Monday, February 20, 2012

Lizzie's War

"Farrington's resolve is physically embodied by his two-inch-thick file, dating back 18 years, of ideas, sketches, notes, and quotations (there's one at the beginning of each chapter) for Lizzie's War. '[The book] felt enormous to me ... it covered a bigger canvas, and I consciously committed to it. It's so close to my heart, the theme of sacred vocation, of finding your calling in the world.' "  Linda M. Castellitto and Tim Farrington on Lizzie's War
 Are you reading Lizzie's War yet? I hope so.

It's an interesting book. Probably one of the easiest reads we have on the list. Easy in terms of reading level, sentence complexity, etc...

On the other hand, it might be one of the most difficult to read emotionally. At least, I think so. Even this being my third reading of the novel, I find myself both dreading to pick it up and dreading to put it down.

So real, and raw. 'True' is a good word to describe the book. Nothing happens for shock value. It's just the story of these very real people. And it's hard to believe that they aren't really alive somewhere right now. Could they really be made up? Fictitious? Can Liz not come over for coffee tomorrow morning? Did they really all come out of Tim Farrington's imagination? And how does this guy know so very well what goes on in the mind and soul of a woman. HOW!??

After I gave this book to a friend a few years ago, I called her up a few days later with an apology. "I'm sorry for all the cussing. I forgot about that."  She wasn't fazed by it. I'm not going to apologize now. Not that I go around my house in secret swearing like a sailor. I don't. I don't like cussing at all. But in reference to this book, and to the character of Mike in particular, I think it would be dishonest to portray him in any other way. If you were a man fighting in Vietnam in the 60's, you used bad language. To have him speak in any other way would be outside his character. And such a character he is... don't let his f-bombs keep you from loving him!

And, I won't apologize for Liz's attitude toward her pregnancy in the beginning of the book (no spoilers here). While it might not be the 'text book' response that we as Catholic women would want to hear from a friend, I think it is a very honest emotion, and probably an emotion that has been felt by millions of women in the past.

It all comes around. It does. Don't worry.

So, enjoy! Can't wait to meet up soon!

If you want to comment on your thoughts and have a bit of a spoiler, just place above the revealing paragraph <SPOILER>.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


When it comes to lists, I am late to that of the bucket variety.   I do, however, have a Fire List.   I suppose it's no more morbid than a list that centers around the certainty of death.   As I show people various keepsakes in my home, I will often describe things as being on the list of things that, in the event of a fire, I would attempt to save.   There is a presumption here that this would only occur after every person is safely out of the house.

The criteria for the list is necessarily simple and rooted in sentiment, not a surprise for those who know me.   Items must be small/light enough to carry out easily and they must be of significant meaning in my life.   A certain antique box filled with original family photos of stern-looking pioneers, pleated-skirt & saddle-oxford-clad girls, and baby images of those who are now grandparents.   A hand-stitched beaded sampler that took my friend, Amber, a year to complete.   And my set of Little House on the Prairie books, a Christmas present when I was seven-years-old.

Worn and faded, they thrill my heart and prompt a slight caress as I pass my bookshelf.   For me, they contain the wonder of words, a child's discovery of transportation possible without moving.   They are comfort, as they were for me throughout my childhood--another world of love and order in the midst of our own family's dysfunction, the nobility of work and the beauty of the hidden--in deed and thought.   They are respect for children in the way they are written.   They are pride in and a link to my own pioneer ancestors and beauty in the ordinary.   They are portraits of recognizable people and recorded images of cozy quilts, food prepared with love, and hospitality.    They are my secret aspirations as a daughter, wife, mother, friend, and citizen.

I spent countless hours returning to these books between the new ones I read.   When I can't sleep at night because of worry or just exhaustion,  I still turn to these familiar pages instead of my current read, and I find myself calmed for sleep.    I list many novels as favorites, influential, life-changing and I love them as dear friends.   They are all real in my life, their characters' influence traceable in my thoughts and actions.   They aren't all on my Fire List though, because for me, any copy of them will do.   In the case of my Little House set, it is the volumes themselves, not just what they contain, which have concrete meaning for me.

As I think about it, though, this set of books also represents solitude for me.   Life as almost an only child, with a sister ten years my senior, a room to myself instead of one shared with a sibling and quiet, with only my own thoughts to consider.   I longed for the activity and noise of the family reflected on the pages of these books and I now have all the noise and action for which any only or near-only child could hope.   The solitary aspect of literature is not enough.   We were made for communion and fellowship--with God and each other.    We each have special viewpoints and contributions.

So, I look forward to this book club.   It is an amazing group of women for whom reading is necessity and succor.   These kindred spirits are a miracle to me.    I rejoice in their love of the written word, their understanding of truth to be found in the most ordinary of places, and their fearlessness when it comes to art and the world--a fearlessness grounded in faith.

My child's heart finds comfort in well-worn volumes of pioneer tales.  I need this book club as a time specially set aside for my mature heart to regularly find meaning and comfort through the insights and reflections of a collection of women, each with her own faith, story, and unique purpose.   From Fire List to a flame lit--to kindle pondering, fellowship, and lofty thoughts that bring our minds to God and transform our deceptively simple-looking lives with His reality.

In the Beginning, there were Vampires. NOT.

On Monday I was crying my tale of woe to another mom, "I just don't have time to read anymore."  I think I should have said, "I am not making time to read."  That would have been more truthful, because we all have the same amount of time.

Her reply, "Read?  I haven't read anything since the Twilight Series, and that was ages ago."

I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and say, "Get yourself a copy of a real novel, woman!  STAT!"  I have never read Stephenie Meyer and her ubiquitous Twilight business.  But I have an aversion to all things vampire- imagine that- so I will withhold myself from actually critiquing a novel that I haven't read.

Lauren, our fearless leader, thanks for reinstating the need for real words to flow into our heads and a place to grasp the full joy of reading a really good book.

And if I hate the books, I'm totally blaming you.  Kidding, only kidding.

Booklist Posted!

I've posted the booklist by month in the sidebar as well as on it's own page in the navbar. Comment here if you have any suggestions. Like I said in the other post, I'd like to add in a Jane Austen book here. Any ideas?

Austen??? Where shall we put you?

I would love to add in a Jane Austen book to our list. But, I cannot choose just one, and I cannot decide which book to bump.

Any ideas?
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