The Red Tent
by Anita Diamant
336 pages/ Nov 2005
Read: Jan 17- Jan 19
I really really loved this book. It was not an in-your-face biblical fairy tale. And I think that even atheists and agnostics could appreciate this novel.
A predominant theme is the bond of sisterhood among women, whether or not they are of blood relation. Dinah finds many mothers in her life, her own, her aunts, Inna and Meryt, and all of them love her as though she were their own. But we also the see the strength in these women within their daily lives. The hardships that some of them endure are inconceivable, and yet they find the strength to continue, and often with the help of the women around them. We also see the strength of their bonds within the cloth walls of the red tent, where they share stories, laugh, cry, love one another, and celebrate each moon and their own ability to give life through cycle and blood.
What is quite striking is the contrast between males and females. The men are lauded and recorded in books and tales, and given all of the household decisions and absolute power, while the females must submit entirely, even if that means being abused everyday. Their stories are kept alive through one another and their daughters, or forgotten entirely.
And so the theme of immortality surfaces throughout the book as well. It is first hinted at with the stories of Dinah's mothers (made immortal by them having Dinah as a vessel to listen), and then with Jacob and his male lineage. The last words from his mouth are "remember me!". And yes, we did, and do. We remember, and the most read book on the planet remembers... It is an interesting theme to follow, because as readers of the 21st century, we already know that these characters achieved that immortality they sought. There was something pleasing to that bit of knowledge as I read on...as if I was part of some inside joke.
And lastly, I loved all the beautiful rituals that the women performed with the earth around them. They truly appreciated the earth, it's soil, the seasons, the sun and moon. It made me envious of a simpler time when one could be immersed and in sync with the earth and with each other.. of course I was not envious of any other aspect of life in this period and acknowledging this fact made me love the book all the more. The women of Canaan and Egypt must bear their forced roles in life, their futures are decided by whether or not they would be lucky enough to marry man who will not torture or abuse them. And then there is me over here centuries away gripping onto the kind of freedom that women over each passing century could not even fathom.
So this is a lovely book, for the emotion it stirs, the perspective it creates, and the characters that you find yourself unable to part with by the last page.
The Kitchen Daughter
by Jael McHenry
272 pages/ April 2001
Read: Jan 22- Jan 23
I really enjoyed this book. I loved the themes of food, and recipes and what it means to be "normal". The story centers around Ginny, who is in her 20s and has undiagnosed Asperger. Her parents had always sheltered her and took care of her, until she is suddenly forced to take care of herself, and face functioning in society independently. Food calms her, and following recipes is her passion, and some of the most enjoyable parts of the book take place with Ginny in the kitchen. There is also a slight mystery throughout the book that kept me quickly turning pages to try to find the resolution. It was an enjoyable and fast read, and felt original to me, since I had not yet read any novels pertaining to what it means or feels like to have Asperger disease. 4 stars for this one.
Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity
by David Lynch
Audible Version/ Dec 2006
Read(listened) Jan 24- Jan 26
I'd written a couple papers on Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, and Lost Highway for my film studies class, and grew to fall in love with his work. There is something about a Lynch film, the ambiance, the lighting, the soundtrack, the mystery! I love it all, and I loved unwrapping it and breaking it all down in writing.
I open with this, because I clearly have a bias towards David Lynch, so this rating may be a bit skewed. I am also fascinated with meditation and happen to be on my own little journey in learning to meditate well. So for me this book was just perfect. I loved his insight on mediating, what it means to him, how he does it, why it is important in life. I also loved all the little tidbits about his process in making some of his films. I always thought everything in each film had an exact purpose. It was surprising to find out, many key parts in the movies were unplanned, added at the last minute, or took place because of a vague idea he had that he wanted to see come to life. It was all so fascinating! I don't think there was a single part of this book I found to be boring.
Also, I read this via audible and listened to it twice, and I see a third listen in the near future as well! I loved his pacing while reading and also that Lynchian noise during some of the breaks/chapters. That added sound effect really added gravity to the audio.
My only criticism is that there were many parts throughout the book I wish would have had more detail. He skims over a lot of stuff a bit too quickly... Were it not for this, I would have given this rating 5 stars.
"Cinema is it's own language, and with it you can say so many things because you've got time and sequences, you've got dialogue, you've got music, you've got sound effects, you have so many tools. And so you can express a feeling and a thought that can't be expressed any other way. It's a magical medium."