I’ll be honest, March is my least favorite month of the year. The weather is always iffy. There’s a dearth of sports wherein I find myself watching speed skating and entering March Madness pools where I pick out the teams based on how fun their names are. Just fyi, that is not a scientific way to win a pool. I usually pick Villanoooova or Gonzaaaaaga to win – and they never do. But, fun names, guys, fun names.
School’s almost done for me and that means the heavy assigned reading is lightening up – I am so excited about this, it’s not even funny. When you consider it’s been TWO YEARS with no focus on my own reading, I’m going to definitely be soaking it up here in the next few months! It’s also why I’m doing a March review mid-month…because I now have to get back to school reading and I know my fun reading is going to stop for a couple more weeks. So here’s this month’s roundup of SAS (Short Attention Span) book reviews:
My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer by Christian Wiman. Wiman is a poet who wrote this book while going through cancer. I’ll be honest, poetry is not my strong suit, although I am not totally anti-poems, as some are. I like the traditional “Batter my heart, three-personed God” John Donne type poems that are heavy with symbolism and also heavy with being led through them by wonderful professors like Dr deRosset – we all loved her and she is the only one that could have possibly ever have taught me anything about poetry. (fun fact: Rosie worked with my mom and my father-in-law when they all worked in radio together!)
But back to Wiman. I read this book based on a recommendation from a well-respected professor at my school, otherwise I’m not sure I would have ever heard of it. As I mentioned, Wiman is writing this book while going through treatment for cancer. He includes some poetry, but mainly it’s like reading his thoughts on God. And, I have to be honest, most of the time I was lost in the symbolic landscape. It’s like coming upon a poetic sunset and just squinting your eyes and tilting your head – IS this beautiful?? I don’t EVEN KNOW ANYMORE. Tell me, Christian Wiman! I do feel we would have some jolly good arguments on theology (God is NOT a wishy-washy whatever you want to think about Him figure), but we would also agree on many things (I AM a wishy-washy, some good days, some bad days kinda person). Worth the read – but it was slow reading for me personally (That is not a negative statement – it just means I had to think it through). Rating: 7 Topic: Spirituality, Finding Your Faith, Cancer
Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C.S. Lewis by Abigail Santamaria
So. C.S. Lewis. I have read the majority of his books, but have never read a lot about the actual person ipso facto: I am not a Lewis scholar and I knew very little about his life. This book is the biography of his wife, Joy Davidman Gresham. Using material found in a box of documents (letters, etc), Santamaria traces Joy’s life all the way through her early years with a domineering dad and “everything-has-to-be-perfect” mother. A very intelligent woman, Joy made a name for herself in the poetry world of 1930’s-1940’s America. Much attention in this book is given to her personality – she was abrasive, harsh and not physically attractive. She was active in the Communist Party and that’s how she met her first husband, Bill Gresham. He’s a writer (I was impressed that his name is mentioned alongside writers such as Dashiell Hammett and Robert Benchley), but also an alcoholic and womanizer. Their marriage begins deteriorating and Joy leaves her two children with Bill and her beautiful cousin (who has now moved into the Gresham household) to go to England, ostensibly to do research for a book, but Santamaria points out, Joy states in a note she wrote that she is going “to bed C.S. Lewis.”
It was at this point that I was squinting and tilting my head at the sunset (Symbolic for STALKER): Wait, is this beautiful?? I don’t EVEN KNOW ANYMORE. (see poetry assessment above for reference) So she goes to England, she meets Lewis (whom she had been pen-pals with for a long time) and she meets up with him and he doesn’t really like her, like her (if you get my meaning- do I have to spell everything out for you??), but they visit. She leaves and writes more poems about him and comes back home to America and SURPRISE! Her womanizing first husband is now in an affair with the beautiful cousin (that Joy moved in to her house), so Joy’s first marriage falls apart. She then takes her two boys to England and finds Lewis again and they pick up their friendship and she finds out she has cancer and they get married out of convenience (her visa to stay) and none of his friends – and by His Friends I mean my friend, J.R.R. Tolkein -really like her and Tolkein gives Lewis the side-eye in very well-written language. (I mean, when it’s Tolkein not liking your wife, at least know he’s going to state it beautifully.)
BUT then Lewis and Joy fall in love and they get married married for real and then they have this beautiful relationship until her death a few years later. The book was very well-written with only a couple slow spots where I felt the author got bogged down in detail, but I will add in a caveat: I honestly am a little mixed-up on how I feel about how the characters of Joy and Lewis were portrayed. Joy comes off as a harsh, domineering woman who pursued Lewis and tried to dismantle his philanthropic fund. The friend who gave me this book to read is a HUGE fan of Lewis and There Will Be Conversations because I definitely need to read a book that is a bit more focused on her conversion (in this book, it’s a passing “feeling”) and I need to learn more about Lewis’s life as well. Right now, just picture me as staring at the sunset all squinty eyed and confused. Rating: 8
11/22/63 by Stephen King
SAS Review: I will be completely honest and say that I have not finished this book. I will also be completely honest and say the reason I’m reading it is because a week ago or so, I made the comment that I don’t ever read Stephen King. Then I felt bad. Not that Stephen cares. But because he actually is a great writer and it’s more his topics I’m not really crazy about. However, I kept seeing reviews of this book and wanted to read it.
Jake Epping is introduced to a rabbit hole to travel back in time to the late 1950’s. His friend wants him to stop the Kennedy assassination. Being partial to time travel books (N.B.: Connie Willis is the best of the authors of time travel!) I love the idea of the plot and am really liking this book. But I’d also really like to discuss this one with someone who has read it? Anyone? Anyone? I feel it would be a great book to read WITH someone else to talk about all the plot lines and ideas. Rating thus far: 8 (Language and some violent scenes)