Monday, June 27, 2011

So Many Books....

Once I start a book, I have to finish it, even if I absolutely hate it.
This just happened recently where I looked down and realized that I was only on page 100 and still had to get through about 350 more pages. It was like walking in heavy sand on a summer’s day with the sun beating down on your back and dragging extra weight to boot-you get the picture. The book, which will remain anonymous to protect the innocent, just didn’t do it for me. One of the main characters was totally unsympathetic. From any angle, I just couldn’t warm up to him and he was also the main love interest. On any level he didn’t do it for me.
But enough about that.
It’s my optimistic spirit *tonguedeftlyincheek* that keeps me turning the page on a truly horrific, badly written, put-downable book. It’s called redemption and I’m looking for it somewhere by the last page. There just has to be some redeeming quality by the end that justifies the time I spent reading it (time is precious), the money spent (recession, anyone?) and the emotional involvement. Sometimes, there is none of these.
And there has been redemption in the past.
Trinity by Leon Uris comes to mind. I picked that book up three separate times before I finally finished and loved it. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen- initially I struggled with it, but soon fell in love with it and everything else written by Jane Austen. Jane Austen books are in that rare category of books that I will read over and over as I never tire of them. I can not tell you how many times I checked The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova out of the library before finally being sucked into it and the only disappointment was that it had ended. And the list goes on and on.
And yet *sigh* there are the clunkers out there that make me want to cry.
A friend of mine recently gave me this advice with my obsession about finishing crappy books: life’s too short, put it down and read something else.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Waiting Game

There was a time in my life when I used to be a terrible waiter. And I don’t mean restaurant server. Although I did waitress a long time ago when God was a boy and that’s another story for another day. But getting back to the waiting bit: impatience was-and sometimes still is- my middle name. I was deadly waiting in doctor’s offices and standing in line at the bank or grocery store. And God forbid the person who cut ahead of me. I’d put my hand out and say firmly, “Excuse me but I was next in line.” If there was a hold up in the line ahead of me, I’d start to sigh and shift on my feet and if I was really pushed over the edge, I’d start making tsk, tsk noises. Sitting in reception areas, I was no better. After about 45 minutes, I’d badger the receptionist with questions like, ‘how many more minutes?’ and ‘how many people are ahead of me?’ They must have cringed seeing me walk through the door.
However, I am happy to report that all of that has changed. In an indirect way, I have to credit motherhood with tempering that over the top impatience. Motherhood is a 24/7 job and because of that, my favorite hobby of reading gets put on the back burner- a lot. But a few years ago, I cured that. I now carry my book with me, at all times, in my purse and in my car. Now, I don’t mind going anywhere where there’s going to be waiting. I read in the doctor’s office, standing in line at the post office and waiting outside the boys’ school to pick them up. There have been times that I have been disappointed to hear my name called or my turn arrive in the line as I was usually at a good part in the book. The only place I can’t read is while driving in a car- well not me driving- that would be something wouldn’t it? That would be tricky, trying to read while driving a car- and I drive a manual! That’d give a whole new meaning to the word ambidextrous. Anyways, I tend to get car sick while reading when the car is in motion. But I fixed that too- now I nap- because that’s another thing you get deprived of with motherhood: sleep.
I don’t wait anymore. But I do read a lot.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tomas O'Crohan's The Islandman

Tomas O’Crohan’s book, The Islandman, was first written in Irish in 1926 and translated into English 3 years later. It tells of life on the Blasket islands off the coast of Kerry. An Irish only speaking population, the last of the islanders were evacuated to the mainland in 1953.O’Crohan himself lived from 1856-1937 and he gives a detailed, vivid portrait of life on the island during the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. Despite the fact that it was written so long ago, it is a book that is easy to read.
As I sidebar, I must admit to a love of all things of the Dingle Peninsula and its off shore islands. And therefore, I read anything I can, past or present, regarding the surrounding area. I’ve read Peig Sayers voluntarily and I’m a huge fan of the Antarctic explorer, Tom Crean from Anascaul.
That being said, I found O’Crohan’s book to be much more entertaining than that of Peig Sayers.
The insight into the way of life on the island- which is no more- is priceless. There were no shops on the island and the most startling revelation of all was the fact that all the animals (cow, asses, cats and dogs) were brought into the house at night. His sisters had to climb up onto the roof in the morning to collect the eggs as the hens had roosted in the thatch. Formal education was dodgy at best: he didn’t start school until he was 10 and there was a whole gap year when the teacher returned to the mainland to get married and it took a year to find a replacement. They made a living by fishing and going to the market in Dingle. They also benefited from shipwrecks when cargo washed ashore. It was interesting to read how they salvaged the wheat cargo from the sea by boiling the salt out of it and then drying it in front of the fire. When a cargo a tea landed ashore, they had no idea what it was so they fed it to the pigs and one woman used it to dye her petticoats- at that point tea had not been introduced to the island. The sea by its very nature was unforgiving.
At 22 he married- a marriage arranged by his sister. Together they had 10 children and there was a lot of sorrow: 2 died from measles, 1 fell off a cliff, and another drowned trying to save someone else. All of this appears to have accelerated the path to the grave for his wife but Tomas soldiered on.
At the end, he writes: “I have written minutely of much that we did, for it was my wish that somewhere there should be a memorial of it all, and I have done my best to set down the character of the people about me so that some record of us might live after us, for the like of us will never be again.
These people are no more and there is an element of sadness for that which is gone.