From the moment he awakens in the morning, Raisin’s best friends are by his side.
They live in Busytown, which is sometimes directly above our house and other times underground, where it snows in April. Goldbug is his best friend (sometimes he is Raisin’s brother), with Huckle, Sally, and Hilda Hippo frequently joining the two of them for birthday parties, and games of “Go Fish.”
I remember loving Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things that Go as a child, and Raisin takes after me. Ever since I got the book for him for his second birthday, Raisin’s enjoyed looking for little Goldbug on every page. The story is a long one, so we don’t always read every page. Because each page is independent of the page before it, it’s easy to skip pages without a discerning toddler or preschooler getting upset. We both love finding the silly things, like the pencil car and a ketchup truck . We tut-tut Dingo Dog’s crazy driving, and wonder will Officer Flossy will ever catch up to him?
In some respects, Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton is a “chic lit” novel as the pinkish cover suggests it is: you kind of know what will happen in the end.
However, it is so much deeper than a stereotypical romance novel. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up on the cover alone. But there are so many other issues addressed in the midst of a gentle romance that it doesn’t feel unrealistic. You don’t know how the main characters will get to the happily ever after (and, in fact, the ending is not completely that either).
This modern-day romance is a delightful and realistic ride. Given that Mina and Peter live more than two hours away from each other, it seems highly unlikely from page one, where Mina answers her call center telephone to take Peter’s car accident report, that the two will get together. I love the satisfactory and yet open conclusion.
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Claude McKay was born in Jamaica 1889, and in 1912, after his first volume of Jamaican dialect poetry was published in Jamaica, he traveled to the USA, eventually settling in New York City and becoming a part of the Harlem Renaissance movement of artistic expression.
In Harlem Shadows (published 1922), McKay captures his shock and disappointment at the discrimination he found in the United States. Racial identity is a key theme throughout the volume, and I found these themes hidden in many poems. He also wrote poems that encouraged people to be themselves, and his personal voice gives these poems an urgency. He also poignantly captures his homesickness for his tropical home. And although he wrote Harlem Shadows almost a century ago, his search for identity and place in a busy foreign world is one that we can still relate to.
I am a white woman and a stay-at-home mom living close to where I was born, and yet McKay’s racial frustrations and calls for individuals to remain strong, as well as his longings for the familiar, resonate with me. McKay’s beautiful poetry is well worth reading and revisiting.
The second half of Don Quixote of La Mancha (written in 1615, a full decade after the first half) is much better than the first half (thoughts here). As the novel progresses, Cervantes’ writing improves, the plots improve, and the character’s personalities become far more distinct. I was drawn into the story in a way I was not drawn in on reading the first half.
In short, I loved the second half. It is still not my favorite book because it is not my favorite genre (I prefer more realistic Victorian-era fiction). But it is clear why Cervantes is considered a revolutionary writer and why this novel was a precursor to other novels. It is landmark for a reason. (more…)
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How does a blind person understand the majesty of a cathedral? The narrator in Raymond Carver’s short story “Cathedral” tries to describe it. His underlying epiphany, however, is not about architecture but about his own prejudices and stereotypes. He discovers in the end that he has been the one blind. He has not understood the uniqueness of the various people in the world, particularly the blind or otherwise disabled.
I first read Raymond Carver’s short story “Cathedral” when I was in college, and as I pondered stories about the “little noticed” in life for my wallpaper reading project, I thought of it again. How often do the sighted consider the difficulties of describing a cathedral in words to those unable to see the grandeur? Likewise, how often do the -abled consider the similarities and personalities rather than the stereotypes of the “disabled”?
Having reread the story now, I don’t think it is a “wallpaper” story: it’s full of depth and it focuses on real issues that many might relate to. Carver provides some interesting parallels: the blind man’s lack of sight versus the narrator’s prejudice; the narrator’s ability to see the grandeur of a cathedral versus the wife’s ability to see the grandeur of the blind man. It is ultimately a touching story as well.
For those who may want a content warning, I should note that the friends do smoke dope together. It seems to me, though, that that scene is the beginning of the narrator’s understanding of his mistaken prejudices. As they visit and do “ordinary” (for them) things, the narrator begins to recognize his mistaken prejudice.
“Cathedral” is not in the public domain. I read it an anthology: Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama, by X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia, seventh edition (1999).