Friday, April 13, 2012

Violets and a Song and Books, Oh My

Because I didn't get home until this minute... "this minute" being roughly 9:25 p.m. I worked, and we went and took care of my friend's dog, and had dinner, and hung out with the dog some more, and now we're home.

Above is a picture of violets I took at my parents' house - violets are everywhere, and they are my favorite flower, hands-down. I wrote a silly romantic poem about that in high school - if I'm ever feeling the need to embarrass myself in public I'll post it here for you.

Since, I don't have too much in my mind tonight, here is a pretty song for you:

Ryan Adams, "Nuclear"

Also, in the last couple of weeks i read some books and I thought you should know that. I'm on a nonfiction kick right now. I tend to go on binges of one or the other - read nonfiction until I'm tired of peoples' actual lives and then bury myself in sci-fi or horror or fantasy or something that couldn't possibly be real and clear all that actual life out of my brain. And then pick up a book on Krakatoa and start the cycle up again.

First, Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner. The book is essentially a somewhat fragmented memoir by a woman who was raised by a sort of lazy Jewish father and a lapsed Baptist mother, who eventually converted in early adulthood to Orthodox Judaism, and then a few years later converted to Christianity. Lauren's a great writer - she's got a poet's gift for a good turn of phrase. While she's occasionally super self-absorbed, this is still a great read. I actually read it twice in a row, the second time with a pen so I could underline things that resonated with me. I got halfway through and thought, "I should give this to my sister-in-law so we can talk about it." It's that kind of book.

Secondly, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, again by Lauren Winner. This book has the dubious honor of being the first book I've seriously wanted to take back to the store in... well, in a long time. It's sort of the follow-up to Girl Meets God, in that it takes place shortly after. After a couple of ill-defined crises (her mother dies, her marriage ends, neither of which is made exactly clear), Ms. Winner has a pretty definite crisis of faith. This isn't an autobiography or a memoir, really... it's just a jumble, sort of an unedited set of journal entries about what it's like to worry that God isn't there. It reads like a blog - confessional, navel-gazing, not going any particular direction, each chapter a self-contained entry. I didn't really like it. I love Winner's writing, but this book felt like she finished two-thirds of it, threw her hands in the air, and sent it to the publisher. I may not take it back - I don't like to do that kind of thing. I may just let it percolate, then pick it up a few months from now and see if I read it any differently this time. It's happened before like this - I hate something and then a year later I love it. Or the opposite; I thought Catcher in the Rye was awesome until I stopped being a teenager. Then I just wanted to shake him, tell him to be grateful and realize how good his life is and get off my lawn and turn down that music and whatnot.

And finally - Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres. I've been looking at this book for a while, debating on buying it. While in Illinois I saw it on my mother's bookshelf and asked to borrow it. I'm nearly done with it, and it is intense. It's a memoir about Julia's childhood and adolescence and that of her adopted brother, David, who is black. They are raised by alternately vaguely neglectful and violently abusive parents, and eventually both kids end up in a "Christian reform school" in the Dominican Republic, where the idea is to break all the willpower out of them. Reading this right after the two feel-good, Jesus-is-awesome and Christians-are-cool books I read before them made this even more of a sucker punch. Don't get me wrong - I have no illusions about any particular group of people being better than any other group of people. Religion has been used as one of the hugest justifications for evil in all human existence. But it was unsettling to read Julia's mother echo sentiments that Lauren Winner states in her books - the former as justification for her deplorable treatment of her own children, the latter in genuine glad worship. Julia is a great writer and this is a fantastic book... but it will leave you with an abject need to rescue her and her brother from all the people in their lives, over and over and over again.

So that's what I've been up to when I'm not at work. Filling my head with words other people wrote.

Next up -

Well, I wasn't kidding.

I am actually going to read that book on Krakatoa.

1 comment:

  1. I love to read your words! You write the way you feel, and that is the greatest!! Keep up just the way you are. Makes me feel like your are here and I'm hearing your talk in person!!



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