Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families I: First Paragraph

The first section of this book examines the lost of old-fashioned communities, the rise of an electronic community and a consumer mentality, and the influence of popular psychology. I want to explore the relationship between this family psychology and family well-being. I tell two main stories, that of my grandparents, who homesteaded on the harsh plains of Colorado in the early part of this century, and that of a family I saw recently in therapy. I'll compare these families on a variety of dimensions--their relationship to the broader culture, their tools, their media exposure, the importance of time and money and the involvement of mental health professionals in their lives.


Not exactly a scintillating story opening, is it? Well, it's not a story, it's a nonfiction by one of my favorite authors (Mary Pipher also wrote Reviving Ophelia, a book about adolescent girls). The paragraph says it all: it's a summary of what she'll write about in the first part. The book is a lot more interesting than this paragraph sounds. It's really very readable for a layperson. So, if you're intrigued by the family and how our families interact with the broader culture, you should consider reading this book for yourself.

Under the Tuscan Sun V: Recommendation

I'm glad I read this book. It's not a storybook, a fiction book, but it tells a story in the midst of the description of the narrator's cross-cultural home renovation. It talks thematically about home, longings, building and rebuilding lives. It moves from earthy topics such as eating and cooking to purely intellectual topics like 'what is home?' and 'how does place affect my self?'

Wow, this book is hard to sum up. Suffice it to say these things: 1) the book is oodles better than the movie, and 2) if you only read one travel/nonfiction book this year, let this be the one.

A is for Alibi II: Character and Recommendation.

Isn't that a brilliant first paragraph? It tells us that it's a first-person narrative, important facts about the narrator...and what the character herself thinks is important about herself.

It tells us that she killed someone recently, and sets up the plot right away. Who did she kill? Why did she say 'kill,' not 'murder?' What led up to such a terrible ending? Did her action strengthen her or harm her?

Why does she interject her recitation of herself with a description of her housing situation? We each have a standard self-decription, don't we? Why isKinsey's bookended with her cold statement that she killed someone two days ago?

Whew. Makes me want to read it! I already did, and it was a page-turner. I finished the whole book in about 4 days; I barely put it down. Even better...the plot lasts till the very last page...even to the last sentence. Good job, Sue Grafton!

I recommend it--but be warned, it was a bit too sexual for kids to read without parents' pre-assessment. (ie, I would not give it to my teenager to read.)

A is for Alibi I: First Sentence/First Paragraph

My name is Kinsey Millhone.


My name is Kinsey Millhone. I'm a private investigator, licensed by the state of California. I'm thirty-two years old, twice divorced, no kids. The day before yeserday I killed someone and the fact weighs heavily on my mind. I'm a nice person and I have a lot of friends. My apartment is small but I like living in a cramped space. I've lived in trailers most of my life, but latey they've been getting too elaborate for my taste, so now I live in one room, a "bachelorette." I don't have a pet. I don't have houseplants. I spend a lot of time on the road and I don't like leaving things behind. Aside for the hasards of my profession, my life has always been ordinary, uneventful, and good. Killing someone feels odd to me and I haven't quite sorted it thorugh. I've already given a statement to the police, which I initialed page by page and then signed. I filled out a similar report for the office files. The language in both documents is neutral, the teminology oblique, and neither says quite enough.