Saturday, November 13, 2010

Amy Inspired Inspires

Amy Gallagher is a writer with whom many can instantly identify. She grew up in a ‘broken’ Christian home, no longer the oxymoron it was once considered.  Her struggle to find forgiveness, acceptance and love winds along the path she has embraced, a path of words. Eli, a semi homeless young man with a very sad past, is an artist of unknown potential. As he comes to stay with Amy at the insistence of her typically trendy friend Zoe, the subtle weaving of his art with her words is chastely seductive and beautiful. 

Bethany Pierce manages to gracefully straddle the fence of reality on which many postmodern Christians find themselves uncomfortably perched. Her story contains real people with real problems including a Christian who finds herself verbalizing what she ‘means to say’ instead of the tired old evangelical ‘magic words’ of witnessing. Peppered with the reality of self-mutilation, divorce, alcoholism and death, the romance emerges beautifully, and is made even more poignant by virtue of the flaws of its characters, yet woven into the story is the unmistakable thread of faith. 

I applaud the courage of Bethany House to publish fiction of this depth. I eagerly expect to read more from Ms. Pierce.
A complimentary copy of Amy Inspired was given to me by Bethany House in return for my honest opinion of the book.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Searching for Gravitas

My mother and I went shopping yesterday. Lots of mothers and daughters do that all the time, right? Not this pair. My mother doesn't really enjoy shopping. But, every now and then, it has to be done. We strategically  began with breakfast at Village Bakery, making it infinitely more palatable for Mom. She's almost always up for a breakfast out.

An omelet and three half-eaten pastries later we were on our way, doggie bag in hand, to a department store nearby.  We had done our best, and saved the rest to take home, my mother's motto being "No pastry left behind".

Seven months ago we had been sitting in the doctor's office facing her diagnosis of breast cancer. Imagining this scene would have been a stretch for both of us. At the time, I don't think we dared look ahead too far. But, here we were!

We scanned the aisles of Kohl's and she rejected one sweater on these grounds,"I want something with more gravitas than that." Gravitas can be defined as a quality of substance or depth of personality. Depth, substance. Everyone who knows my mother would agree she possesses both. She is Judi Dench, but nicely. Or perhaps Angela Lansbury with a fiercely spiritual side. And not every article of clothing is befitting for a woman of mature years. It might be either too frilly, too pale a color, or not enough hardware on it. Yes, my mother likes hardware. But hardware with the kind of  elegance that glitters, dazzles, blinds, maims...well you get the idea. The more bling, the better. We trolled the clearance jewelry as well, and again, gravitas was the deciding factor along with glitz and glam.Half price didn't hurt either.

Delightedly she found a bevy of sweaters and tops she could shine through the holidays with, as well as a bejeweled necklace that passed the test.

I couldn't have been happier!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Review for Hitch 22 by Christopher Hitchens

Imagine you are going 90 miles an hour in a sidecar, whizzing past scenes you barely know and the driver of the motorcycle is a brilliant British playboy atheist. That’s the experience reading Hitch-22 gave me.
Hitchens, a native Brit, covers more political ground than the average American citizen pays attention to in a lifetime. And these are just the highlights. Photos of “Hitch” in many other countries, verbal snapshots of meetings with people we plebeians only know by reading of them in the paper or hearing their name in the news. These weighty journalistic exploits are interspersed with stories of his friend’s private jokes that made this non-atheist blush more than once, and I must confess, let out a cackle or two.
A self proclaimed ‘contrarian’, Christopher Hitchens endured the blistering reality of the English school system and a mother who committed suicide, only to emerge as a brilliant intellectual known for a rapier wit and an  even sharper tongue, if possible, when it comes to religion, or totalitarianism, as he terms all religion. Discovering he had a Jewish heritage later in life, Mr. Hitchens devoted much of his energy to the study of “The Jewish Question”.
As a believer, I certainly found a few things to take up argument with, but taking up sides against this man is no mean task. So I settled for common ground. Easily found.  I thoroughly enjoyed a peek inside the mind of a man who said he tested his acquaintances on whether they felt their lives would be over if English Literature were to disappear. If only I were an acquaintance, I would pass on this criterion.
The Hitch? How to be totalitarian about being against Totalitarianism.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Grand Central Publishers in return for my review.

The Book I WantTo Write

I counted up the books I read in the last month or so. About 8. One was a classic- Arthur Miller's The Crucible.
One was a memoir-Christopher Hitchen's Hitch-22. Two were fiction-Nancy Moser's Masquerade and Martin Amis' Night Train. Two were religious self help-The Strategically Small church (author escapes me) and Chasing Francis by Ian Cron . One was political- Jeremy Lott's William Buckley.
All great reads in their own way. Masquerade was set in my favorite era, and Night Train was an amazing feat of voicing-a writer from England managed to create the voice of a female cop from Chicago, and pulled it off! The self helps offered extraordinary insight into today's spiritual climate. Christopher Hitchen's memoir is like a side car trip through his mind. Rocky, but exhilarating.
None of the fiction touched me like Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, and Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes.
They are two of my favorites because of the unearthly stirrings they created inside me. The longing to be there, to be that person, to feel and experience what they did. Still. And I read them months ago.
That's the kind of book I like to read.
That's the kind of book I want to write.