themselves at Max and his crew at every chance they get. The more vile he is the more people adore him. His biggest dilemma used to be ‘which woman do I fukc?’ until he realized it didn’t matter. Both would have him.
I admit, there were parts of the book I giggled about. There were certain lines I had to reread because they were funny. Max does have a sense of humor. But, he can’t write. I spent more time cringing at the grammatical errors and implausible situations than anything else. Then, there is that repetition I mentioned before. I ended up skimming or even completely skipping parts if I thought they sounded too familiar (which ended up being half the book). The best thing about I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell is that I will be selling it back to the bookstore and getting my money back.
Gloeckner. Phoebe. A Child’s Life and Other Stories. Berkeley: Frog, ltd., 2000.
Nothing could have prepared me for Gloeckner’s A Child’s Life. I don’t know what I was expecting – maybe something along the lines of Robert Louis Stevenson or Kate Greenaway. Something really benign and cute, perhaps. I was prepared to be bored. but sweetly so.
Not so. To put it bluntly, A Child’s Life is a visual assault that needs to happen. When there are news reports of sexual abuse, rape, incest, drugs either on television or the radio we viewers are shielded from what that really means. We allow our imaginations to blunt the sharp edges of reality. We cringe, but we don’t go there with the truth. Gloeckner doesn’t allow for this numbing of truth. With Gloeckner you don’t have permission to soften this horrific reality. As a graphic novel the pictures tell the stories of an abused childhood better than any words in a novel. In a word, it was painful. When I finished I had words of my own; words like harsh, gritty, shocking, tragic yet truthful rang in my ears.
Author Fact: If you pick up the 1583940286 version of A Child’s Life you will find hints that this is semi-autobiographical. Gloeckner denies it.
Book Trivia: In addition to being called semi-autobiographical, A Child’s Life was also once called “a how-to for pedophiles.”
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter “Graphic Novels” (p 103).
Brockmann, Suzanne. Out of Control. New York: Ivy Books, 2002.
Here is the quick and dirty plot: Couple #1: Savannah von Hopf needs Navy SEAL Ken “WildCard” Karmody to help her save her kidnapped uncle somewhere in Indonesia. Couple #2: In Jakarta, missionary Molly Anderson is inexplicably drawn to silent, brooding “David Jones” who reminds me a little too much of the famed Indiana Jones. Couple #3: Back at FBI headquarters Alyssa Locke is trying to walk away from ex-lover Sam Starrett while avoiding walking into the arms of her boss, Max Bhagat. All three relationships will come together when Savannah’s rescue attempt goes horribly wrong.
The best part of Out of Control was the clever placement of Double Agent, a book written by Savannah’s grandmother, Rose. It’s on the best seller list so even missionary Molly is reading it.
The worst part about Out of Control was the corny sexiness of it all. If the three couples weren’t having sex they were imagining it at the most unrealistic moments. A helicopter just blew up and there are no survivors. That sucks, but boy would I like to lick that hard chiseled body of yours…
My favorite eye rolling line: “And as for getting a strenuous workout, his heart was not the primary organ he wanted to exercise” (p 23).
Also, when I started reading Out of Control I had this weird sense of deja vu. Something sounded really familiar about not only the characters but the plot as well. As if I had read it before. So, I did a little digging and back in 2008 I reviewed an earlier book by Brockmann called The Defiant Hero. Here are the similarities between the two books:
- Both plots involve a kidnapping of some sort.
- Both plots involve Navy SEALS and by default, both plots involve the FBI
- Both plots include a grandmother
- Both plots have a terrorist element to them
- In both books all lead characters are impossibly good looking
- Both books involve three sets of couples in sexual turmoil
- The same characters are in each book
There is a philosophy about writing – write what you know. I’d like to think authors take that with a grain of salt. If my third Brockmann book has Navy SEALS, sexy bodies, kidnapping, terrorism and a random grandmother thrown in for good measure I’ve figured out her formula.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Romance Novels: Our Love is Here to Stay” (p 260).
- To Sir with Love by Edward Ricardo Braithwaite ~ in honor of National Teacher Day (May 3rd)
- Out of Control by Suzanne Brockmann ~ in honor of Brockmann’s birth month
- A Child’s Life and Other Stories by Phoebe Gloeckner ~ in honor of graphic novel month
- Antigone the play by Sophocles ~ in honor of May being the best time to visit Greece.
- Fifth Chinese Daughter by Jade Snow Wong ~ in honor Asian-American Heritage month
- Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham ~ in honor of Memorial Day
- Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery ~ in honor of Eeyore’s birth month (I’ll explain that connection within the review). I’m listening to this as a training book.
- House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre ~ in honor of May 5th being Cinco de Mayo
- City of Light ~ by Lauren Belfer ~ in honor of May being History Month
Lastly, for the Early Review program for LibraryThing – Art and Madness by Anne Roiphe.
I put so many books on my list because a) a few of them are really, really short so I know I can read I can read them in 1-2 days time and b) I don’t have plans to travel anywhere until May 20th so I should have more time to curl up with several good books, and c) AFTER the walk I have ten days of NOTHING to do. I am picturing myself on the back deck, a glass of wine in one hand and a good book in another.
Confession – Catfish and Mandala by Andrew X. Pham looked so good I started reading it on April 28th. Sue me.
May is also (finally) the Just ‘Cause walk. I am not confident I did everything to train (but then again, there is only so much walking one can do), and I know I didn’t fund raise as hard as I should/could have. I am $100 off from the amount I raised last year. I am guessing not asking aunts, uncles, cousins, (mother), grandparents….anyone from my mother’s side to donate played a big part. C’est la vie. Or, to quote mom, “whatever.”
April was a gentle thaw in more ways than one. My grandfather finally passed away. I have to admit, the event was bittersweet. Saying goodbye was easier than I expected, if only because I knew, for him, life on this earth had ceased to be everything it could be. It was time. April was also the end of snow (although Maine still had giant piles of dirty, dripping snow in places). For books it was alot of really good stuff:
- Flint’s Law by Paul Eddy ~ read in April to finish the series started last month (although there is a third Flint book that is NOT on the challenge list that I want to read…
- “Two Tramps at Mud Time” by Robert Frost ~ in honor of April being poetry month and Monhegan’s mud season.
- A Drinking Life: a Memoir by Peter Hamill ~ in honor of April being Alcohol Awareness Month. This was my first audio book for the BL Challenge and here’s the cool thing – I didn’t feel like I was cheating! Yay!
- “The Exorcist of Notre-Dame” by David Kirby ~ in honor of Poetry month.
- Alice Springs by Nikki Gemmell ~ in honor of Australia and April being the best time to visit. This was lyrical and brassy. Just the way I like ’em.
- “The Bells are Ringing for Me and Chagall” by Terence Winch ~ in honor of poetry month. Sexy poem by the way!
- Great Fortune: the Epic of Rockefeller Center by Daniel Okrent ~ in honor of April being Architecture Month. This was fun to read because it ended up being about more than a building.
- “At Marlborough House” by Michael Swift ~ in honor of Poetry month.
- Journey Beyond Selene: Remarkable Expeditions Past Our Moon and to the Ends of the Solar System by Jeffrey Kluger ~ in honor of April being the anniversary month of Apollo.
- “Blue Garden” by Dean Young~ in honor of Poetry month.
- Bear Went over the Mountain by William Kotzwinkle ~ in honor of April Fool’s Day and something silly.
- “Goodbye, Place I Lived Nearly 23 Years” by Dean Young ~ in honor of Poetry month
- “Skin of Our Teeth” a play by Thornton Wilder ~ in honor of April being National Brothers Month.
- “By a Swimming Pool Outside Siracusa” by Billy Collins ~ in honor of Poetry month
- “Dear Derrida” and “Strip Poker” by David Kirby ~ in honor of Poetry Month
For the Early Review Program (LibraryThing) it was The Good Daughter: a Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life by Jasmin Darznik.
Spencer, Scott. Endless Love. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1987.
At the center of Endless Love is David Axelrod. David starts his story remembering how, as a 17 year in love, he set fire to his girlfriend’s house. Not as an out-of-anger act of revenge but more of an uncontrollable response to an all-consuming love for his girlfriend, Jade Butterfield, and her family. Having been banished from the Butterfield home David’s plot is to ignite the house in the hopes the fire will give him the perverse opportunity to become the hero and ultimately rescue the entire family from the inferno he started. His desire to be needed by the entire family is blinding. Of course David’s plot doesn’t work out so smoothly…and thus begins Unless Love. It is a dark and tangled tale about obsessions and the inability to see past them. It is about dysfunctional families that use one another to seem normal. It is about struggling relationships set against the ever turbulent late 1960s. In the middle is confused, young, obsessed David Axelrod. He reminds me of Llyod Dobler from ‘Say Anything’ – an all-around nice guy with little direction and not much more ambition who can sum up his life in one sentence, “I just want to be with your daughter….sir.”
My favorite quotes are on the subject of love: “Love gives us a heightened consciousness through which to apprehend the world, but anger gives us a precise, detached perception of its own” (p 40) and, “If endless love was a dream, then it was a dream we all shared, even more than we all shared the dream of never dying or of traveling through time, and if anything set me apart it was not my impulses but my stubbornness, my willingness to take the dream past what had been agreed upon as the reasonable limits, to declare that this dream was not a feverish trick of the mind but was an actuality at least as real as that other, thinner, more unhappy illusion we call normal life” (p 162).
I think the reason why I liked Endless Love so much is because every character was a head-scratcher. It wasn’t just David Axelrod who had a personality worth paying attention to. the story of his parents held mysteries to be explored. Every member of Jade Butterfield’s family kept the story alive and buzzing with intrigue. The questions most asked – who would defend David? Who would forgive him? Who wouldn’t forget?
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in two different chapters. First, in the chapter called, “First Lines to Remember” (p 87), and again in “Sex and the Single Reader” (p 218).
Lethem, Jonathan. The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye: stories. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1998.
I like that way Nancy Pearl describes Lethem’s style of writing. Basically she says (in Book Lust) you never get the same book twice. Even within his short stories in The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye you don’t get the same short story twice. Nothing is the same. Even the style of writing is different. Like a box of chocolates with only one candy containing chocolate…
Here’s a list of the short stories:
- The Happy Man ~ a weird sort of deal-with-the-devil story about a man who is dead, but isn’t.
- Vanilla Drunk ~ a story that mentions Michael Jordan over 40 times.
- Light and the Sufferer ~ brothers, an alien, drugs and New York City. What’s not to love?
- Forever, Said the Duck ~ a virtual party where virtually no one is who they say they are.
- Five Fukcs ~ I have no idea how to describe this story. It’s all about getting screwed over…
- The Hardened Criminal ~ a very strange story about a man who ends up in the same prison cell as his father…only his father is built into the cement wall.
- Sleepy People ~ there is a group of people who sleep through anything…including sex.
Because of Lethem’s copyright statement I am not going to quote favorite lines (and yes, I had a few). Just leave it that I liked the entire book (even though I would have liked more description about the Sufferer from “Light and the Sufferer”).
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called, “Jonathan Lethem: Too Good To Miss” (p 145).
Malone, Michael. Dingley Falls. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich, 1980.
I chose Dingley Falls in honor of National Author’s Day being in November. Nothing more random than that.
Even if you didn’t know anything about Michael Malone you would swear his novel, Dingley Falls, is supposed to be a script, or at least the backdrop, to a titillating, slightly scandalous soap opera. The town of Dingley Falls, fictitiously located somewhere in Connecticut, is teeming with odd characters with even more bizarre stories to tell. It is as if the entire community has digested some mild altering hallucinogenic that causes everyone to come unglued. To give a few examples, mild-mannered Mrs. Abernathy suddenly ends up under a tree in the pouring rain having wild sex with a poet she has just met; post mistress Mrs. Haig is forced to retire because of a bad heart. It’s not the job that is stressing her out, it’s a snapping, snarling dog who chases her home five nights a week; Headmaster Mr. Saar has trouble controlling his sexual appetite and will wind up handcuffed to a bed in a seedy motel in New York City, naked and dead, if he isn’t careful. Mrs. Ransom tries masturbation for the very first time only to have some stranger catch her in the act.
The list of characters goes on and on, so much so that Malone needed to list his crazy community individual by individual at the start of his book.
When you discover Michael Malone has years and year of experience as the senior writer for One Life to Live then Dingley Falls begins to make sense. The heightened drama, the outrageous characters, the never-ending bizarre situations in Dingley Falls suddenly become par for the course…just a little more graphic with the sex scenes and violence, the things you can’t show as vividly on daytime television.
Favorite lines: “The elderly shut-in bought a new car every year – each racier than the last – as if she thought she could outdrag death if she only had the horsepower” (p 94). “‘Did you know that until I drink this cup of coffee, anything you know is knowing too much?'” (p 145). “He drank in order to pose count; not like Walter Saar, to get in touch with who he was, but to stay out of touch with who he might have been” (p 157).
BookLust Twist: In Book Lust and More Book Lust. This is a popular book in Pearl’s world. First, from Book Lust in the chapter called, “Southern Fiction” (p 222). From More Book Lust in the chapter called, “Michael Malone: Too Good To Miss” (p 160).
I had to say no several times yesterday. What a weird concept. Usually I skirt around the issue, not wanting to come right out with not participating. How liberating, how honest to just say no. Not now. Nope. Why haven’t I thought about this before? Why haven’t I dared?
In the case of the work whiners it was easiest when I could look at the time and say we need to continue this tomorrow. My charges? To find out what makes some so damn inefficient. Easier said than done. No Grace under pressure. I had to admire this one administrator. In mid-sentence she was told she needed to be somewhere else. It didn’t ruin her day. It didn’t ruin her attitude. She was able to slide over to a new way of thinking. When I asked her how she managed she looked at me and deadpanned, “interruption is not a word in my vocabulary.” I love it. Word to the wise. Wise up.
It’s harder to say no to friends. I had plans to get together with someone who really means a lot to me. Yet, I need to stay on my training schedule. I couldn’t have done both successfully. It bothered me that the training won out. It bothered me to have to tell her no. After all, she is my inspiration. She is my hero. Yet, I put her off, hero or not. This is the way it had to be. No, I said. I need to train. Her graceful acceptance allowed me to walk nine miles. I got it done because I didn’t give in.
Later, an invitation to chat. Under any other circumstances I would have loved sparring with this flirty friend. He’s quick with the compliments and quicker with the innuendos. I love the sass. I love the challenge this conversation always presents to me. Who can be the most indulgent, the most daring? But, sigh of all sighs, I had to tell him and his innuendos no. I needed a warm bath and a hot cup of tea. As I let the water wrap itself around my tired legs I thought about this new no I seem to have. While I don’t necessary like it or want it, it works for now. For now.
Rowland, Laura Joh. The Concubine’s Tattoo. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.
In addition to being a great 17th century Japanese murder mystery The Concubine’s Tattoo is a commentary on honor and relationships. Sano Ichirois the shogun’s investigator who has recently celebrated an arranged marriage. In both his professional and personal life Sano must balance a code of conduct that is morally, politically and, of course, honorably sound. Sano’s latest case (on the night of his wedding no less) is the murder of the shogun’s favorite concubine. Entwined in this murder are complications concerning an heir, long standing cultural differences and rivalries. Rowland displays Sano’s progress on the case through the eyes of Sano’s new wife Reiko, his enemy Chamberlain Yanagisawa, his partner Hirata, and Sano himself as well as many other fascinating characters. One of the best enjoyments of Rowland’s book is her vivid, descriptive use of imagery. The details are so sensuous and alluring. They exquisitely cater to all five senses. Here are two quotes I particularly liked, “Her voice was a husky murmur that insinuated its way into Hirata’s mind like a dark, intoxicating smoke” (p 86), and “The cold air had a lung-saturating dampness” (p 166).
One other detail I thought I should point out – Rowland is not afraid to describe vivid sex scenes of varying natures. Man on man, woman on woman, husband and wife, illicit seductions, and even rape. The scenes while reminiscent of lusty bodice-rippers are not overly flowery or “heaving.”
BookLust Twist: In More Book Lust in the chapter called, “Crime is a Globetrotter: China” (p 60).