Friday, November 30, 2012


Identity by Milan Kundera
Weight:5.6 oz
Method of Disposal: Leaving in a Book Box in Decatur

I first read this book a little over a decade ago, and I thought it was incredible.  I have since recommended it to numerous people I have loved throughout the years, I have referenced it in discussing life and relationships, and I have thought of it many times.  Is it because I was younger and could remember more about the books I read and, therefore, still remember more about them than books I read now or was this book just that life altering?  I feel like my response to this novel was rare and beloved.  The people I have asked to read Identity and who have then come back to tell me what they think have always reported back saying they like it, but they did not love it.  It did not seem to mean as much to them.

I reread it this morning, and I kept thinking, "I'm going to keep this one.  I will never let it go.  I will put it in a box and announce on my blog that it is the first book I have decided, without a doubt, to keep."  As you can see, I have changed my mind, though the book was still powerful for me.  It is the first 50-75% that I hold so close to my heart.  The last 25% means much less to me and is, ultimately, the reason I know I do not need to hold onto it any longer. 

It is funny, when I describe it to people these days I talk about the dissoultion of a relationship based on tiny misunderstandings that grow into overwhelming issues that cannot be tackled.  I vaguely remembered something about an orgy and the end of a relationship--components I feel I grossly misremembered but are still not powerful to me.

The tiny misunderstandings that grow into entirely different beasts--that is what I am obsessed with.  Watching two people, who clearly love each, other struggle to communicate because of ego, insecurity, flirtation.  Often and almost always when honesty would have solved it all but, by the time the misunderstandings have grown, honesty would no longer work.  And the misunderstandings are so insignificant why would you think it neccessary to communicate them?

I am also compelled by the descriptions of love.  Jean-Marc and Chantal are the main characters, as they are the couple we are zoomed in on.  Early in the book Jean-Marc is running after a woman on the beach that he believes to be Chantal.  Kundera writes:

                       Suddenly he imagines her body crushed by a car, sprawled on the sand, she is bleeding,
                       the car is disappearing down the beach and he sees himself dash towards her.  He is so
                       upset by the image that he really does start shouting Chantal's name, the wind is strong,
                       the beach enormous, and no one can hear his voice, so he can give himself over to that
                       sort of sentimental theatrics and, with tears in his eyes, shout out his anguish for her;
                       his face clenched in a grimace of weeping, for a few seconds he is living with the
                       horror of her death.

                       Then, himself astounded by that curious spasm of hysteria, he saw her, in the distance,
                       still strolling nonchalantly, peaceable, calm, pretty, infinitely touching, and he grinned
                       at the comedy of bereavement he'd just played out, smiled about it with self-reproach,
                       because Chantal's death has been with him ever since he began to love her....(17-18)

I added the emphasis, but I felt it when I was reading.  To love someone is to accept losing them, absolutely if you will love them forever.  You take their death with their life, but you often do not even realize it.  The devil's bargain.  I have been Jean-Marc in this scene.

Just a few pages later, Kundera writes from Jean-Marc's perspective:

                       Mistaking the physical appearance of the beloved for someone else's.  How often that's
                       happened to him!  Always with the same astonishment: does that mean that the
                       difference between her and other women is so minute?  How is is possible that
                       he cannot distinguish the form of the being he loves most, the being he considers to be
                       beyond compare (21)?

What more can I say?!  Such a beautiful, true, disturbing, and common observation.  I feel you, Jean-Marc!

I will admit that poor Chantal is not painted to be much of a self-preservationist, a common thing for women in Kundera books.  When someone starts sending her notes that clearly state that she is being stalked she swoons, instead of panics.  I will say, though, that it works within the world of this novel.

Let me give you one last early excerpt from Chantal's point of view.  She has just had an unsettling experience with a strange man and is finally being reunited with Jean-Marc.

                         When Jean-Marc appeared at the door of the room, she had every intention of being
                         cheerful;she meant to kiss him, but she could not; ever since her stop at the cafe
                         she had been tense, edgy, and so deeply dug into her dark mood that she feared any
                         loving gesture she might try would come across as forced or false.

                         Then Jean-Marc asked her: "What's happened?"  She told him she had slept badly,
                         that she was tired, but she did not manage to convince him and he continued to
                         question her; not knowing how to escape that love inquisition, she thought to tell him
                         something funny; her morning walk and the men transformed into baby-trees returned
                         to mind, and she came across the phrase still lying about in her head like a misplaced
                         object: "Men don't turn to look at me anymore." She resorted to that phrase to avert
                         any serious discussion; she tried to say it as lightly as possible, but to her suprise, her
                         voice was bitter and melancholy.  She could feel the melancholy plastered across her
                         face and knew, instantly, that it would be misinterpreted (22-23).

I have been Jean-Marc AND Chantal.  Haven't you?  How quickly both of their moods shift from page 1 to page 23, while they are looking for each other.  They are so in love and happy but, by the time they are together, they cannot function as a coordinated unit.  I love it!  I love it because it is all I have ever known love to be.

Okay, I could keep quoting, ranting, and raving, but I won't.  I still recommend this book.  If for no other reason than the first 100 pages, but it is well worth finishing.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Have You Seen Me?

Have You Seen Me?  Laura Denham
Weight: 11.5 oz
Method of Disposal: Leaving in Midtown on a sidewalk

I just finished reading this one today.  I picked it up because the title suited my mood and the author's name is Laura.  I thought it was as good a sign as any to pick it off my shelves.  It also had nice well-spaced print and encouraging margins that made me hopeful that it would be a quick read.  I have been so exhausted, but still eager to get my book fix. 

It is Laura's debut novel, and I think she has a lot of potential.  I was willing to go anywhere with her main character.  Every once in awhile I would get confused and lost in the dialogue, but I would just power through and act like it was not happening.  Some aspects of the main character's life were fully realized and fleshed out and then others were too rushed, like the ending.  Sometimes the character was witty and other times her banter did not come off right.  It would be almost embarassing to read and, again, I would just power through, but I powered through because I wanted to read her story and know where she was going and might end up.  I was intrigued with her outlook on dot com culture and coming of age during a technology revolution.  I liked the timeframe of the story and found it unique to the settings of the other books I have read.  I would be curious to read another book of hers if she wrote one. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Frommer's The Carolinas and Georgia

Frommer's The Carolinas and Georgia
Weight: 1.2 lbs
Method of Disposal: Leaving at the ChocoLatte off Shallowford Rd

I confess, I have found that I have a more recent edition of this, though in worse shape.  I am getting rid of this particular book so that I can write about getting away.  I am not sure if it is seasonal or if I just cannot handle the emotional heaviness that always seems to happen around November/December, but I am seriously searching for a way out.  Georgia is beautiful, and I have enjoyed hiking all over it, but I have too much history here.

I work so hard, but I daydream about have a month or two to myself.  I want to be somewhere that I can be reclusive and think about life and what I want to do with it.  Many say you only have one!  This is not it for me.  I am ready to take me dogs and move, whether or not I have relieved myself of the weight of all these books.  Anyone have any ideas?

Guinness World Records

Guinness World Records 2007
Weight: 10.4 oz
Method of Disposal: Recycling

Long before my brother was married and had two beautiful daughters...Long before I found myself in this adult body, going to work everyday, and trying to make it matter...Long before all of that, we would read the Guinness Book of World Records together.  We were enthralled with the world's largest man and disgusted by the world's longest worm.  I remember some very intense fingernails.  I thought about all of that when I brought this book home, and I am thinking of all that and more now. 

My brother introduced me to so much growing up, not all good, but he was the oldest and it was his job.  I am the youngest and so I remember minor details.  It is my job.  I cannot wait to see him and his family this holiday season, but I dread the day he gets deployed again.

To my brother, thank you for everything you are and all that you do.  I love you forever and for always.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Weight: 14.4 oz
Method of Disposal: Left at ChocaLatte off Shallowford
Special note:  This has been a hard one to think about writing because I know Sarah, one of my few regular readers, loves it very much.  I should warn you here.  This post has nothing to do with Alice in Wonderland.  Sorry!

I woke up this morning feeling relieved and lighter than in months past, though slightly sad.  As the day went on, and I continued to work--bringing the dogs in and out in and out in and out--daydreaming about starting a whole new life, the sadness started to creep in more and more.  It is infectious, you know?  By the time I started working on Christmas cards on my lunch break I had tears in my eyes.

I could not believe it was finally time to clock out.  I went home.  I talked on the phone.  I sat in a chair.  I stood up.  I walked around.  I sat down.  I frustrated the dogs.  I thought about taking a shower.  I thought about working on training with Belize.  I thought about cleaning or responding to some work e-mails.  I sat back down.  I drank some water.

When I feel this miserable, the only thing I can make myself do is sleep.  I went to bed around 6:30 and woke up around 7:30 in a panic.  I thought I had slept through the alarm and was late to work.  I started fumbling for my phone, started feeling sorry for myself, and slowly slowly slowly the day came back to me in all of its unfortunate dullness.

I went to buy beer.  I wanted to not be sober.  I drank half of one.  Beer is not the kind of not sober I want to be.  I poured it down the sink.  I took my regular, scheduled dose of hormones, hoping it would put me to sleep like it usually does.  I avoided the phone, even though I felt bad that someone might see me on Facebook (I posted a link from Just Detention).  I sent a text and then I never responded when the person wrote me back.  I didn't want them to know I was sad.  I thought I would just call them back when I felt happy again.  It would be better that way for all parties involved.  I wish I knew when I would be happy again.  Exactly what time and what day.  Good night, Friends, see you in the morning.

Friday, November 23, 2012


LIFE! Why We Exist...And What We Must Do To Survive  by Martin G. Walker
Weight: 4. 8 oz
Method of Disposal: Left at Chocalatte off Shallowford

This book got great reviews.  I cannot personally review it for you...sorry.  I realized soon after picking it up that I just cannot get into the philosophy mindset right now.  I am not convinced the time will come anytime soon.  I was drawn in by the title.  I want to know why we exist and what to do with it!  I guess I am just not ready to hear the answer yet.  I kept reading it and thinking, what is the point and how does this really help me continue to exist?  Even a reason for life does not give my life the reason I need to make it matter.  Why do I care about life's perseverance?  I do not claim any fault with the book.  I did not even finish it.  I am sure it is as good as so many other people have said, and I hope it reaches one of its intended readers now that I have let it go.

The Butter Battle Book

The Butter Battle Book by Dr Suess
Weight: 12.4 oz
Method of Disposal: Gave to Lucas, Sarah's baby

This is one of my favorite Dr Suess books, though any close friend of mine knows that I am absolutely smitten with the Sneetches.  My dear friend Sarah and I use to work at a bookstore together and sometimes, when things were slow, we would read each other children's books.  She would make up her own words to Curious George, and it would crack me up.  She talked to me about all the political implications of Dr Suess, which encouraged my lifelong fascination with the man, the literature, and the cartoons.

We were talking about Lucas' book collection and how it was missing some of the essentials, and she mentioned The Butter Battle Book.  I would have had trouble letting this one go, but knowing it was going to Little Lucas was perfect.  I will never have kids of my own to pass these books and thoughts onto, but I now have a lot of kids in my life who can benefit.

By now, you have probably read The Butter Battle Book but, if you haven't or if it has been awhile, go check it out at the library or go to a bookstore.  The lesson of the book and the history is so obvious, and it is scary, but it is also wonderful.  It is a great way to teach kids about peace.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The United States and Russia are neck and neck

McCain Paper Dolls

McCain Paper Dolls  tom Tierney
Weight: 1.6 oz
Method of Disposal: Leaving in a Box in Decatur

Did I mention Obama won?  Did I mention he won again?  Yaaaaaahhhhhhooooo!  This was passed onto me and the only reason I still have it is because I kept thinking it might be fun to play with a paper doll again, turn it into some sort of "art project," or more likely write letters on the back of the dolls.  I have faced the facts.  Never gonna happen.  And it may be suprising when some unsuspecting person stumbles across it after all this time.


I would love to hear from some of you.  What are you doing to help your community?  What does progress look like now?  How can we get the best out of this presidency?  Give me some inspiration to go with my ever increasing urge to fight and move forward!

All My Life For Sale

All My Life For Sale  John D. Freyer
Weight: 1.7 lbs
Method of Disposal: Leaving in a Decatur Box

Yes, I am aware of the similarities in our projects.  Despite that, I was not not impressed.  I am not sure what rubbed me the wrong way.  There was a certain level of "Look how strange I am with all my random stuff" and a certain level of "I needed to think of some idea to jump on the EBAY/Huge Life Changes in the form of a book bandwagon.  That EBAY phenomena.  It was really big when Ebay was first kicking off.  Remember all the news stories?  You still see them from time to time--a college girl sells her old sneakers to help pay off loans.  A man sells a used t-shirt to, I don't know, buy an engagment ring for his girlfriend. 

The Flash Mob Phenomena is far more enjoyable.  No, but seriously,  I have nothing of importance to write about this book.  I guess that is a clear indicatior that it is time for it to move on out.  And it will.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead

My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead: Great Love Stories, from Chekov to Munro
Weight: 2009
Method of Disposal: Leaving in a Decatur Book Lending Box

Let us all take a moment to recognize that this book has a great title. It also has a lot of incredible writers and a variety of great short stories. It was too long. I do not say that because I dislike reading books that are almost 600 pages long. There are plenty books (and anthologies in particular) that are that long or longer that do not seem to draw on like this one. It should have been edited to be about 200 pages shorter.

It is less of a complaint than it is an observation that this book has (I believe) 7 woman authors in a collection of 27 stories. In other male-dominated collections I have read it has been less obvious, but it was a glaring aspect of this book. Probably because in so many of the stories women and mistresses in particular are described in gritty, negative, though very much admired ways. Many of the male authors had their narrators describe their female lovers with disdain, despite their supreme infatuations. It did not feel the same when you read the women's stories. The women had more depth, but the men also seemed to. This is not to say that I did not enjoy some of those despicable women stories. I even loved a few.

I admit that I bought this book because of the title, but I was also hoping it would have dirty, inappropriate love. My kind of love. And it did. I was pleased about that. It did not play a part in my purchase, but it is also nice that the proceeds go to a youth writing program. Oh, and the cover art was kind of nifty too.

I loved Lorrie Moore's “How To be An Other Woman,” which I originally read in college.

“It is like having a book out from the library.
It is like constantly having a book out from the library (253).”

“Your clock-radio reads 1:45.
Wonder if your getting old, desperate. Believe that you have really turned into another woman...(264).”

I picked these quotes randomly and love them, but I know there are even better ones in the story that I am missing. I didn't take notes.

I wrote about Miranda July's “Something That Needs Nothing” as part of my senior thesis. It had just come out in The New Yorker. I still approve.

I highly recommend “We Didn't” by Stuart Dybek. I love reading about the destruction of a relationship. It is, sadly, one of my favorite things.

“Jon” by George Saunders was so different. I cannot wait to read it again.

Anyway, it was long but, all in all, I am so glad I bought it and read it. It makes me want to write a love story.

Stop the Next War Now

Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism

Edited by CODEPINK Cofounders
Weight: 3.2 oz
Method of Disposal: Leaving in a booksharing box in Decatur, GA

This is a hard book to create. How do you tackle something so huge and something that seems to have no end in sight? The wars, the conflicts, the battles just keep coming. There were plenty of essays in here that I did not find helpful at all and some that made me blush because of their simplicity, but it is not like I have the answer either. There were some pieces that helped me reorganize my thoughts and gave me new tools to use in my everyday life. I am one that does not really remember a time when the United States was not at war. It seems like there has always been something. But this is not just about the US. All over the world, we are choosing to solve our problems by killing, degrading, and disenfranchising people.

This book was able to balance the horror with hope, but I was still left feeling overwhelmed. Less from the information in the book and more from reading it while living in this world, while watching documentaries on North Korea, while listening to the news in Georgia, while...
I did get the opportunity to learn about huge protests I never even realized were happening despite the fact that I was active, alive, and listening during the Bush administration. Did the shock of it all cause me to miss things? Was it all so overwhelming and hard to believe? I still have trouble looking back on Bush, seeing his influence even now.

Does anyone have any recommendations about books that are similar? This one did have a wide range of authors. People coming from so many different positions and with different identities. I did really appreciate that, but I want more.

Free Sara Kruzan

Women Behind Bars: The Crisis of Women in the U.S. Prison System by Silja J.A. Talvi
Weight: 11.2 oz
Method of Disposal: Leaving at Joe's

I wish I had written about this book as soon as I finished reading it, but I was almost scared to. It meant so much to me that I was afraid I could not do it justice, particularly with my time limitations. That is probably still true but, if I do not do it now, I may never do it, and I have something to tell you that is timely.

I think everyone should read this book. It offers an insight into the United States Prison System that some people may not know about or are able to ignore by not confronting it. People are represented within these pages that have been severely mistreated and also misunderstood. People we may not know about, in our own communities, are suffering cruel and unusual punishment right next door to us. Unless of course, you are the person in prison, you work in a prison, or you have a loved one in prison. With the number of people incarcerated in this country it is very probable that you are somewhat aware of how the system works. But do you really know about the human rights abuses? Do you really allow yourself to feel it? I thought I did, but the more I find out the more it is changing my entire life.

One of the many women Talvi writes about is Sara Kruzan. I first read about her in this book, but there is a large campaign to have her released that you should know about ( I wish I had realized my blog could be another source of information on this earlier, but here we are. There is no time to lose. Her next proceeding is on November 19, 2012. That is two days away. Please watch this video and help us fight for this young woman. She deserves freedom. She has for a very long time. Do not pass this over. You have time.

I want to find a way to dedicate my life to men and women like Sara Kruzan. I want to be a part of the prison reform movement in the United States. If you have any suggestions, I BEG you to offer them to me. I have learned so much, but I have so much more to learn. I hope you will start to investigate it too...and now. There is no time to waste.

Unleashing the Clutter

Applying Anthropology: An Introductory Reader Aaron Podolefsky and Peter J. Brown
Weight: 1.8 lbs
Method of Disposal: Leaving in a book exchange box in Decatur, GA

I think I have created a mess I may never crawl back out of. The room I keep my fosters in was starting to look a little scary since Belize came this past weekend. She seems to do great outside of a crate, but she can create some havoc inside of one. She is getting better, but there were pieces of torn linen, plastic, and food everywhere from the first few days. Something had to be done. Besides, I had not cleared it out since someone had been living there temporarily. That started an avalanche. I decided to move all of the pet rescue items in there. Leashes, crates, costumes, clothes, harnesses, medicine, toys, beds, the works. That freed up some space in the tiny storage room for my tools, which then cleared up some space in my tiny little bathroom closet. The next thing I know it is a full on deep clean and disposal situation. I got in over my head. I work early in the morning and really should not have started a project this large, but once you start how can you possibly stop?

I have taken everything out of every closet. I have emptied out boxes I have not looked inside for over a year. The house was slightly messy before. I've been so busy that I haven't had time to do even the basics. Now it looks like a small cartoon Tasmanian devil came through and left hundreds of empty Rubbermaid containers. I have tons of empty Rubbermaid containers! What do you do with that? How do you stop? I don't want to come home to this tomorrow.

I found this solitary book at the bottom of one of the boxes, and I decided that was a good excuse to take a break. I am going to fill one of those empty containers with the books I need to disperse in the Decatur lending libraries. Knock out two birds? Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

First Love

First Love by Joyce Carol Oates
Weight: 1. 6 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating

Enjoyable to read in that it is short, small, and even has pictures.  You can read it in one sitting, even if you only have an hour.  Not so enjoyable to read in that sexual violence is eroticized to no point and without any real payoff.  The characters are not developed at all, and I felt nothing for any of them.  Ah well, I am sure someone else will enjoy it.

The PDR Pocket Guide to Prescription Drugs

The PDR Pocket Guide to Prescription Drugs  7th Edition
Weight: 1.8 lbs
Method of Disposal: Recycling

Despite the fact that I acquired this book while in college, it is kind of a relic of my high school days.  This is a stripped copy that one of my managers at Barnes and Noble let me take home.  I have never once opened it, and I am confident no one else has ever used it.  It has been shelved in my kitchen cabinet for the last few years, and I am finally getting rid of it now?

In high school, Sarah B and I had pill guides to, I don't know, act like we knew all the cool prescription pills you could take and how to find them?  There was something super necessary and cool about being uncool enough to own a Prescription Drug Guide.  Trust me.