Teeny Tiny: last summer
Remember Tiny the magpie? And the love of his life, Tina? And remember Catharina who patiently observed the pair and reported on their goings-on? Check out the story here if you missed that post.
After writing about Catharina and Tiny, I wondered what was going on with Tiny and Tina and would periodically email Catharina to find out. You might have wondered yourself how they were faring.
Now you can read the whole story of Tiny and Tina and of Catharina, too, in Fly Wings, Fly High!.What you might not realize is that Catharina had a stroke (at quite a young age) and began her recovery around the time that young Tiny was trying to learn how to deal with his screwed-up wing.
Catherine Lind’s narrative about her recovery from a stroke is threaded with the story of a wild magpie Lind observes struggling to fly with a deformed wing. Tiny, as Lind names the bird that lives in her yard, works very hard at learning to fly. Lind is inspired as she watches Tiny for months as he keeps trying to fly–first a few feet, then from a little “jungle gym” Lind creates for him, and then to the apple tree to eat the fruit.
Lind finds that Tiny is ever hopeful and persistent. When he tries to land, he isn’t graceful and crashes over and over. Each time, he picks himself up and tries again. He is never downhearted, and he never gives up. But it’s not so easy for Lind who has always prided herself on her skill with words. They are her livelihood and her portal to the world. When the stroke knocks out half her vocabulary in both English and Swedish, she can only communicate by speaking a combination of both languages. Sometimes it seems as if she will never recover.
Watching Tiny’s determination and good spirits, Lind decides to follow his lead and work intensely on her skills by singing, hand exercises, and eventually, telling elaborate stories aloud about Tiny and his life. Reading Fly Wings, Fly High! taught me a great deal about what it is like to experience a stroke, and I was comforted and intrigued by the extraordinary tale of Tiny, whose influence on Lind’s life has been enormous. My life has been enriched by reading this charming story told by a very talented storyteller.
Catharina’s book is short, like a novella—either a very short novel or a long short story. It’s available in paperback or for Kindle.
I so enjoyed the loving detail of the natural world and the animals found within. When I was a kid I loved books that paid attention to this world (Gene Stratton Porter and Louisa May Alcott both managed this accomplishment at times), but I’ve moved away from it as an adult. What a wonderful experience to inhabit that world again.
Additionally, learning about the effects of a stroke from the inside out was fascinating; I’ve never read anything quite like Catharina’s experience.
Yesterday I washed sweet Perry’s bedding and a hairball fell onto the floor. It had WORMS coming out of it. Right after we began fostering him I took his poo to the vet and paid $ to have it tested at the lab. Must have been at a certain point in the life cycle where it doesn’t show up because this hairball is just jammed with worms. I am being so nice to you not to show it to you. Heh. My stomach is still heaving a little. But imagine how bad his tummy has hurt all this time!
I did work on the galleys for Kin Types. That was fun, but a little difficult with my cataracts. Sigh.
Category Archives: Book Review
Generally I am a fan of lyrical memoir and lyrical poetry. Give me metaphors and gorgeous descriptions. Give me something to admire in the way words bounce off each other and give me a sense of the glorious art of language.
This is not Becky Galli’s memoir. Rethinking Possible, Rebecca Faye Smith Galli’s memoir, is told in a voice that is hers: direct, focused, prepared, smart, communicative, tough, and with a spark of humor.
Becky’s memoir is a must read. Becky’s memoir touched my heart, and I have a hard time writing about it. It’s not like writing about a beautiful artful book. It’s writing about someone’s heart and soul right out there on paper.
Becky’s memoir will be going to film. I wonder who will play Becky.
Becky is a competitive type-A personality, driven to be perfect and nearly reaching it. But God has other plans for her life than what she has envisioned or set up in her personal PowerPoint presentation (metaphor).
In literature, I have never seen a person’s life so beset by one tragedy after another, except in war literature. And yet Becky was prepared for this—prepared by the best. Her pastor father was a marvelous mentor to other pastors, a newspaper columnist, and a clear thinker. He shielded Becky throughout her upbringing with the strength of his wonderful advice.
That’s why, when I turned the page and encountered a chapter entitled “Farewell to My Father,” I burst completely and utterly into tears. I’m sure the gardener thought I had lost it as he was watching TV nearby.
I could provide you the litany of losses in Becky’s life, but really, what is the point. Please, in this one case at least, take my word for it and read the book.
I travelled through the darkest days with Becky in this book and at the end I am not sad. Amazed, certainly. Gobsmacked, for sure. I am not sad because watching how Becky’s family was transformed has left me in awe of what family is and can be.
I can’t write about this book without tearing up, but I also can’t wait to see that movie when it eventually happens!
Are you a reader? I suspect if you’re a blog reader then you do consider yourself to be a reader.
Then read the list below and tell me what else I missed that Goodreads offers to readers.
If you’re not yet on Goodreads, let me tell you what I like about it. It can be a very social media. You can choose to join lots of groups and chat about all kinds of books and book issues. If you don’t find the group you want, you can create and moderate one.
But if you don’t want to be that social, you can choose your comfort level—anywhere from social butterfly to recluse.
What else can you do on Goodreads
- When you hear about a book you want to read in the future, you can add it to your to-read list.
- Your own personal reading lists will keep you organized. At any time, you can look up what you have already read and see which books you are “currently reading,” but have forgotten about (I’ve misplaced the book or forgotten I was in the middle of one on Kindle—don’t ask). Organization can be by genre.
- Book reviews by other Goodreads readers will give you an idea if you want to read a book or not.
- Your own book reviews will remind you later of what you liked or didn’t like—and allow you to interact with others about any book you choose. They will also reward a writer whose book you really appreciated. If you already leave book reviews on Amazon, you can post the exact same review both places.
- Friends will send you book recommendations.
- Take a reading challenge.
- Follow your favorite blogs through Goodreads.
- When you’re busy, you can just ignore Goodreads; it won’t mind.
- Book giveaways are super easy to enter, and you have a good chance of winning. How do I know? I have won!
- You can follow or friend writers and correspond with them through public questions or personal messages.
- Occasionally there are book-related gigs available.
- Need a quote? Find them here.
- Quizzes, author pages, and creative writing opportunities are on Goodreads.
Those of you already on the site, what do you like best about Goodreads?
Kin Types had an original release date of June 23, 2017, but I got an email from the publisher. They are running five weeks behind. So don’t look for your copy until the end of July or first week of August! I’m so sorry for the delay. !@#$%^&*()
In the better news category, Doll God was reviewed by an academic critic in a print journal Pleiades Book Review 14:2.
Christine Butterworth-McDermott: “Dolls, Freaks, Art: American Poets Creating a New Mythology.”
Butterworth-McDermott’s article is a feminist reading of Doll God. I love how she connected with the doll and fairy tale poems in the book. She also reviews two other books, by Susan Swartwout and Denise Alvarez, in the same piece. At the end, she says, “Readers should read and reread the works of Castle, Swartwout, and Alvarez, finding new ways of looking at the world each time.”
Since I haven’t been writing lately I started Diane Lockward’s poetry craft book, The Crafty Poet II. I am writing a few very rough drafts based on exercises in the book. It’s a good way to get started again.
I like my books and flowers in large quantity!
Over the last week we had company and had fun every day. My best friend from junior high visited with her husband. We had fun here in town and also traveled through mid-Arizona to Arcosanti (Paolo Soleri’s unfinished utopian city), Montezuma Castle (cave dwellings), Sedona, Cottonwood, Jerome, and Prescott. I got myself beyond-tired, that’s how tired! But what a great time, and we will miss them as they live in Indiana.
In fact, I’m so tired I haven’t prepared any photos for your viewing pleasure. Sigh.
Next day, the floor men and the termite man (yes, all men) came to fix our wood floor that was invaded by a few termites. Luckily, they all turned out to be dead (the termites, not the men, thank goodness), but the work lasted twelve hours–and is not done since they haven’t been able to match the stain color yet.
I received two copies of the new issue of Badlands Literary Journal with my poem “The Stuff of Claustrophobia” in it. You might recall an earlier version from when I did the Tupelo Press 30/30 poetry writing event. It’s based on a news event from Mexico where a young bride is misdiagnosed and mistakenly buried alive. When her husband realizes it, he tries to dig her up before it’s too late.
As far as Kin Types goes, the pre-order period has less than four weeks left. I know this sounds really obnoxious, but if FLP doesn’t get enough pre-orders, the chapbook can’t go to press. So if you are considering purchasing one, please do so now while it counts toward that initial important fact: getting it published.
A huge thank you to those who have already placed your order!
Carla McGill, of Writing Customs, in her advance review, says there are “surprises and multiple perspectives.” Justin Hamm, editor of the museum of americana says “Kin Types exists at the precise place where literature and history intersect to make something both beautiful and true.”
Carla’s entire review is available through the pre-order link:
I finished another memoir, this time one my mother recommended. Called Brain on Fire, it’s about a young journalist (Susannah Cahalan) who suddenly lost her mind. She suffered from symptoms which appeared to be mental illness, but were accompanied by seizures–her only actual provable “physical” symptom. After being wrongly treated by a neurologist who insisted she suffered from over-drinking (she was not a big drinker), she was admitted to the epilepsy ward at NYU.
Her first stay was a full month and during that time she lost her mental abilities and, although she slowly recovered after her rare condition was corrected diagnosed and treated, she lost her memories of that month.
Because of her job and her position at the New York Post, Cahalan was able to publish an article about her illness that spurred the medical world into diagnosing others with the conditions. She wondered how many people were locked away in psych wards when they, in fact, had anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis. How many people had unnecessarily died? In the few short years since her illness in 2009, the condition is diagnosed much more often–and lives have been saved because of her courage and her job and connections.
The book is important because of its spotlight on this particular rare illness, but also for how it shows that there is hope for other sufferers who have not received diagnoses or proper diagnoses. I went through a similar problem with original diagnosis for the tumor in my foot when the first specialist I went to, a “big name” doctor, ignored my concerns and misdiagnosed me in a way that could have led to me losing my ability to walk permanently. I suspect this happens more often than we know.
Another aspect of the book I found very intriguing was Susannah’s life stage. As a 24-year-old who had been living on her own, with an ambitious career job, she had just been moving into a “genuine” adulthood, but her illness made her dependent on her family and others. This is a difficult time of life to have this happen. Kid, adult, now kid again–or at least that was the way she felt.
Finally, she meditates on the loss of her memories at the end of the book, wondering if she will ever retrieve that lost month again. But she says about memory is true of anyone, and if she was a little older, she might realize that, too:
Maybe it’s [the memory of that month] not gone but is somewhere int he recesses of my mind, waiting for the proper cues to be called back up. So far that hasn’t happened, which just makes me wonder: What else have I lost along the way? And is it actually lost or just hidden?”
These are the questions of every memoirist.
I finally wrote a review of Carrie Rubin’s unique novel Eating Bull. If I had written it soon after finishing the book, my review could have been longer and more detailed.
I devoured (sorry for the pun) Carrie Rubin’s Eating Bull very quickly, although I savored it as I read. Then I didn’t write this review for many months. Perhaps because this book took me by surprise and just a tiny bit out of my comfort zone, writing about this book proved to be daunting. Eating Bull is a suspenseful thriller which showcases the dark world of the fast food industry and of fat shaming and bullying. It has a cast of characters I found very realistic–which means annoying and endearing at once. The protagonist, Jeremy, is a boy who deserves the sympathetic eye of Rubin’s narrator on his life and dilemmas. His mother frustrated me. She clearly loves him very much, but I wanted to step in and advise her on ways she could help improve her son’s life, but of course, I could not. Perhaps the most vivid character is Sue, the public health nurse, who teams up with Jeremy to fight fast food. Eating Bull is a very important book in the way it shines a spotlight on topics allowed to fester in our culture all the while the reader is obsessed with following the compelling story to a satisfying resolution.
What I realized about this novel, which Carrie says is in the “deep genre” (a genre I am not familiar with), is that the contrast of the real-life everyday problems of unhealthy eating (and an industry devoted to pushing it), fat-shaming, body image issues, and bullying with the excitement of a suspenseful thriller had to be digested carefully. It’s an amazing novel and should be put at the top of your reading list.
To offset the seriousness of those two books and to relax into your comfort zone of a romance in a delightful small town, remember to pick up Jill Weatherholt’s Second Chance Romance. This is the same review I linked to a week or two ago.
A charming story of love and light, Jill Weatherholt’s first novel Second Chance Romance is published by the Love Inspired imprint of Harlequin. According to the website:
“You believe hearts can heal. Love Inspired stories show that faith, forgiveness and hope have the power to lift spirits and change lives—always.”
I’m not used to reading in the genre of Christian fiction, and I was eager to try something new. If you think that everything is puppy dogs (there is a puppy, happily) and rainbows in Weatherholt’s book, you will be astonished. Melanie, a divorce lawyer from D.C., has lost her faith and hope in the face of horrific tragedy. A resident of Sweet Gum, handsome single dad Jackson has been touched by darkness in his life, too. But he’s been able to hold onto his faith.
Events transpire that first set Melanie and Jackson at odds and, later, try to prevent them from finding love together. The reader is left in suspense until the end as to how the problems will be resolved. And how faith and forgiveness and compassion can change their lives.
The characters are engaging, especially the characterization of Rebecca, Jackson’s little girl. Her personality rises right off the pages, and I feel as if she’s an actual child I know and can’t wait to see again. I’ll always remember her characteristic twirl.
Weatherholt’s book is one I want to pass on to several people because they will love moving to Sweet Gum, a town with a heart, for the duration.
Once you’re done reading Jill’s and Carrie’s books, please leave a review–even a couple of sentences will do–on Amazon (and Goodreads is you’re over there) for them! I know they will appreciate it. Don’t be like I was with Carrie’s review–waiting until I had just the right words to say. It’s more important to put up a review, even if it’s short, than to worry if you are writing it well enough. I wish I had realized that myself and not made Carrie wait all this time.
Carla McGill posted an advance review of Kin Types at the Finishing Line Press website. In her post she writes about Kin Types and Doll God–and introduces the work of poet Cindy Rinne whose book Quiet Lantern I just received yesterday!
So much of my work emerges from an interior place, an inner knowing, a sense that yes, now I should write this story, or yes, right now this poem is forming in my thoughts. No matter how many lists or outlines I make of what I want to write, I find that I cannot keep to them because something else is rumbling within.
I am learning to pay attention to the interior world first. As the new year approached, I somehow knew that this would be the year that I would search for a publisher for my first collection of poetry. I am only now, as spring begins, delving in to the list to see which one might be a good fit for my work (or more importantly which one would accept my work).
On a side note, I have a poem called “The Northern Lights” in the most recent…
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Last weekend the gardener and I visited the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market. We love looking at the work of Native artists and craftspeople. I had a gift to buy and thought I’d check out the jewelry.
On the way there, I started wondering about different viewpoints–differing perspectives–on this subject.
If I buy a Native necklace, can it be worn without cultural appropriation? If you use cultural elements in a colonizing manner, it is cultural appropriation. How does one determine what “in a colonizing manner” mean? Outrageous examples are easy to identify; but what about more subtle ones?
I have to assume if an artist makes a silver necklace and sells it at an event called “Indian Fair & Market,” that she wants it purchased at said event and then worn and loved. Doesn’t that make sense?
Life is a lot of thinking work. It’s good that I have to think about this subject so that I don’t walk all over somebody else, but it’s a little exhausting that I have to wonder if an artist wants me to buy her art. All us artist types want our stuff purchased and enjoyed.
This man was one of the few people practicing his skill at the event.
These lovely young ladies enjoyed showing off their crowns.
What do you think about the subject of cultural appropriation? Obviously, a lot of it has gone on in the past, which is how we have ended up with blended cultures and blended cultural arts–like American jazz, for instance. Do you have a “rule of thumb” for knowing if you are overstepping and colonizing someone else’s culture?
On another note completely, I finished Jill Weatherholt‘s delightful novel Second Chance Romance. If you want to read my review, head on over to Goodreads or Amazon before you buy your own copy!
Enjoy your read–and then head on over to Jill’s blog and let her know!
Two copies of the new issue of CopperNickel arrived in my mailbox. This beautiful journal is housed at the University of Colorado, Denver.
I have a prose poem in it about a woman getting a divorce in 1895. It is based on, among other information, two newspaper articles. The woman was my great-great-grandfather’s sister.
A feature of this journal that is particularly special is that they ask all contributors to recommend other books of poetry. I recommended Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello’s book Hour of the Ox. Her collection won the prestigious Donald Hall Prize for Poetry in 2015–a well-deserved honor. Her book seems to me to be an excavation into what was, what would have been, what could be and could have been, and what isn’t. Marci, who in the past has published a poem called “Origin / Adoption,” is a Korean-American poet who might be inventing a family in her first book. I find that all interesting because of my sympathies for adoptees and for anybody searching for their origins.
Here is a little taste of her lines:
Counting the breaths in the dark, my fingers crept lightly
across the floor and against my father’s calloused palm,
willing his lifeline to grow long as a stream
of tea poured green and steaming and smelling of herbs.
(from “The Last Supper”)
I’ve also recently read other books of poetry I want to recommend.
Nandini Dhar’s Lullabies Are Barbed Wire Nations is packed with lively and vivid prose poems. I found their form to be a great choice because of the narrative energy of the book. Lots of stories in here!
The Well Speaks of its Own Poison, by Maggie Smith, follows in the path of poets like Anne Sexton who explore the dark shadows of the fairy tale world to create magical poems.
I fell in love with Wendy Barker’s One Blackbird at a Time because every poem is about teaching literature. They re-created a world for me that I once knew so well. Anybody who has ever taught English or anybody who majored in English will probably feel the same way. You have to have a little familiarity with some of the more well-known texts read in the classroom: Whitman, Thoreau, Dickinson, Williams, Stevens, and Elizabeth Bishop, are a few of those mentioned. These are the opening lines of a poem that is a tribute to Bishop and her poem “One Art” (the formatting is completely off here; I can’t get WordPress to do it properly!!!):
It’s a perfect poem, I say, and though no one
In the class is over twenty-five, everybody
nods. They ‘ve all lost: the Madame
Alexander doll fallen into the toilet, silky
hair never the same, the friend who
moved away to Dallas, a brother once again
in juvie. So many schools—thirteen in
a dozen years—I lost each friend I made
till grad school.
Notice the doll, too. That leads me back to–wait for it–Doll God ;).
Have you seen promos for S.K. Nicholls’ new novel Naked Alliances? It’s billed as “Book One” of the Naked Eye Series.
I’m hooked and will be
bugging her waiting impatiently for Book Two. She’s got a great idea here for a mystery series–adventurous mysteries that feature the nudist resort Leisure Lagoon and diverse Orlando as backdrops. What an original concept. And one S.K. understands since her “family owns and operates one of the oldest and largest nudist resorts in the nation.”
The book is fast-paced and plausible. The mystery itself takes some twists and turns and always seems to have one more twist ahead (even at the end). Richard Noggin (yes, think about it) is a semi-stable, humane, and very human protagonist, and his at-first-unwilling helper Brandi has a colorful personal style. I hope we see more of the two of them teamed up solving crimes. Not sure Richard can do without Brandi’s assistance!
Maybe the most glowing praise I can pin on this book is that I kept envisioning everything as if it were a movie playing out before my eyes.
When is the next book in the series going to hit Amazon, S.K.?!
I’ve just returned from travel and will catch up soon! In the meantime, enjoy Susan’s book! I wasn’t in Orlando, or any part of Florida, but there were gators . . . . Can you guess where I have been?
What to win a free copy of Doll God?
Enter the Goodreads Giveaway. If you’re not on Goodreads, it is easy to sign up–and it costs nothing to enter to WIN A FREE COPY OF DOLL GOD.
Remember the little free library?
One of the books I bought at the used bookstore was The Girl on the Train. It was a fairly suspenseful thriller, but it had some pretty big flaws. For one, a lot of the book is taken up by holding the main character’s hand while she drinks. Yeah, she’s a very tedious alcoholic. Boring. Then I figured out the solution to the mystery by the middle of the book, so the ending was a big letdown. None of the characters were likable.
Strangely, the book felt like it was written by Paul (not Paula) Hawkins. This is not meant as a negative about books by men or anything like that. And I’ve never really thought to myself about whether a book was written by a man or woman–I never cared. But I was haunted by the feeling that a woman couldn’t have written this book. It was kind of odd.
All that said, I read the book in one day, so it was a suspenseful read.
I went to California and thought I’d visit the little free library. Since I had just finished reading The Girl on the Train and didn’t have anybody I wanted to
subject give it to, I thought I’d walk there and do a switch. When I arrived at the house with the little library, I noticed that the front door was open and a little wire-haired cutie (dog) was walking down the front yard. I kept approaching the library, wondering if the dog was supposed to be outside as he/she wasn’t wearing a collar. Just then a yellow lab came running out of that open door. The lab was not happy with me and ran toward me, growling in an aggressive manner. I walked across the street and turned back in the direction I came from. That was disappointing, considering I like being able to walk to a little library. And I couldn’t help but think of the children’s books in the library and what could have happened if a child had been walking there at that moment.
Later, the gardener drove me over there and I did the swap. I ended up with a book called Earnest about . . . (get this) a yellow lab.