Milton and I have a yearly tradition of going up to the old trestle on the Palmetto Trail to see the leaves, followed by a stop at Little Mountain for antiques. This year we added the Frayed Knot as our dinner stop to quench a fried oyster craving.
3.5 stars, rounding up to four because I'm torn. It is so real, so gritty, and so hard that sometimes you want to turn it away. There were times where I wanted to put it down and never pick it up again. It was a lot like a bad relationship in the way that is often tiring and tough to get through, but the bits of beauty that peek in are enough to make you hold on longer than you maybe even want to. The book itself almost seems as self-destructive as the main character. Tierce is bold and honest and frank and not afraid to take you all the way there. Her writing never shies away. Still wrestling with this one.
Had the sudden idea to go as a yarn bomb for Halloween. Waited till the week of, and crocheted away to finish the granny tunic. The pom bracelets and headpiece were a cinch though.
This year I've been attempting to participate in #readwomen. Not exclusively, but mindfully. And if this isn’t the perfect book for that, I don’t know what is.
This is the first I've read of Ann Patchett. I've always been somewhat drawn to
, but never got around to it. Then after watching that episode of
where Hannah's mom is in NYC for a conference where "so many women feel the way I do about Ann Patchett," it reminded me to pick up her work. (I’m sort of obsessed with Lena Dunham reading lists. I really like Lena Dunham.)
Truth and Beauty
is the one I chose since I’d also read how it was banned (or attempted?) at Clemson University in an article on the recent controversy at the College of Charleston with Alison Bechdel’s
. Oh, Carolina.
I haven’t had many close friends in my life. Only a handful. In part due to my introversion and tendency toward an internal world, maybe partly due to growing up isolated in the country as a child with no others my age nearby, or even something to do with being a teased fat girl trying to stay invisible on the fringes of the playground. I’m quiet and awkward and anxious and don’t have much to say. (Well, shit. Last night I started Marc Maron’s
where he writes,
"The truth is, I can't read anything with any distance. Every book is a self-help book to me."
Ugh.) What I’m getting at is stories of friendships, particularly these all too rare portraits of strong female friendships, read to me the way Harlequin romances must read to others. They leave me yearning and wanting for one of these connections of my own. (Also, a little pathetic) (
– Charlie Brown)(Confessional memoir breeds confessional review.)
Patchett showed such wonderful restraint here. If I had known going in this would be a book full of cancer and addiction, I probably wouldn’t have read it. I’ve read enough of those stories. Addiction and drug stories, however well-done, all tend toward the same arc. I feel like I’ve outgrown them, at least for a while. And I’ve been avoiding cancer and medical renditions after my own recent family traumas of the past few months. Seeing blood coursing through tubes leading directly from my dad’s chest into a fluid measuring device near my feet as he painfully coughed and choked in the ICU after having the lower lobe of his lung removed, and the cancer along with it, is still fresh enough in my mind that I don’t really care to read anyone else’s lengthy description of the sort. But none of this was Patchett’s focus, though these scenes were there. The melodrama could have been so easily applied, and yet Patchett stayed perfectly small and beautifully minimal in her choices of phrase.
When Patchett described Lucy’s readings after the publication of
Autobiography of a Face
“I didn’t remember it,” Lucy said pointedly. “I wrote it. I’m a writer.” This shocked the audience more than her dismissal of illness, but she made her point: she was making art, not documenting an event. That she chose to tell her own extraordinary story was of secondary importance. Her cancer and subsequent suffering had not made this book. She had made it.
I wonder how much of this can be applied to Patchett and her feelings toward
Truth and Beauty
as well. Particularly after reading Suellen Grearly’s scathing piece at
in response to Patchett’s book about her sister (The piece reads unfairly, a bit too harsh and too bitter with the lines such as,
“My sister Lucy was a uniquely gifted writer. Ann, not so gifted, is lucky to be able to hitch her wagon to my sister's star.”
Yikes.). How much of memoir is memory and how much is art? To what extent is the writer’s intent toward either? And, in the end, does it matter?
I came to this book with little knowledge of Frank Lloyd Wright's personal life and perhaps not as much knowledge of the man and his work as I would like to admit. Though I could certainly recognize (and have admired) his style and visited the FLW room at the Met, I'd never really looked much deeper than this superficial admiration. I am grateful to this book, which I enjoyed in spite of its flaws, for introducing a new passion for delving into Wright's worlds and the circles surrounding him. I found Mamah's works to be fascinating and plan to read further about her translations of and correspondence with early Swedish feminist, Ellen Key. However, upon finishing the novel I left it feeling that I still knew very little of Wright himself, but was now rather well versed in the lives of those who surrounded him instead.
For the most part I enjoyed the novel. I did find the chapters devoted to Miriam exhausting, though I'd enjoyed her as a character (as well as her outlandish PR stunts) during Olgivanna's focus, infuriating as it all was. I almost gave up reading at this point, the dramatic displays, poutings, petty jealousies and foolish declarations of love were all quite off-putting, but I felt invested enough to push through. There were times when I wondered if this portrayal of her was fair, really. Was Boyle just painting another all too familiar Crazy Woman archetype? There were hints of deeper layers there, her success as a sculptor, a worldly past. There had to be more than this shrieking Banshee we were presented with. It all made me question Boyle's views towards and his ability to successfully write women.
With such little time spent with Wright's first wife, Kitty, I almost wonder if this wasn't necessarily "The Women" of FLW, but instead "The Women" of Taliesin.
2. Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer (E)
3. Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield
4. Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary by Keshni Kashyap (GN)
5. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
6. Head Off and Split by Nikky Finney
7. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (audio)
8. Girl Stories by Lauren R. Weinstein (GN)
9. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
10. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
11. Scenes from an Impending Marriage by Adrian Tomine (GN)
12. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (audio)
13. Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
14. Every Girl is the End of the World for Me by Jeffrey Brown (GN)
15. Then Again by Diane Keaton
16. Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Harmones for a Hot and Healthy Body! by Jillian Michaels
17. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
18. Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems by David Rakoff (audio)
19. Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer
20. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
21. War Dances by Sherman Alexie
22. "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" by Joyce Carol Oates (SS)
23. I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron
24. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
25. Ender's Game Graphic Novel by Chris Yost (GN)
26. All Star Western, Vol 2: The War of Lords and Owls by Justin Gray (GN)
27. Attack on Titan, Vol 5 by Hajime Isayama (GN)
28. Attack on Titan, Vol 6 by Hajime Isayama (GN)
29. The Complete Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes/Saavedra (GN)
30. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (re-read)
31. Supergirl, Vol 2: Girl in the World by Michael Green (GN)
32. Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen by Dan Thompson (GN)
33. Camelot 3000 by Mike W. Barr (GN)
34. Rust, Vol 2: Secrets of the Cell by Royden Lepp (GN)
35. Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim (GN)
36. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel by Ransom Riggs (GN)
37. Castle: A Calm Before Storm by Richard Castle (GN)
38. Olivia by Ian Falconer (E)
39. Olivia Forms A Band by Ian Falconer (E)
40. Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer (E)