Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Hour I First Believed

Wally Lamb does it again.  Another engaging novel with thoughtful research to support the historical events throughout the book.   Don't expect to read this novel in a couple of days, but do expect to go on a journey with the main character Caelum Quirk.

The novel stems from the shootings at Columbine in 1999.  Lamb includes the real names of the survivors and victims from Columbine and does extensive research on Harris and Klebold to contribute accurate facts to the book.  To say the least, those were two men who were either evil or mentally ill.  We'll never know the answer.  The 750 pages don't focus entirely on Columbine but rather on 4 items that I gathered from the novel: Chaos Theory, PTSD, adultery, and spiritual journeys. Fear not my friends who are not drawn to religious novels, because this is by no means a preachy novel.  In fact Caelum Quirk laughs at those who use faith to get through tough times.

The weird concept of Chaos Theory that gets Caelum's head turning may be something we have thought about before.  It essentially is cause and effect.  What event triggers the event of CHAOS? For Eric and Dylan was it being bullied?  What if one less kid provoked them?  None the less there were events that lead to the chaos of Columbine and then there are events that stem from Columbine.  Ironically I was watching the show Intervention and the man in trouble was a Columbine bully who resorted to drugs to ease his pain.  If Columbine never happened he wouldn't be a drug user, his family wouldn't be in distress, and his mom wouldn't have resorted to drugs because she couldn't handle her sons actions.  It's interesting to think about....

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a huge part of the novel.  It's frustrating as a reader because you just went to yell "get over it you are ruining your life!".  Easy to say, not so easy when certain things people say trigger your mind, certain sounds remind you of the experience, certain smells....

And HOLY ADULTERY.  I am beginning to wonder if anyone is faithful these days!

Lastly and most importantly is the spiritual journey or quest of Caelum Quirk.  He goes through so much (I would be pissed and angry all the time too).  It makes you wonder if there is an hour you will first believe or maybe you've already had it.  The hour to first believe in ourselves, each other, or perhaps something greater.

Book gets an A+ for sure..... Kolleen you should read it!! 

Friday, September 11, 2009

gods in Alabama

It took me three days to read this book...it would have only been two had drinking not taken place on one of these nights.

In this book, Joshilyn Jackson grabs you in the first chapter and makes it hard to put away. "There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel's, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus. I left one back there myself..."

It's a good book about human relationships, racism, and love.  It's about a couple living in Chicago making a trek back to the narrator's hometown...Possett, Alabama.  Did I mention the boyfriend is black and she is white?  Of course that's where some drama comes in, but the book is moreso about rape and murder.  It's quick and easy if your looking for an uncomplicated lay.  Whammy!!!!

Now, I'm reading Wally Lamb's latest book, "The Hour I First Believed".  I can only stay away from books about tragedy for so long.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pennies for Peace

Oh Julia, I'm glad you finally finished it. I would have to agree with the B+ you gave it. As much as I love the book, it took me a while to get into it and to stay into it. The one part of the book that I really loved was the start of the Pennies for Peace drive (or in the book the "Pennies for Pakistan" drive), the real climax of the book I suppose. He writes,

"Children had taken the first step toward building the school. And they did it with something that is basically worthless in our society – pennies. But overseas, pennies can move mountains.”

It's amazing that something so small could make such a huge difference around the world. And overall, that's the impact the book had on me. It reminded me that even through failure (with his K2 attempt), you can rise up and find good in things and make life and the world around you better than how you found it. =)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Three Cups O' Tea and then some

So I FINALLY finished this book.  I'm pretty much used to light reads, but this one gave me a lot to think about.  This man made it his quest to build schools (55 to be exact) in Afghanistan and Pakistan because he was so moved by the poverty and gender discrimination he saw on his failed summit of the mountain called K2.  I think the most powerful part of this book is the fact that he lived and breathed every day thinking about how to help these people.  His ambitions go through some rocky territory as well as some of his relationships back in the United States.  The message of the book is powerful though, one person can help change the world.  

I am currently looking into teaching English in Korea, and coincidentally this book happened to be the one I was reading.  To say the least it is swaying me towards leaving the States and doing good elsewhere.  I think sometimes we have all these ambitions to help others, but most of the time they are just ambitions and we tend to help ourselves first.  I will be the first to admit that sometimes I am more talk than I am action.  This book made me realize I need to make some changes.

On a journalistic note, it was funny reading what the main character (Mortenson) thought of journalists post 9/11 in his foreign territory.  He pretty much thought they were vultures and missing the story that was out there (something that would make our J-School professors cringe at).  He even suggested that the journalists should have paid for some of the interviewees dinners and then they would have gotten a better story.....I think I started yelling at this point, "That's journalistically unethical".  

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely.  You do however need time to digest this book because it is not a quick read.  I want to know what my lovely Logey ended up thinking of this book.  My grade is a B+ (It took me awhile to get into it!)

In a side note, Elizabeth Gilbert is having a book published in January called Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage.  My question is how can you write a book (Eat, Pray, Love) on being ok with being on your own and then GET MARRIED.  As far as I'm concerned she is on my shit-list right now.  Alas, I will be reading her book in January.  She better have a good excuse for herself.