Xue Xinran is a British-Chinese journalist who has devoted her career to telling women’s stories. Her story Sky Burial is the one tome in the Penguin Drop Caps series that doesn’t fit snugly in one genre. Is it biography? Romance? Travel literature?
For her radio show, Xinran interviews Shu Wen, a grey-plaited woman in Tibetan dress. However, it takes Shu Wen two days to explain how she, a Chinese woman, came to be dressed in traditional Tibetan clothing, “smelling strongly of old leather, rancid milk, and animal dung.” So taken is Xinran with her tale of love and loss that she must write the whole story.
Okay, so this book doesn’t qualify as a “Great Book” to me but it was shortlisted for the National Book Award in 2017. Other people have lauded this book to the skies for its theme of generations of discrimination against Japanese-born Koreans, but for me, this book was really just about sex.
The very first sex scene, I grant, was necessary to the plot. I can’t say the same for any of the others. Is this book really so great or is it just titillating to readers?
How many of you watched Contagion (2008) recently? About a week after the WHO declared the pandemic, I did. I wanted to see which of their dire predictions were coming to pass. For a disaster movie, it was pretty good, especially the twist at the very end.
For the same reason, I pulled my tattered copy of La peste off the shelf where it had sat for twenty years. Vague images were all that remained of my first reading: the dead rat in the stairwell, the old concierge with black bubonic boils in his underarms, the writer eternally reworking his first sentence…
Many more intelligent analyses have been written about this Nobel Prize-winning novel. I only want to reflect on Camus’s plague compared to our pandemic, and what wisdom we can gather from it to strengthen us in our long isolation.
Connected Parenting stirs up all my hometown pride: Jennifer Kolari is a child and family therapist in Toronto who has taken her social work experience and translated it into a simple and powerful connection technique. Hurray for Canadian talent!
Kolari has found that the techniques of self-psychology that helped her in her social work days are powerful for everyone. It’s the idea that installing an elevator in a subway station, for example, will benefit not only people in wheelchairs but those with large packages or strollers or anyone just feeling too tired to take the stairs.
Same thing here: de-escalation and connection techniques can help the most traumatized child… and your hangry toddler.
Intrigued? Read on.
Z: The shadow of the wind by Carlos Ruiz zafón (2001), Translated by Lucia Graves (2004)
In order to slow down my frenetic book-eating, I'm writing reviews of the books I read to better digest them. Bon appétit!