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review 2017-03-11 16:53
"They May Not Mean To But They Do" by Cathleen Schine - excellent look at the experience of being old.
They May Not Mean To, but They Do - Cathleen Schine

"They May Not Mean To But They Do" is an immersive story of family life, told mainly from the point of view of Joy, a New Yorker in her eighties. Joy has a husband suffering from dementia, two grown up children who keep trying to look after her and three grand children.This is an affectionate but realistic tale that captures the joys and frustrations of family life

 

The central focus of the book is what it means to be old. What it does to your own sense of identity, your desires, your fears,  your place in the world .

 

The title is a paraphrase of  Philip Larkin's "This Be The Verse"   that changes "Mom and Dad" to "Son and Daughter"

"They fuck you up, your son and daughter.
They nay not mean to but they do."

Joy's son and daughter each, acting with the intent to care for and protect their mother, keep doing things that undermine her sense of self or ignore or over-ride her wishes. As Joy comes to terms with who she is now, her life is made more difficult by the anxieties and expectations of her children.

 

The book gives is written with empathy and honesty that is very engaging. I kept finding myself going: "That's EXACTLY how it is". Here are some examples

 

At one point, Joy,who is struggling not to be angry with the man her husband is becoming as he slips into dementia, finds herself saying: 

"I love you. I've loved you for so many years that I even love you when I don't."

One of the sources of conflict between Joy and her son and daughter is the way Joy deals with what they see a messy piles of paperwork.

 

Joy sees that messa as her life but she understands that, whe she was her daughter's age, this would have been incomprehensible to her.

"To them it was a pile,. To Joy  it was the  past and the future jumbled together. Some day they would understand. They would feel sad the way she felt sad about her own mother.

.It occurs to Joy that parents and children would understand one another better

"if only everyone could be old together."

I particularly liked the way the book dealt with Joy's grief at the death of her husband and the depression that it causes.

 

When Joy returns to her New York home after visting her daughter in California, she finds:

The sadness was there waiting for her in the apartment.  "I'm sorry," Joy said to the sadness. "I'm sorry I had to leave you behind for so long but believe me the blue skies never fooled me. You were in my thoughts I'm my heart every minute."

There is also a short chapter that captures the different expectations of the generations

Chapter 41

Daniel asked his mother if she was depressed.

She said, "Naturally".

Joy, newly widowed, newly truly old, struggles with a feeling that she has lost her place, that she no longer belongs.  Visiting a Court to pay her grandson's fine, she finds that she is not sure how to behave, in the company of such a disparate group of people.

 

She says,

"I have lost touch with normal social behaviour. I no longer know what is expected, When i find out what is expected, I do not like it. I do not belong here.  I do not belong anywhere."

As Joy makes peace with herself, she comes to understand that she does belong. She belongs amongst the frailty, failings, and the unexpected kindnesses that make up humanity in cosmopolitan New York.

 

This book was my first book by Cathleen Schine but it won't be my last. I'm grateful to her for reminding me that we all have so much in common when it comes to dealing with the things in life.

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review 2017-02-19 18:44
Sebastian Faulks takes some P.G tips
Jeeves and the Wedding Bells - Sebastian Faulks,Julian Rhind-Tutt

Sub-titled "a homage to P.G. Wodehouse", as a lifelong fan of the late,great man one can imagine that it must have been both an honour and a distinct challenge for Sebastian Faulks, to be invited by the Wodehouse estate to write a new Jeeves and Wooster novel. No pressure....though given that Faulks has similarly delivered a new James Bond novel (see my review of "Devil May Care") in the style of Ian Fleming, one cannot doubt the chameleonic qualities of this fine contemporary writer. Still, as a longstanding fan of Wodehouse myself, I also came at this book with a certain degree of trepidation and a wistful hope for more than a pale imitation of a Wodehouse original. I needn't have worried. Faulks has successfully woven the classic ingredients into a wonderfully comic plot, which sees Bertie and Jeeves revisit a glorious heyday. Indeed, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, there can be no finer accolade than to suggest this belated addition to the catalogue of J&W stories sits very comfortably alongside the originals, with deft brushstrokes that so clearly simulate the master. 

 

Since the TV series, in my imagination, Stephen Fry and Hugh Lawrie inevitably play the starring roles and the dialogue is crafted to fit their honeyed tones seamlessly. However, it is the quintessentially English nature of the farce, threaded through the frailties of the upper classes, which provides such a familiar platform for the many slapstick moments. The affable Bertie Wooster, big of heart, but none too bright, chaperoned by his patient, cerebrally-gifted manservant, who navigates through the choppy waters his master instinctively seems to steer towards. This book is stuffed with laugh-out-loud moments, which draw unashamedly on the antics of the Drones Club and references to familiar friends of old (Stinker Pinker, Boko Fittleworth, Bingo Little, Aunt Agatha, etc). Only the role swap at the core of this new tale breaks new ground with predictably hilarious consequences. If ever there was a book to brighten the cold winter evenings, this is it. Full credit to Mr Faulks for doing P.G. fans proud!

 

The shelf picture gives the impression that I ventured into the audio book, though only because the book cover was not an option in the drop-down. This book definitely is one for my actual shelf and one I expect to return to.  

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review 2017-01-30 22:02
Look Who's Back
Look Who's Back - Timur Vermes

Provocative satire, that is definitely not "pro-Hitler", but also raises quite a few interesting points when our modern societies are concerned. Mainly, the power of the media; the way one can use it to ends that aren't the ones the audience thinks; and how it can be easy enough for a person with heinous ideas to abuse people who are mostly nice into paving the way for a monster. And let's be honest, considering some current events, this satiric novel is also very, very frightening when you think about it.

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review 2017-01-30 11:56
Big Mushy Happy Lump
Big Mushy Happy Lump: A Sarah's Scribbles Collection - Sarah Andersen

(I received a copy of this book through NetGalley).

A little disappointing, compared to the first book, which I really liked. Although it was still spot on in many ways, it didn't feel as funny—perhaps because of the choice of panels this time, or perhaps because some of those were already present in volume 1, so I admit I didn't really see the point in including them again here. I was also expecting more 'summer-related' panels, owing to the blurb. Maybe the blurb was ill-chosen?

As mentioned above, it's still pretty accurate regarding many aspects of life (cats! And cats on Instagram!). But it's much too repetitive.

Conclusion: Only buy it if you never checked the author's website and haven't read book 1.

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review 2017-01-22 13:52
The Things We Carry With Us by lovesrain44
The Things We Carry With Us - lovesrain44

An excellent fanfic told from Sam's perspective throughout. The brothers travel from state to state 'saving people and hunting things,' looking out for each other as they do. But then Dean decides Sam needs a little help with his dry spell and the dynamic between the brothers is threatened.
Art by nemo
description
'It's stupid. He shouldn't be affected like this, but of course he is. He suddenly can feel Dean's hands on him, sweet and soft, Dean nuzzled up behind him, a curve of skin and breath. Doing for Sam what he couldn't do for himself. And now, it's like Dean woke something up inside of him, like a sleeping creature, which being now awakened, wants more.

Don't start what you can't finish, Dean.'

Source: archiveofourown.org/works/267862?view_adult=true
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