Friday, November 25, 2022

The Last Days of Roger Federer: And Other EndingsThe Last Days of Roger Federer: And Other Endings by Geoff Dyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Last Days of Roger Federer: And Other Endings may drive many readers crazy with the author's meanderings, but they're meant for me: it is the same way I read or wander the shelves or google hop from topic to topic. I skimmed much of the tennis stuff, but there's plenty more on Nietzsche, Beethoven, Larkin, Amis, Hitchens, Burning Man, indulgences, D. H. Lawrence, films, and myriad jazz performers, some of which I've never heard of. The Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker and Spotify are worth their weight. I play every song he mentions.

Here is how Geoff Dyer describes his aims in The Last Days of Roger Federer: And Other EndingsLast Days of Roger Federer: "Not that this was ever intended to be a comprehensive study of last things, or of lastness generally. It's about a congeries of experiences, things, and cultural artefacts that, for various reasons, have come to group themselves around me in a rough constellation during a phase of my life. Thought not my last, hopefully, this phase is marked by a daily increasing consciousness that the next may well be--so much so that I feel I'd better get this done now in case it comes round sooner than I think, or that the last phase, whenever it comes, might be distinguished by an inability on my part to identify or articulate it. But it does describe final compositions and letters and essays and poems of creative people who mostly did not know this would be their last or near to the last in various stages of creativity.
Ties in perfectly with another book I am reading Dancing with the Muse in Old Age written by Priscilla Long by Priscilla Long reminding us of myriad old creatives just like me. Highly recommended no matter your age.

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Cold Enough for SnowCold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au

Cold Enough for Snow is a quiet novel about a woman and her mother touring Japan. It is so quiet that almost nothing happens, they take trains, go sightseeing, hear music, shop, eat meals, walk and talk--very matter-of-fact. The book has an almost daunting tiny font-size and is only ninety-five pages. Yet, squinting, I read on enjoying the author's perfect, measured writing and calm in this author's reflections.

"I asked my mother what she believed about the soul and she thought for a moment. Then, looking not at me but at the hard, white light before us, she said that she believed that we were all essentially nothing, just series of sensations and desires, none of it lasting. When she was growing up, she said that she had never thought of herself in isolation, but rather as inextricably linked to others. Nowadays, she said, people were hungry to know everything, thinking that they could understand it all, as if enlightenment were just around the corner. But, she said, in fact there was no control, and understanding would not lessen any pain. The best we could do in this life was to pass through it, like smoke through the branches, suffering, until we either reached a state of nothingness, or else suffered elsewhere. She spoke about other tenets, of goodness and giving, the accumulation of kindness like a trove of wealth. She was looking at me then, and I knew that she wanted me to be with her on this, to follow her, but to my shame I found that I could not and worse, that I could not even pretend."

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Monday, July 4, 2022

In Love

In Love: A Memoir of Love and LossIn Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Amy Bloom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Extraordinary, wise, sad, funny tale of novelist Amy Bloom's journey to Zurich to help her dementia-troubled husband realize his last wish. I learned a lot about our so-called freedom to die laws, and about a loving marriage.

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Monday, May 30, 2022

Aurelia, Aurélia

Aurelia, Aurélia: A MemoirAurelia, Aurélia: A Memoir by Kathryn Davis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Poignant, funny, literary. Hypnotic says the jacket, I read it in one sitting under the spell of the writing, the story, the fairy tales, dogs, music, and literature references. And then I turned to the front to start it again. Not linear but realistic in the unexpected flashes that accompany grieving and memory.

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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Heartbreak: a personal and scientific journey

Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific JourneyHeartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey by Florence Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting exploration of physical and social ramifications of heartbreak in which the author explores advent of her own Type 1 diabetes diagnosis after her husband of 25 yrs leaves her. Skilled science writing entwined with personal experience make the story compelling.

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The Book of Difficult Fruit: Arguments for the tart, tender and unruly

The Book of Difficult Fruit: Arguments for the Tart, Tender, and Unruly (with Recipes)The Book of Difficult Fruit: Arguments for the Tart, Tender, and Unruly by Kate Lebo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Compelling essays, sometimes humorous, always helpful about the difficulty of preparing and growing fruit intertwined with rich tales of family and the author's own health challenges and how fruit might help, including a handful of delectable recipes. Love the title.

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A Room of One's Own

Amazed that I didn't read this earlier. My copy looks like I've had it since high school and that well may be true. Extant for almost 100 years, Woolf's signature ironic and wry skills heralding the need for a room with a locked door and an income is a classic. As is the tragic old ballad about Mary, Queen of Scots: Yest're'en the Queen had fower Marys The nicht she'll hae but three There was Mary Seton and Mary Beaton, And Mary Carmichael and me Woolf cleverly uses her narrator Mrs. Beton or Mrs. Seton to espouse her revolutionary ideas for women artists as the reader is escorted through colleges, libraries and dining halls (banished from some, welcomed in others) and wraps up with another of the old ballad's namesake's, Mary Carmichael, as example of a woman author. They showcase the centuries of difficulties women have had to endure to be creative. "...this pitting of sex against sex, of quality against quality; all this claiming of superiority and imputing of inferiority, belong to the private-school stage of human existence where there are 'sides'..." I was surprised at how prescient the book is and once again, I mean to read more of her work.