"A (wo)man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of (her)his life in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of beautiful God has implanted in the human soul."- Goethe

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Angela's Ashes

This was my first reading of Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, and this book went straight to my "Books to Buy" list. I listened to the author read his own work, which is usually bad news (you know, interesting book, but a boring person in real life not to mention a terrible performer...) However, in this case I was completely impressed with the text and the audio track. I think it was because McCourt has had theatrical training, and it was fascinating to hear someone read their own memoir.

This is a fascinating book about an immigrant family's struggles in America and on the dole in Ireland around WWII. More specifically, it's about the author's journey from an oppressive boyhood into a liberating adulthood. It is the sad and thought-provoking story that is Irish history, but has extremely humorous parts to balance out the story.

Some great themes to keep your eye out for while reading this gem are:
  • blood and animalism: the same blood is found in every creature, basic nature of humans is akin to all animals, animal imagery and symbolism
  • religion: the rain and not piety drove them to church, patron saints, the Eucharist, having a sin that no one else has, the schoolmaster telling his boys what their sins are so that the boys know what they are too, the angel on the 7th step, forgiveness
  • straddling time and distance: head born in the new year and ass born in the old, rejected by both the traditional world and the modern one, rejected by America and Ireland, America vs. Ireland, America is where there is room for all sorts of uselessness
  • debt: there is nothing worse than to owe and be beholden, living on the dole, there is always someone else worse off
  • ownership: owning a song or a story, ownership in poverty, having an electric light and lavatory but no good times
  • insanity: having to be dragged out of the asylum instead of into it, grief leading to madness
  • death and birth: dying animals, dying for Ireland and faith, dying children, adults who still haven't died for Ireland or their faith, death preferable to cold shoulder treatment, troubles beginning the night she was born
  • family: roles of family members, father as provider, brothers to help erase memory, American relatives vs. Irish relatives, paternal vs. maternal extended family involvement, telling troubles to earthly father instead of an angel, takes years of practice to learn how to not talk to people

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Gorgeous Gal

Someone turned 15 this last week, so we had a sister-to-sister "this year's going to be the best one yet" get-together. Let me tell you that this girl is super talented and has mad skillz in the creative arenas; I love to see what she's working on in her art class and on her own. She has such a quirky sense of humor and isn't easily embarrassed by our wacky family. Can you say keeper? She has the most gorgeous blue-grey eyes and I love that her face shows her good character. This girl's going to do amazing things, so keep your eye out for her.

Watch out, world! This one's coming straight at you, ready or not!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Most Influential Book

Recently, I finished reading what I consider one of the most influential books in the world, the Old Testament. Not only is it a religious base for Christians, but for Jews as well. Plus, how many other works of literature reference stories and ideas that originate in the Old Testament? The literary canon, my friends, know it and love it.

I'm pretty proud to say that I've read every word, including the Mosaic Law and role-call of Israel (I know, not the greatest plot-line), and I was reminded of a couple of things this time around. The first is that I'm really glad that the Old Testament God is different from the one I am familiar with. Otherwise, I would have been zapped a long time ago.

The second is that reading about the struggles that ancient Jews went through reaffirms in my mind the sad and beautiful history that the Jewish faith carries with it. Theirs is a history full of meaning and tradition, of sorrow and the sublime, and I feel reading the Old Testament has impressed that on me even deeper.

Third, I love the book of Isaiah. His writings can make sense to me and my modern perspective just as it did to the people of his time. His gift for writing anachronistically really speaks to me and I appreciate his poetic writing.