Monday, November 16, 2015

The Mermaid's Sister

The Mermaid's SisterThe Mermaid's Sister by Carrie Anne Noble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is precious. As precious as a mermaid crying pearls. But it is a fairytale, after all, and so most of the supporting characters can be flat, and it ends with a good old fashioned happy ending with a cherry on top. But the tone is consistent throughout and the moral of realizing our own strength and bravery, our own worth despite not being a mermaid, is a moral that I can get behind. Cute, fun read.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Lady in Waiting

Lady in WaitingLady in Waiting by Susan Meissner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was another book club read. We all liked Fall of Marigolds well enough so we decided to read another of Meissner's books. It had two story lines as well, one in the present and one on the 1600's, the dressmaker to Lady Jane Grey. Both women feel as though all their choices are made for them, but realize in the end how even when they find themselves in situations because of others' choices, they can still choose their own path. It took me a bit to get into it, but in the end I liked this better than Marigolds.

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Crooked Little Lies

Crooked Little LiesCrooked Little Lies by Barbara Taylor Sissel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this novel, a mystery involving so many unreliable characters....either because of medical problems or because they have motive to lie, we don't know who really did what til the end. Fun read.

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Pocket Change

There is no one-eighty,
no Bizarro reflection in the glass.
Negative becomes positive only after
     red light,
     being hung out to dry.

I have only pocket change--
several coins short of a buck.
Every step jingles like sleigh bells or fairy dust.
A thousand stranger's imprints on its faces
     of a thousand shared desires.
Tossed casually from pockets to jars jumbled with
      dull tacks,
      loose screws,
      lost marbles.
Just as likely disappeared into cracks of sofas and sidewalks
where they wait until desperate seekers
grope expectantly to find the bit of change
to fit the bill.

Too little too late.

It takes a hundred to make a whole.

In the Light of What We Know

In the Light of What We KnowIn the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book is like eating kale. You know it's good for you on so many learn about Afghanistan and Bangladesh and Pakistan. You learn about the financial collapse in the early 2000's. There are lots of metaphors, allusions, references, quotes....all that tie into how we can never really understand the truth of what is going on...our eyes trick us, our memories are faulty, we lie to ourselves and everyone else. What are people's real motivations if they don't really know? But for all that, I just couldn't enjoy it, just like I can never enjoy kale, no matter how good it is for you. I don't hate it, but I don't go looking for it and generally avoid it. There was a lot of pretension in the book(multiple epigraphs for every chapter, unnecessary footnotes) lots of self righteous indignation about the unfairness of rich vs. poor, white vs. South Asian. And for all the talk, talk, talk about getting to the truth, the plot was meandering and confusing. There are so many why and even what questions not answered. (Although I wasn't even that upset by it...I had long ago given up hope that this book was going anywhere). Why give it 2 stars? It did have some rather interesting facts about memory, optical illusions, and mathematics. Still I mostly used it to help me sleep at night...

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"That's what maps mysteriously do: They obliterate information to provide some information at all."

"Knowledge, and especially disagreeable knowledge, cannot by any art be totally excluded even from those who do not seek it.  Wisdom, said Aeschylus, long ago, comes to men whether they will or no.  The house of delusions is cheap to build, but draughty to live in, and ready at any instant to fall; and it is surely truer prudence to move our furniture betimes into the open air than to stay indoors until our tenement tumbles about our ears.  It is and it must in the long run be better for a man to seee things as they are than to be ignorant of them---A.E. Houseman

Grace, as i have seen it elsewhere often enough, comes from an understanding, which resides in the muscle, of the relationship between the body and the world; it not only recognizes the limitations of the body it inhabits but works with those limitations so that each act shows respect toward the physical world, respect for its dominance, and proceeds from an acknowledgement that the world will not simply do one's bidding.  How easy it is now to read so much into each moment and every careless act.

Sometimes people carry to such perfection the mask they have assumed that in due course they actually become the person they seem.---W. Somerset Maugham. The Moon and Sixpence

One ventures, therefore, that what one takes to be a change in another person is in fact only an improvement of one's own understanding of that person, or that what we thought we knew is shown to be a false presumption of our own making.

I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the fasity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives ---Leo Tolstoy, What is Art

But once an axolotl is induced into metamorphosis, its life span shortens and it can never go back to what is was.

Everything new is on the rim of our view, in the darkness, below the horizon, so that nothing new is visible but in the light of what we know.

The same action can be produced by different motivations, even opposite ones.

That is what time does to us all.  It kills all the lives we might have had, destroys all the worlds we might have known.  And that is why a man may commit suicide and never take his own life.

Reality has no way to force itself on us, and we can, in fact, alter what we think we perceive in order to suit what we want to believe.

Every time we want to understand anything, we have to simplify and reduce and, importantly, give up the prospect of understanding it all, in order to clear the way to understanding something at all.