I bought If This Isn't Nice, What Is? by Kurt Vonnegut at our local bookstore's Going Out of Business Sale. It's a book of speeches given by Vonnegut and I'm aware that gesture and tone can make a difference when it comes to listening to a speech versus reading it, so I tried to bear that in mind. But, I still found Vonnegut's speeches a little on the hodge-podge and inconsistent side. He talked about life, shared bits of advice from his own years and advice that had been given to him, along with warnings about what's out there in the real world (particularly in the graduation speeches -- there are a couple speeches that are not to grads, but only 2 of the 7, as I recall).
I'm a Kurt Vonnegut fan so I enjoyed the reading but it's not a book I'd highly recommend because it's so repetitive. He tended to reuse his material. Still, it was occasionally entertaining. He passed on the only advice he ever got from his father: Don't ever put anything in your ear. There, I've shared some great advice. This book was responsible for the thoughtful (not impulsive, no way) purchase of two of Vonnegut's books, so there will hopefully be more Vonnegut reading in my near future.
This new friend (whom I've only talked to a couple times, since, but hope to get to know better) thinks a lot like I do, so I bought the book out of curiosity and I really enjoyed it. However, I had a great deal of difficulty figuring out what Brown meant by the metaphorical "wilderness" - a thematic metaphor that she hammered home pretty heavily. Eventually, I figured it out. And, now I've forgotten.
Although the general concept may not have stuck with me and I had a little difficulty with it, at first, there were other things about the book that I loved, particularly when she talked about collective joy and collective pain. She mentioned, for example, her experience driving along the highway as the news of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion broke. Since the author was living in Houston and Houstonians are very connected to the space program, they took this tragedy hard and people suddenly began pulling over. Not knowing why so many cars were stopping, she drove slowly past one and saw someone crying at the wheel, I presume she turned on the radio because she figured out what was going on pretty quickly, after that. Brown used this story as an illustration of collective pain. This entire section kept me in tears. I liked what she had to say about it and I also appreciated her comment about constant negativity being detrimental to friendship; meaning, if you only ever talk about things that are bad in your life, you're less likely to build a real bond. You need positivity in your friendship, as well.
An interesting book. I didn't fully understand her purpose but I enjoyed it.
Unfortunately, I pretty much thought the book was crap. It's a book of "poetry" but it sounded more like the kind of thing you'd read on a poster than poetry to me. It also had entire sections that were about abuse/rape and even her line-drawing illustrations could be pretty graphic. Still, it had its moments. I photographed a few pages I liked off my iPad and then I discovered that you can look up images from the book online, so here's a favorite, snatched from the Interwebs:
Milk and Honey has so few words per page that it can be read in a half hour or less. I'm not sure whether I'd recommend it or not. I guess it depends on the individual. A teacher friend, Melissa, told me her students absolutely love it and I wondered what the appeal is. She told me they think it's about love and they find it romantic. I did not find it even vaguely romantic, so perspective is apparently everything when it comes to this book.
And, about that buddy read . . .
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