Gratitude and Garbage Picks

Thankful for AC! Even today, with less sun, a slight breeze, and considerably lower temps, walking 2.5 miles and re-entering a cooled house is to feel next-level gratitude. Woosh!

Our garbage-picking days are mostly behind us, but a reno around the corner on Cypress Street is spitting up some irresistible items. Took two mirrors last week and, get this, a child-sized upholstered chair.

Would its diminutive proportions accommodate me? Would it feel comfy? Yes and yes! K is fixing the broken leg and then I’ll put it upstairs for zoom calls and writing.

Have any of you read Lessons in Chemistry? My comments, below, will be deleted at week’s end because I don’t generally like to leave negative reviews online.

But boy oh boy. Giving the dog a point of view? Sloppy and silly. Other points of view sliding around willy-nilly? Again sloppy. Making your precocious kindergarten character’s reading materials be utterly, laughably incredible? And then there’s how this is a book about a pioneer in a TV cooking show and no mention is made of Julia Child in the acknowledgments (which ran to four pages or more).

Having said that, I get the appeal. It’s a page-turner and the heroine is an unyielding, outspoken resister of cultural norms in all the best possible ways. Think: Katharine Hepburn.

And of course, I have to applaud the author because this debut was published when she was 65.

From the other end of the age spectrum comes the impressive Nightcrawling, also a debut, written by a 21-year-old. A gritty coming of age story about a teenaged girl whose parents are unavailable and whose older brother abandons her (essentially), so what does she do to meet the rent? She turns tricks. Turns out, a cluster of disgusting and corrupt cops start using her services and she becomes embroiled in the exposee of their criminality. The plot was good, as was character development, but what really stunned me were some of her unusual and starkly original use of the senses to describe ordinary parts of life.

If you’re looking for short and sadly sweet, I recommend Irish author Claire Keegan. I read both Foster and Small Things Like These. These are short enough to be considered novellas and read like long short stories, really. Lovely language, poignant plot lines, and goddamn the Catholic Church.

I’ll save the biography and my favorite book pictured, The Sweetness of Water, for another time or, knowing how things go, maybe not another time.

18 thoughts on “Gratitude and Garbage Picks

  1. Joanne in Maine

    I love the book- Lessons in Chemistry. A Librarian “liked the kid and the dog” and nothing else…… I read the Library copy and bought my own book.

  2. Joanne in Maine.

    When my son comes to help with his dad (memory loss) I will sign up for Netflix and get a new TiVo and a new iPhone. Well, he’ll do all this FOR me….

    1. deemallon Post author

      It’s interesting to hear different responses to the dog. I’ll keep a tally. Another friend hated it, plus me is two. You and Joanne pro is two. Even for now.

      Having just read en entire novel told from the POV of a mountain lion, it’s not the idea of it that bothers me. It
      was the execution.

  3. Ellen

    Thanks for these great selections! Totally agree on Lessons in Chemistry, but the page-turning did drag me out of a bad non-reading slump.

  4. Liz A

    I love old mirrors … and what a great whale pictured on the wall in the background!

    Child-sized chairs are such fun (reminding me of my elementary school library days) …

    And thanks for the book reviews … I think I’ll take a pass on the dog’s point of view

    1. deemallon Post author

      That whale painting is by my talented cousin, Ginny Mallon. You remind me that I was gonna post a good photo of it now that it’s hung properly.

  5. Nancy

    Coming back…I remember that I once knew someone who collected mirrors. I wrote something for her or about that once. Mmmm…wonder where that is?
    Yes, it is enough, along with the online video watching (you tube)…but I do wonder what the deal is about reading these days.

    1. deemallon Post author

      I think sometimes our bandwidth gets stressed by life and reading cannot make its way through. This can be dramatic or more pedestrian. My brother hasn’t read a book since his stroke and I doubt that he ever will. In this house, when my news consumption gets overloaded, I find fiction reading suffers.

      And anyway, I’m not one of these old-school types that puts books above film/TV in some arbitrary hierarchy of value.

  6. Marti

    I ‘ve sat with this blog post for a while. I find that when the news is too much with us, I do read, but in those times, it is not fiction, but nonfiction. FYI: I read every day, a combination of fiction and non-fiction. So I gathered up the books that I turn to time and time again when the angst rises to the surface and I find solace from the following:

    John O’Donohue- Walking in Wonder

    Maeve Binchy- Maeve’s Times, a collection of the many columns she wrote when she was a columnist for The Irish Times.

    Wise Women- a photographic book of faces of women with their own words by Joyce Tennyson.

    Maya Angelou- The Heart of a Woman.

    Isabel Allende- The Sum of Our Days, an early memoir.

    Joan Baez- Daybreak, a memoir written in 1968. This book is very poignant because it was given to me by my sister,when our lives were more in sync, in more loving times. She wrote inside this book, ” To My Joan”. Joan’s last sentences in this book, just move me so: She wrote,

    “You, Dear Reader…
    You are Amazing Grace,
    You are a Precious Jewel.

    Only you and I can help the sunrise each coming morning. If we don’t, it may drench itself in sorrow.

    You- special, miraculous, unrepeatable, fragile,, fearful, tender, lost, sparkling ruby, emerald jewel, rainbow splendor person. It’s up to you.

    Would it embarrass you very much if I were to tell you that… I love you…””

    Lastly, for obvious reasons, I have been dipping into a book by M. J. Harden, Voices of Wisdom, Hawaiian Elders Speak.

    1. deemallon Post author

      Thank you for this list Marti. It’s going in my notebook of “things to get to.” You remind me that reading inspirational nonfiction is a great option during a reading slough.

      And what a writing from your sister. It must be hard to read?

  7. Marti

    did not spell the author of Wise Women’s name correctly, It is Joyce Tenneson.

    Not sure what you mean by the writing from my siter. She only wrote the inscription, To My Joan. The words quoted are by Joan Baez. Still to see my sisters handwriting is a gut clench…I just have to believe that when she looks down on me, it is with a lighter glance. I’ve only had a visitation from her once and she r4eassured me that she was well so maybe, I am still her “Joan.”


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