A Review of Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You (by Bethany)


This is a strange little book – ubiquitous in the circles I walk in (i.e. circles made up of Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Green Apple, and a half a dozen small local bookstores) and appearing often on shelves devoted to “staff picks.” I’ve been intrigued but ultimately rejected it five or six times, only caving when I passed right by it in the school library and figured that checking it out would be a low-risk way of testing its waters. Though readable enough, this novel is noteworthy in the fact that all of its characters seem made of cardboard. In addition, the author’s odd choice of a very wide-ranging omniscient point of view undermines the suspense that the author seems to be trying hard to create. And this book manages all of the above without actually sucking. Intrigued? Read on.

This novel is about the Lee family: James, lonely son of Chinese immigrants, history professor, desperate to fit into American society; Marilyn, James’ Caucasian wife and frustrated housewife; Nath, their personality-free teenaged son; Lydia, their daughter, who – as the novel’s first sentence tells us – is dead; and oft-ignored youngest daughter Hannah, who knows everything. The novel is about the changes wrought upon the Lees when Lydia dies, although because so much of the novel takes place in backstory it is also about the past experiences of the five family members – the early lives of James and Marilyn and the lives their children have led at school that they have concealed from their parents.

At the outset, we are told that Lydia is dead, but all James and Marilyn know is that she is missing. They call the police and an investigation begins. We are told early on that Marilyn “disappeared” herself once, ten years ago, and that James, Marilyn, and Nath are all thinking (but not speaking) of that event as the search for Lydia begins. As we bounce between the inner lives of all of the key characters, including Lydia, we learn that Marilyn was the daughter of a home ec teacher and that she grew up determined not to be a housewife. She enrolled at Radcliffe, where she was studying to become a doctor but, on a lark, took a course on the cowboy (the lonely, solitary, long-suffering cowboy) in American history and culture, taught by a new Harvard instructor named James Lee. They kiss, fall in love, and get married, and when Harvard denies James tenure they move to a suburban Ohio town, where, as a multiracial family, they qualify as the local freakshow. Marilyn gets pregnant and does not resume her pre-med studies. Soon Nath is born, and Lydia arrives a year later.

I forgot to mention that this novel takes place in the seventies – making the domestic-heartache plot more plausible than it would have been otherwise. The problem is that it never feels like the seventies. Every so often bell bottoms are mentioned, and each time I stopped and said, “What??” At the same time, the novel doesn’t feel contemporary either, nor does it feel targeted to any other decade in recent history. This novel is separate from time, bare-bones, generic. This could be a deliberate move on the part of the author – an attempt to make the book seem timeless – and I have no doubt that it will work. However, the side effect of this technique is that the novel seems sterile, as if its characters are acting out their familial tableau on another planet somewhere.

Marilyn never loses her desire to be a doctor, and when her mother dies and she spends a week sorting through all of her possessions, she decides to abandon her husband and two children. With the money from the sale of her mother’s house, she rents an apartment in Toledo (of all places!) and enrolls in science classes at a community college. She never contacts James or the children, and James for his part never calls the police or takes definitive moves to locate Marilyn. This is how James operates: he’s a burrower. As a child he dealt with the embarrassment of being the only Asian student at his school and also the son of the school’s janitor by putting his head down and becoming a superior student, and he deals with Marilyn’s departure in the same way. At the same time, he parks the children in front of the TV full-time and keeps their routine in a holding pattern, as if he doesn’t feel qualified or ready to impose order on their lives without Marilyn. When Marilyn does return, all of the members of the family treat her return with the same blasé acceptance that they treated her departure. Well – all of them except for Lydia.

Lydia makes a silent promise on the day her mother returns: she will do every single thing her mother ever wants her to do. She develops almost a superstition about her fear of displeasing her mother. So for the next ten years, she puts up with the fact that her mother – who has now given up hope of being a doctor herself – is determined to make sure Lydia becomes a doctor. Lydia does everything she is told, but she secretly hates science and math and often has to cheat in order to get the grades her mother wants to see. After Lydia disappears, her mother’s slow excavation of Lydia’s room, which parallels Marilyn’s earlier excavation of her mother’s house, reveals all the hidden evidence that Lydia hated science and longed for a different kind of life.

This book puts its author in a difficult conundrum. The usual rule in writing fiction is “show, don’t tell.” But what does one do if one’s characters are the type who never, ever tell anyone anything? “Show, don’t tell” doesn’t work in this novel, so the author was forced into long passages of backstory that made me feel as if I was being preached to a little bit. Yes, get it, I kept thinking. Given the limitations of the challenge Celeste Ng set up for herself, though, I think this novel succeeds relatively well. I never lost interest in the novel, though I was disappointed by the ending (think Edna Pontellier in bell bottoms) and was glad when it was over. I haven’t told you much here about Nath (who is boring) and Hannah (who is not boring – if any character could have functioned as a first-person or third-limited narrator for the novel, it is Hannah – but who gets limited stage time, unfortunately. This novel is harmless and engaging and fluffy enough for a plane trip or beach vacation.

Posted in Fiction - general, Reviews by Bethany, Authors, Celeste Ng | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts on James B. Woulfe’s Into the Crucible: Making Marines for the 21st Century (by Bethany)

Into the Crucible cover image

This isn’t the sort of book that I can in good conscience “review.” I read it because a brief but important scene in the novel I’m writing takes place during the Marine Corps training exercise called “the Crucible,” and I needed a detailed factual account of how this exercise works in order to write the scene well. This book is not very well written, but I didn’t expect it to be, and I did get the information I needed and more – so overall this was a successful research experience.

The Crucible training exercise is (in my words, not the author’s) basically a cross between a ropes course and the Stations of the Cross, except with the added component of near-starvation. This is a 2.5-day event designed to simulate the pressures of combat. In 54 hours, the recruits get only eight hours sleep and very little food, and at intervals along their hike they participate in various physical and mental challenges. Each challenge is named after a Marine who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, and each event simulates the combat incident that led to that Marine’s heroism. At the beginning of each challenge, the drill instructor speaks to the recruits not only about the challenge they will be undertaking but also about the Marine the challenge is named after and about the larger context of his/her heroic acts (and yes, a couple of the Marines represented in the Crucible exercise are women). I really did learn a lot about American military history while I was reading this book. My knowledge of the Pacific Theatre in World War II has always been weak, and this book filled in a lot of the holes in my knowledge.

If you have been part of an even-remotely-progressive school any time in the last thirty years, you will likely recognize the sort of challenges the Marines engage in during the Crucible exercise. In one event, a rope is strung across the trail at about the recruits’ head level, and the challenge requires the recruits to get every member of their squad over the rope without touching the rope at any time. The activity was meant to simulate a situation in which Marines had to entire a building through a broken window. While I was reading, I remembered the time my elementary school class did this same activity. We made a human pyramid of some kind, and a few strong, athletic students used the pyramid to boost themselves up and then jump over the rope. When about half of the class was on the other side, the group still on the original side boosted the lighter members of the class as best they could and the stronger students on the other side helped them over the rope. Finally, the student with the most gymnastic experience stayed on the original side until everyone else was over the rope and then backed up, got a running start, and did some kind of back handspring-thingy to get herself over the rope without touching it. The purpose of the activity is to force the group to contemplate everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and use each person to the best of his/her abilities without judgment, knowing that an individual who is not helpful on one event is likely to have the right skill set for an upcoming event. This kind of training is now common during new student orientations and leadership training at schools and colleges and during team-building events at many workplaces, though I am more than happy to concede that the Marines likely invented it first. Even the ever-popular “trust fall” makes an appearance.

In general, this book was enjoyable to read while the author was covering military history and narrating the strategies the recruits used to approach each exercise. After each exercise was complete, though, the author indulged in a page or so of preachiness about teamwork and self-sacrifice and taking control of one’s destiny and the like, and I enjoyed these passages much less. I felt as if I were ten years old and sitting in a folding chair on a YMCA or Boys’ and Girls’ Club gym listening to a presentation on how the military can lift me out of poverty and give me a chance at success. I did not enjoy these passages, but I did read them and did my best to internalize them, partly for research purposes but mostly because I do think that books deserve to be taken on their own terms. I did find the stories about the Congressional Medal of Honor recipients inspiring, and I did learn what I needed to learn for my book. I do worry, though, that if my book is published I will read reviews that say things like, “This book is good and all, but I wish the author had taken the time to do some actual research on Marine training instead of just repurposing what she learned in seventh grade Outdoor Ed.” But I did do my research, and I do feel confident in moving forward with my novel, which was the point of reading this book in the first place, so I suppose I can learn to tune those voices out.

Posted in James B. Woulfe, Non-fiction - History, Nonfiction - Education, Nonfiction - General, Nonfiction - Military, Reviews by Bethany | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Another PAT CONROY MONTH!!!! Bites the Dust: Final Thoughts on South of Broad (by Bethany)

south of broad cover image

If it weren’t for this blog and its tradition of celebrating PAT CONROY every September, I would never have reread South of Broad. When I read it for the first time in 2009, I was highly attuned to its flaws. These flaws haven’t gone away – and I’ll outline a few of them below – but this time I thoroughly enjoyed my escape into Pat Conroy’s Charleston, where light dances off the river at sunrise, where good and bad are sharply delineated, and where the characters say one another’s names with every single line of dialogue. This isn’t an especially artful book, but I didn’t mind.

A vein of goodness and a vein of evil pulse under the surface of this novel, and by PAT CONROY’s standards these channels are managed fairly subtly. Evil takes the form of Trevor and Sheba Poe’s murderous psychopath father (who is not subtle at all, but he only appears on the page occasionally), the insidious racism and elitism of Chad Rutledge’s family, and the ongoing presence of Father Max Sadler, a priest and trusted family confidant whose abuse of Leo King’s brother Stephen led to Stephen’s suicide when he and Leo were only children. I remember that when I read this novel the first time, the discovery of a videotape of this abuse at the end of the novel seemed to come out of nowhere, but when I reread it I realized that it does not come out of nowhere at all but is instead clearly foreshadowed from the beginning when Max tells eighteen year-old Leo, in reference to his mother’s love for James Joyce, that “one must always forgive another’s passion” (20) and again a page later, more darkly, when Leo receives communion from Father Max and contemplates his lifelong relationship with Catholic mysticism. Note what Conroy does with pronouns here, especially with “he” and “him”: “When the priest called for water, I provided him with water. When he needed to cleanse his hands for the coming mystery, I emptied cruets over his fingers. When he called for wine, I supplied him with wine in the gold shine of chalices. At the moment of consecration, when he turned the wine into the blood of Christ and the bread into the body of the same God, I rang the bells that had been sounded beneath altars for two thousand years. When I opened my mouth and received the unleavened bread from the consecrated finger and thumb of the priest, I felt the touch of God on my tongue, His taste in my palate, His bloodstream mingling in my own. I had come back to Him, after a full-fledged embittered retreat, after He stole my brother from my bedroom and killed him in my bathtub” (21).

Do you see that? The narration is saying that capital-H He – God – took Leo’s brother Stephen, because that is what Leo thinks at this point in the novel. When I reread this passage having already read the ending, I recognize, of course, that “he” should be in lower case, as it is the priest, and not God, who pushed Stephen to suicide. I don’t mean to sound condescending, but I almost feel proud of PAT CONROY here. This subtlety goes above and beyond what I usually expect from him.

The vein of good in the novel, however, is not handled quite as shrewdly. The “good” characters in the novel practically pulse with heavenly light. The central figure in this league of extraordinary gentlemen is Leo himself, who bounces around from place to place waging war against hate, prejudice, violence, and pretension. He endures his mother’s grim frigidity with good humor, takes a years-long punishment for a crime he did not commit, puts himself in harm’s way confronting Trevor and Sheba’s father, single-handedly stops his high school from breaking out into a race war, punctures the pretensions of Chad Rutledge and his family, cleans up the pee and poo and vomit of an elderly man for whom he does court-ordered community service, and marries Starla Whitehead even though he knows she is too emotionally damaged to do anything but hurt him in return. It is true that Leo is damaged himself – we are told that he spends three years in a state psychiatric hospital after his brother’s suicide – and that people who are damaged and recover reasonably well can sometimes develop a precocious level of empathy and compassion for the suffering of others. But in Leo’s case, he seems to have recovered too well. Leo is the novel’s first-person narrator, and we should have access not only to his observations and experiences but also to his patterns of thought, the trajectories of his feelings, yet nowhere in the narration is there the kind of intensity I would expect from a protagonist with Leo’s psychiatric history. He doesn’t feel like someone who is conversant with darkness and demons, in spite of the fact that the narration continually insists that he has this kind of history.

This novel’s greatest flaw, though, is its tendency to disguise exposition as dialogue. If an author is going to write a novel about a group of friends who have known one another for years, are the godparents to one another’s kids, and have keys to one another’s houses, that author can’t write dialogue like “I envy you, Leo… You’ve got a wife who’s never there, and you write a gossip column that ruins someone’s life every six days” (177) and “Molly, you’re married to one of the most successful lawyers in the city. He’s from one of the oldest, most distinguished families in Charleston. You were destined to marry Chad Rutledge the day you were born” (168). While long-winded people certainly exist, most dialogue among adults takes place in a sort of shorthand. Even if people don’t know each other well, they skim over backstory and facts (consider the prevalence of idioms like ‘long story short’), and if they do know each other well, every conversation is a continuation of one that began in 1983 and has contained hiatuses of years or decades without losing integrity and momentum. This is the kind of relationship Conroy is trying to capture here, and in other aspects of his characterization he succeeds, but overall the dialogue in this novel is a disaster. Dialogue among intimates is hard to replicate on the page because its center keeps shifting from speaker to speaker, the heart of the conversation appearing and disappearing like so many fireflies. I sympathize with writers who can’t make plausible dialogue work, and I admire those who can. If I could magically make one thing in this novel better, it would be the dialogue.

But enough. During the ten days or so that I was reading this novel, I craved it on my drive home and wrapped myself up in it like sweatpants and a soft old blanket when I got home. Even if it’s true (and it is) that this isn’t one of PAT CONROY’s best novels, Leo King contains so much of each of Conroy’s earlier protagonists that I could almost trick myself into thinking I was reading The Lords of Discipline or The Great Santini or The Water is Wide. I don’t know if PAT CONROY “can’t” write about different sorts of protagonists or if he has just chosen to continue to explore the familiar, and ultimately it doesn’t matter. I love Pat Conroy’s protagonists: their vulnerability, their humor, their loyalty, their tirelessness, their kindness and decency born of suffering, their ability to seek out and destroy bullshit. I will keep reading no matter what.

Posted in Fiction - general, Pat Conroy, PAT CONROY MONTH!, Reviews by Bethany | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yarn Along

Yarn Along 9.30.15

I pieced the colorblock rollneck sweater this weekend, and now all I need to do is knit the neck. This photo doesn’t really do the colors justice, but I’ll take some outdoor photos once the sweater is finished.

I’m reading Everything I Never Told You, which is a prime example of the genre I like to call the airplane novel. Airplane novels are 300 pages long, give or take a few – long enough to read on a mid-length flight without being long-winded or tiring. They concern a few key characters and explore those characters’ inner and outer lives in detail, but we’re not expected to keep track of extensive backstory. You can read these books when you’re tired. I will explore this subgenre in more detail sometime soon.

Yarn Along is hosted by Ginny on her blog, Small Things.

Posted in Airplane Novels, Yarn Along | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Well, I made it before PAT CONROY MONTH!!!! was over…. A Review of Pat Conroy’s The Water is Wide (by Jill)

wateriswideConroyI started a progress report on The Water is Wide a little over a week ago, and shortly thereafter I actually started making solid progress on it and didn’t want to stop to write about it. I’ve been having my usual late summer/early fall reading malaise for the past month or so. It seems like this is the time of year when my reading goals all fall off the damn rails. This year, I blame a spotted brown and white puppy who has been keeping me on my toes since mid-July, as well as a month where my only long stretch of days off came at the very end. In addition, I’ve been fascinated with social media and internet shopping more than usual for the past few weeks. I hate it when that happens. But I digress. I’m supposed to be talking about PAT CONROY MONTH!!!!

The Water is Wide was my introduction to Pat Conroy back in early 1992 during my sophomore Honors English class. I remember loving it, for all the reasons I loved every Pat Conroy book I read in my teens. It was funny, it was hyperbolic, and something about Conroy’s prose struck a chord in my adolescent soul—so many emotions articulated in such a detailed way. And then sometime while we were reading the book, or shortly after we finished it, Pat Conroy came and spoke at my high school. It was amazing. He talked about growing up Catholic and in Catholic schools. He was hilarious, too. I wish that I had the issue of our alumni magazine that published a transcript of the talk he gave, because I would love to read it again. I haven’t reread The Water is Wide since 1992, and it seems fitting that the last of his early works that I’m rereading for PAT CONROY MONTH!!!! is the first one I ever read, which was also his first major published work. From here on out it’s Beach Music and South of Broad. It’s entirely possible that I’ll reread The Lords of Discipline again before I tackle South of Broad again….

So, here’s the deal, gang. In 1969, a young Pat Conroy decides to teach on Yamacraw Island, an island off the coast of South Carolina. He wanted to go into the Peace Corps, but plans fell through, and the next best thing that presented itself stateside was Yamacraw. (The name of the island was actually Daufuskie Island; I’m not sure why Pat decided to change the name of the island when he wrote this one, and then use the right name in future memoirs, but he did.) The kids of Yamacraw were all black, and many of them were illiterate, though they all regularly attended school. Pat, the young idealist, was appalled by this state of affairs, and immediately set out to remedy the situation. Of course, things don’t go according to plan, and Pat develops many unique methods of teaching that will capture the attention and imagination of the kids. He brings in guest lecturers from the mainland, organizes field trips, tries to make everything into a game, tries everything. He becomes their friend, their uncle. He ingratiates himself with their families. Eventually he gets fired for his efforts. I suspect that this book would be especially meaningful for a teacher, and Bethany’s review from 2012 confirms my suspicion. This book is also meaningful as a document of race relations in the South in the late 1960’s. Given the things that are still going on in our country in regards to race relations, I know we have come a long way, but I also know that we have a long way to go before there is equality amongst the races, and Conroy’s view of these things was simplistic—he thought all we needed to do was integrate the schools and things would be just fine. If he only knew back in 1972 how much would change and how much would stay the same. I’d actually love to hear his thoughts on this subject, and how they have changed with the passing of years. Here’s Conroy’s theory of how things are going to change in the South from the last two pages of The Water is Wide. You’ll find that it’s vintage Conroy, but a muted version of his modern, more florid prose. I love the simple way he looks at things here, and wish I didn’t know that the reality of race in the South (hell, the entire country) was, and will likely always be, much more complicated than the beautiful way my old friend Pat describes it here. “The town of Beaufort continues to undergo change, not revolutionary change, but gradual and slow change, like the erosion of a high bluff during spring tides. A kind of brotherhood hides beneath the shadows of columns and the mute verandahs—unspoken, inchoate, but present nevertheless. There is no widespread denunciation of the old values, but the erosion of these same values is already irreparable. For ten years I have been part of the town and have seen her grow more human and her people grow more tolerant as the past has crumbled and the old dreams burned out in a final paroxysm of sputtering paralysis and rage. The South of humanity and goodness is slowly rising out of the fallen temple of hatred and white man’s nationalism. The town retains her die-hards and nigger-haters and always will. Yet they grow older and crankier with each passing day. When Beaufort digs another four hundred holes in her plentiful graveyards, deposits there the rouged and elderly corpses, and covers them with the sandy, lowcountry soil, then another whole army of the Old South will be silenced and not heard from again. The religion of the Confederacy and apartheid will one day be subdued by the passage of years. The land will be the final arbiter of human conflict; no matter how intense the conflict, the victory of earth and grave will be undeniable and complete. The eyes of the town are turning with excruciating reluctance toward the new flow and the new era. The eyes seem a bit brighter and less clouded with hate (257-8).” I’m going to cease and desist my discussion of the topic of race as it relates to Conroy’s tenure on Yamacraw Island now, because I fear I will not be able to do it justice, and I need to move on to other important things, namely, poking fun at Pat Conroy.

As I was reading along, it occurred to me that this novel/memoir is written with a very irregular timeline—this is something I had forgotten I knew about this book the first time around. And while Conroy’s hopping about through time in his year on the island fascinated me in 1992 (and made me feel like I was reading modern, adult, complex literature), in 2015 it was driving me crazy! I wanted to say to Pat, “Could you stick with chronological order when relating anecdotes, please??” Generally, the story does move forward, but in a decidedly round about way, with lots of detours forward and backward in time. One paragraph, Conroy is writing about a trip to see the Harlem Globetrotters play in March, then in the next he’s talking about a Valentine’s Day party he and his wife threw for the kids at their house in Beaufort, and the next it’s March again, and someone’s grandmother has died. I think that the book would have ultimately flowed better if it had been written with a more straight timeline—less episodic would have worked better for me here, because it was difficult to relate events to other events temporally the way it was set up. And I actually think that the story of his run-ins with the school board and all the other administrators would have been strengthened if I had known what exactly was going on with the kids on the island simultaneously. It also would have been nice to know what became of the Yamacraw folks—the book was written only a year or two after the events, so I know this would have been difficult, though I find it hard to believe that Conroy would have just severed ties with these people who meant to much to him at the time. I wonder if there is anything about them in The Death of Santini. I know he talked about writing The Water is Wide. Hmmm. Will have to look into that.

Overall, I did really enjoy this book, but it does reek of first novel and young man idealism. I think there are stylistic things that could be changed to enhance my enjoyment, but it was quite good as it stands right now. I’ve believed for years that Pat Conroy is a far better memoirist, than a novelist, and rereading The Water is Wide further convinces me of the truth of that statement. It’s rough, it’s not Conroy’s mature voice, but it resounds with me—I loved to read Pat’s diatribes about education and morals, loved reading about his attempts to take down the school board. I hope there are still people on this earth as idealistic as twenty-four year old Pat Conroy. I hope we aren’t all cynical people.

And one last thing, just for fun.  Remember how I said that Pat Conroy came and spoke at SI?  Well, I got to have him sign my copy of The Water is Wide.  Here is a picture of the autograph.  It’s just a crappy old Mass Market edition of the book, but I’ll treasure it forever.

Water is wide autograph

Posted in Nonfiction - Memoir/Biography, Pat Conroy, PAT CONROY MONTH!, Reviews by Jill | Leave a comment

“I Never Became a Woodcutter and I Have Had as Little to Do with Wood as Was Humanly Possible”: Some PAT CONROY MONTH!!!! Silliness for Your Friday Morning, Brought to You By the Numbers 19 and 92 (by Bethany)

I may have mentioned once or twice before that, among other quirks, my high school education was marked by not one but two opportunities to imitate PAT CONROY’s writing style in exchange for a grade. This probably shouldn’t have happened, I know – there are other writers more worth imitating – but what can you do? The second such opportunity came during a creative writing class for which we had read The Lords of Discipline for summer reading and were assigned to imitate his style in the first story of the school year. That story has gone the way of the brontosaurus, I think – I’ve never been able to find it. Two years earlier, though, we were assigned to retell a well-known fairy tale in the style of any author, and since I was right smack in the middle of my PAT CONROY phase at the time, of course it was his style that I chose to mimic. Back then I generally wrote like PAT CONROY even when I wasn’t trying to – I had just absorbed so much of his style by osmosis that it took over my natural style for a while.

This is a fairly bold assignment to give high school sophomores. I have often modified it and assigned juniors to retell familiar stories in the style of a specific author that we have studied – usually Hemingway – but I would never give students the freedom to choose any writer at all. Hemingway is easy to mimic, and I always spent significant class time discussing his style. But, as I’ve noted before, my high school teachers trusted my classmates and me more than I trusted my students, at least most of the time.

But long story short: behold some excerpts from my Conroyvian retelling of the Hansel and Gretel story. At first I meant to include the whole story, but I decided that you don’t really need to be treated to all seven pages of my way-too-pleased-with-itself adolescent prose. You’re welcome. I’ve chosen a few snippets for your entertainment:

Conroy snippet 0

Hansel Joseph Braun, Sr. was a poor woodcutter. He was also a very violent man.” I remember giggling over those opening sentences for months. And “Braun” as a last name? A nice touch, even if I do say so myself.

Conroy snippet 1

Please note that these pages were produced on a typewriter. A real honest-to-god typewriter, albeit an electric one with built-in correction fluid and various other bells and whistles. I loved that typewriter and never spent so much as a minute envying people who had computers. Two years after this was written, when I was in AP English, Fr. Murphy (remember him?) used to tease me for being the only one in the senior class who still used a typewriter. I didn’t mind the teasing, but I was surprised by it. It never occurred to me that I was so behind the times.

Conroy snippet 2

PAT CONROY’s version of the Hansel and Gretel story has basketball in it, of course. “The opportunity for heroics in a world where wood holds little importance.” Hee hee hee.

Conroy snippet 3

Another side note: I photographed these pages in excellent light and did not PhotoShop them; my essays from high school really are this yellow. Excuse me while I go buy some Christmas jewelry.

Conroy snippet 4

In 1992 I was incapable of writing a story that did not include sexual assault. I wouldn’t even have known where to start.

Conroy snippet 5

And there you go. I hope you enjoyed this little trip into the vault.

Posted in Glimpses into Real Life, Pat Conroy, PAT CONROY MONTH! | 2 Comments

Yarn Along

Yarn Along 9.23.15 

My little child-size colorblock sweater is coming along nicely. It is always refreshing to take on a small project immediately after finishing (well, almost finishing) an adult item. The light in the photo isn’t the best. The sleeve that’s still on needles is much less orange than it looks. It’s red, but more of a tomato red than a true deep red. The other sleeve is purple, the back is blue, and the front is green. It’s fun having all these nice colors around.

I’m still reading South of Broad and still mostly enjoying it, though the parts set in 1969 are far superior to the parts set in 1989. The San Francisco scenes are about to start, and I am preparing to do lots of wincing. I can feel my TMJ doing some warmup exercises already. More soon!

Yarn Along is hosted by Ginny on her blog, Small Things.

Posted in Yarn Along | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments