This Week in Review – 08/07/2015

This Week in Review

Hello, August! The weather has been superb here in New York, and I have been spending all of my free time out and about. We have been trying to become more politically aware, especially with the upcoming elections. Here are some things that we’ve been reading this week.

Politics:

Jefferson believed that Natives should give up their own cultures, religions, and lifestyles to assimilate to western European culture and a European-style agriculture, which was more efficient.

Jeb Bush met up with his brother George to play a friendly game of Ping-Pong. When Jeb hit the ball, he would say “Jeb,” and when George hit the ball, he would also say “Jeb.” After Jeb explained to George that he should, in fact, be saying “George,” they laughed, posed for a photo, and said “Bush.”

Just for fun:

this ring is not nearly big enough to make up for your face

this ring is
not nearly big enough to make up for your face

hedgehog life

This week, we posted:

This weekend, I am celebrating a friend’s birthday, reading a really depressing book, and hopefully watching Fantastic Four. Wherever you are, I hope you have a good book and a great snack! What are your plans?

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Books I Read in July

Here are the books I’ve read in July, in chronological order.

Michio Kaku’s Physics of the Impossible: This is probably my fault for leaving this on my shelf for so long, but this book is already outdated, because it was written in 2008. I didn’t find this book as educational or informative as Hyperspace, and I was disappointed in it. I found the book repetitive and tedious at times. I will continue to read books about physics, but it may be a while before I revisit Michio Kaku. The psychic animals that I shared earlier still remains the best part of the book.

***

a village lifeLouise Gluck’s A Village Life: I already wrote about this somewhat extensively yesterday, so I thought I’d just leave another part of a poem that I loved, Solitude:

“Now we return to what we were,
animals living in darkness
without language or vision –

Nothing proves I’m alive.
There is only the rain, the rain is endless.”

***

Catch-22Joseph Heller’s Catch-22: I am planning on writing a book review about this soon, but what is there to say that hasn’t already been said over the last 50 years? This book is dark, hysterical, satirical, and deeply moving. I never wanted it to end, and I understand now why a girl I went to school with wrote “Yossarian Lives!” on the front of her notebooks and binders. I will try to watch the movie adaptation soon as well, but I am a little nervous to see it as a movie – have you seen it before?

***

Speak NowKenji Yoshino’s Speak Now: I have been thinking about Yoshino recently in light of the presidential race. The way that he humanizes and explains the position of those who disagree with him has really spoken to me. It may be easier for him because his “side” won the case, but the book was written devoid of anger and blame while still being extremely personal. I think that is such an accomplishment in and of itself. It is a kind of grace that I find myself lacking, and I try to remind myself of it whenever I am upset with what I read in the news.

***

the buried giantKazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant: This was Mary’s pick for our next book club meeting. I’ll be sharing a reading guide and some discussion questions next week as I sift through all of the information out there. For now, I’ll say that I thought this is one of the best books by Ishiguro that I have read recently. I didn’t like When We Were Orphans or A Pale View of Hills very much and was almost ready to throw in the towel on Ishiguro.

Book Review: A Village Life, Louise Glück

a village life

A Village Life, written in 2009, is Louise Glück’s eleventh collection of poetry. This was a lot different from her earlier collections that I’ve read. A lot of reviews have described this as a verse novel, but I don’t think there is a true narrative here, especially compared to something like The Autobiography of Red, a true verse novel. Instead, the collection is tied together by a common setting that explores the themes of youth, death, and a nostalgia for home. As you may have guessed, that common setting is a village, somewhere with fields, mountains, and rivers, in maybe part of Europe.

This collection is actually really funny and witty, and I found myself laughing out loud at certain parts. For example –

The children cry, they sometimes fight over toys.
But the water’s there, to remind the mothers that they love these children;
that for them to drown would be terrible.
Tributaries

Every summer in New York City, I become really homesick for the South. There is nothing quite like a Southern summer, and Glück’s description of village life managed to explain and soothe my nostalgia exactly when I needed it. She explores all possible outcomes of village living – you stay and grow old, you move away and always look back, you are both unsure and unwavering. It made me feel like even though I moved away, I will still be okay, because I am not alone. It reminded me of something Truman Capote once said, “all Southerners eventually come home, if only in a box.”

To my mind, you’re better off if you stay;
that way, dreams don’t damage you.
At dusk, you sit by the window. Wherever you live,
you can see the fields, the river, realities
on which you cannot impose yourself —
Pastoral

To me, this book is a lot quieter than her previous ones, but the moments of stillness convey much louder messages. I have been thinking a lot about what makes a book of poetry work. I haven’t come to any conclusions yet, but A Village Life works.

***

I would recommend this book to people that are homesick, people that live in small towns, people that are on the fence about poetry and want to start somewhere approachable.

Additional Reading: