samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
#smileaday Getting an audiobook.

I do a LOT of my reading in audiobook form, so it's been a bit of a heartbreak to me that my own books weren't available in audiobook. But that's about to change! I had a phone call today with my audiobook narrator to talk some details and she'll start recording THIS WEEKEND! I am so excited guys!

audiobook icon

samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
#saturdayscenes #samanthascenes From my work on #thursdayschildren this week:
__________________________________________
Sunrise was already starting to come later. Kye’luh sat up on the edge of her bed, groaning as she rubbed sleep sand from her eyes. Her eyes ached and she wondered if she’d slept with them open, or if it was just that she’d slept so little.

She and Jason had sat up talking for hours, and once she’d gone back to bed, she’d laid there waiting for her head to stop spinning on the possibilities, good and bad. She’d probably only had a couple of hours of solid sleep.

She picked up the windup clock at her bedside. Almost eight. When they’d first arrived, the sun burned the sleep from her at closer to six. Winter really was coming. She hoped they were ready for it. She’d never been up the mountain for longer than a weekend in the winter. The cold was going to make everything more complicated.

She picked up her mother’s flannel shirt and pulled it on, noticing that it smelled of liniment now. The minty smelling stuff Alecia used to take down swelling and take care of pain. Kye’luh had used the shirt to prop Jason’s foot up last night, and the fabric must have absorbed some of the scent. It wasn’t a bad smell. It was kind of comforting. It smelled like being taken care of.

She made her way to the outhouse, smiling a little remembering the posh accents and water closet jokes from the night before. She tugged the handle and it resisted. Someone was already inside.

Kye’luh leaned against a nearby tree, letting her head fall back and looking up into the leaves, already changing color and beginning to dry and blow away. She stood back up when she heard the door clatter open. It was Alecia. “Jeez, K, you look awful.”

“Thanks, Leesh.” She pushed past her cousin to make use of the facilities. This part wasn’t going to be much fun when the weather got colder either. The seat was going to be cold and the chinks in the wood that helped ventilate would let in the winter air.

When she came out, Leesh was still standing there, hands on her hips. “Bend down here.”

Kye’luh complied. “I’m all right. I just didn’t sleep enough.”

Alecia felt her head and nodded. “You don’t seem to have a fever, but your eyes are bloodshot. Bad dreams?”

“No. It wasn’t that. I stayed up late talking to Jason.”

Alecia crossed her arms over her chest. “I see.” Disapproval wafted from her with a scent stronger than the outhouse fumes.

“I don’t know what you think you see. I was trying to get him to explain himself, tell me why he was really here, and what he wanted.”

“And did he tell you?”

“He did.” She left out how touched she was by his belief that his father must still be alive and by his determination to save him. She didn’t tell her cousin about the way he made her laugh, describing his misadventures on the way up the mountain. “He was sent by the Underground, by Malcolm. They’re hoping to recruit us to help the mission, to get more kids out.”

“And you believe him?”

“I do.”

Alecia narrowed her light brown eyes. “Why?”

“I don’t know. It’s—well, if he was dangerous, he would be better at it. Don’t you think? What kind of government operative gets lost and loses his food supply?” To a raccoon, of all things.

A thoughtful look softened Alecia’s expression. “There is that. He didn’t exactly arrive ready to overcome us and take over.” She turned to walk back toward camp. “Nyaysia is going to be a hard sell. She doesn’t trust him.”

Kye’luh sighed. “I know.”

________________________
Thanks for reading! You can learn more about me and my writing at http://samanthabryant.com or follow My Saturday Scenes collection here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/Y5kMoB There's also a collection for ALL the Saturday Scenes by ALL the participating authors here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/4XjIWE
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
Fated Sky book cover#bookeveryweek The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal.

It's a testament to how much I enjoyed book one of this series [book:The Calculating Stars|33080122] because I jumped right into reading the second book and finished in less than a week, despite having an insanely busy week with very little reading time available. I may perhaps have avoided some things I should have been doing in favor of finding out what was happening on the mission to Mars.

If you're going to read this one, you're going to want to read the first book first. The emotional impact of a lot of moments is much stronger if you know the events and characters of the first book.

One thing I enjoyed in both books is how complex the characters are. Antagonists have admirable qualities alongside their problematic characteristics and our protagonist is realistically flawed. Characterization is even stronger in book two. Everyone feels real. Some sad things happen in this book. I won't tell you what, so I don't spoil it for you, but I will compliment the writing of those emotional moments. I teared up more than once in the reading. I cried for a character I never would have expected to come to care about, too.

I'm often not a fan of "hard science fiction" because the world building can swallow the characters and story elements, and story and character are what I showed up for. If I want to read a science text, then I'll go to the nonfiction section, thanks. This book (and its predecessor) beautifully meld the science with character and story and kept me engaged.

I'm sad there's not another book in this series out there ready for me to read yet. I'm not done lingering with this story.
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
#saturdayscenes #samanthascenes I worked on Thursday's Children, my young adult dystopian novel this week. Here's a bit of what I wrote. Poor Malcolm is having a bit of a crisis.
_________________________
Malcolm climbed into the car, tossing his bag into the back seat. Coach took off before he had even finished fastening his seatbelt. “You’ve got to be smarter than this,” he said, turning a hard left out of the parking lot and gunning the engine to stay ahead of the pickup truck that loomed too close in the rearview mirror. “This is no time to fall apart. There’s too much at stake.”

Trees seemed to blur into a sheet of green alongside the road. Malcolm couldn’t think of anything to say, so he stayed quiet. Coach took a sudden right turn onto a dirt road, throwing Malcolm against the door. He scrambled for the hand-hold. He had barely righted himself when Coach threw the SUV into park, got out of the car and started walking.

Malcolm hurried to follow him. It was an awkward slow speed chase for a few minutes, down a wooded path to a wide creek. Tackett didn’t look back to see if Malcolm followed, but just walked at a steady clip, faster than his usual gait. Malcolm wondered if the man’s limp was real either.

He lost track of Tackett when the path took a bend, but spotted him squatting beside the creek, looking down into the water. He crossed the remaining terrain in a few strides and sat down on the ground next to the man he’d always thought was his enemy, waiting.

“I get that this is confusing for you.”

Malcolm laughed. “You think?” 

Coach shot him a withering look. “We couldn’t just tell you. You were just a kid. We couldn’t be sure you could keep the secret.”

Malcolm opened his mouth to argue, but Coach put up a hand. “Every kid thinks they’re special, but the EBC is no joke. If they took you in and you knew the whole story? They’d get it out of you.”

Hot tears gathered in Malcolm’s eyes and he looked up at the sky willing them to absorb back into their ducts and not embarrass him by falling onto his cheeks in front of Coach Tackett. “So, I was just an errand boy?”

Coach sighed loudly. “You were always more than that. You were—you are our future.”

“But Sheila.”

“Sheila didn’t lie to you. She just didn’t tell you everything she knew. We had to protect you, protect the mission.”

Malcolm stood and walked downstream, watching the water bubble over the creek rocks on its way to the river and eventually to the sea. He wondered if this creek connected with the ones in the mountain pass, if Jason might, even now, be walking alongside this same water.

He’d felt so powerful and sure when he’d sent Jason out there, ready to take the bulls by the horns. Knowing one of the bulls was fighting for the same side he was left him deflated. He hadn’t been getting away with anything, stealing documents for Sheila and ferreting them out of the Center. Tackett hadn’t been trying to stop him. It undercut everything he’d done in the past few years, left him sinking in the quicksand of doubt just when he needed to climb the next peak.

Hurling a rock into the stream, Malcolm turned to walk back to where he’d left the man he’d always believed was his enemy. The riverbank was empty, but Tackett was sitting at the top of the hill, on a wide tree stump. Malcolm trudged over and sat beside him.

“Feel better?” Tackett asked.

Malcolm shrugged. “I guess.”

“Listen, son.”

“Don’t call me son. I’ve always hated it.” If it was time to be honest, then he might as well stop all the games.

Tackett looked surprised and thoughtful. “All right. This doesn’t change anything. Not in the scheme of things.”

“What? This changes everything.”

Tackett shook his head. “No. Your job is still the same. Pass information. Stay one step ahead. Don’t get caught.”

“You don’t get it, Coach. If you’ve been protecting me all this time, then nothing I’ve done counts. I didn’t actually do it.”

Tackett laughed. “You think that’s what’s going on? Jesus Christ, boy. I didn’t know you were the mole until last night. Sheila called me only because she didn’t know how else to save you from your own bullheadedness.”

Malcolm’s skepticism must have shown because Tackett tried again.
“Seriously. It was brilliant thinking on her part, using you to steal documents. I already trusted you enough to let you work in my office. If you ever got caught, I’d have had plenty of room to be shocked and dismayed at the betrayal by a boy I’d known nearly all his life. Beautiful. Nobody can weave a web like Sheila.”

Malcolm considered it. He wanted to believe Tackett, but the very fact that he wanted to believe it triggered doubt. So many confusing emotions were bubbling in his guts that he began to feel like he might throw up. “Gah!” He threw up his hands and shouted at the sky. A flock of dark birds ejected from the tree leaning over the river, their cries angry and threatening.
__________________________
Thanks for reading! You can learn more about me and my writing at http://samanthabryant.com or follow My Saturday Scenes collection here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/Y5kMoB ; There's also a collection for ALL the Saturday Scenes by ALL the participating authors here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/4XjIWE
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
designer you cover#bookeveryweek Designer You by Sarahlyn Bruck.

An engaging and sometimes heartbreaking story about a woman who has to find her way in the world again after the sudden and unexpected death of her husband. He had been not only her life partner, but her business partner, as the two had run a successful business (the titular Designer You) renovating homes and writing about the process. So, she lost the center of two of her worlds at the same time.

The story meandered a bit for my taste, which fit thematically with what was happening and how the character felt, but was a bit frustrating at times for me as the reader. Still, overall, it felt like a realistic vision of what might have happened, and meandering is part of that "figuring it out" process.

samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
just cause book cover#bookeveryweek Just Cause by Ian Thomas Healy

The Just Cause universe is a fascinating one, with a long history, and the world building is quite good. Our main character, Mustang Sally, is a third generation speedster in a world that has known about and organized parahumans for at least that long. I liked her and was cheering for her to find her place in this world.

There was a lot of potential for good conflict in this plot. Sally's father was killed by the big bad guy (Destroyer), so she had a personal stake in the fight when he reappears on the scene. Her relationship with her mother was a bit strained. She was falling in love. She had a strong desire to prove herself. Unfortunately, things overall went a little too easily for Sally. She felt almost charmed in that she was successful at everything she tried without much struggle, failure, or serious roadblocks along the way. So, while I still enjoyed the story, the overall effect was that it lacked tension or a sense of urgency. Too smooth.

I definitely enjoyed the descriptions of powers and the considerations of drawbacks and idiosyncrasies that might come with certain power sets. A lot of interesting characters were introduced in this book, which leaves the author plenty of room to play in this universe for quite some time to come. In fact, I sometimes wished the book would slow down a little and take time to build relationships a little longer before letting bad things happen to characters. The emotional impact could have been stronger if I'd had more time to get to know and care about the supporting characters.

Overall, good and enjoyable. I would read more by this author.

samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
#smileaday The Library Book Sale.

I'm on the board for my local Friends of the Public Library and today we had a pop up book sale. We usually have a spring and a fall book sale, but thanks to Marie Kondo encouraging everyone to examine their collections, we had a flood of donated books and had to hold an extra sale so our storage room could meet fire code.

I love our book sales. It's such a voyage of discovery, walking around and looking. The collection is far more eclectic and changeable than anything you'll find in even the quirkiest indie bookstore. Maybe there's a glut of cookbooks because a local cook decided to cull the collection; or maybe we have a ton of graphic novels because someone thought they were now too old for them. Maybe someone unpacked their old college books and decided they don't need that book of 17th century poets anymore.

The other great thing is spending my day with book addicts, who are looking for odd things and are thrilled by these serendipities. We'll all so grateful to feed our addictions so inexpensively, and getting karmic credit for library support at the same time.

It's a lovely way to spend a rainy afternoon for sure.

friends of the library logo

samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
 cover A Pocketwatch#bookeveryweek Kimberly Lynne's A Pocketwatch, Spraypaint and Morphine: How Viv the Librarian Weathers the Boom. 
 
This book started out so normally, then took a left turn at Albuquerque and never looked back. I was so pleased! In fact, there's not much I can tell you about the book that doesn't spoil the fun. It's better if you don't know what the left turn is or if we ever turn right again. 
 
Viv the Librarian had, in fact, an amazing adventure that had me thinking about what I might do in similar circumstances. If you need a hard scientific explanation for strange happenings in a book, you won't find one in here, but you will find an interesting cast of characters who are brought together by strange circumstances. 
 
Quite enjoyable! 
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
 #bookeveryweek The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal cover The Calculating StarsI loved this book. It was a wonderfully complex story about a wonderfully complex and interesting woman. So much depth throughout! The book is an alternate history, exploring how the space race might have gone if an extinction level meteorite strike had happened in the 1950s. That part was fascinating enough (oy! the politics!), but it was secondary to the journey of the main character, Elma York, a brilliant mathematician and pilot. A young woman and wife in the fifties, Elma felt very real to me, reminding me of women like my own grandmother, women who had taken on expanded roles in World War II and resisted when society tried to shove them back into the housewife box afterwards. Elma's husband is maybe a little Marty Stu in his complete support of his wife's ambitions, but you know what? I'm okay with a little wish fulfillment in this case. Elma isn't a revolutionary on purpose. She doesn't set out to shake things up, but when the fate of the human race is at stake, there isn't time to wait for society to decide its ready for change. Elma has a great growth arc, learning to manage her anxiety and step up when the world needs her most. She learned about her own blindness about race issues on the way. The tension of trying to move forward in her ambitions while even her own internal voices were shouting her down with accusations of unladylike behavior was well portrayed. I found it an inspiring underdog story, full of realistic hope. I'll definitely be back for more of this character and this story.
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
 #bookeveryweek Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. 
 
fahrenheit 451 book coverThough I've long been a fan of Mr. Bradbury's short stories, I hadn't ever read this, arguably his most famous book. I'm sorry to have to say I didn't like it that much. 
 
The ideas behind the story are familiar Bradbury territory: the dangers of reliance on technology, the de-humanization of people, the hard-won lesson, the importance of thinking for yourself. I'm a bleeding heart liberal myself, a supporter of education and considered thought, so I like the ideas. That's not the problem. 
 
But what works in short form is not as great longer for, at least not in this case. One of the things I've always appreciated about his short stories is the unapologetic and straightforward earnestness and sincerity. Especially now, when everything seems so damn ironic and cynical all the time, impressed with its own cleverness, reading Ray Bradbury can feel like a breath of fresh air. But in this book, I found that directness came off ham-fisted. Clumsy even. No subtlety. No build. 
 
In a longer work, I expected to delve deeper into the characters, but I didn't find it. Montag was a man who did things, but it was never clear to me why. Why did talking to Clarisse affect him so deeply? There was nothing in their conversation that sparkled enough to make me see what he apparently saw, nothing life-changing. He was taking some terrible risks, but even he didn't seem to understand his own motivations. 
 
I understood that Millie, Montag's wife, was supposed to illustrate what a society without books and genuine interactions could do to a person, but she was so vapid as to be only a caricature. She was a sketch only, exhibit A: cautionary tale. None of the complexity that even a shallow character needs to feel real and to be emotionally affecting. 
 
Given that the book has so few female characters (Clarisse, Millie and Millie's friends), it's sad that they are used only to illustrate a point and not explored with any depth. We don't see any civilian men painted as similarly ruined by this society, so it plays into some 1950s gender politics that just didn't age well. 
 
There are some highly quotable lines if you're looking for that kind of thing, but they feel stilted to me in the context of the story, like the characters are merely mouthpieces for the moral of the story rather than people I can care about. 
 
Sorry, Ray. I'm sorry this is the work people have heard of. It's not your best work. 
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
 #smileaday Just heard from my new publisher (Falstaff Books) that we've got a narrator and are moving forward on audiobooks for my Menopausal Superhero books. Given that over half of my own reading is done in audiobook format these days, I'm so very very very excited about this!
audiobook image
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)

#bookeveryweek Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse.


cover Trail of LightningMaggie Hoskie is a wonderfully complicated character at the center of an epic struggle with cosmic implications. A fast and engaging read that left me wanting more without leaving me unsatisfied with the ending of this first book in the series. I hope it continues well!


The best part:  a woman character with tragedy in her past who is realistically impacted by that and who grows through her relationships with others without finding that love is a miracle cure. Maggie is functioning in a difficult world despite her pain when the story begins and I found myself cheering for her from the get-go, hoping that she'd find her way to a better and fuller life on her own terms. Really liked a lot of the supporting characters as well.


The second best part: the mythological bits. Big Water and the Sixth World, Clan Powers, Coyote (Ma'ii), Neizghání, witches. This is not mythology I've read over and over again, so it felt fresh to me, and I really loved the way magical/mythological elements were commonplace and known to everyone without question.


The less good parts: the makeover scene (I think I'm too old for that "she cleans up so hot" moment to have the impact it might if I were actually a young adult), the wandering (I was never clear on what was guiding this journey, but they were always right about where they went next to look for a clue), and. Neizghání.  


When we finally meet Neizghání, Maggie's former mentor, "in person" he is NOT AT ALL what I was expecting based on what we'd heard about him up to that point. He seemed, well, stupid (as in un-intelligent, brutish, no subtlety) and I had trouble parsing that with Maggie's obsession with him, even given the rescue angle. I like surprises, but only when they fit in with what I do know. He didn't fit.


So, I would read more, but the story is not without its flaws.

 
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
 #bookeveryweek Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
 
hidden figures coverA fascinating story, but a pedestrian telling. It felt like reading a report, all facts and no heart. The women in the book still felt hidden to me afterwards. I hadn't gotten to know them as people, understand their personalities or desires. I had merely learned the facts of their lives. After reading the whole book, I couldn't tell you for sure which woman was who. 
 
I'm sad about that, because I think this is an important story and it deserved a stronger narrative than it got. There so much STORY here that was left unexplored. I hope the movie did better by the material because there's so much here to work with!
 
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
 #smileaday Book birthdays.

I had triplets today. Three brain children.

Three of my book babies were sent out into the world to seek their fortunes. Hmmm . . .may have to work on that metaphor. Makes me sound too much like the mother in the three little pigs, and I'm hoping to avoid the wolves.

It really is such a lovely feeling though, getting your work out there into the world. So grateful for all the help I've had getting this far.

It's time to celebrate so the youngest and I made cupcakes. :-)

new books
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
 #smileaday Second chances and fresh starts.

Today, I sent out an author newsletter announcing the re-release of my novels through a new publisher. I also changed all my pictures and banners on all the different social media platforms I play on so as to stop using the picture of me holding that first book with its old cover and the old covers.

It felt really good. Like fresh coat of paint or complete makeover good. That new beginning feeling like I get when a new semester begins and I get new students and the possibilities are all still on the horizon. Such buoying optimism!

Despite the signed contract in my hand (or really, on my hard drive), the thing that made this rebirth moment for my novels feel real was getting my new covers and knowing my release date (February 7). So, one more time (then I promise I'll stop sharing my new covers . . .for today at least): Meet the Menopausal Superheroes for the first time all over again.
new book covers
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
Roots book cover Thanks to the very popular 1970s miniseries and another newer adaptation (neither of which I've yet seen) as well as the widespread popularity of the book, I knew a lot about this book before I read it. Many plot points were things I had heard talked about when I was a child, or heard referenced since in discussions or in other works. I even already knew the name of the patriarch of the family the book chronicles: Kunta Kinte. 
 
There are some truly striking characters and moving moments throughout this book. Kunta Kinte's stubborn determination to hold on to who he was in the face of kidnapping, slavery, disfigurement, and so much trauma was especially striking. The complicated relationship between Chicken George and his father/owner Tom Lea revealed deep ambiguities and contradictions among the people impacted by slavery (owners and slaves). 
 
The book is eminently readable, with a strong narrative voice and a good sense of scene. In the end, though, it could have been so much better. None of the other narratives is as striking as Kunta Kinte's. And even Kinte's story started to bog down during the part describing his life in Africa before his capture. 
 
All of the female characters are undeveloped, their traumas explored for a moment then never mentioned again (I'm thinking of Kizzy in particular, who was raped repeatedly during her first months at Tom Lea's over and over again, a fact which was never mentioned again as Lea went on to become almost sympathetic in his relationship with the son he fathered in this manner. The story doesn't say the rape stopped or it didn't. It just fails to comment at all. 
 
The long digressions into details of farming, chicken fighting, and blacksmithing detracted from the human story as they fell into minutiae. 
 
If the story had been reined in and tightened, the emotional impact could have been more intense. If the other generations' lead characters were as fully realized as Kinte and the narrative as tightly focused around one character, it would have felt less diffuse. In trying to be everything, the book missed an opportunity to be something and to be that something very well. 
 
The last three chapters, while interesting, didn't belong in the book at all. They were a complete departure in tone and narration and felt more like an epilogue or author's note about the writing of the book. I wish the book ended with "The baby boy, six weeks old, was me" and the rest had been in a separate appendix. "So, thank you" is the proper ending to an acknowledgements page, not this epic multi-generational family story. 
 
I'm still glad I read the book, but there are other books about slavery times that had a much greater impact on me.
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
 #smileaday Fresh starts (new covers!)
 
If you've been following my publishing story, then you already know that I asked for and was granted the rights to my Menopausal Superhero novels from my previous publisher AND that I've signed with a new publisher: Falstaff Books. 
 
Today was a big day in that I got to see the latest iterations of my new covers. A cover can make or break a book's chances for sales, so this is no small thing. And I'm really really lucky in that this publisher is willing to listen to my opinions and give me a strong say in the final product. 
 
I did really like my old covers. They were vibrant, eye-catching, and simple (in a good way). They were, however, a little off-tone for the content, perhaps leading readers to expect a mostly comedic book instead of superheroic women's fiction with comedic moments. So, this move to a new publisher was the perfect time for a re-brand. 
 
We're not quite ready to show them yet, so I'm just going to give a sneak peek here, the bit of each cover that shows the title. I can't wait to unveil these babies to the world! 
new covers
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
 #smileaday Book Club night!
 
Tonight was my First Monday Classics Book Club meeting. We were talking about The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. It's so invigorating, spending time with a group of passionate readers. No matter what we read, there is always diversity of opinion and interpretation. Sometimes the very thing I love in a book is what drove someone else crazy, and I LOVE the way we teach other about why we see things the way we do. 
 
A big point of discussion tonight was the difference it makes when and where you are in your life as you read something. When I read The Sun Also Rises at age 20 or so, as an undergraduate newly enamored of Spain and dreaming of an expatriate life, it was a very different experience than this time, as a nearing-50 woman settled with a family and career. 
 
Connecting with other readers is a light in my life. 

clubbin
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
 sun also rises cover#bookeveryweek The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.

This was a re-read for me. I read it when I was undergraduate studying Spanish and newly obsessed with all things Spain, and taken with a romantic desire to live overseas and have literary adventures. So, back then, there was a lot I loved.

Since then, Hemingway has mostly soured for me, with his toxic masculine stoic long-suffering schtick. I have to take him in small doses, so I can appreciate the art in his writing without choking on the philosophy too hard. But my classics book club took this one on, so I'm back to revisit it, twenty-some-odd years later.

My favorite thing Hemingway ever published was "Hills Like White Elephants," a short story which is a tour de force of dialogue. It works, though, because of its brevity.

That same technique of implication over statement and tone rather than interiority became annoying in this novel. Dialogue reads like a script with no viewpoint or judgment or thought about what anyone feels until there's suddenly a boiling point. A little drunkenness, harsh words, and violence, and we're back to witty repartee with nothing having changed for anyone.

I found Jake, the protagonist of this novel hard to connect to because he stood at arm's length to everything. Even himself. His passivity in his own life was annoying. The closest he comes to growth is the last line of the book (Isn't it pretty to think so?) but even that feels like a momentary epiphany that will not make any difference in the man's life. I liked him best the couple of times he was alone in his room talking about how things were harder at night and let us see how hard he worked to suppress his pain.

The novel doesn't have much plot, and is part travel-logue, part drunken banter, and part heartsick self pity. Moments in all of that are gorgeous.

Lady Brett Ashley is a hot mess of a character, and much more interesting than anyone else in the book, but if I'm supposed to be cheering for Jake, what I'm yelling is, "Run for the hills! She'll eat you alive!" I guess that means I did connect with Jake more than I thought I did, because I hoped he'd find something better for him in the long run than hopeless attachment to someone who will only bring out his own worst aspects.

Poor Robert Cohn became the demonstration of Hemingway's quite obvious anti-Semitism and it was a smack in the face each time those attitudes bubbled up to the top in the dialogue and attitudes. Cohn wasn't a Hemingway-type-man, and the plot needed him to be needy and difficult, but the implication over and over again was that Cohn was the way he was because he was Jewish and any Jewish man would have been the same. Lots of people give this a pass because of the times he lived and wrote in. I don't.

Still an affecting and interesting portrait of a lifestyle and a time. But leaves me happy to know that I'll never have to spend any time with any of these people.
samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
 I recently read The Stargazer's Sister by Carrie Brown, which is a historical fiction piece about Lina Herschel, sister of William Herschel, astronomer of the Romantic period. I was fascinated as much by the description of the small, domestic aspects of Lina's life as I was by her role in her brother's discoveries and her own scientific life. (It's a quiet book about a quiet woman's quiet life, but I loved it). 

Caroline Herschel, at least as depicted in this novel, kept a Day Book. I'm so attracted to the idea of this! 

I've kept various kinds of journals throughout my life, but never something quite like this. It seems to be less about reflection and confession than it is about tracking. Caroline wrote down things like purchases and prices, task lists, major life events. 

I do a fair amount of tracking. I keep a database tracking my word count on various projects. I've used tracking apps to monitor my sleep and my exercise. There's something comforting in being able to go back and look at something like that and have "hard data" rather than faulty memory of what happened to rely on. 

So, I'm thinking of keeping an old fashioned Day Book in 2019. Part journal, part tracking artifact. If I can be consistent about it, it might make a nice, reflective habit. I could see it bringing me some brain quiet when I need it, by letting me offload. I already get a lot of comfort from different kinds of lists, and this seems like an expanded version of that. 

Some categories I'm thinking of using: 

  • Date:
  • Weather/World:
  • Schedule Notes/Goals:
  • How I feel:
  • What happened:
  • Exercise:
  • What I ate:
  • What I’m reading/watching/listening to:

Profile

samanthabryant: feeling purple (Default)
Samantha J Bryant

March 2019

S M T W T F S
      1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20212223
24252627282930
31      

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Apr. 25th, 2019 08:37 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios