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Showing posts from June, 2014

book review: The Life and Remembrances of Martha Toole

The Life and Remembrances of Martha Toole by Jason Derr. Temple Foundry Mediaworks, 2014. (The ebook pdf version used for this review, 50 pages).

An email popped up on my screen in the middle of June offering me a copy of Jason Derr's latest work of fiction, The Life and Remembrances of Martha Toole, for review. Words used to describe the novella were "a magic realist exploration of nostalgia and reality" and "an epiphany in a single setting." I was sold! I clicked the link and ordered the ebook. I read it in one sitting yesterday afternoon and, I must admit, struggled a bit to enter Derr's magic world.

Derr's characters are richly painted, especially the matriarch Martha Toole. Her abrasive, direct manner makes one squirm with recognition (haven't we all had a fussy, old relative whom we have tried to avoid?), yet the obvious loyalty to her family is never in doubt. Each detail with which the author describes the southern family's strained inte…

confessions of a non-morning person

I have been following a post by a colleague (whom I have never met but we have mutual friends and are both studying theology) in which he writes about his efforts to change into a functioning morning person, mostly out of necessity due to being a parent and a writer (his words). I am not a parent so I will not comment on the challenges that children present to sleep and work patterns, but I do a fair bit of writing and find myself chafing at the assumption that disciplined and successful writers do their best work in the early morning.  I am not sure that such a generalization is true or helpful.
It seems to me that there is a bit of prejudice against late-night functioning people. We can be viewed as somewhat lazy, undisciplined, still lingering in that teenage/student phase of staying up late and sleeping in late. Similar to the subtle disdain for introverts that our Western culture exhibits (social skills are highly valued), late night-ers are generally not championed as leaders, go…

the dressing room dream

A week ago I had one of those dreams. You know, the kind that sticks with you for hours after you wake up and, like a C. S. Lewis masterpiece, pierces you with its truth and vivid images. This is what I dreamed: 


I was in a dressing room in a fashionable and rather expensive clothing store. I tried on several beautiful dresses; some I liked more than others. I wasn't really thinking about buying a dress that day but I thought there was no harm in trying on a few. The salesperson did her job well, bringing me numerous outfits, all quite interesting and lovely, so I just kept trying them on. The last item she brought me was a pair of shorts which were priced over $400. At that point I made a decision: I was not going to pay that much for a pair of shorts so there was no point in trying them on, no matter how nice they were.

After I made that decision, I suddenly noticed several things around me that I had not been aware of before. First, there was a small kitten sitting in the dressi…