Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro – A Review

Standard

A wonderful collection of short stories. Poignant tales of love, loss, change. The stories are unsettling, messy, like life. The characters are not perfect but very human in all their flaws, their dreams, their realities.
It was not an easy read. The stories themselves are well written but the characters are complex and messy and left me many times searching for answers that simply are not there. It is like life.

The piece de resistance is the last section of this book called “FINALE”. Munro’s introduction to this section:

“The final four works in this book are not quite stories. They form a separate unit, one that is autobiographical in feeling, though not, sometimes, entirely so in fact. I believe they are the first and last – and the closest – things I have to say about my own life.” 

It is in this section you get a glimpse into Munro’s upbringing, the roots of her personality. The very last piece of work entitled “Dear Life” brings together the whole book nicely and reveals the true underlying theme – forgiveness – of one’s deeds, one’s life, one’s memories.

I received this book as an Advance Reading Copy from the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf,  through Goodreads.  I was elated when I was notified that I had won but even more satisfied now that I have finished reading this gem.

I can’t help but wonder, if because of Munro’s age, she has penned this work with the idea that it may be her last; it is definitely her most revealing.

Living in the present

Standard

“When I was a child I did the things of a child… I wished my life away…When 6 couldn’t wait until I was 16…Then couldn’t wait until 18 and on and on…Today I can put the brakes on my “doing things as a child”
I have been taught to live in the day…The only thing I have is ‘the now’…This moment in time.  Living in the present helps me to realize and to appreciate more the great gifts of life.  There are many times I look back and remember, but I do not go back there, nor do I desire to do that…”I keep my memory green”, and learn from all of life’s happenings, the good as well as the not so good…
And as for tomorrow?  It is uncertain…I don’t know…It is a mystery not ready to unfold yet…
Today is sufficient and I bask in the beauty that surrounds me this day.  I thank God for all gifts great and small…and He does a great job, I’ll leave tomorrow for Him to surprise me as well.
One day at a time, I’m enjoying the ride.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: a review

Standard

What a fantastic read!

I finished reading this book and thought such a wrong, wrong, story! It had me hooked from about half way through. I gave it 4 stars because of all the twists and how so nasty it was.  I love any book with a good twist!

Nick was pretty sympathetic at the beginning, but not for long. He came across as the super likeable, boy next door type of guy. However, there was some nuance that led you to think it wasn’t all just a fairy tale, and he was just a little too innocent in his own mind. Can’t put my finger on it, but I knew there was something. He had his share of crazy, too.

Amy takes the cake, she’s truly deceitful – her level of revenge is something fierce. I ended up sort of hating them both, but yet being intrigued by the lengths they would go to.

In the first half of the book Nick is an ASSHOLE and a very typical ‘victim’ of supposedly being neglected by a wonderful wife. I think it’s interesting how relationships can change so much in a matter of a few years. I related to a lot of what Amy was feeling in her diary entries – not to that same extent, but the alienation and neglect. It’s a horrible place to find yourself. Their marriage was fake, but I think many are, to be honest. I think very few marriages are the same out in public than they are behind closed doors. Not saying that’s bad – it’s just reality.

The cops reminded me of those in the movie “Fargo” and Go reminded of Dexter’s sister – crude, vulgar, but definitely herself.  I loved Go. Not quite sure what it is about her, but the relationship between Nick and his sister is very special, and I found myself laughing at their interactions.

Back to Nick and Amy.  On their fifth anniversary, Nick wonders, “What have we done to each other? What will we do?”

However…things are not what they ever seem to be.

Amy is not dealing with reality, and her lies (in her mind) are necessary.  I started out feeling like Amy was truly trapped, and that life had not been good to her – seriously messed up parents who wanted her to be a character in a book, money struggles, having to move to the middle of nowhere… Then BAM…how the author twists it COMPLETELY around? Genius! Amy’s life has always revolved around her, and she just didn’t have the skillset to see beyond.  She most likely feels that this (you need to read the book to find out what “this” is) is what she has to do.  Nick?  He’s just a cheater.

Talk about toxic, psychotic, unhealthy marriage … This book moved at a very good pace and constantly kept me wondering what was going to happen next. Both characters were self-absorbed, attention freaks who seemed to be a victim of the other. Nick rarely took any responsibility for his cheating (and of course, as most cheaters do, blamed his wife’s lack of attention to him) and Amy was just a victim in most of her relationships, thinking everyone needed to WORK just to be worthy of her.

The ironic thing is, at the end, you notice how both of them are sickly addicted to each other and probably never would be happy with anyone else other than each other.

I love the last line Nick says to Amy! Somehow I don’t think she got the last word in… Mind games!

There are more twists than a knotted rubber band in this plot.  The ending left me feeling confused with Nick’s choices and the games people play.  Halfway through I could not put it down anymore. When I finished the last page I did not like the ending but after a while I somehow made my peace with it that it actually does fit perfectly in the book.

As a lot of people have seemed to mention the end of the book and not liking the ending or being confused by it, I thought I would post this link here
http://nochargebookbunch.com/2012/09/… .  It’s the author, Gillian Flynn, explaining why she ended the book the way she did.  It now makes sense.

I can safely say I’ve never read anything quite so twisted as this psycho thriller.  This is a brilliantly-crafted book. Certain parts annoyed me, like the ending with Desi and the ending with Nick, but just because the plot annoyed doesn’t mean it wasn’t excellent. This plot got to me, just like Amy got to Nick. This book evoked such a response from me, that it must be good art.

Gillian Flynn really gets into her characters’ heads and creates a deeply psychologically story that sometimes doesn’t sit well, on purpose.

You get what you need

Standard

GOD KNOWS JUST WHAT WE NEED 

A woman was at work when she received a phone call that her daughter was very sick with a fever. She left her work and stopped by the pharmacy to get some medication for her daughter.

Upon returning to her car she found that she had locked her keys in the car. She was in a hurry to get home to her sick daughter. She didn’t know what to do, so she called her home and told the baby sitter what had happened and that she did not know what to do.
The baby sitter told her that her daughter was getting worse. She said, “You might find a coat hanger and use that to open the door.” The woman looked around and found an old rusty coat hanger that had been thrown down on the ground, possibly by someone else who at some time or other had locked their keys in their car. Then she looked at the hanger and said, “I don’t know how to use this.” So she bowed her head and asked God to send her some help.

Within five minutes an old rusty car pulled up, with a dirty, greasy, bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull rag on his head. The woman thought, “This is what you sent to help me?” But, she was desperate, so she was also very thankful.

The man got out of his car and asked her if he could help. She said, “Yes, my daughter is very sick. I stopped to get her some medication and I locked my keys in my car. I must get home to her. Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?”

He said, “Sure”. He walked over to the car, and in less than one minute the car was opened.

She hugged the man and through her tears she said, “Thank You So Much! You are a very nice man.”

The man replied, “Lady, I am not a nice man. I just got out of prison yesterday. I was in prison for car theft and have only been out less than 24 hours.”
The woman hugged the man again and with sobbing tears cried out loud, “Oh, Thank you God! You even sent me a Professional!”

God may not always send us what we expect, but He will always send us what we need. It’s up to us to have the wisdom to recognize the difference and be thankful.

Honesty; the truth does set you free

Standard

Oh my, HP is truly amazing. This whole week has been about honesty for me. I’m in awe.

I opened myself up to another human being this week on a level of honesty about WHO I AM.

I had shared this “thing” awhile ago with someone else, however I wasn’t able to properly express my feelings about this thing with that person, just the incident.  I feared their judgement and I feared them not understanding; I feared the way I felt about this “thing” made me sick and twisted and beyond redemption.

Its been playing at the back of my mind for months. Through a long series of Godincidences I connected with someone this week. I felt so safe with this person, this new person (!) that I shared this terrible thing and all my feelings around it.  I knew I was in a safe emotional space.

Later I did feel exposed, my poor shivering soul right there for someone to look at.  So I let them, this new person, know that too. And it was and is OK.

This honesty has, in the couple of days since, opened up the most incredible channel in me to my HP. I am feeling that conscious contact which I’ve been striving for most of my life.   When I was completely honest about WHO I AM, the contact came naturally.  I feel it all the time now. Its there.  It’s here.

The truth really does set you free.