Friday, June 23, 2017

What I'm Reading

I. Continuing with the "Freak Yourself Out About People Dying in the Wilderness" theme I began by watching Grizzly Man (guy goes to find himself among bears, gets eaten), I am reading Into the Wild (guy goes to find himself in Alaska, starves to death).

BUT, what I'm really getting from it is a desire to try to write descriptively, like author Jon Krakauer.

How might I write about walking into a Thrift Store?

How to use physical details to carry a story (like how Tracy Kidder summed up his attraction to a girl by writing about how he asked her to apply a second Band-Aid)--what do you put in? leave out?
It's so easy to read, when its done well, but so hard to write-- so easy produce a lumpy mess, or a boring list, or sentimental schlock.

II. 
For the opposite of sentimental schlock, I recommend the new memoir by Sherman Alexie [website], about his mother: 
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me.
I was so eager to read it, when I saw there were 215 holds on the library's 18 copies, I went and bought my own.

Alexie's stories are often funny, at least in part, like in his wonderful Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian
and here he is laughing >
in his "about the author" photo,
but he writes here that the real him is not funny. 


This book is like the real him.
Not funny: he ponders, for instance, what happened to his mother when she was a girl that she would torture a cat to death when she was a teenager.

I'm grateful I read this, but I don't know that I could ever stand to read it again. But I'm going to hold on to my copy so I can hand it to anyone who ever again tells me that suffering is spiritually beneficial, or that people are in any way ennobled by oppression.
Someone once told me it is impossible to break the human spirit. 
I just... what can you say?
"Here. Read this book."

3 comments:

ArtSparker said...

Oh I may pass on that.

Would be interested in hearing what you think about "Beatriz at Dinner" which had an instructive script masquerading as social satire, however the two leads wee so much better than what was written for them that the film took on a third aspect - in any case, while I suspect that people can be broken, I myself did not believe the breaking in the film.

Would be so interesting to meet those 218 people, that is, it's not exactly like people lining up to read the latest Danielle Steel (if she is still pumping them out). Would make me feel good about where I was living.

nanacathydotcom said...

Some books are really too hard to cope with. One I struggled with was Wild Swan. I had to read that in two go's as it was too harrowing. Now I have to ask should that be goes or go's. Plurals really aren't me!

Fresca said...

Sparker: "Beatriz at Dinner" is playing in town, but I haven't seen it--might wait for the DVD.

CATHY: Definitely--I don't read grim stuff like I used to when I was young!

I looked up the plural of "go" as a noun, and it's "goes."
(I never know these plurals either!)