Dixie Darr

Archive for February, 2017|Monthly archive page

Read This Book

In Uncategorized on February 21, 2017 at 12:28 pm

wrong

Although I used to read a lot of science fiction, I moved on to other genres in about 1970. Sometimes, though, a book just screams to be read. All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai reads like a breezy letter from a friend. Remember those?

Tom Barren lives in a 2016 that resembles the Jetsons’-like future imagined by 1950s and ’60s authors. Flying cars, automated and personalized, well, everything were all made possible by harnessing the endless energy of the movement of the planet through space, which “fueled a technological revolution that transformed the world.” The inventor, Lionel Goettreider has become a cultural icon, whose name is spelled by children singing to the tune of Mickey Mouse. It is, according to Tom, “the world we were supposed to have.”

A catastrophic accident lands Tom in the 2016 where we live, which seems hopelessly backward and foul to him, a “degraded mirror of the world.” Slowly, though, he finds certain aspects of our time that he prefers to his own.

Tom learns that only he has the power/opportunity to save the world. But which one will he save? The technological utopia or the sweet, flawed now? Is it possible to have both?

New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Tropper, has this to say about it. “A novel about time travel has no right to be this engaging. A novel this engaging has no right to be this smart. And a novel this smart has no right to be this funny. Or insightful. Or immersive. Basically, this novel has no right to exist.” I can’t argue with that.

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Bugs on the Brain

In Uncategorized on February 13, 2017 at 10:50 am


cockroach

I was chatting with Esther and Dan before church yesterday and asked them, “What’s the title of that famous Russian short story about a man who woke up as a cockroach?”

I’m planning to write a series of posts for Lent using secular essays, stories, poems, etc. on the topic of change, and this seemed like an obvious one to include.

Esther knew what I was talking about, but she couldn’t think of the title either. Dan, on the other hand, let me know it was outside his bailiwick. “Sounds to me like a question for Google,” he said, whipping out his phone.

Just then Erin slid into the pew ahead of us and said hi. “Hey, Erin,” I said, “what’s the title of that Russian short story about a man who woke up as a cockroach?”

“Oh,” she said, “um, uh, The Metamorphosis.”

“Yes!”

Dan seemed disappointed that she got it before he could find it online.

Apparently, I had everything wrong.

It’s a novella, not a short story.

The author, Franz Kafka, was Czech, not Russian.

The bug the man becomes is never identified as a cockroach. It’s just a hideous bug.

With my erroneous description, could Google have answered my question? I searched for my original question this morning, and the first result was the Wikipedia entry for The Metamorphosis.

I intended to make a point about the human brain still being better than a search engine, but it turns out I just talk faster than Dan can type.

The Opposite of Everyone

In Uncategorized on February 10, 2017 at 2:38 pm


opposite

My mother always said I did the opposite of whatever everyone else did. That explains a lot—why I hate stainless appliances and granite counter tops when that’s what everyone else must have. Why I love small houses when the prevailing wisdom is that bigger is better. Why I’m single and child free.

So a book titled the Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson called to me.

That’s all I have in common with this story, though. It’s about Paula Vauss, a hard-edged attorney whose strongest attachment is to the mother she hasn’t seen or spoken to in fifteen years, a storytelling mother who dragged her from town to town and man to man until ending up in prison and leaving Paula to fend for herself in a group home in foster care.

Her mother’s death pitches Paula into relationships she didn’t know she had, seeking forgiveness that can never come.

A good read with a satisfying outcome.

Judging a Book by its Title

In Uncategorized on February 2, 2017 at 6:20 am


book

Sometimes the title of a book is so perfect that you just have to read it. That’s why I ordered I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around from the library. I mean, don’t we all feel like that sometimes? I know I do. Really, I feel like that most of the time. The book is about Tig Monahan, a psychologist who takes care of everyone else, but can’t seem to handle her own life. “When I’m alone I know just what to do,” she says.

The characters are warm and funny and smart, exactly the kind of people I like to have in my life. Tig’s life unravels as she loses her boyfriend and her job while trying to take care of her mother with Alzheimer’s and her sister’s newborn, colicky baby after the sister leaves in the middle of the night. It’s too much, and Tig falls apart while managing – just barely and with a little help from her friends – to keep everything afloat.

We are only one month into the year, but this book is getting a four star (out of four) rating in my book diary and will definitely show up on my list of best books of the year.