The Sunday Salon: July 29

The Sunday Salon

If you’ve been following along with our adventures this week, you already know we’ve had a few exciting days. I signed Boo up for a week-long camp hosted by iCan Shine, a national nonprofit that teaches individuals with disabilities how to ride a two-wheel bicycle. I’m not being dramatic when I say that this was a life-changing experience for him. (You can find my posts here.)

It involved driving nearly an hour each way, but somehow I managed to finish three books this week:

Love Is the CureThe Dangers of Proximal AlphabetsJacklight

Love Is the Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS, by Elton John
The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets, by Kathleen Abbott
Jacklight, Poems by Louise Erdrich

I discussed the Elton book a bit in last week’s Salon, so I’ll save any further comments for my full review. (Suffice it to say, I liked it.)

The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets … holy cow. I finished this on Wednesday and it still hasn’t left me. I’m still gathering my thoughts about this one. It’s a complex, haunting look at what it means to really know and love someone, and if we ever really do. This is likely to be one of my favorites of the year.

Published in 1984, Jacklight is Louise Erdrich’s first book of poetry (I think). I actually didn’t know she had written poetry, so I was intrigued to read this – as well as Baptism of Desire, which I liked a bit more. 

And of course, in keeping with my trend of late, there were two DNFs. I have Andre Dubus III’s upcoming novel Dirty Love to review for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, so I thought I should acquaint myself with a few of his previous books that have been on my TBR shelves.

Well, hopefully The Garden of Last Days isn’t indicative of what I’m in for, because I only made it to page 44. I couldn’t stand the thought of feeling like I needed to take a shower for another 450+ pages. I guess I was expecting a little bit … more in terms of the writing. This felt too tedious. And smarmy. I’m thinking of trying House of Sand and Fog next.

I also gave up on The Cookbook Collector, by Allegra Goodman. The breaking point with this was when one of the characters becomes a millionaire (make that a $357 millionaire) overnight when her Internet data storage company (think Google) goes public.

Because, you know, that happens ALL. THE. TIME in these Great Depression days.

Obviously, this feels dated. That’s because this book is set in Fall 1999. Yes, Dear Reader, there was a time many years ago when such things as IPOs really did happen and people really did do things like day-trading and give “friends and family” special stock offerings. (Alas, I was never fortunate to have any such people as friends or family.)

Given that it’s now 2013 and I’ve been unable to find a full-time job for 14 months now and I have little tolerance in reading about multi-gazillionaires, I’m giving this one a pass.

(I take that back, about the not reading about multi-gazillionaires. One of the books I just checked out of the library was Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, by Chrystia Freeland. I’m kind of into recessionary journalism these days.)

Helen Keller in LoveI’m currently listening to Helen Keller in Love, by Rosie Sultan. This historical fiction novel is absolutely fascinating as it imagines a part of Helen Keller’s life that is little known. Because the Helen Keller that most people think of is the blind and deaf seven year old girl at the water well with Annie Sullivan spelling the word WATER into her palm. Her life story stops there – and doesn’t continue with her speaking engagements around the country, her Socialist thoughts on President Wilson and the war, and most importantly, her feelings for Peter Fagan.

I’ll have much more to say about this, including some thoughts on how Helen Keller in Love could help dispel the misconception that people with disabilities lack sexual feelings and somehow don’t long for intimacy. As Ms. Sultan’s prose makes clear, nothing could be further from the truth. I’m really enjoying this as an audiobook; it is highly recommended as such.

Hope you had a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: July 29

  1. Barbara Bartels

    Wonderful reading. So glad you have the gig at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I love newspapers — especially the ones that are still printing, still hiring freelancers. I thought you would be interested in this link to a story in the Gaurdian that I read last month and saved. My husband works with a teenager with autism and we both worked at a school for students with learning disabilities for awhile before moving South. This is a column by David Mitchell who wrote Cloud Atlas.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jun/29/david-mitchell-my-sons-autism

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