How Liam Callanan Tricked Me Into Reading His Book

               

 

Remember back in mid-October when I said in one of my posts that I was going to read Cloud Atlas before seeing the movie? Well pat me on the back for following through! I rushed over to Amazon that same day and ordered the book. Waiting with bated breath, I finally received the book in the mail a week later. I began reading with frenzy.

I patted myself on the back again soon after for so easily digesting a book that some were describing as confusing and overly complex. After all, there were supposed to be SIX different stories that were somehow separate in era but yet intertwined. Sounds like it should have been as hard to unravel as the wirey mess that is usually how I finally find my earbuds at the bottom of my purse. But here I was doing it! In fact, I was having no problem whatsoever following the story of the Catholic priest, Belk; the intriguing Yup’ik Eskimo, Lily; the drunken Shaman, Ronnie; and the unpredictable and snarling, Gurley. In fact, these characters seemed to be going along with their tale in a very linear and cohesive way. Intertwining? There was no intertwining.  (If you’ve already seen the movie, you know where this is going and that in fact there is neither a Belk nor a Ronnie in the film, but bear with me.)

It wasn’t until I was about a third of the way through the book that I stumbled upon a wordpress blog that was reviewing the book. The writer, Leah from Books Speak Volumes, explained…

What’s more, each story is literally contained in the story that follows it; Zachry hears the “orison” (interview recording) of Sonmi~451, who watches a movie in which Timothy Cavendish reads a book about Luisa Rey, who reads the letters of Robert Frobisher, who finds the diary of Adam Ewing. It’s all very strange and baffling, and it made me wonder whose story I’m in.

Zachary? A diary? What the heck is a Sonmi~451? And I knew exactly the story I was in. What was Leah’s problem?

Something wasn’t adding up.

I got my book. Okay, a different cover than the Cloud Atlas cover all over the internet but that’s okay. They’re both weird and vague and include pictures of clouds. Let’s check the authors.

And THAT is when I discovered that Liam Callanan had tricked me into reading his book The Cloud Atlas, instead of David Mitchell’s book Cloud Atlas. Mr. Callanan published his book the same year as Mitchell! Don’t they crosscheck those kinds of things?? Isn’t there some kind of etiquette?? (Truth be told, I don’t know which book was published earlier in 2004 because my 3 minutes of trying to figure it out on the internet left me with nothing conclusive.)

 

Once I recovered from the shock of being duped so, I went back to reading this fabulous book. I LOVED it! Eskimo mysticism, Japanese balloon bombs, love in all of its twisted and tangled forms, wolves leading people on esoteric journeys…I couldn’t put it down. The only hard part was revisualizing my leading characters…Tom and Halle had to go.

Advertisements

In One Person by John Irving

How is everyone’s summer reading list going? Mine is moving along like the swift and nimble rush of a gazelle turtle.

I did finish one book though. It wasn’t on my list but when someone brought to my attention that John Irving recently came out with his next novel I was at the bookstore the next day. And as if holding In One Person in my hands wasn’t enough of a joy,  another joy introduced itself to me during my neighborhood search for the elusive independent bookstore.

Little did I know that  Skylight Books in Los Feliz was such a great place! I didn’t find it at all pretentious, it’s in a great location—-go get a book and then a cup of coffee at Fred 62!—- and they have a whole lineup of great visiting authors at their venue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But back to John Irving’s book…

I am not a literary critic. I was tempted to go online and read a bunch of book reviews so I could copy the general style of a critic, but why in the world would I do that?? How about I just use my own words and my own way of thinking. First, I will be honest and say that anything Irving writes automatically begins at a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10 for me. The man’s weakest tale (which for me would probably be Hotel New Hampshire) is still more captivating than almost any other modern novel I’ve read. He amazed me when he basically included two novels in one in Until I Find You. And of course, The World According to Garp is going to be a classic. Ciderhouse Rules, The 158-Pound Marriage, and A Widow For One Year are three other favorites of mine.

This latest book is special, though, and probably ranks high for me because of how it is situated in America’s current societal discourse. We’ve been seeing more and more attention paid to equal rights for LGBT individuals. Today’s young people are more comfortable accepting gender differences and there is even a popular pop music video that nonchalantly includes a gay crush in the story’s punchline.  In One Person revolves around the life of one bisexual man and introduces the reader to a cast of characters that are just an endearing as any of Irving’s best. As individuals, these characters can’t all be easily categorized into straight, gay, bi, trangender, etc. Irving examines the blurry lines that are the reality of gender and sexuality. We may try to categorize people, but it’s not that simple. The reverberating message of the novel is “Please don’t put a label on me…don’t make me a category before you get to know me.” And ultimately doesn’t that apply to all of us? Isn’t it yet another commonality that we all share? Whatever gender or sexuality we identify with, don’t we all just want to live without judgement and with a modicum of understanding from our fellow humans?  So even though Irving has written a novel about characters that may initially appear to be on the fringe—-universes unlike you and I—-he ultimately exposes them to be precisely the opposite. He does it without preaching and without sacrificing all of the quirky and kinky tendencies of Irving characters that we love so much!

Now it’s time for some nonfiction. How about quantum physics?? Laszlo here I come! Stay tuned….

I feel the need….

Okay, here are the books that have been accumulating on my “Need to Read” shelf.

Of course there is no way I’m going to read them all this summer but I can make a dent. Where should I start?? If you can’t decipher from the picture, here is the lineup:

THE BOND by Wayne Pacelle

THE WORLD PEACE DIET by Will Tuttle

PROUST AND THE SQUID by Maryanne Wolf

EMDR by Francine Shapiro and Margot Silk Forrest

TAO by Hua-Ching Ni

RADICAL HOMEMAKERS by Shannon Hayes

NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION by Marshall B. Rosenberg

FOUNDATIONS OF TIBETAN MYSTICISM by Lama Anagarika Govinda

LOVE AND SURVIVAL by Dean Ornish

SCIENCE AND THE AKASHIC FIELD by Ervin Lazlo

 

I’m so excited for each one of these and hope to share my reactions in our Book Review section. If any of you have read these let me know what you think! Worth reading??

The Resilient Gardener

We’re excited to introduce ~~~R Wave~~~, our contributing book reviewer!

If you’re looking for good reads on subjects such as sustainable farming, self-reliant living, and the future of agriculture, then you’ll want to follow ~~~R Wave~~~. 

There are many excellent gardening books available today, from general books on organic, sustainable methods to books devoted to one or two species of produce.  I will review several of these books in the future.  One such book stands out, however, for its emphasis on what the author calls “resilience.”  Carol Deppe, the author of The Resilient Gardener;   Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times , (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2010) is a microbiologist and geneticist as well as a successful gardener and plant breeder.  (She has authored another phenomenal book on plant breeding called Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties; The Gardener’s and Farmer’s Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving.  I will review that book at a later time.)  For Deppe, “resilient” gardening is a style of gardening that employs methods and species that can supply the staples that will provide the nutrients for health and sustenance even when times are hard and resources scarce.  She is not an alarmist and avoids dire predictions about the future.  The book does, however, include a discussion of global warming and climate change and of how humans coped with the Little Ice Age in Europe which began in 1315 and ended around 1850.

Deppe’s advice for the resilient gardener is to raise five essential staple “crops”  to supply all the essential protein and carbohydrates for a healthy, complete diet year round.  Those crops are potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and eggs.  Additional essential vitamins and minerals can be provided by traditional vegetables such as tomatoes and greens.  The book is written for both the beginning and experienced gardener and contains detailed and practical advice on every aspect of growing a resilient garden.  It includes advice on various plant varieties, recipes for those with gluten and dairy intolerance, and root cellaring and dehydrating for long term storage.

Many of us are concerned about the future.  The sheer number of the challenges that face us, including peak oil, climate change, species extinction, economic collapse, infrastructure failure, and even nuclear war, have the potential to overwhelm and immobilize us.  The survival of our species is by no means assured.  Fortunately, millions of people throughout the world are fashioning visions of lifestyles and social structures that might see us through these crises.  Two key concepts shared by most of these visions are sustainability and localization.  It is tragically obvious that the centralization and monopolization of our industrial and financial sectors are decimating the planet and its inhabitants.  In particular, big agriculture is clearly unsustainable, with its near total reliance on fossil-based fertilizers and pesticides, colossal machinery running on increasingly expensive diesel fuel, horrific animal concentration camps, and tremendously long supply chains.  It seems clear to millions now that local, sustainable agriculture is the only viable alternative to the industrial agriculture model.  We have learned an enormous amount about gardening, farming, and animal husbandry since our grandparents and great-grandparents farmed this country.  We can now take the best of our traditions and supplement them with modern techniques and materials.   Carol Deppe’s vision, eloquently presented in her book, provides a way that we can all become more self-sufficient by producing our own locally grown food using sustainable methods.  Her approach may be more than merely interesting and appealing; it may be essential.