Tuesday, April 01, 2008

They Tell Me It's Tuesday

I hear it's Tuesday, but you really lose track of time when your days don't vary much. So, assuming it's Tuesday, it's time for Tuesday Twaddle -- an essentially meaningless title that gives me free reign to continue babbling about anything and nothing. Mostly nothing.

I am reading slowly . . . but. At least I'm reading. I'm still working on A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz. Someday, I'm going to finish that book. In the meantime, though, I took a brief break from Fraction, over the weekend, and read:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Of course, I can't paste an image of the book, at the moment, so I'll just give you a link. The Absolutely True Diary, etc., is classified as "juvenile fiction". I'll call it Young Adult but only because I feel like it. TATDoaP-TI (abbreviated -- that is one heck of a long title) is the story of Junior, a youngster who tells his story in narrative and cartoons, as opposed to dated diary entries. Junior is an aspiring cartoonist who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Born with fluid on the brain, Junior wears glasses, stutters, has seizures, and is picked on at school by everyone but his best friend, Rowdy.

After he's expelled, Junior speaks to a teacher who advises him not to waste his brains and his life on the reservation. Junior takes the teacher's advice and moves to an all-white school in a neighboring farm town. It's difficult even making his way to school. Some days his alcoholic father can drive him, some days he can't. Sometimes the car works, sometimes it doesn't. At times he can hitchhike; at other times he ends up walking the full 22 miles. But, Junior is determined to improve himself and faces each challenge admirably. Meanwhile, back at "the rez," he's considered a traitor. Rowdy won't speak to him and Junior must face loss upon loss in addition to being rejected by his own people.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a National Book Award winner. And, much as I often like to pooh-pooh those awards, I think it's an awesome story of facing up to challenges, refusing to give in, choosing to better one's self despite huge odds against success. It's much deserving of the award. TATDoaP-TI was another impulse purchase (because Books are Blankies for some of us) and, boy, am I glad I bought it. There's a quote by Neil Gaiman that I love, on the back cover:

Excellent in every way, poignant and really funny and heartwarming and honest and wise and smart . . . I have no doubt that in a year or so it'll both be winning awards and being banned. --Neil Gaiman

I agree on all counts. Except, I have no idea whether the book has been banned, but it wouldn't surprise me. The fact is, the book is written from the viewpoint of a boy who writes with such honesty that those crude, rude, vulgar, anatomically-worded moments wouldn't be right if they weren't written exactly as they are. And there, I think, the book differs from a lot of books. Everything fits. Yeah, you might not want your kid to read it. And, yet, a young adult can learn a great deal from the book -- about poverty, prejudice, strength, grief, love, respect . . . there's such a huge spectrum of emotion in this book that I can't possibly say a bad thing about it. I loved it and couldn't put it down. Huge thumbs up.

And, now . . . some twaddle.

Soup, soup, soup

My brother-in-law comes home (remember, I'm in my sister's house) for lunch every day. Even on "goody days", which used to be simple but now involve rather a feast, according to D., he comes home and warms up some soup because, "I'm not really a cubicle kind of a guy. I need to walk away, just for a short time." D. eats Campbell's Chunky Chicken & Sausage Gumbo, every single day. And, I do mean every single day. One day is cooking day and the next is microwave day. He heats up a can, eats half, saves the other half in a Tupperware container, zaps it the next day, heats up a can the next, eats half . . . on and on. People are so funny. But, just FYI, that is one of the best Campbell's soups I've ever tasted.

Bark, bark, bark

I've been taking photos of Buddy, my sister's dog. My sister didn't want a dog, actually, but D. said, "You needed a dog. So, I got you Buddy." And, she adores him. However, she's at work all day and I'm not willing to go out for a muddy paw-print stamping until evening, so poor old Buddy is a wee bit lonely. The next-door neighbor is an avid gardener and he's usually outside at least part of the day, wearing rubber boots and wielding a shovel. I've seen the neighbor sit down beside the wire fence that separates Sister's yard from Neighbor's. There, he chats away with Buddy for a time, and then off he goes with his shovel to dig and plant. It's rather lovely and touching. I wish I could post some more photos of Buddy. And, the neighbor's yard is gorgeous. He has a host of golden daffodils blooming up a storm, back there. Beautiful!

Movies and a Short Story

This past weekend I drove to my mother's house to run her appliances, flush her toilets, check the lightbulbs, etc. To help fill the time, I watched Atonement and Martian Child. Mini reviews:

Atonement: I've got the book, but I haven't read it. Someday I will; I don't mind doing things backwards, since I began comparing books to their screenplays, just for fun. As to the movie, I thought the scenery was beautiful, particularly in and around the house where early events take place. It always amazes me how my mind can't seem to summon up the kind of glamour, size, detail, and beauty of those English country homes. Film, in this case, captures something my imagination shortchanges. However, the story was just flat sad and I don't like a great deal of gasping (can we say, "melodrama"?) in a movie. Plus, I just don't like that scarecrow-stick actress who played Cecelia, Keira Knightly. She's a decent actress but she's so pretty she's ugly, if you know what I mean. I find her distracting. The movie belonged to James McAvoy, in my humble opinion. I've yet to see him act and not feel totally blown away. He's brilliant, emotional, perfectly human in looks and movement and speech. I love him.

Martian Child: Gah. I love John Cusack. I just love, love, love John Cusack. I've been hooked on Cusack since Say Anything. Is it the looks, the style, the adaptability, the height? Maybe all of the above. I think he's the bees' knees. Having said that, I also happen to think the storyline was awesome, touching, and perfect. It is also clean, funny, heart-warming, beautifully set, believable and well-acted by everyone. The cast is amazing. I loved Martian Child. And, fortunately, I bought the copy I watched. Yippee! I can watch it over and over and over. What a happy thought. I wish there were more movies like Martian Child. Someday, Hollywood will figure out that we don't really need all that swearing, sex, and violence. We get excited about humanity, about emotion, about happy moments, laughter and great acting. At least, that's my hope (and what I love in a movie).

Over the weekend, I was unable to locate the power cord for my laptop, hence the lack of posting and blog-hopping. Plus, things are getting a little bit intense, around here. So, please forgive me if I'm only able to zip in and out. I have located the power cord, but I'm not sure whether or not I'll be able to get away on the weekend, this week. We shall see. Hope everyone is having a terrific week.

Bookfool, dashing off, again

29 comments:

  1. It is indeed Tuesday. I wouldn't mind if it was Friday, but come Sunday, I probably would be wishing I had the weekend in front of me again.

    What a kind neighbor! I am glad he stops and visits with Buddy during the day. I'd take my pets to work if they'd let me. Unfortunately they won't. :-(

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  2. I just saw the movie "Atonement" and I was actually quite surprised - I also can not stand Keira Knightley, but the movie rose above her! I LOVED James McAvoy, he was so perfect in it. I was impressed with how they followed the book so closely, even with the sense of inevitability to the conclusion.

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  3. I loved Martian Child too. As far as books winning awards and being banned, they often seem to go hand in hand. I never ban my kids from reading anything because I think it's much better to let them read whatever, read it with/before/after them, and discuss it with them. That is something I heard Orson Scott Card suggest many years ago and it has worked perfectly.

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  4. Part-Time Indian sounds great. All the best books end up banned!

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  5. Haven't heard of Martian Child, but it sounds fantabulous! And Buddy sounds like a cutie chatting away with the neighbor. Or maybe the neighbor is the cutie.

    And I've gotta try that chicken and sausage gumbo now. Probably won't eat it every day, but it does sound lovely.

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  6. I'm not familiar with Martian Child, but love John Cusack (and Joan, too). Must put that in the Netflix que.

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  7. Wendy,

    Well, it was Tuesday. Now it's Wednesday. Oddly, it feels exactly the same as Tuesday -- just a tad colder.

    I think it's adorable the way the neighbor stops to chat with Buddy. And, I know what you mean; I'd happily have brought my cat to my sister's house if I didn't think the cat would have hated it. I could stand to have a cat on my lap, now and then (although I'm fine with skipping the morning wail for breakfast).

    Melanie,

    I thought the movie was excellent, apart from all the gasping, actually. James McAvoy is amazing, isn't he? I just watched Becoming Jane, last night, and he's so adaptable that I had to keep reminding myself it really was the same actor. I'm anxious to read the book, but I have a feeling it's not one I could get through, right now. My mind is working far too slowly.

    J. Scott,

    So true. I haven't participated in a Banned Books challenge, but I was stunned when I read a list of books that have been banned, last year. A large number of them were personal favorites and, yep, award winners. I wasn't aware that Orson Scott Card recommended reading along with children, but that's my usual method (I've tapered off, now that my youngest is 16). We do the same with movies/television. Better to sit with your child and discuss moral implications than to leave impressionable youngsters totally without guidance. They really want to know what we think, although they might say the opposite. That's my experience, anyway.

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  8. Jeane,

    It's very good. I'm so glad I bought the book. I think my youngest son will enjoy it. And, I do agree. It seems like an awful lot of excellent, award-winning books end up banned.

    Andi,

    Martian Child is terrific. Cusack plays a sci-fi author who decides to adopt a boy who thinks he's from Mars. Tell me what you think, if you manage to watch it.

    The neighbor is a retired fellow and I don't care how old he is, it is simply charming to see him sitting beside the fence with the dog, chatting away. So sweet! And, the soup is really good. I wouldn't eat it daily, though. I'm way too fickle. :)

    Jenclair,

    Both John and Joan are in Martian Child. She plays John's sister. Imagine that. LOL I only knew about the movie because some people on one of my readers' listservs mentioned it.

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  9. Rats, it's Wednesday now. I'm torn between happiness and terror.

    I heart your BiL. I ate peanut butter and honey sandwiches every day of my school career, unless my mother rebelled and stuck ham or something into my lunchbag instead. (Which I would either trade for PB or wait until I got home)(Yes, my mom made my lunch until I graduated HS. Isn't that lovely?)

    I'm loving Fraction but it's a BIG book.

    Martian Child! I finally placed it. Too new for me lately to register.

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  10. Oh man. Sorry, but you can't have John Cusak!! One of these days, the man is going to realize that I am the love of his life!

    Seriously though, I have been in love with him since Say Anything as well. Love him!

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  11. Carrie,

    And, now it's Thursday. Annoying how time just keeps marching on, isn't it?

    Unfair! My mother never fixed me peanut-butter and jelly. Never! I don't know what she had against it.

    Still hacking away at Fraction. I think I've got about 200 pages to go. I wish I read faster.

    Martian Child . . . normally, I don't hear about movies until someone mentions them on a blog or listserv, since we have no theater in Vburg and I don't watch TV often enough to see commercials. And, yep, there was a conversation on a listserv or I wouldn't have known a thing about it. :)

    Stephanie,

    Just because he lives close to you doesn't mean you can have him! Oh, okay, fine. But, if you ever tackle him for his autograph, you have to tell him "Bookfool adores you."

    Yep, he was adorable in Say Anything and I've loved him ever since. A lot of innocent girls fell over, about that time, in awe.

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  12. I just read through your entire twaddle and the only thing I kept thinking was...

    "She PUT DOWN 'A Fraction of the Whole' to read something else?"

    You are a stronger woman than I am, that's for sure!! :D

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  13. Kookie,

    I'm not stronger; I'm just slower. LOL Really, I suck at reading chunksters at the best of times (and this is as far from "best of times" as it usually gets) so I often set aside larger books to read something quick and easy, right in the midst of some chunky book. I don't forget what's going on, so that's not a problem. I'm just under page 400, in fact. Still wading through it. But, it's quite an amazing piece of writing.

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  14. And now it's Thursday. I'm a bit slow with the blog-hopping, myself.

    First off, I'm gonna have to get some of that soup and see what my hubby thinks. I think I've spoiled him. He says all the canned soups are mediocre compared to my homemade stuff. Sometimes, though, I'm all about ease and convenience. I don't always like to cook!

    I loved Atonement. Both the book and the movie. I fell in love with James McAvoy. What a fabulous actor. I don't mind Keira, but boy did I love that green dress/evening gown!

    Yep, Say Anything was the first time I saw (and fell for) John Cusack. I haven't heard of Martian Child, but I'm off to Netflix to add it to my huge list. Thankfully, I can bump it to the top of my queue without any trouble.

    I'm about to read a new post-apocalyptic book I found on the new release shelf at work today. Stay tuned! It looks like a winner!!!

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  15. I have a friend who insists that ALL non-picturebooks are YA; she says children's books are picturebooks. I assume that she'd say the same about the fancier term "juvenile fiction"!

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  16. Haven't heard of Martian Child, but now will have to check it out. Also, I'm adding TATDoaP to my reading list.

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  17. Alright, it's official, I need to buy TATDoaP-TI ASAP. This is the third positive review I've read of it and it sounds like such a good book.

    Atonement. I loved the book, the movie was good. I loved the music and the scenery, but part of the reason why I loved the book was because of McEwan's writing and of course that is all lost in a film. And yes, James McEvoy is wonderful!

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  18. Just wanted to stop by and leave you some hugs because I think you might need some (((Bookfool)))

    I also wanted to check in on you and your family. I have a friend who lives in Vicksburg and know that you got hit pretty hard by yesterday's storms. Hope all is safe and ok with you and yours.

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  19. Les,

    If I were related to you, I'd probably never be able to eat a can of soup, again. I just have a feeling.

    I need to read Atonement, but I think it's probably too heavy for me, at least at the moment. I'm reading The Olive Season by Carol Drinkwater and enjoying it thoroughly. Kookie will be bemused to find that I've set aside my other book, again. James McAvoy is just plain fabulous. I thought he was absolutely perfect in Atonement. And, yeah, the dress was stunning. :)

    I think you'll like Martian Child. I hope so.

    Oh, good, I can't wait to hear about your latest read. I haven't been able to blog-hop for days, but I'll try to peek in, later this week, to see if you've posted about it.

    Oakling,

    Hey, that works for me. I always have a bit of trouble determining the difference between children's, juvenile and young adult.

    Booklogged,

    I hope you love them both. :)

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  20. Trish,

    I highly recommend it. I think I'd read at least two very positive reviews, myself. When I saw the cover, it rang positive bells (as opposed to negative clangs?).

    So far, I haven't managed to get into Atonement (the book version), but I think it's just my flagging concentration. Someday. I have yet to be disappointed by James McAvoy. I think we'll be seeing a lot of him; apparently, he's impressing quite a few of us!

    SuziQ,

    Thanks, babe. I need all the hugs I can get. This has been a very rough week.

    The storm was a doozy. I spent hours trying to serve as a go-between for my husband and son, after the storm blew through. Hubby couldn't get out of his workplace because of downed trees and cell service was coming and going. Power and phone lines were down all over town, trees blocking the road. Kiddo sent me a text saying, "Tell Dad to get me out of here." That was about 2 hours before school normally releases. I had no idea how to text and he wasn't answering his cell, so I called my eldest and had him teach me how to send a text message just to let kiddo know that Dad would get there as soon as possible but trees were blocking the roads. That took a couple of hours, as eldest was at work and didn't check his messages for a while.

    What a mess. I felt awful for not being at home, but everything worked out. And, now I have instructions detailing how to write and send a text message. My family was without phone service till mid-afternoon, but the power was only out briefly and they were grateful for that. Thanks for asking!!! You probably really didn't want the essay. Oh, well. Too tired to edit. LOL

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  21. Oh you need some more of these

    (((((Bookfool)))))

    I know my friend didn't get power for a long time and still has no internet and her cell service is kind of in and out. I was afraid it would be extra rough for you due to not being there with your family. Sorry to hear that my fears were valid.

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  22. LOL, Thanks Suzi!

    They're all back to normal, now, although I think my family was lucky to just lose power briefly and phone for a day or two. Losing power and phone service is pretty typical after a big storm, but it's still a nuisance even if you're used to it happening, now and then. The addition of hinky cell service was a little unexpected, although that happened after Katrina. I hope your friend has all her services restored, soon!

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  23. There, he chats away with Buddy for a time, and then off he goes with his shovel to dig and plant.

    Awww! That's really sweet.


    Having seen Keira Knightley on the Daily Show, I like her as a person and actress, but she's gotten so skeletal that, yeah, it's distracting. It reminds me that she's her and not her character, which I don't want in a movie. I wish Hollywood didn't encourage actresses (and by extention, those who watch their films) to be so skinny. Apparently with the trend in awards dresses lately to show so much back, celebrities are getting their lower backs liposuctioned. Can you believe it? *shudder*


    My husband tries to take leftovers in to work so he won't to eat out. Our food is much healthier and yummier. I wish he could come home for lunch, but with an hour and a half commute...

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  24. Heather,

    The neighbor is quite a sweetheart, at least from what I've seen of him taking a moment to converse with the dog. I think it's lovely. He's also one heck of a gardener!

    You've described exactly how I feel about Keira Knightley. What little I've read, interview-wise, has given me the impression that she's a decent and kind person. I simply find her skeletal form too distracting. So true -- it reminds me of her as a person and makes it harder to think of her as a character. Liposuctioning backs is insane. But, I think that underweight image has long since gone overboard.

    I can't remember what I said to lead to the comment on leftovers. Maybe a comment about the soup?

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  25. Aye, the soup. It got me to thinking about lunches during the workday.

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  26. Heather,

    Sorry. Didn't mean to make you hungry! I keep forgetting to eat, myself. Here it is, 1pm and I haven't eaten a thing. I guess I ought to do something about that. :)

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  27. Yes, Atonement is desperately sad, though I really enjoyed the film and was glad I'd read it first. The tears began when they met in the cafe....Oh, and I agree, James McAvoy is dreamy.

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  28. Tara,

    I agree with you on all counts. I'm avoiding the book, for now, but I do plan to read it.

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  29. Hi!

    I do agree that The Absolute True Story of a part-time Indian is such a long title that I had a hard time trying to remember it! I've read reviews about how good it is and would really like to read the book one day. =)

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