All posts by Clio

Review: Kitchen

#ReadingIsResistance

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

Title: Kitchen
Author:  Banana Yoshimoto
Published: 1993 (US Translation)
ISBN-13: 9780671880187
Publisher:  Grove Atlantic
What’s Auntie Reading Now? picture
Grove Atlantic‘s blurb:

Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen is an enchantingly original and deeply affecting book that juxtaposes two tales about mothers, love, tragedy, and the power of the kitchen and home in the lives of a pair of free-spirited young women in contemporary Japan. Mikage, the heroine of “Kitchen,” is an orphan raised by her grandmother, who has passed away. Grieving, Mikaga is taken in by her friend Yoichi and his mother (who is really his cross-dressing father) Eriko. As the three of them form an improvised family that soon weathers its own tragic losses, Yoshimoto spins a lovely, evocative tale with the kitchen and the comforts of home at its heart. In a whimsical style that recalls the early Marguerite Duras, “Kitchen” and its companion story, “Moonlight Shadow,” are elegant tales whose seeming simplicity is the ruse of a very special writer whose voice echoes in the mind and the soul.

#ReadingIsResistance to the mundane and mainstream.  To the idea that love, death, and everything inbetween follows rules.  And to the idea family is constrained by blood lines.

I’m finding the more broadly I read authors who are less like me, the more entertaining my world becomes.  And I’m finding Japanese authors have wriggled into my readers’ heart.

Enter new (to me) author Banana Yoshimoto, who says on her website she chose the nom de plume because she liked banana flowers.  Which is so completely different from the racist term I had most often heard regarding Asian Americans.  And while Banana Yoshimoto is not Asian American, but Japanese, that racist epithet is what I immediately thought of.  I worry about what that might say about me.

Kitchen is a tenderly written book about death, love in many forms, and what family comes to mean.  The title symbolizes the place Yoshimoto’s narrator, Mikaga, becomes most comfortable.  The kitchen is what becomes home, regardless of circumstance.  A well kept, well stocked kitchen is balm to jangled nerves and the problems which plague every human being.

I came to Japanese writing through Haruki Murakami, the voice of Japanese magical realism.  Yoshimoto’s book has hints of magical realism, but it’s grounded in the realities of lives filled with grief from mutual loss, and happiness from mutual kinship.  And just under the surface are the oblique references to what can only be referred to as … otherworldly.  I’m not sure that’s the right word, but it will have to do because those are the themes touching on the indescribable.  It’s the evanescence we all chase after as we seek answers which are bigger than we are.

Mikaga finds comfort in her kitchens, which ground her and give her space to deal with the just on the tip of the brain/heart/lips thoughts of heavier concerns.  Kitchen may be about love, and death, and family; it’s also about finding a resting place among the chaos.

#readingisresistance is a collaboration between readers and book bloggers who believe in the activism of reading; especially in the current political climate. Reading enriches, teaches, and allows us to experience the lives of others. It leads us to understanding. It forces us to confront the hard questions, and asks us to engage with the world in a way which leads to change. Join the resistance.

Review: The BFG

#ReadingIsResistance

The BFG
by Roald Dahl

Title: The BFG
Author:  Roald Dahl
Published: 1982
ISBN-13: 9780142410387
Publisher:  Puffin
What’s Auntie Reading Now? picture
Puffin blurb:

The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It’s lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, or any of the other giants—rather than the BFG—she would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that the giants are flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!

Such delightful word play.  And a story about unlikely friends who join forces to save the children of the word from those nasty bone-crunching children of the world.  There’s nothing more to say other than don’t deprive yourself of this wonderful little story.

#readingisresistance is a collaboration between readers and book bloggers who believe in the activism of reading; especially in the current political climate. Reading enriches, teaches, and allows us to experience the lives of others. It leads us to understanding. It forces us to confront the hard questions, and asks us to engage with the world in a way which leads to change. Join the resistance.

Review: Who I Am

#ReadingIsResistance

Pete Townshend
Who I Am by Pete Townshend

Title: Who I Am
Author: Pete Townshend
Published: 2012
ISBN-13: 9780062127242
Publisher:  Harper Collins
What’s Auntie Reading Now? picture
Harper Collins blurb:

From the voice of a generation:

…smashed his first guitar onstage, in 1964, by accident.
…heard the voice of God on a vibrating bed in rural Illinois.
…invented the Marshall stack, feedback, and the concept album.
…stole his windmill guitar-playing from Keith Richards.
…detached from his body in an airplane, on LSD, and nearly died.
…has some explaining to do.
…is the most literary and literate musician of the last fifty years.
…planned to write his memoir when he was 21.
…published this book at 67.

One of rock music’s most intelligent and literary performers, Pete Townshend—guitarist, songwriter, editor—tells his closest-held stories about the origins of the preeminent twentieth-century band The Who, his own career as an artist and performer, and his restless life in and out of the public eye in this candid autobiography, Who I Am.

With eloquence, fierce intelligence, and brutal honesty, Pete Townshend has written a deeply personal book that also stands as a primary source for popular music’s greatest epoch. Readers will be confronted by a man laying bare who he is, an artist who has asked for nearly sixty years: Who are you?

I entered Who I Am with trepidation.  Autobiographies can be dangerously self-centered, filled with rationale for bad behavior.  Often, they can be poorly written.  Neither is true with Townshend’s book.

At times it reads as a recitation of events from a calendar.  But what struck me most about Townshend was his honesty about the triumvirate of a rock god’s life, and his struggles with hidden memories of child abuse, his spiritual practice, and his love and devotion to making and writing music.

Process is one of those nebulous words which gets thrown around.  Reading about others’ processes helps me understand mine.  Townshend proudly discusses how much work went into his process, and how much joy it brought him.

He is also deeply honest about what an absolute horror he was.  And his struggles to come to grips with any of it while living the privileged life his music afforded him.  It’s also clear that without his music, Townshend’s life would have been one of complete and utter misery, with little hope for even a moment of joy.

Where would our world of music be without the influence of Pete Townshend and The Who?  I’m glad we’ll never have to know.

#readingisresistance is a collaboration between readers and book bloggers who believe in the activism of reading; especially in the current political climate. Reading enriches, teaches, and allows us to experience the lives of others. It leads us to understanding. It forces us to confront the hard questions, and asks us to engage with the world in a way which leads to change. Join the resistance, read.

 

 

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Personal Log: 10/30 – 11/5/2017

Ghostbusters @ work

Oh the things I see at work!

Family Affairs:
Linden’s European Trip for WWII History
Attended:
The First Amendment, Fake News and Donald Trump – presented by The Wrap and the Newseum
Really interesting panel discussion about the state of news, news publishing and the first amendment under 45.  The panelist I’m most interested in knowing more about is the Newseum’s COO Gene Policinski, who has a less doom and gloom view about 45’s incendiary comments about the media.  And what a great historian!
Overheard:
Van Jones on City Arts & Lectures on KQED speaking about his book and #LoveArmyBeyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together now on my  wishlist.
Projected menu for the week:
  • Chicken in Tomato Sauce (I’m only using this recipe for the tomato sauce
  • Baked fruit (a work in progress)
  • Pumpkin Energy Balls – without the chocolate chips (or as I call them, “Breakfast Balls”)
  • Mandarin oranges
  • Steamed Veggies (including spiralized beets and zucchini)
  • Creamy Dijon Vinaigrette – a favorite recipe
Reading:
Watching:
Gotham – Season 3 (Netflix) – Completed

The final shot in the Season 3 finale is the first moment we see Bruce Wayne as vigilante Batman.  Edward Nygman becomes the Riddler, and continues his bromance with Penguin.  Various Dr. Hugo Strange experiments hit the streets and die.  Harvey continues to drink.  Jim Gordon finds his equilibrium, but loses at love several more times.  You know, business as usual in Gotham.

These:
Bookish Things:
I don’t believe anyone “must read” anything and wish Book Riot would stop using that phrase.  I’ve read 10/100.

    • 100 Must-Read Novels About Religion
      1. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.*
      2. Certain Women by Madeleine L’Engle
      3. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
      4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood*
      5. The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis
      6. My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk*
      7. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie+
      8. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
      9. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse*
      10. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

*favorites
+One of the most difficult books I’ve ever read.  I’m glad to have read it, just to know what “everyone” else was talking about.

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Personal Log: 10/23/17 – 10/29/2017

https://scontent-atl3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/22555076_10154941819462694_7912765280970268466_n.jpg?oh=f74fd3cd9c3d79158d07c764156b8e23&oe=5AACC74E

New glasses!

Published: 

Edvard Munch review

From AARP’s August/September 2017 issue:  (the one with the gorgeous cover by Peter Max ) (also petermax.com)
Projected menu for the week:
  • Roasted Eggplant Soup (I’m adapting this recipe to suit my needs)
    • Bonus rant:  If recipes (just the recipe) can’t be easily printed, or saved to Pinterest, the food blogger has failed their audience.  I do not want to wade through personal memories and scads of pictures to get to the recipe.  Put the recipe, with directions, in a useful format at the top.  And then talk about whatever and post pictures.  I probably wound up on your site because of a recipe search, so I want the recipe.  Then you can woo me with other stuff.  Also?  A print feature … not that hard to install with today’s blogging technologies.
  • Slow-Cooker Curried Chicken With Ginger and Yogurt (a favorite recipe)
  • Baked fruit (a work in progress)
  • Pumpkin Energy Balls – without the chocolate chips (or as I call them, “Breakfast Balls”)
  • Mandarin  oranges
Reading:
New to the Stacks:
Watching:
  • Ripper Street (BBC America on Netflix)
    • Just finished this fascinating series about Victorian era Whitechapel, London (home to Jack the Ripper).  The final season neatly tied everything up in a bow.  It was a little flat for me, probably due the lack of Inspector Drake, and the utterly predictable shenanigans of Long Susan and Captain Jackson.  Good to see the deliciously malevolent Inspector Shine.
      • And this odd connection to Jack the Ripper.  Probably more than I really wanted to know.
  • Gotham – Season 3 (Netflix)
    • James Gordon gone rogue?  Noooooo, say it isn’t so.
  • Comrade Detective (Amazon Video)
    • Romanian communist propaganda buddy cop show which imitates the tropes of Western cops shows and Americans in general.  And just misses.
These:
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Review: Edvard Munch @ SFMOMA

SFMOMA
SFMOMA

SFMOMA is simply gorgeous with large open spaces and lots of natural light.  Having now worked at a museum for over two years, I understand the fascination with becoming like SFMOMA.  If only …

The Munch exhibit Between the Bed and the Clock featured over 40 paintings.  All of them emotional and intense.  Weeks later, I’m still grappling with some of the more uncomfortable works dealing with death and great sadness.  Of course, about all I knew about him before this exhibit was The Scream which has a weakened impact since becoming an icon of pop culture, even having its own emoji.

Reading the catalogue helped me some.

An Icon of Emotion – article from SFMOMA

He was constantly drawn to the theatrical, the imaginary, the fantastic. Birth, death, love, and conflict, for instance, and tensions between male and female. This artist was not one to separate art from life.

A couple of my favorites:

https://i0.wp.com/www.nasjonalmuseet.no/filestore/Samlinger_og_forskning/Edvard_Munch_i_Nasjonalgalleriet/Natt_i_St_Cloud_1890/NG.M.01111.jpg?resize=281%2C339     Night in St. Cloud (1893)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://i1.wp.com/munchmuseet.no/assets/ekely/_952x535_fit_center-center_75/M0032_20160226.jpg?resize=285%2C343Starry Night (1922-24)

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Van Gogh’s Starry Night is one of my favorite paintings.  Van Gogh and Munch were contemporaries.

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Review: Ghachar Ghochar

#ReadingIsResistance

Ghachar Ghochar
by Vivek Shanbhag

Title: Ghachar Ghochar
Author: Vivek Shanbhag
Published: 2013
ISBN-13: 9780143111689
Publisher:Penguin Random House
Twitter: @VivekShanbhag0

What’s Auntie Reading Now? picture

Penguin Random House’s blurb:

A young man’s close-knit family is nearly destitute when his uncle founds a successful spice company, changing their fortunes almost overnight. As the narrator—a sensitive, passive man who is never named—his mother, father, sister, and uncle move from a cramped, ant-infested shack to a large new house on the other side of Bangalore, the family dynamic starts to shift. Allegiances realign, marriages are arranged and begin to falter, and conflict brews ominously in the background. Before he knows it, things are “ghachar ghochar”—a nonsense phrase meaning something tangled beyond repair, a knot that can’t be untied.

Driving home after work one evening, I caught Maureen Corrigan’s review on NPR.  So taken with it, I ordered it the next day.  And I was not disappointed.  My summation comes to this, “Money changes everything.”  And when you don’t have it, and all of a sudden get it, life changes in unexpected ways.

In 118 pages, Vivek Shanbhag spins the story of how money changes everything for one family in Bangalore.  Of most interest to me were the emotional changes sudden riches wrought.  From the overspending, possessively jealous women to the carefree narrator who simply doesn’t understand why his bride finds pride in earning her own money, when he doesn’t need to work at all.

The ghost of no money hovers over this family like a foul-smelling cloud.  Money does not bring peace, the way many of us think it would/should.  In Ghachar Ghochar, all it does is bring chaos.

I love this little book so much that when our CEO announced his departure, I knew he needed a copy.  From someone who loves great stories to someone who also loves them.  This is a book I wish I could buy for all my readerly friends.

#readingisresistance is a collaboration between readers and book bloggers who believe in the activism of reading; especially in the current political climate. Reading enriches, teaches, and allows us to experience the lives of others. It leads us to understanding. It forces us to confront the hard questions, and asks us to engage with the world in a way which leads to change. Join the resistance, read.

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