Monday, April 30, 2007
A review of Prodigal Summer by Barbra Kingsolver:
Over the course of one steamy summer three lives are intertwined, refreshed and enriched in Zebulon County, a rural land somewhere in Appalachia. Kingsolver follows the lives of three people in Zebulon County and each chapter alternates between Moth Love, Chestnut trees, and Predators, named after each character’s private obsessions.
Sometimes when I read novels set up this way I fall for one of the characters and the rest of the chapters are just a precursor to their story, however, I loved each and every character in this book, and savored every sentence.
Moth Love is the story of Lusa, a mixed heritage entomologist struggling to find her place on the farm. Her ancient farmhouse is filled with ghosts: her family, the childhood of her husband, his relatives, his scent. The ghosts are Lusa; she must learn to live with them before she can accept who she is and how she wants to live her life.
Old Chestnut: Garnet is a sanctimonious old fart. I loved this character, but I’m finding it rather hard to write about him. His family made a fortune logging chestnuts, the blight took it and he has had to work hard his whole life: he’s not complaining, it’s just how it is. His hobby is crossing American chestnuts with the blight resistant Chinese chestnut, half the time he considers the immortality they will bring him, half the time he realizes that unless he changes no one will ever see, let alone care about his Chestnuts. He is like the chestnut trees: the omnipresent memory of vitality and strength in tradition— yet technically extinct.
Predators: Deanna lives on the mountain; her mountain. Completely isolated from society she protects the mountain and all it’s deliciously detailed lives. Deanna delivers some of the best lines in the book: “All the really good animals are extinct”, and “thanks for this day, for all birds safe in their nests, for whatever this is, for life”, both of which I find quite beautiful. Her thing is coyotes; she is tracking one family who has made an unprecedented stay in her forest. Deanna is overwhelmed by the need to keep their presence a secret; the local farmers love to hate all predators.
I love the detail, I loved the easiness of reading, I loved the reoccurring themes of sex, verdant and streaming, of survival, of pure self-obsessed joy in living. The best thing is while each story was told, with a clear beginning, middle and end, it is equally clear none of the stories are over, that no story can end, truly.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Indian Killer, Sherman Alexie
Not his usual story—this book has an element of suspense. I absolutely loved it, but then, I love everything Alexie writes. The Indian Killer is either an Indian who kills white people—much like the ghost dance (the Indian killer is the ghost dance, I believe) but it could be read another way—white people are the Indian killer, killing Indians left and right with only that same theme of humanity running through their heads: “Our way feels so right, so their way must be wrong”. Even though he paints anthropologists as about the most mis-directed and irritating humans on the face of the planet, I still saw his point and grew from it.
I savored this book, rereading passages that sounded more like poetry than prose. This book is different than his other books, but only slightly: it’s one part mystery, one part detailed fiction, one part poetry, and one part revolution. Read it. Now.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I was starting to enjoy a bit of self pity on April 20th, normally and traditionally a day spent in relaxation with my friends. That particular day, however, my grandparents and I were continually fouled in our attempts to leave the Keys.
I was sitting on the bow of the Coralie around four pm, about to immerse myself in the afore mentioned self-pity, when I heard someone near the boat say "oh look, a manatee come for some water".
A medium sized female Manatee was right off the swim-platform, so naturally I jumped down to get a better look. They are attracted to the freshwater that comes out of around boats. It's illegal to water them or mess with them, so for all intents and purposes I didn't. I did however scrub some of the algae off her and try to scrape off the barnacles.
Such icky little parasites, the barnacle. The horrid things shrunk back in their little cement-like holes whenever my hands went near them.
Manatees are so cute, although they really shouldn't be: we humans normally prefer things with big eyes and heads. Looking at them, you can tell they must have changed from something more complex to something less, they are quite simple. I read that the manatee has a totally smooth brain, and I think if it has thoughts they are something like this: "water?", "mmmm, water".
I've seen more manatees than my most and have always considered myself lucky, but that day I spent about an hour just hanging out with that Manatee- we were in a boat-yard, so it wasn't all that busy and she really seemed to enjoy the cleaning. I enjoyed it too. Best non-normal day ever.
There was a herd of six manatee in the north (sunny and slightly warmer) part of Sombrero Cay Clubs marina as we were leaving Saturday. They all had the scars and barnacles that are typical-- makes you realize that even though they are so giant and massive (average 800- 1,200 lbs) like everything in the sea they are sensitive to man's invasions.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I know the people who own this boat. Most boat insurance requires people to either store their boats or move them for hurricane season down here. This boat is actually missing most of her bridge, and she's still that big. The boat yard is neat: privacy and boats in all their hugeness.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Naples is grossly riche. I went shopping, or looking rather. Found a gauze skirt tht i swear you could pick up at wallmart selling (on sale) for $375.00, and the worst part is, none of those people worked for anything they have. I shouldn't make blanket statements like that, but hey, it's olde money to match olde Naples, so I'm just reporting the obvious.
Monday, April 16, 2007
a few of you know why this poem rips my heart apart, if you don't, well, you're better off:
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like
a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
I've been the crew and occasionally captain for my grandparents on their yacht for the past two weeks-- No internet, not happy- not great weather, really awful health-- everyone thinks when you say you're on a yacht you're having fun-- let me tell you, it's not that fun. It's fucking hard ass work. And, not only are you responsible for a yacht, you're (I'm) responsible for my, my grandparents, and their dog's life. The ocean is pretty- pretty boring and pretty terrifying.
But, I'm on Captiva island, and this might just be the most beautiful spot on this earth. It makes up for 8+hours of absolute terror-- it's that damn pretty. I have about a million pictures, bear with me. And thanks Eleni and Kieth, yours words got me through the worst day I can remember. The next time someone tells you how much they love the open water,just go ahead and hit them for me.