"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Saturday, March 1, 2014

February Books

In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White -- A memoir about the author's time in prison for bank fraud. Only his prison was a Louisiana leprosarium.  This story tells of his months there introducing us to his fellow prison inmates as well as those who had lived there for decades due to their having leprosy or Hansen's disease.  A pretty interesting book!

What's That Pig Outdoors? a Memoir of Deafness by Henry Kisor  -- I found this in the biography section of my local library.  It was interesting reading the perspective of a man who was deafened by an illness when he was three.

One of several things that struck me was how often he had to go for speech therapy because after awhile his ability to speak at least 90% clearly (or able to be understood) would falter. I like that he tried improving himself and that his speech therapists pushed him to do better.

I enjoyed his thoughts on being a life guard. How much of that is visual rather than listening for someone crying out for help.

Also when he talked about lipreading - who tended to be easier (women, Southerners) to read vs. those more difficult (men, nonSoutherners). 

"Deaf people share certain similarities with blind people, for each has suffered the loss of a sense. Our afflictions, however, are not the same.  The consequences are profoundly different. Blindness is a handicap of mobility, deafness one of communication. Terrible as is loss of vision, it does not distance the blind from the sighted the way loss of hearing separates the deaf from the normal.  Deafness opens up a huge social chasm between sufferers and nonsufferers. In the hearing world, deaf people tend to be solitary and ignored if they are lucky, lonely and rejected if they are not. That is why Samuel Johnson called deafness 'the most desperate of human calamities.'"  (pg. 11)

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell - I tend to like books where people travel to various parts of the world. I even read books from time to time of people traveling the United States from east to west by mule or those who hiked the Appalachian Trail.  This book was in a local library - the one I go to least - and it seemed odd, but of some interest so I checked it out.  I figured I could always return it not finished if it didn't capture my attention in the first chapter or two.  I found I really enjoyed it!  The author takes the reader on a trip to Key West, Washington, D.C., the Adirondack mountains, New York City, rural sights in Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland all the while telling historical tidbits about the men involved in the deaths of three United States Presidents.  She also incorporates other history and current events along with her wit and humor.  A very nice way to learn more history!  

So, do you think Dr. Samuel Mudd was guilty of conspiring to kill Abraham Lincoln or was it coincidence that John Wilkes Booth happened to know exactly how to find his house when he needed treatment?

Here is one thing that took my attention, too.

"Robert Lincoln, by the way, would continue to run the War Department for Garfield’s successor Chester Arthur.  In the 1880’s, this mostly entailed managing the dwindling Indian Wars out west, with one ghastly exception.  The same week Garfield was shot, one of Lincoln’s charges, a twenty-five-man Arctic scientific expedition was en route to Lady Franklin Bay.  Robert Todd Lincoln, writes Leonard F. Guttridge in Ghosts of Cape Sabine, "could not have cared less about the North Pole."  Underprovisioned, thanks mostly to Lincoln’s indifference toward the project, the men arrived in the North Pole to set up a base, expecting a relief ship the following year.  It never came.  After two years went by without supplies or rescue, the starving party abandoned their camp and retreated home.  Only six survived.  The survivors ate the dead men.  It was a fiasco of planning and leadership, a national embarrassment and disgrace, and as the bureaucrat in charge, Robert Lincoln had frozen blood on his hands.  When the rumors of cannibalism surfaced, Lincoln and his counterpart the secretary of the navy conspired to cover it up by announcing that the reason the bones of the dead had been mangled by knives was that the survivors cut up their comrades’ flesh to use as "shrimp bait."  That’s how ugly the scandal was - that turning human flesh into shrimp bait was a positive spin." (pg. 161)

Leaving Mother Lake: A Girlhood at the Edge of the World by Yang Erche Namu and Christine Mathieu - a memoir of a Moso girl who tells of her people's traditions and her story of how her mother defied tradition by leaving her mother's household and how Namu later did the same - except in a bigger way. The Moso believe in visiting relationships between women who live at the maternal house, and men who knock on their doors as lovers.  Marriage breaks down families and hasn't been widely-practiced.  While some people have written of the Moso as matriarchal, they are perhaps more matrilineal.

The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell -- since I liked the above-mentioned Sarah Vowell book more than I thought, I decided to see what else my library had that she's written. This book was more of a collection of thoughts on touring Presidential libraries, attending the inauguration of President George W. Bush (and Sarah's bursting into tears of sorrow), thoughts on Teddy Roosevelt (as a child she envied his asthma since he was able to lie around and read all day), Tom Cruise, Tom Landry, The Wonder Twins and a few other topics. I learned more about her upbringing in Oklahoma and Montana, her parents, her twin sister, and her nephew.

I Forgot to Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia by Su Meck  -- I found this one in the new books section of a local library.  A pretty interesting story of a lady who got struck in the head by a ceiling fan and the results of that: she lost all her 22 years worth of memories and had to learn who she was again.  She tells of her frustration of not having shared memories with people who called themselves her parents, and children, and husband, and cousins and so forth.  And the thought of kissing and having sex with this strange guy. Wait! What is sex again?  How do I even write or read or find my way places or take care of my young children?  If you know someone with a traumatic brain injury or if you just like memoirs, this might interest you.

The Chance by Karen Kingsbury -- My mom finished this and said it was good. I thought it would be great for reading while traveling to and from the beach this weekend, and it was.  An easy, somewhat predictable read, but sometimes you need something light.  This was about best friends, Nolan and Ellie, who were separated when Ellie's dad moved them across country when they were both 15 years old. Eleven years later, they meet again. Stuff like that.

Love, Charleston by Beth Webb Hart - another book that mom my finished, said was good so I decided to read it rather than return it to the library for her.  Takes place in Charleston (duh), mostly about three cousins and their experiences one year just before and after one cousin gives birth.  Deals a bit with post-partum depression. Not in a really technical way, but maybe making people more aware of it in an easy-to-read fiction way.

Beneath My Mother's Feet by Amjed Qamar -- found this in the YA section in the library.  A story from Pakistan about a girl with a pretty awful father and brother, but a good mother.  This story is about their lives once the mother and daughter become house maids because of the slackness of their male relatives.  Books like these make me sooooo thankful for my culture.

1 comment:

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Susanne, I saw your comment on my blog about Tobacco Road. Here's what I say to that:

If that is the only book people ever read about the South, they sure get a negative impression. Perhaps those characters are actually the anomaly, not the norm. I hope so. Thanks for your input.