Saturday, December 17, 2011


The place where I work closes for a two week break.
Academia is not all bad, I have to admit.
So now I'm technically "off" for two weeks, even though I'll check e-mails, and will go in for a few hours one of the days - no big deal.
How will I spend my time?
1) Putting up our Christmas tree - for some reason the kids are all anxious to have this up. Seriously? It's not like Christmas is next week or anything.
2) Finishing a Who? hat for the little girl across the street, and finding a cool hat for her younger brother. Plus knitting an infinity scarf (of some sort) for my sister-in-law.
3) Organizing my pantry. It's a wreck. Food hoarder gone wild. Menus will be made and food will be incorporated into dishes. Stat.
4) Finishing up the 13 books on my "Currently Reading" list. That's a lot of carryover into the new year - must start fresh. Although if I were smart....hmmm....I'd read all of those 13 books up until the end, and then finish them all at once in 2012 so I can list them as completed on next year's reading challenge. Hmmmm....naw, that's kind of cheating, don't you think?
5) Sleeping. As much as possible. Like a bear I'll hibernate and store some energy so I can begin 2012 refreshed and ready.
As a matter of fact, I think I just might go back to sleep now.
After all, I woke up at 3:00 on my first official vacation day.
How sick is that?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Unraveling Anne - Laurel Saville

Unraveling AnneUnraveling Anne by Laurel Saville
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Most everyone thinks the relationship between Edina Monsoon and her daughter, Saffy, is quite funny. Of course that's television, "Absolutely Fabulous", to be exact. But imagine if you really were Saffy, and your mother was constantly drunk, raising you in spite of ignoring you, and constantly inviting strange people into your home. A life filled with stability and rules might actually seem attractive, and not as perverse and rigid as Edina makes Saffy feel. This, in essence, is the life that Laurel Saville lived with her mother. This comparison is not meant to minimize the mother/daughter relationship between Saville and her mother, Anne Ford. It is noted, however, that through, or because of her mother, Laurel Saville truly lived the life of the 60s free spirit, an ersatz hippie lifestyle of love ins, happenings, and beach living. What is so often romanticized by those who lived this life as adults, or those who wish that they had been there, is proven by Saville that, for a child, the alarming lack of structure is really not conducive to a strong, healthy parental bond, or a safe and secure home life. Certainly there are those children who, like weeds, are able to thrive in any environment, but Saville documents her story as that of a lonely, serious child who loved her mother, yet never understood her. Nor was she understood by her mother. Unraveling Anne allows Saville the opportunity to step back through time, to remember her feelings, examine her memories, and seek to gain understanding of what drove her mother's self-destructive behavior and lifestyle to the extent that her mother's life ends with her rape and murder at a relatively young age. Saville doesn't seek to blame, but only to understand, and she is left with many unanswered questions and missed opportunities. As she is only seeking enlightenment, she comes away with a better understanding of what missteps her mother took that prompted her decisions, and caused her mother to turn out as she did. What is missing from this book, and this may be due to requests from her brothers, is any explanation of where they are now, and how they are attempting to heal any emotional scars left by their upbringing. It is apparent that she is holding some things back, but Saville reveals as much as she can allow which one can tell is not the entire story, but we are left with enough of her poignant tale to understand where she is coming from.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in PicturesThe Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had to go back and pinpoint the moment when everything in Frankie's scrapbook merged, and I could no longer tell if the author was creating the story from the scrapbook and assorted ephemera, or if the ephemera created the story.  This is a truly wonderful book - it's magical in its beauty and ingenuity. It definitely needs to be read more than once so you can marvel over the ephemera, and at the fact that like Forrest Gump, or rather more like a recent Woody Allen film, Frankie encounters many famous personalities during her emancipated life in Paris, as well as her time in NYC. It is truly brilliant.

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