Cheating on the book I’m (still) reading…

January 29, 2013 § 8 Comments


Arti will  understand. I began reading ANNA KARENINA weeks and weeks ago, at the beginning of Arti’s book challenge. I don’t regret a moment of it, tho’I’ve lagged and lost in terms of meeting any deadlines. I still have 250 pages of that magnificent novel to go. And not allowing myself ‘to see the movie ’til I finish the book. Yes, people like to say to me, “But you know how it ends, don’t you?”  Sure I do, but it’s the getting there that’s so entrancing, so full of detail and delight in the million little things that Tolstoy does. Still when reading such a tome, one is allowed to have a break, to cheat on the book, to take in another book, as it were.

And so I picked up a picture book the other day at the library. That is, it’s made to look like one. Actually, it’s a graphic novel by Audrey Niffenegger. She’s quite the talent, she is. Those who have read THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE and HER FEARFUL SYMETRY have an idea what she can do. I had no idea she could draw as well and come to find out, she’s done two other graphic novels, too.  But this one, the one I just finished titled THE NIGHT BOOKMOBILE has the look of a child’s picture book and none of the angst-y edge-y appearance that many graphic novels of our time posess.

I read it, wondering how it would go, with some of the enchantment of a child, wondering, anticipating how it could unravel, what could happen, not sure what would happen.

Seems this story of hers was a winner in ZOETROPE, Coppola’s story magazine (which has since grown into writing workshops in his Central America rancho location as well).  So I read it, delighted, somewhat disappointed as I neared the end, due to the turn it takes.  I should have guessed it. Had I paid more attention rather than getting somewhat lost in it, I might have realized what Niffenegger was going to do.

Still  it was  a lovely break from ANNA, tho’in retrospect, yikes, they share a certain alikeness.  But I read it with a certain delight based on its shape and presentation, it’s faux return-to-childhood based on its looks.  At one point  I was turning the book on its side to see what novels and stories were pictured on the shelves drawn on the pages. (part of the fun!)

Now that I’ve had my little dalliance, I can return to the land of Anna and the inner turnings of the 19th century Russian mind which is, I suspect, somewhat different from that vast country’s thinking presently.

Oh, all that cold and  those grand layers of fine clothes and people stashed in huge country houses trying to live a high life, and hearts breaking and unbreaking.

But for her part, Niffenberger wasn’t humorous, either; her picture book is, in fact, a little modern-lonely, but worth the break from the usual  read to see what one can do with “story.”  (Note: the 3 images used herein are from Google images.) (Another note, hours later: I just corrected spelling of the author’s name; apologies.)



All over the place…

December 31, 2012 § 21 Comments


The post-year wrap-up is all over blogworld and a great topic ‘specially for those of us (prob’ly just me) who hem and haw ad hilarium on what to write.  

And so I turn to books, more specifically, my top reads from 2012 as topic. Note: This list could vary, (as any bookreader will understand), depending on the day it’s assembled.

1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
So now we have a new classic literature romantic couple:  it’s Celia and Marco. Sure, sure, sure, there’s also Isobel and Tsuchichi (or something close to that) and Poppet and Lainie and a cast of dozens and Bailey, the “real” boy and the twins and illusion, illusion, illusion.  I’m not gonna say “magic” per se: this book is not just abracadabra. It’s about creating and maintaining illusion, and two “battling” illusionists (oh, darn and now you’re thinking of those movies from a few years ago including THE ILLUSIONIST and THE PRESTIGE but this book bears little resemblance to those stories.
Further, do not mistake my enthusiasm for this book as a dictum to run out and get it; it’s not gonna be a hit with everyone.  It just happened to be the right book at the right time for me. And the storytelling is fluent – no bumps, no flaws, not missteps, no over or under telling.  It’s about a competition between two illusionists set in a competition from a very early age and the circus that becomes their platform as well as a number of characters who run in and out, populating the pages in some unforgettable scenarios.  Placed in the late 1800s western Europe and east coast USA, the book hits  so many right notes, you gotta love it. Well, you don’t “gotta” love it, but it’s worth a look, a try, a page…

2. Firefly Summer by Maeve Binchy
Long, long long storyabout an American with Irish roots who returns to build a huge honking hotel in a quiet village of his parents birth and the uproar it causes among young and old. This is a perfect  book to read on the road; it goes and goes and goes and you keep reading it because Binchy can do that with her characters. Lotsa fluff, lotsa humanity and charming overall tho’  this one has a few hard edges. Still we cheer for the little family who owns the pub by the bridge. And some of us read anything by the Binchy, whose work we will miss going forward.

3. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
The book got better and better as I went along. This is the first one in the Mary Russell / Sherlock Holmes series. Yup, a Holmes afficionado can love this “take” on Holmes’s life after Doyle stops writing.  If you love a British-y book, and Holmes and some mystery with a strong female character mixed in (and no, she’s nothing like Irani Adler), then ya gotta try this one.

4. The Little Stranger by Sarah Water. I kinda have a love/hate relationship with this book. It’s not scary, but it is.  And uncomfortable sometimes. And curious. And because it’s a book, it’s fiction, you think yeah, well, maybe everything will work out.  Ha.

5. Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon.  Just sit down and read it. The writing is great, balanced. Not too this nor too that. The story borders on myth but not like fantasy or anything. The story never lets up. Something on every page will make the reader sigh. Yeah, this doesn’t tell you anything. Just read it.

 6. Crossing to Safety– Wallace Stegner. Don’t know what took me so long to get to this book. I love it. I might not read it again, but I might. Everything about it was right, from the setting, the culture, the people and the story (ok, ’til the end, but honestly, what did I think was going to happen?), from the language and familiarity with some of the settings,  to its themes, it was a great book. It will always be a great book. I still muddle over the title and the story and the many meanings in the former relating to the latter.

 7. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. I danced around this one for ages. Then an author I met at a reading mentioned See as one of her favorite writers. And Lisa D also spoke highly of the See books. Then Snarl gave it to me for my birthday. I always take his gifts so seriously, honor them knowing he thought about choosing them and then searched it out. So the book was a surprise, a pleasant one (tho’the story is full of things that are tough to take not being familiar with Chinese culture at the time it covers, nor even now, come to think of it.) Anyway, if you love reading stories for character and a glimmer of cultural insight, this one is a must.

8. The Flight of  Gemma Hardy – Jane Eyre meets Cinderella. But I read it and it wasn’t half bad. And I”m putting it on this list so you’ll know that I try to read currently current stuff, too!

9. Bond Girl – forgot author’s name but she’ll be back. She wrote a good book and I liked it. Bright, chirpy and set in NYC finance world, it’s hip and entertaining.

10. The Book Thief – Yeah, I was late to the party on reading this one, but after all, even when I thought I didn’t like it cuz I just didn’t like the narrator, it was  a fabulous book, for its ending as well as every one of its pages prior to the ending.

11. The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani – I LOVED it. Long, descriptive, plenty of good characters, turn-of-the-century time period, set in Italy and NYC. The plotsweave in and out, rather idealistically, to dish up a really good story which was right up my alley tho’ likely not for everyone.

12. I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron.  I don’t remember when I became a Nora follower/admirer/respector. Maybe it was after “when Harry met….” or maybe it was after I read her “Crazy Salad Days” or maybe it was after I saw a film clip of her praising Meryl Streep. I dunno. I miss her, that’s all. And this book was her goodbye. I didn’t realize ’til I was finishing it. It is a great little book, with humor and insight and stuff about writing and writers and NYC…I’m so glad to have it on my shelf rather than a library lend. Highly recommended.

I read 34 books this year – doesn’t it make you wonder about the other 22 not listed here? The complete list ranges from lite lit to writers-to-learn from and stuff in between.

Here’s to books and here’s to a fine if not fabulous New Year!

Anna Karenina….Part 1, almost

September 30, 2012 § 6 Comments


I joined this read-along with Arti and others about two weeks ago, that is, a bit late (OK, very late)  but I’m happy to have a reason and some friends with whom to travel the books hundreds of pages. I am still in Part 1 and while such a confession should have me blushing (as many characters in the novel do on a regular basis), I’m happy just to be in it, like a marathon runner who might end up walking, due to a sore knee or a distraction like a cloud or butterfly).

We are preparing for a wedding in the family. Somehow this involves readying the house, filling the kitchen cupboards, cleaning up the yard and taking inventory of sheets and towels to accommodate guests who are flying in. And finishing reception details. And keeping an eye on the Bride. And there a lot of questions and logistics. And lists. I have the MoB’s ultimate book of lists. It’s just they’re in different note”books” so far.

So…what better time to pick up the novel Anna Karenina as a bit of a “challenge?” I haven’t read Tolstoy in several decades. And following on the heels of some of the fiction and political reading I’ve done of late, Tolstoy shines.  I am interested in every detail he provide (even to the type/species of oyster they will have at dinner) especially since his details center on character more than story, though he takes his time with story and I love the pace.  It’s wonderful, lets you be there. Every look, every blink, every bite at the table, every step, every excitement, every plunge and rise of emotion with each character. And yet, so abrupt sometimes to the point of a phrase like “He walked out.” He gives the reader tie to draw a breath.

I offer no details or quotes at the moment; I have run to the store, right now. But I am compelled to mention that the book is a huge world, and a massive writerly undertaking to which I react more than to the story itself so far.  I’m nearly to the end of part 1. That’s ok; onward.

It is worth it. And I have the same Penguin edition that Arti is reading and I like it. (Often, but not always important that the book has an aesthetic appeal.)

“weather in a word…”

May 3, 2012 § 9 Comments

On the last day of our Gulf vacay, this sign was just outside a lunch cafe.

Funny how even a grey weather day on a vacay stint just doesn’t matter. 
You have, by now, relearned livingwithin Nature, embraced by it, wrapped up in the balm of walking around in the air, have learned how to be beyond the office walls, and you’ve rediscovered the relativity of time without a clock, including all the things you can do or not do within a day that doesn’t involve desks, meetings or email.

In fact, you’re likely to tilt your head skyward, close your eyes, open your mouth and taste the rain. 



Books read on vacay: 
Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani.  I like her books (see her THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE on the bestseller list!) for their mix of Italian language, growing up Italian in NYC and the occasional inclusion of fictional relatives in Italy. It recalls hours and hours at my mother-in-law’s kitchen table in Brooklyn.
The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell  is a decent read with inspirational value, some strong recommendations and one or two esoteric exercises.  Yes, read it. Even if you’re not a writer. But if you’re reading this, you  probably are.
And then there are the magazines but much reading time was replaced by “friend” time because we holidayed with best friends and I cannot tell you how luxurious it is to drop in (a few floors down) for coffee with a BFF at the beginning of a day.

Do we not have something of the same luxury wtih our blog friends? Indeed!

Summer…setting the table for a no-bug banquet

July 5, 2011 § 6 Comments

part of the picnic table prior to party

Getting choosey about beach reads.
Which beachie books should one borrow, which to buy, which to “Nook?”

MAINE, tho’ it intrigues me, will have to be a library book. Decision made after reading the first 5 pages while at B&N.

FLY AWAY HOME and BEST FRIENDS FOREVER by Jennifer Weiner might be on Nor’s shelf. Will have to email and ask her. I can’t believe I haven’t gobbled these up already. Used to be I read her books as soon as they hit the shelf! Looking to borrow, then, not buy.

LAST NIGHT AT CHATEAU MARMONT by Laura Weisbergen might, just might, be a summer-read winner and I think it might be worth spending $$$ for the Nook download. (No, she’s not tiptop in the writing groove but I like her settings and the NYC whirl she creates or emulates. Trite, eh? but true.)

THREE JUNES by Julia Glass. Here we go wtih the “look” thing. This one “looks” like something I’d enjoy.

THE BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE SKY by Marian Keyes  is likely a Nook winner. Yup, I’m a Keyes kid.

Chime in if you have a summer fave OR a yay/nay on the above possibilities; I’m taking suggestions and edging closer to vacay time!


Wednesday floralicious…

March 30, 2011 § 9 Comments

Up so early this a.m. to get work done at work  that I am NOT, at this hour, as fresh as a flower at the moment.

Watched actress Ellen Page talk heatedly about the “honeybee” situation on Jon Stewart the other night. 

Finished reading The Book of Salt and found it fragrant with poetry in the prose.

Felt like a wallflower at Morgan Le Fay’s bistro the other night where HM’s band was playing ’til my friends showed up. Not easy being a “groupie,” that is, the bassist’s wife.

Wore some perfume today, just a whiff of it (Carolina Herrera), that has undertones of orchid.

Trying to plant  seeds of an idea (on paper)  for a story that needs writing.

I whisked through my closet to clean out the sweaters and scarves but left a floral favorite ($3 from H&M!) on the shelf in case of a chilly Spring evening.

So you’ve figured out by now that I have to keep this short and wanted to drop some flowers and “flowery language” on you before returning to my (work) desk.

(these pics were snapped at the Missouri Botanical Garden during the Orchid Show; went two weeks ago.)

First Saturday in March…

March 5, 2011 § 11 Comments

It looks like this…okay but not this snowy; it’s  more of a bleary, very cold, very wet “thing,” of which I do NOT have a picture yet this morning, but you get the idea…

(photo in the backyard, one week ago)

but it feels like this… a certain “lightness,”  and desire to recreate the nest,  and return to living more outdoors… 

(photo in the backyard…last Spring!)

MARCH is so much fun, so full of contradictions:
contradictions in weather:  wind, rain, and a sweetness to its occasional warmth, with sporadic blasts of cold and flurries

contradictions  in holidays and fetes: St. Patrick’s Day (green “everything”), Mardi Gras (hell bent partying), Lent (serious, meditative), Spring Break (more partying for the school set) and lots of birthdays (cake, cake, cake!)

contradictions in diligence: from tax preparation to seasonal wardrobe changes (the former will take a few hours; the latter, 15 minutes!)

There is so much of the lion and the lamb about March.
Welcome, welcome, welcome!

Book Recommendations:
I have none because I’m still reading LOVING FRANK, which I’m enjoying but notably, my mom did not. We must discuss!
Next on my list, tho’ is that HAPPINESS PROJECT. Worth it? Feel free to chime in and let me know. (It’s a library book, so I don’t feel married to it…)

Writing Lesson:
OK,, you can’t write just anywhere. I’m sorry. I should say that you should be able to write, no matter where you are. But it’s not true. I cannot write at my husband’s office. I cannot write in the car. I cannot write in front of the TV.
OK, these are too many “cannots” to affiliate with writing.

So let’s just say that you could/should have one or two places, at least, for your sanity, where you can write. Maybe it’s more of “quiet” vs “not quiet,”  thing, (but honestly, that’s not it for me. I was trained as a writer in a newspaper office…those aren’t quiet. I find it’s an aesthetic, this “where-to-write” thing.)

In a nutshell: Don’t confine yourself to just one place wherein you can write. Too constricting.

Sunday, sitting there..

February 27, 2011 § 11 Comments

(from photo series of Valentine tulips, as featured in previous post, taken with lightbox and then playing with MS Digital Photo Pro.
Note: this is not an ad for it, however. And further, I barely know what I’m doing with this software which I’ve had for several years. I consider a lot of such use “cheating” but publications are rife with touch ups these days. Yet it’s given way and sway to a whole new type of artistry – those that are fluent in graphics, etc.     …..   onward…..)

Went to a coffee shop this morning. An odd choice, perhaps, but  the house was full of guests from yesterday’s get-together, ensuing bake-off in the kitchen, and a charity event last evening attended by 8 of us. So while they slept in and I made the breakfast menu, with everything at the ready, it seemed reasonable to head out for a little writing time.

At the coffee shop:  There was a table of ladies, among other full tables and booths, who segued from one topic to another and though I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, it was easier to hear them than to listen to the writing voice in my head.  And they got me to thinking.

The six women covered one topic after another, from their jobs and how they start their mornings, to reading elementary school students “grants” which one particular teacher had instigated in order to prep her little students for the real world, to eyedrops that come in a little disposable packets (what will they think of next? Everything is so darn “convenient!”),  to the new FroYo shop that opened up five doors away and what their favorite toppings were and you pay for it by weight, to fried chicken and where to get the best  (“but you shouldn’t eat the skin,” said one and the others put up such a hue and cry about that being the best part) …

…and I got to wondering, going back to the topic of the grant-writing…about a few things that teacher said…

She discussed how she chose her grant “winners.” Some of them, she said were awful and she set those aside. (My heart sank a little. How did she determine “awful”?)  Some of the little grant writers made her laugh or delighted her and those went into the “potential winner” pile. Others, she said,  had ho-hum topics – if only they had developed them somehow, with details or humor…

…I just wondered if she had worked with the students first and reviewed ideas and played with topics to give them an idea, taking  a few sessions over a week or WHAM, did she just drop it on them and wait to see what they did, what they came up with?

If the latter, then the teacher gets a zero from me.
But I’m sure she must have given them some background or encouragement. I’m sure she didn’t just drop this grant-writing idea on them (which is a very cool idea, having them write a grant to win a trip to the zoo, or a day of reading or whatever…), would she? Nah.

Why do some students get left behind, or never “develop?”  They have no guidelines. No purpose.
How often does that happen?

I don’t know.
I do know that a good teacher (under the best of circumstances) helps create the spark, and does not only fan into flames a spark that already exists.

Don’t get me wrong. I greatly admire the teaching profession. In fact, teachers (and nurses) do NOT get enough support, $ and attention in this present day world. (I was a teacher; I “dropped out” after 5 years to pursue a career in the Big City).

In fact, I honor the fact that we are all teachers and mentors in many ways.

Learned this morning:  I need to remember that during the work week. 
Am I giving my team the tools and ideas and mainframe and basics it needs to succeed, or am I just hoping they will hit the target and reward only those who manage to do so?
We cannot teach others to be like us, to do only what delights us; we must teach basics and inspire others in order to discover what they have to offer, things we never thought of….

Sheesh, what started this?
It’s always good to experience an unintentional wake up call.Obviously, I was meant to hear “connections” through the conversation at the other table and give better thought to how it applies overall.

And then there’s that new frozen yogurt shop I didn’t know about that requires some (immediate?) attention.

Book Recommendation:
AS Neill’s writings somehow found their way into my education during college and though not in agreement of all of it, had me thinking for years that I would start my own school.  You may be interested to see what he was up to, though wikepedia may not be the most reliable place to look, you can start here nevertheless or go to a “direct link,”  – here.

Full moon, getting its freak on

February 24, 2011 § 9 Comments

I know the full moon occurred sometime last week for its usual amount of hours. However, I believe there is some conspiracy afoot (incurred by Mother Nature, of course) that involves an extension of the full moon.
I’m saying that, according to all the quirks, faux pas, mistakes, twists, dips and downright “what the heck?s” that happened this week, the full moon is ongoing. I dont’ know how it looks like it’s no longer full – perhaps the power of Wikileaks or sci-fi writers banded together or some secret group engaged in adjusting the light reflected from the moon so that it no longer looks full, just to trick us,  but I’m telling ya, it’s been a rockin’ ridiculous, rioutous week that has included everything from lost project files, to frozen PCs to misplaced money to a million individual moments of quiet head-shaking – and it’s been totally full moon-able.

Thank goodness for the peace of writing with a pen, the reading of a thick good book and the moments to stare off, thinking about a particular line just read and for the rituals of  returning to home life after work.

And thank goodness for stepping outside an hour past twilight with the dogs and all three of us looking into the parklike area where all the backyards meet and seeing seven deer, all lying there, unfettered, unconcerned,  just bathing in the moonlight.
Freaky. Unexpected. Beautiful.

If the full moon is going to go long, then fine, let all the nonsense occur as long as we can have those deer right there, nearly invisible, among us.

OK, and I might have to do a little howling, but that just goes with  moon territory.

Write what’s on your mind and push and pull and twist it (like taffy) so someone else might want to read it. Just go. There is no writing “in the box.”  Crawl out of there and write, write, write. If you go long enough, there will be something in there, in your writing: something good, something lesson-able, something that makes you say “oh.”  And just for that, it’s good enough, it’s wonderful.

Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype (1992), by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. It was on the NY Times bestseller list for 145 weeks. Impressive.
But no, I haven’t read it yet. Yes,  it’s been on my shelf for at least nine years.
How can I recommend it? I don’t know. It just seems like a good time to open it up. 
And wait for that (I know it’s not really full) moon to go away.

the power of the gift book…an entry on books whilst I stall on doing the writing I should be doing!

February 13, 2011 § 6 Comments

Writing Lesson:
You’ve written something. It’s not bad. You’re ok with it. But it doesn’t work as you thought it might. It falls flat somehow.  That’s what you think, and you’re the author! Uh oh. So what’s a reader going to think? Readers do not cut an author any slack.
 Advice: Rewrite it from a completely different point of view. If you told it from the Mom’s point of view, rewrite it from the kid’s point of view. If you told it from omniscent third person, change it and tell it in 1st person. (If you don’t know what I mean by point of view, read FOREST FOR THE TREES by Betsy Lerner or fall back on Strunk and White’s ELEMENTS OF STYLE. A tired reference, perhaps, but there’s an illustrated version and overall, the book is quick and to the point if you want  instant explanations.)

What? Really? Rewrite?  you ask. Geez, that’s a lot of work.
Yes, that’s correct. It’s a lot of work. Good writing doesn’t just fall on the page. It takes work, craft, finesse. It also takes guts and instinct.
Make that piece turn into something worthwhile, something more than a tried-and-failed attempt.
Work it.
Point of view can be the difference between “major hit”  and “complete miss.” Consider McInerney’s BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY told in the second person – the first novel to do that and pull it off.
If you’re really stuck, it’s very cool, very in, to tell the story from an animal’s point of view, typically a dog. Dogs lend major interest  to all writing. (You know the “Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog” rule, right?)

Book review, sort of:
We have all, at times, experienced someone asking “Have you read such and such a book? No? Oh, you must. You have to read it. You’ll love/hate it. ”

Sometimes, that person wants to know what you think of it, might possibly be up for a discussion of it if  you’ve read it.
But just as often, no, they’re not. Your quick conversation is more like a USA today pie-chart survey. Have you read it? Did you like it – yes? no? And then that’s it. The conversation moves on to other things.

Ah, but with bookreading friends and family (and bloggers!) you dig deeper than the pop trash measure of whether the book is popular or not.
And you know that person better for what he/she reads, don’t read and will comment on. (And face it, we like to know one another. It’s a human thing.)

Yes, you can get to know someone better because of the books they share with you.
And that’s one of the many beauties of booksharing.

And so it is with my Mom. After several decades of her living back East, she moved here to STL nearly three years ago. So we see each other on a regular schedule (sometimes daily, sometimes weekly), rather than twice a year.
And we are learning all kinds of things from one another, not the least of which is our reading tastes.
Yes, we take a journaling class together and bit by bit, I’m learning more, but still…

Anyway, several blog entries ago, I mentioned that Mom gave me Bryson’s A WALK IN THE WOODS. It’s a book I would have called a “someday” book – someday I would get to it, someday borrow it from the library or maybe someday buy it.

But at Xmas, there it was under the tree, labeled for me.
I was the immediate owner of a book by someone I hadn’t read yet (which many booklovers will know is a thrill, just as finding a new book by a favorite author is a thrill. (you can’t lose with us booklovers!).

What made this book gift “sweeter” was that Mom had shopped for it. She went through the store looking for something I might like, hadn’t read, hadn’t experienced. (How could she know?) And as well, she apparently engaged the help of a sales person and they discussed possibilities. (She told me all this later, as I was oohing and aahing over the book.)

I believe one of the reasons I love that book so much is because Mom gave it to me. She had a choice of thousands of titles in the store and she chose this one. And with that choice, that gesture, I got to know her even better.

It’s true.  You know people better by what they choose for you. The reason they choose a book for you is as compelling as the gift itself.
It’s always been true, but for me, who has always read fiction, this is an eye-opener when someone gives me something “other,” something different than my normal reading.

And so when Mom fell in love with the book THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, I wondered why.
I hadn’t read it.
She didn’t go into smarmy detail; at the book’s mention, she would only cross her arms over her chest and shake her head side to side, smiling, and say she just loved the book.

Note that she has expansive reading interests, leaves no reading stone unturned, except perhaps poetry (but she loves writing poetry! go figure) and she’s a wonderful barometer for the merit of any book.  This one grabbed her. As an active member of the book club at Kirkwood Library that meets every six weeks, she handed back the library’s copy and went out and bought a copy, to keep.

A few weeks ago, she loaned it to me. “Read it,” she said.
I picked it up and read the first pages and had to put it down. A dog is the narrator and he’s dying. I don’t do well with dying dogs.  I would tell you that I still haven’t gotten over Bear, our beloved “big” dog who died almost two years ago. And now our beagle, “the beag,” is nearly 17 and hobbling around in senior dimensia. He’s at my feet now.

Anyway, Mom mentioned that after the first chapter, I’d be ok. “Read it,” she said again last week.
So I swooped down on it this week, while HM was away on a biz trip.
Lucky we had lots of tissues in the house following the cold virus that swept through here.
Book reading lesson: It’s ok to cry when reading a book.  Thank goodness.

I availed myself of tissues off and on during the entire read. I would not have chosen this book to read on my own. But I kept going because I wanted to see what captured my Mom about this book; I wanted to know that more than I wanted to know what would happen in the story. 

And having finished it this morning, I am as caught up in pondering why Mom liked it, why it spoke to her, as I am in the thank-goodness-for-the-ending that it offered stage.

And I know why.
There was no subterfuge in the book. It is straight out about endurance. About “man-ing up.” About loyalty. About drive. About good guys and bad people. About being in the moment.
Was it corny, sentimental?
No, the dog’ narration saved it from being that, once the reader adjusts to the dog-writing construct.
And you will look at your dog a little differently after reading it.

Yes, it’s about knowing the right path and sticking to it.
And that’s Mom’s story;  she has always been able to move forward, with that unique combo of pioneer spirit and anglo stiff upper lip plus the softness and gentility that unites a family.

Ah, but hers is another story.

“Scuse me while I take the Ole Beag for a walk.

Huck, at the doorway, deciding whether he will come outdoors or not

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