Posts tagged books
Posts tagged books
Plans are very orderly. They are logical and perfect. Straight as an arrow. Flawless. As human beings, we like to make plans, and then follow them to reach a goal or a destination.
Nature, however, is not so orderly. It is chaotic and unpredictable. Sometimes it is calm; other times it is wild. Sometimes it’s safe; other times it’s dangerous.
Plans take place in our heads, but nature is the law of the world outside our thinking.
And so, I realized then, that there is no point in getting upset when something doesn’t go according to plan. Because for a plan to unfold, it has to take place in nature. And nature, to twist a familiar saying, abhors a good plan.
Thus, my lesson that afternoon was to never curse or be frustrated
by obstacles that appear out of nowhere and block my path, but to
expect them. Because the obstacles are part of the journey.
Whatever you do or plan, there will be obstacles that you won’t be able to predict. And the bigger and more important the undertaking, the more likely the odds of encountering them will be. However, every obstacle is not actually an impediment, nuisance, or disaster: it is an opportunity for success.
Because it is by overcoming those obstacles that you learn and grow, and even find a sense of meaning and accomplishment. Clearing the path in front of us, building bridges to get somewhere, moving the seemingly unmoveable—that is what we’re here for. And rather than feeling stress or getting anxiety or saying “why me” when things get in your way or don’t go your way, you can think instead, “This is great. I’m going to get to learn something and grow from this.”
I love the book World War Z. It isn’t just a book about zombies, it is a book about society and the little pockets of America and how people in various situations might handle all hell breaking loose.
I was never really excited to hear that a movie version was being made, though it seemed inevitable after the book became popular and so many celebrities with production companies read it. I took in a class in college called “Novel Into Film” where we read books, watched the film version, then trashed the movie version in almost every case.
I know that a book told in chapters person by person with the only common thread being the interviewer they were all talking to would need to be drastically modified for the screen. But this trailer for the Roland Emmerich action movie version of World War Z seems to bear very little resemblance to the book. I actually enjoy Emmerich’s movies like Independence Day and truly (inexplicably) love The Day After Tomorrow.
The filmmakers have until Summer 2013 to sort out this movie which has been riddled with troubles and required re-shoots, and create a trailer that will connect with people who loved the book. Hopefully it will appeal to fans of the novel, as well as fans of kick ass summer action blockbusters. Since I am both this could be a slam dunk. While we wait and see how the film comes out maybe I’ll read the book again!
“As I reached the crest of the hill, a rap-rock band was playing. The justification for rap rock seems to be that if you take really bad rock and put really bad rock over it, the result is somehow good, provided the raps are being barked by an overweight white guy with cropped hair and forearm tattoos. The women from those few little farmhouses had gathered at their fence; they leaned and mumbled and dangled their canes. One of them was one of the oldest-looking old people I have ever seen, with stiff white hair and that face, like the inside of a walnut shell, that only truly ancient women get. She and her friends were actually listening to the rap rock, and part of me wanted to run over to them and assure them that after they died, there would still be people left in the world who knew how horrifying this music was, and that these people would transmit their knowledge to carefully chosen members of future generations, but the ladies did not appear worried. They were even laughing. I’m sure they remembered traveling circuses in the field in eighteen ninety something, and what was the difference, really?”
“We talked, I recall, about death or, rather, awakening after death. Whatever it would be like, we thought, our response to it would be ‘Why, of course! Of course it’s like this. How else could it have possibly been.’ We both chuckled at that. I said it would be a sort of coming home, and he agreed.”
“As I stood there in that suddenly empty room, I was suddenly swept with a tide of absolute knowing that Davy still was. I do not mean that I thought her body might still live; I knew it didn’t. But past faith and belief, I knew quite overwhelmingly that she herself - her soul - still was.”
“We had spoken of ‘moments made eternity’, meaning what are called timeless moments, moments precisely without the pressure of time - moments that might be called, indeed, timeful moments. Of time-free moments. And we have clearly understood that the pressure of time was our nearly inescapable awareness of an approaching terminus - the bell about to ring, the holiday about to end … . Life is pressured by death, the final terminus. When we speak of Now, we seem to mean the timeless: there is no duration. Aware of duration, of terminus, spoils Now.”
“And yet, after all, the clock is not always ticking. Sometimes it stops and then we are happiest. Sometimes - more precisely, some-not-times - we find ‘the still point of the turning world’. All our most lovely moments perhaps are timeless.”
“Time is our natural environment. We live in time as we live in the air we breathe. And we love the air - who has not taken deep breaths of pure, fresh country air, just for the pleasure of it? How strange that we cannot love time. It spoils our loveliest moments. Nothing quite comes up to expectations because of it.”
“Just as a sculptor might contemplate a block of stone, seeing ever more clearly what was within it and only then beginning to remove the stone hiding that form, so I, contemplating the past, saw every more clearly the essential form, moving in time, hidden within the block of seven thousand days. Art is first a seeing and then a revealing.”
“If the best part of life is, in fact, emotional, then one wanted the highest, purest emotions: and that meant joy. Joy was the highest. How did one find joy? In books it seemed to be found in love - a great love - though maybe for the saints there was joy in the love of God. He didn’t aspire to that though: he didn’t even believe in God. Certainly not! If he wanted the heights of joy, he must have, if he could find it, a great love. But in the books again, great joy through love seemed always to go hand in hand with frightful pain. Still, he thought, looking out across the meadow, still, the joy would be worth the pain - if, indeed, they went together. If there were a choice - and he suspected there was - a choice between, on the one hand, the heights and the depths and, on the other hand, some sort of safe, cautious middle way, he, for one, here and now chose the heights and the depths.
Since the years had gone by, and he - had he not had what he chose that day in the meadow? He had had the love. And the joy - what joy it had been! And the sorrow. He had had - was having - all the sorrow there was. And yet, the joy was worth the pain. Even now he reaffirmed that long-past choice.”
“We have a platform from which to risk.”
“But like the snake, I have no arms - metaphorically speaking - to carry these things with. Besides, these things aren’t even mine. None of it is mine. My father is not mine - not in that way. His death and what he’s done are not mine. Nor are my upbringing nor my town nor its tragedies. How can these things be mine? Holding me responsible for keeping hidden this information is ridiculous. I was born into a town and a family and the town and my family happened to me. I owe none of it, I would kill or die to protect those who are part of it, but I do not claim exclusivity. Have it. Take it from me. Do with it what you will. Make it useful.”
“When you’re carrying a person, I just thought of this, when you’re carrying a person, why is it easier to carry them when they hold tight around your neck? Like, you’re supporting their full weight no matter what, correct? But when they grab you around the neck and suddenly it’s easier, like they’re pulling up on you, but either way you’re still carrying them, right? Why should it make a difference that they holding you, too —-“
Today is the day! When this posts I will be taking my CMP exam. It wasn’t until this last week, as I got closer to the end of the studying process, that I began to see just how much time and energy went into preparing for this test. It never felt like enough, except when it felt like WAY too much. Hopefully I know enough to pass and put this all behind me.
It will be at least sixty days before I learn my fate as a CMP. Am I in, or am I out? In the meantime, I am utterly ecstatic about reading again. Reading anything that isn’t CMP related. A real book. A magazine. More than the first two paragraphs of an article on Yahoo. It is going to be amazing! I’ve already picked out the first book which will reintroduce me to the world of pleasure reading. I will read it after the test when I take myself out to a celebratory lunch. Oh Happy Day, indeed!
Tuesday marked the arrival of the paperback version of Chuck Klosterman’s second novel The Visible Man. I long ago finished the hard cover version. Big fans like myself could never have waited this long to read Klosterman’s newest work. In fact, I actually WENT INTO A BOOKSTORE (which sadly but not surprisingly no longer exists) the day it came out to ensure I got a copy hot off the presses.
In an amazing coincidence (if there is such a thing as a coincidence) I had just (accidentally) read The Invisible Man and was well primed to read about a therapist who is approached by a man looking to deal with issues surrounding the fact he has the ability to be invisible. Their sessions start over the phone, continue in person (though invisible person) and things take twisted, mind-bending turns from there through the finale.
Chuck Klosterman, first and foremost an essayist, has always had an incredible knack for thinking about common things in an uncommon way. Or thinking about them SO much, SO hard that the original image or idea changes from over-exposure to his brain. That is the best part of his essays and magazine articles - and this novel. But this time he takes it too far for my taste. I loved traveling with him on The Visible Man journey, but I wasn’t thrilled with the destination.
If you aren’t familiar with Klosterman’s work, Shame On You! When you get out of your corner of disgrace please pick up Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs (if you’re currently between 28-40). If you’re into metal rock your first book from his collection should be Fargo Rock City. Everyone else should try Killing Yourself to Live. And anyone, everyone, should crack the spine of Downtown Owl, his lovely, light, atmospheric first novel. Now that you’ve got your summer reading list I suggest you get to it!
I decided to move my CMP Exam timeline up. I’ll now be taking the test on July 20 which means I have 51 more days of non-stop cramming meeting and event planning logistics into my brain. I’m already dreaming in flashcards. I’ve complete cut myself off from reading anything that’s not CMP related. The magazines are piling up and my Kindle has a thick coat of dust on it.
Naturally all I can think about - besides what accrual accounting is versus cash accounting - is what book I’ll start reading immediately after I complete the exam. I just learned about Pulphead, a collection of pop culture essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan. This sounds right up my alley, well aligned with my love of Chuck Klosterman. It is on my To Read list for sure, along with a dozen others. Oh how I miss pleasure reading!
*P.S. I’m having trouble seeing images on Tumblr on my work computer, but everything looks perfect at home on my Mac. I wonder what’s going on. Is anyone else experiencing technical issues?
Yesterday we attended the LA Times Festival of Books on the USC campus. Now in its 17th year I’ve had nine opportunities as an LA resident to attend, but not until this year had a compelling reason to participate. As an avid reader you’d think this kind of event would be right up my alley, yet it never grabbed me until 2012. Perhaps it is the impending end of the world that got me off the couch and into the wilds of downtown Los Angeles to see authors talk about the books I read on said couch.
The true catalyst was Michael Ian Black whose new book I am currently reading. My Kindle tells me I have completed 58% of You’re Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death and Other Humiliations. I’ll go just about anywhere to see Mr. Black and partake of anything he produces, as you’ve discovered in a previous blog post. I wanted to hear what the man had to say about his great memoir (remember I am only at 58% so I can say only slightly more than half of the book is great) that’s refreshingly honest about the difficulties of being a human in the world, especially when it comes to courting, family, marriage, parenting and, well, everything else. He’s saying some of things I’ve wanted other people to admit, and does it with humor to make the medicine go down easier.
When I suggested to Jeremy that we spend Sunday afternoon stalking MIB neither of us realized what else we might experience along the way. In fact, we weren’t even sure we’d get to see him, let alone anyone else, especially the ‘famous’ people speaking at this huge event.
Shortly after MIB spoke Mayim Bialik, actress, neuroscience PhD., mother and author of Beyond the Sling a new book focused on attachment style parenting, took the stage. Not being a parent but knowing many and having the potential to become one myself some day I felt it was worthwhile to hear what she had to say about breastfeeding beyond a year, elimination communication, co-sleeping and other somewhat taboo parenting techniques. It was fascinating! People - including me - look at the ways others parent and judge them. Our society is set up to judge others and sadly nobody, not even loving parents, get a pass on that. I appreciate her efforts to educate people on what has worked for her family and what could be an option for other parents, since there is no one way to parent. She’s my hero of of the month. Go Blossom! I am totally reading her book - on my Kindle, where nobody can see the book cover and assume I’m knocked up.
Before we were enlightened by Dr. Bialik Jeremy and I waited in line to meet Mr. Black. He had a solid number of fans waiting for a signature, photo and quick witty exchange, but not nearly as many fans as Betty White in the adjacent tent. Rose’s line was so long she’d been sitting in the signing tent for an hour beyond her allotted time. What a generous and energetic lady she is! The mob scene was kind of nuts. Jeremy tried to nudge in to get a good photo but sadly his paparazzi skills - and our camera’s zoom - are limited. Seeing her was a bonus, but hardly what the day was about for us.
The day was about getting an author whose book lives in my Kindle to sign it. MIB was happy to be the first to tag my e-reader with his name. If you weren’t sure I was cool already, now you know I’m cool.