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Notes on the recent round-up…
This book reads like a novel and cut me to the quick. So much insight! Since I read carefully and took notes, I don’t need to see a therapist anymore (hah! We ALL need to see a therapist…).
“…change and loss travel together.” (6)
“You’re going to have to feel pain–everyone feels pain at times–but you don’t have to suffer so much. You’re not choosing the pain, but you’re choosing the suffering” (62)
“…if I’m clinging to the suffering so tightly, I must be getting something out of it. It must be serving some purpose for me.” (63)
“Don’t judge your feelings; notice them. Use them as your map. Don’t be afraid of the truth.” (65)
“When the present falls apart, so does the future we had associated with it. And having the future taken away is the mother of all plot twists. But if we spend the present trying to fix the past or control the future, we remain stuck in place, in perpetual regret…. But if I live in the present, I’ll have to accept the loss of my future.” (66-67)
“…we talk to ourselves more than we’ll talk to any other person over the course of our lives but that our words aren’t always kind or true or helpful–or even respectful. Most of what we say to ourselves we’d never say to people we love or care about, like our friends or children….pay close attention to those voices in our heads so that we can learn a better way to communicate with ourselves.” (404-405)
“Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and experience something before its meaning becomes apparent.” (407)
This book paints
a loving portrait
of an adolescent
struggling with, dealing
with, living with
It contains everything
I enjoy about
Young Adult Lit:
an important issue
handled with gentleness,
surprises and creativity.
This book tackles a lot of big issues–friendship, teen romance, child-parent relationships, life transitions, dis/loyalty, faith and abuse–and mostly does it well. It cut a little too close to home for me in certain regards which made it somewhat uncomfortable reading.
How is it I’d never heard of this book? It’s SO beautiful! To sum it up in a word, this book is about *embodiment.* Characters grieve for their loved ones who have passed from physical life, and find their way back to life and each other through the physical comforts of preparing and eating delicious food. The writing is at once spare and exquisite. She says so much in so few pages. My copy also included her prize-winning novella, Moonlight Shadow. I cried at the end of both.
Some of these quotes I included because of their imagery, others for their characterization or philosophy:
“Suspended in the dim light before the window overlooking the magnificent tenth-floor view, the plants breathed softly, resting.” (16)
“The conversation we just had was like a glimpse of stars through a chink in a cloudy sky–perhaps, over time, talks like this would lead to love.” (30)
“To the extent that I had come to understand that despair does not necessarily result in annihilation, that one can go on as usual in spite of it, I had become hardened. Was that what it means to be an adult, to live with ugly ambiguities?” (56)
“Why do I love everything that has to do with kitchens so much? It’s strange. Perhaps because to me a kitchen represents some distant longing engraved on my soul. As I stood there, I seemed to be making a new start; something was coming back.” (56)
“…although I couldn’t have put it into words, I came to understand something. If I try to say what it is now, it’s very simple: I realized that the world did not exist for my benefit. It followed that the ratio of pleasant and unpleasant things around me would not change. It wasn’t up to me. It was clear that the best thing to do was to adopt a sort of muddled cheerfulness.” (81)
“I knew it: the glittering crystal of all the good times we’d had, which had been sleeping in the depths of memory, was awakening and would keep us going. Like a blast of fresh wind, the richly perfumed breath of those days returned to my soul.” (100)
Curtice takes life’s simple moments and reveals their glory for those who have eyes to see. Sometimes the pace feels oh-so-slow, but I stuck with it, reading slowly over weeks as a way of remembering that my life, too, has glory written all over it. My favorite story came right at the end, #49: Hijab. Its beauty of connection had me in tears.
Speak of the world to us.
You are the wildest and holiest experience.
You are the greatest adventure.
You are the best miracle-maker.
You are the trust lover.
Your voice echoes inside of us,
digs its way into our bones and veins,
our senses and brains,
into the most hollow corners,
into the darkest spaces.
Oh, you fill us.
Fill us again and again,
in every experience, glory abounding.
“…when we can’t see what’s ahead, a path is cleared, and we are no longer afraid, for glory lines the path at our feet, benedictions abounding.” (118)
O God of Mystery,
If I have tried to place you into a box,
No mold can hold you. (167)
“What matters and what is dust in the wind? Do our little moments of joy or pleasure, our pings of grief and stress, mean anything…?
Absolutely. Our moments matter because our humanity matters, and if we can’t find it in the chocolate aisle or by the assorted rice in the middle of our local marketplace, we will have a hard time finding it anywhere.” (180)
Jane Austen meets Bridget Jones set in contemporary Los Angeles… Love! I plowed through this smart, chock-full of book and pop culture references, laugh out loud funny book.
“She refueled during the day by grabbing moments of solitude and sometimes felt her life was a long-distance swim between islands of silence. She liked people–she really did–she just needed to take them in homeopathic doses; a little of the poison was the cure.” (17)
“Oh my God, she thought, it’s hard to be human sometimes, with the pressure to be civilized lying only very thinly over the brain of a nervous little mammal. Maybe other people’s layer of civilization was thicker than hers; hers was like a peel-off face mask after it had been peeled.” (29)
“Moms of a certain age know dozens and dozens of people through various channels, so they have to perform this human equivalent of canine butt sniffing all the goddamned time.” (37)
“Reading isn’t the only thing in the world, Nina.”
“It’s one of only five perfect things in the world.”
“And the other four are?”
“Cats, dogs, Honeycrisp apples, and coffee.”
“Sure, there are other things, even good things, but those five are perfect.”
“In your opinion.”
“Yes, of course in my opinion. Everyone has a different five perfect things.” (180)
“We live in the age of noise. Silence is almost extinct.” (37)
This short tome, simply and beautifully written, accessibly addresses an important and oft-overlooked topic: silence. The author is a fascinating subject in his own right, and his pursuit of silence is inspiring. He weaves in wilderness exploration, ancient and modern philosophers, innovators and entrepreneurs, poets and writers, musicians and performance artists to help us grasp the necessity of silence in our noisy age.
“Wonder is the very engine of life.” (2)
“Nature spoke to me in the guise of silence. The quieter I became, the more I heard.” (14)
“The silence around us may contain a lot, but the most interesting kind of silence is the one that lies within. A silence which each of us must create. I no longer try to create absolute silence around me. The silence that I am after is the silence within.” (25)
“…[silence is] about getting inside what you are doing. Experiencing rather than ovethinking. Allowing each moment to be big enough.” (51)
“To listen is to search for new opportunities, to seek fresh challenges. The most important book you can read is the one about yourself. It is open.” (125)
Slow, dreamlike descriptions of beautiful Italy. Too many characters (all the town folk), and sometimes the narrator changes without notice- I read paragraphs several times to understand who was speaking. Good book, but it won’t send me searching for other books by Mayes.
“I’ll puzzle out my own story, mapping constellations. Wish I may, wish I might.” (17)
“That’s travel: time expands and compresses in unexpected ways.” (201)