This week’s Teaser Tuesdays is a book I had to re-read for book club and I must own it is not a favorite of mine. I thought I might like it better on the reread but still find it more of a clinical exercise than actual prose. It is Joan Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking. Let’s just say I could use with less of Joan’s magic…
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page.
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers.
I listened to The Year of Magical Thinking and am nearly finished. My quote is from 3 hr 36 min in :
“When the twilights got long in June I forced myself to eat dinner in the living room where the light was. After John died I had begun eating by myself in the kitchen. The dining room was too big and the table in the living room was where he had died but when the long twilights came I had a strong sense that he would want me to see the light”
I guess there could be some magic in where Joan eats but this quote is emblematic of the blandness of Joan’s insight. It’s the kind of book that you feel bad for not liking because it clearly meant so much for her to write, but it just didn’t do it for me on this read through or last.
Every journal does not make a good book and that’s essentially what Joan has done. It feels like her therapist told her to write out her thoughts on the death of her husband and coma of her daughter and she published it. It seems like she is working out these experiences but not in a compelling way, at least for me. It’s just I went here, dreamed about this, and look at this study I found… There’s a lot of stats and quotes about grieving and typical human responses to things which made it feel oddly detatched from a human response. Joan often felt robotic instead of a mother and wife. It felt very clinical like something you’d tell a therapist.
I kind of think of it like several books about addiction I’ve read. Overcoming addiction is one of the hardest things anyone can do. I’ve seen it ravage and take the lives of 2 of my cousins. However, as narratives go, addiction isn’t a gripping topic for most books. It’s such a self-contained, even selfish time and to a reader it can feel like wallowing in problems rather than surmounting them. That’s kind of how Joan’s book feels. What should be dramatic and moving feels flat, lifeless and boring.
Again, I feel bad criticizing a heartfelt book, but I have enough issues in my life without slogging through the nuts and bolts of Joan’s problems. It’s all too safe. Too clinical and not enough of a story for a compelling read. I certainly didn’t find any magic in Joan’s journey. Sorry… I wish her all the best though and hopefully she eventually has some happiness in her life.
It will be interesting to see what people at book club think. I know at least several have found it to be rough going. Have you read it? What did you think? It won National Book Award so clearly others found it moving. Just not me.
So I’ve had an interesting weekend, full of highs and lows. It started out yesterday with the first 2 sessions of General Conference for my church. This is where the leadership speak and give us guidance. I really felt I needed this conference as the gay marriage debate had been kind of draining and I needed nourishment.
2 talks I loved on Saturday were.
The Savior Wants to Forgive by Elder Cardon
I also loved Elder Bednar’s bold teachings on the family, chastity and the sanctity of marriage. I think it will be a standard for years to come on this topic.
I had the great experience of tweeting my thoughts along with the LDS twitter community during Conference and found it an enriching, wonderful experience. I have always benefited from using multiple senses to absorb knowledge and reading, writing, viewing and listening to Conference help me. This was the first conference where they actually listed the hashtag #LDSConf at the beginning of each session!
Saturday my Mom came into town for my cousin’s funeral and my sister came up to see me. It’s for a sad reason but it’s still fun to see my family.
Sunday I enjoyed another great session with President Uchtdorf’s talk on hope really comforting me and giving peace.
Finally as my sister, Mom and I were driving to the funeral we heard this amazing address by Elder Holland:
This includes one of my favorite stories in the scriptures where the man hoping for healing for his son says ‘I believe’ and then adds ‘help thou my unbelief’. Elder Holland used the story to show that starting with what we do know and what we do believe is important and should give us encouragement for the things we do not know. He said to hold on to those truths and never forget what you have been taught by the Lord. I was very moved and if I hadn’t been driving I would have probably burst into tears. The Lord does know and He teaches us line upon line, precept upon precept.
The last few years there have been some tests but I can honestly say I am stronger in my faith than ever before. No man or woman can take that away from me and I loved Elder Holland’s words of peace and assurity.
So after listening to Elder Holland’s talk I got to hear Elder Oaks and then spent the rest of the day with my family. I hope to catch up quickly on the speakers I missed.
I’m so beyond grateful to have a living prophet to guide and direct me. I am so grateful to be a Mormon. I am so grateful to know the Gospel has been restored. I love my church!
The rest of the night was spent at my cousin’s viewing. I have a hard time with viewings and seeing the body. It’s always felt like they are not there and seeing the shell of the person makes me sad. I wasn’t particularly close to my cousin but you’d have to be made of stone to not be moved to compassion for her family. She has 2 little boys who don’t have a mother now and her father and mother have lost both of their children to drug-related problems. It is tragic.
I was thinking today about my brother and what if his two precious children were to die at young ages. I can’t even imagine how hard that would be.
Thankfully we believe in eternal families and chances for exaltation for those that choose to follow Christ, even if it is in the spirit world. This knowledge provides solace for the pain that grief causes in most of our hearts. That said, the pang of missing a loved one is still there and can be overwhelming. Eternity can feel like a long way away.
Life is certainly full of surprises and lessons. Please pray for my family. Thank you, Rachel.
ps. The funeral is actually tomorrow. Not exactly the day off I had hoped for but I’m sure I will learn a lot. A time to ponder.