Category Archives: Books
When I picked up The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens at the library last week I didn’t expect it to be one of those books I couldn’t put down. In fact, towards the end I tried to slow down to savor every sentence. Lansens comes from a background in screenwriting and I have a feeling that is one reason why this book clicked for me. Another reason is the way she brings the character to life. When I finished the book, I felt like I wanted to send Mary Gooch an e-mail just to see how she’s doing and to tell her what an inspiration I think she’s been to any woman stuck in a rut.
In an interview with Elle magazine, Lansens describes what happened to her when she began telling Mary Gooch’s story.
ELLE: You describe yourself as a method writer. Can you tell us more about how the characters take over when you’re writing?
LL: I either embody the characters, or they embody me. I definitely feel that I grow another skin. I must say that during the first half of writing The Wife’s Tale I developed some very poor health. I was in the emergency room twice with heart palpitations and panic attacks. As one of my actor friends pointed out: your body doesn’t know that you’re making art. You think about struggle and challenge and you imagine yourself weighing 302 pounds and being restricted and in despair. Your body doesn’t know that that’s not the case. I found the journey with Mary very interesting. I know it’s not the same for all writers, but I have heard other writers describe the experience that way. read more here
Inside Kite, an alarm screeched. This one more shrill than the last. In addition, lights flashed on the console. A disinterested institutional-grade, gender-non-specific voice was activated for this event, and it announced: “Reducible waste in Orbit #1. Inhabited craft endangered.” Dash woke wide up, but he still didnt’ rise from his couch.
Out the front window he saw the two-seater skid ahead.
What do self-aware software, space debris, sly references to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker trilogy, and the Tunguska Event have in common? All appear in Bill Shears excellent novel “KiTE”.
I finished reading Up From The Blue by Susan Henderson two nights ago and I’m still not quite ready to pick up another book. This book took me back to my high school years, right back to the mid-70’s. Those were the days of pet rocks, bikes with banana seats, mood rings and family secrets. No Internet. No cell phones. No personal computers. The story is told by Tilly, a young girl, whose mother suffers from depression, a disease without a name. Jennifer Haupt interviewed Ms. Henderson for Psychology Today and asks her about her research for Mara, Tilly’s mother. Here’s what she says:
Mara was pretty well formed in my mind, and I’d been a counselor for a number of years so I used my clinical knowledge to bring her to life. But in order to really see the world through her eyes and understand how she could spiral into something so debilitating, I actually read volumes of poems by Ann Sexton and Sylvia Plath.It’s interesting, though, that you and I can use the word depression because this isn’t part of the vocabulary of the Harris family. They’re living on a military base in the mid-seventies, and this isn’t the best time or place in history to have a breakdown. They’re simply blindsided and confused by what’s happening. And since there isn’t a name for it, Mara’s husband reaches for words like “lazy,” “stubborn,” and “helpless”. Shame begins to guide the choices they make, sending the family down a slippery slope.
What really intrigues me about Mara is that, while she’s far along on the spectrum of depression, she echoes the emotions I’ve heard from plenty of good and healthy moms. She feels buried by housework, depleted by Tillie’s need for attention, and she’s lost connection with the activities that feed her sense of passion and identity. Without the safety net of friends or an understanding spouse, or professional help, she’s really fighting this alone. At one point in the book, Tillie wonders who her mother might have been if they’d gotten her help. I wonder that, too.
I can’t help but think that despite the bad rap that social media gets…. as a place where identity thieves lurk waiting to scoop up your private information, or where so-called “friends” are not real friends, or as simply a big time-waster….I can’t help but think that had the same story taken place today, people like Mara, or even young Tilly, would find a support group, a friend to talk to, someone who’d know just what they were going through.
While I read Up From The Blue I had a chance to revisit the 70’s and immerse myself in the quiet dysfunction, but just as I was happy when Tilly grew up to be a flawed but forgiving woman, I was grateful to return to the 21st century.