Thursday Musings

I have been slammed with work lately and haven't gotten to post this week. But here's an update from the bookish part of my life:

  • Yet another person that I respect told me today that I would enjoy reading Twilight, as she did. I still haven't read it.
  • I chaperoned my daughter's field trip to a bookstore today. Among the many books I saw there was this one: The Slap, by Christos Tsiolkos. It looks good – has anyone read it yet?
  • I have been assigned to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot for work. I don't usually read non-fiction but this one got great reviews. Has anyone read this one?
  • I am almost done with the audiobook of Songs for the Missing, by Stewart O'Nan. Review forthcoming.
  • I like this poem, which I got via email in from The Writer's Almanac on Monday:

The Return of Odysseus

by George Bilgere

When Odysseus finally does get home
he is understandably upset about the suitors,
who have been mooching off his wife for twenty years,
drinking his wine, eating his mutton, etc.

In a similar situation today he would seek legal counsel.
But those were different times. With the help
of his son Telemachus he slaughters roughly
one hundred and ten suitors
and quite a number of young ladies,
although in view of their behavior
I use the term loosely. Rivers of blood
course across the palace floor.

I too have come home in a bad mood.
Yesterday, for instance, after the department meeting,
when I ended up losing my choice parking spot
behind the library to the new provost.

I slammed the door. I threw down my book bag
in this particular way I have perfected over the years
that lets my wife understand
the contempt I have for my enemies,
which is prodigious. And then with great skill
she built a gin and tonic
that would have pleased the very gods,
and with epic patience she listened
as I told her of my wrath, and of what I intended to do
to so-and-so, and also to what's-his-name.

And then there was another gin and tonic
and presently my wrath abated and was forgotten,
and peace came to reign once more
in the great halls and courtyards of my house.


  • October 1, 2010 - 12:03 am | Permalink

    I decided that I will likely give The Host a try, but so far I haven’t been tempted by Twilight beyond reading the first volume of the graphic novel.
    I got The Slap at BEA. Sounds fascinating, but I still haven’t read it.

  • October 1, 2010 - 12:06 am | Permalink

    Oh, and I read Henrietta Lacks. Definitely an eye opener. I really enjoyed reading the book but had mixed feelings about it as well.

  • Susan
    October 1, 2010 - 7:11 am | Permalink

    I read Henrietta Lacks. It’s very interesting and a worthwhile read but it upset me in ways that I wasn’t expecting. I actually put it down halfway through and read something lighter and humorous and then went back to it.
    The Slap is sitting on my TBR pile. When will I get to it?

  • Susan
    October 1, 2010 - 8:09 am | Permalink

    Thank you for a much needed chuckle on a dreary morning that included my daughter leaving for school in tears because she was running late yet again – I could use a gin and tonic right now! I read Twilight a few years ago when it was so popular and didn’t get it all.

  • October 1, 2010 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    I have read Henrietta Lacks and I think you’ll enjoy it.

  • October 1, 2010 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    I haven’t read Twilight yet either! I thought I was the only one.
    I listened to and thoroughly enjoyed the audio version of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I also don’t often pick up nonfiction, but the audio was well done, easy to listen to, and very interesting. Don’t know if that’s an option for you, but either way, it’s definitely well done nonfiction!

  • Elisabeth
    October 1, 2010 - 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed the poem!!! My how times have changed.

  • Melissa
    October 2, 2010 - 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Henrietta Lacks is the UW-Madison BIG READ for 2010 – I’ll be reading it for the local library book club meeting in November. Its been on my TBR list for months.

  • October 3, 2010 - 6:02 pm | Permalink

    I have seen the book The Slap and looks very interesting. I did read Henrietta Lacks for my book club it was a great read. If you are into science and history you will enjoy it. How science and medicine has changed and has not changed it is your prospective. Great read for me.

  • Ani
    October 7, 2010 - 1:02 am | Permalink

    I haven’t read Twilight either, I’m quite proud to say. However, my mother made me watch the movie because she’s absolutely obsessed with the Twilight series, godknowswhy, & it was just the most insufferable piece of shit ever. However, the book is always better than the movie, so I read the first half or so of “New Moon”, the second book in the Twilight series, on an airplane a few months ago, & it was even WORSE than the Twilight movie. I at least expected the Twilight series to contain to some degree the same sort of allure & inexplicably addictive qualities that the Harry Potter series contained, since both Harry Potter & Twilight sound like Fantasy books for pre-teens exclusively when they’re summerized in a paragraph but both have ridiculously wide audiences. However, I can assure you, whatever brief description of any of the Twilight books is written on the back [or the inside book flap or whatever that shit’s called… you know what I mean, & if you don’t open a hardcover book & look on the left hand side, & that’s what I mean, lol] is a glorification if anything of the novels themselves.
    Stay away, Gayle, stay away!

  • October 22, 2010 - 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read both the Slap and Henrietta Lacks, but have been bad about reviewing for my blog. I loved Henrietta Lacks and I am not a big Science reader. The story is fascinating, well-written and very thought-provoking (about bio ethics and legal issues as well). Skloot has a way with words but also makes complex legal issues understood by a lay audience.
    I finished the Slap in one day so I would say its highly readable. (I will hopefully post about it soon). I thought it would be better written since it won so many awards in the UK and Australia. I think it is intriguing and thought-provoking but I expected more. Having lived in Australia for 6 mos. I enjoyed reading about “middle-class” life around Melbourne. The structure is somewhat unique and it definitely is a vivid presentation of modern Australian life, but I didn’t find any of the characters that likeable which left me feeling somewhat distant. As a parent I think you will find it particularly intriguing.
    Oh, and I’ve never read Twilight and don’t plan too!

  • October 22, 2010 - 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for the comment! I am halfway done with Henrietta Lacks – it’s really good. And I think I will definitely add The Slap to my TBR list. Reviews across Amazon were really mixed, which just makes me want to read it more. 🙂

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