Monday, October 30, 2006

Where to start?

Each night for the last two weeks I've had my secret bed-time rendezvous with Greta and Lili to look forward to, but they're gone. I don't know what will happen to either. I'm not so worried about Greta - she and Hans will be a strong pair. But what about Lili? Who will guide her and protect her? Carlisle and Henrik can't replace Greta. I imagine Greta must now feel as lost as I do - lonely and longing for information about Lili, confirmation that she's okay - but we must move on.

This book was interesting for so many reasons. I was intrigued by how the author seemed to hold us at a distance from the sensations of the characters lives. Yes we knew intimate details, but we didn't feel what they were feeling or see what they were feeling. I felt as though I were removed from the situation and watching from above as it unfolded. But just as I became accustomed to this, the author would include some surprising detail, a single something that pulled me directly into the scene. Once was when Einar made his way alone to the women's clinic and while standing at the door noticed the dew on the metal address numbers hanging above.

Greta seems to me an incredibly complex character. Strong enough to be married to a man that can never love her with the passion that is part of a marriage. But perhaps that is partially why she chose him? She wants to be alone, but loved at the same time, she admitted when considering her relationship with Henrik. Henrik seems like a stronger person than either Einar or Teddy. Has Greta evolved or is she making a mistake - seeking the comfort she needs now but will outgrow. And how does this vision of herself correspond with her desire to be a perfect wife to Teddy? It's hard to believe she could be a real person.

I also enjoyed having a glimpse into the lives of artists, and even more so, two married artists. The fact that they are both artists must add a troubling complexity to their relationship. Especially if an artist wants to know that her work touches others, wants her art to sell, how can some degree of competition or comparison be avoided? I was stunned to hear Einar say something like 'if you can survive without being an artist, then don't be one.' I'm curious to hear what others have to say about that.

Something I read a while back said 'everyone should draw'. Sure, not everyone's going to be an artist, but everyone should draw because it changes the way you see the world. The day after I finished reading a Danish Girl, I painted a picture. I had really no idea what I was doing, but it was definitely therapuetic - plus I had decided ahead of time to love whatever I created, no matter how it looked.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Book News

Last weekend I went to the City College Book Fair and was introduced two wonderful writers. The poetry of Jimmy Santiago Baca was breath-taking (and I'm not even inclined toward poetry.) He's had a colorful life, grew up poor, spent time in prison, and now he writes, mentors others, and works with prisoners in a most innovative way - teaching them the therapy of writing. I cannot implore you more strongly - please check out his work - you will be amazed.

Another fantastic speaker was Luis Rodriquez he wrote of crossing the US border from Mexico, struggling in Watts as a child, living gang life in LA and then finally breaking free of it after losing several of his closest friends to violence. Now his son is in prison for attempted murder. He's written a book called Always Running that describes his life and explicitly captures what is was like to be part of a gang. The book has been hailed in several schools, made required reading for parolees in some cases, and banned in other communities. I am slowly making my way through it now - discovering a way of life I could never imagine.

The nobel prize in literature went to Orhan Pamuk this year! This is a special treat for me since my octogenarian neighbor and I loved to discuss his works on our morning walks. If you haven't already read one of his books, I suggest you start with Snow. In his writings Pamuk explores the tensions between Muslim and American life.

Lastly, I couldn't help but read Freddy and Frederika by Mark Helprin. On my last trip to Texas I was running so late I didn't have time to grab The Danish Girl or any other book before fleeing the house, so I picked up F&F at the airport. And in spite of myself found, I found it a lovely escape. One that leaves you happier and a little wiser. It's a farce about the royal family with a delightful exploration of America and Americans. It's full of whimsy, even slapstick. I kept telling myself that it was't really funny, but I couldn't stop turning the pages. I just had to know what would happen next.

So finally, I am finishing The Danish Girl. I'm mesmerized by Lili and the bold Greta.

And now that I've read Mel's post, I'm looking forward to The Time Traveler's Wife, too.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Time Traveller

I finished reading The Time Traveller's Wife last week. I have been gobbling it up on the train in and out of central London. The World could have stopped or David Tennant may have begged me to spend time with him, but nothing was going to drag me away from the story. I loved everything about this book, it's quirky timeline, the wonderful relationship between Henry and Clare and the fact that when they met for the first time in the present time, Henry had no idea who she was, yet Clare had been waiting for him all her life. I would have loved to seen some her artwork.
You really felt like you were being pulled through time each time Henry travelled. LOVED THIS ONE. I'm reading the Red Tent now by Anita Diamant, having had my sole sucked out through a straw via an awful Danielle Steele novel I was bought as an "easy" read - NEVER AGAIN, I'd rather go back to Stephanie Laurens than that again. This train commute malarky means I am eating books. Right gotta go my soup is almost done. All the best.