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Writing about reading and such.

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Sweetness #9: A Novel
Stephan Eirik Clark
Girl Waits with Gun - Amy Stewart

Girl Waits With Gun by: Amy Stewart is about exactly that… a girl who waits with a gun. The predictability of the title is not at all shocking, but what is surprising is Constance Kopp’s role as a woman in New Jersey in the early 1900s. Woman were hardly allowed to think for themselves, let alone become involved in a series of events requiring one of them to own and learn how to use a revolver.

When a buggy containing Constance and her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, is hit by an automobile driven by Henry Kaufman, a powerful, ruthless, and crazy factory owner, they have no idea what they are in for by simply asking him to pay for the damages he caused. Despite living far off in the country without a man to support them, a scandal in and of itself, the sisters spent the next year being tormented and threatened by Mr. Kaufman and his gangster friends. By chance, Sheriff Heath heard their plight and was the only person in law enforcement or otherwise, willing to help them and go up against a man known to set fire to the houses of people who went up against him. He gives the sisters their firearms and teaches them how to use them.

Following a lot of back and forth between the sisters and their tormentors, as well as a few side stories, such as the child Mr. Kaufman had with one of his employees being made to “disappear,” the story ends happily, as one might expect, with justice being served.

More important than the actual story is the message it conveys, which is – stand up for yourself and fight for what you believe in… no matter who you are or what is expected of you. Defy those things.

(Special thanks to my former employees for internet stalking me to discover my love of reading and purchasing this book for me as a goodbye present. There are no better gifts than books!)

Source: http://deetales514.com
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things - Jenny Lawson

I just finished reading Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, the book named for a new mantra about how to approach life in the face of depression, also about two ecstatic-looking taxidermied raccoons. (For more information about the existence of TWO such raccoons, read the book.)(Is the plural of raccoon just raccoon, or is spell check on the fritz?)

In this, her second memoir, Lawson, aka The Bloggess describes all her various mental illnesses and weird disorders, ones that are much more common that I ever thought. Her stories about dealing with depression and social anxiety are inspiring, and yes, the great message here is that no one suffering from them alone despite how you feel at the time. Disorders manifest differently in different people, but they’re there to some degree in everyone, so talk about them rather than hide from them. Or hide and talk at the same time, whatever.

Dermatillomania. I’ve never heard that name before or come across it in all my mad medical google searches, but it’s a thing apparently, so I should probably apologize to a certain person for claiming I’m allergic to him, therefore making me scratch off my entire arm. And who knew there are so many sleep disorders? Granted I’d never be able to get tested for any, because I’d never fall asleep in the first place.

“A funny book about horrible things,” is probably the most accurate subtitle for a book that I’ve ever seen. Yes, depression can make a person want to cry and hide and pull their hair out literally, but this same person will eventually come out of it and use her remarkable storytelling abilities to educate people and make them laugh at the same time.

Read this book because it could change/save your life. In the very least you’ll learn something about mental illness…and taxidermy.

Source: http://deetales514.com
The Imperfectionists - Tom Rachman

Striving for mediocrity and settling for less is how the characters in The Imperfectionists operate. A novel by Tom Rachman, it’s the story of an English language newspaper in Rome and the people who struggle to make it work.

We all know the fate of the newspaper industry today, but when Cyrus Ott started Corso Vittoria in the 1950s it had lots of potential. Mostly it had the potential to employ the woman he loved, (although not his wife), and to escape to Italy whenever he wanted to see her. Although starting this paper was a huge undertaking, the motive for it remained a secret, and for all its existence, it remained a sore spot of the Ott Empire. By the time a third generation Ott publisher was required, the family sent the lamest and least educated of Cyrus’ grandchildren to run the business. Even if Oliver had had some intelligence, he still had absolutely no interest in running the newspaper and ignored all phone calls from its employees. The operation had already been deemed a loss

Each chapter of this book focuses on the life of a different employee. To name a few, Kathleen Solson is the paper’s no-nonsense editor-in-chief whose solution to her husband’s marital affair is to have one of her own. Herman Cohen, the corrections editor, condemns even the slightest grammar offense at work, but will let mistakes slide at home. And Winston Cheung is so desperate for any journalism job that he accepts an audition to be the Cairo reporter and goes to the foreign city eager to please, only to be taken advantage of and miserable. All of the employees demand perfection at the office. All of them settle for less in every other aspect of their lives.

This was an interesting book from a character development perspective, and by development, I mean lack thereof. Mostly, they all just fear change. I think their patheticness is what makes them so relatable, because let’s face it… The reality is that we don’t always make the most rational decisions. I’d recommend this book for a healthy dose of realism, but not if you suffer from any sort of depressive disorder.

The Enchanted - Rene Denfeld

There’s something beautiful about the death row inmate who imagines golden horses running through the prison beneath him and magical birds looming just outside. The main character in Rene Denfeld’s The Enchanted is a murderer… but also a poet.

As he waits out his final days of life in a jail cell, the narrator has little else to do but observe and fantasize. He notices the corruption amongst the guards and how easily the prisoners can be bought or sold into submission. He also notices the priest and the lady investigator, who if they were smart, would never have stepped foot in that horrible place. She digs through the criminals’ pasts looking for anything that might exonerate them. The priest, fallen, thinks he can redeem himself by offering some amount of comfort to the damned. Sadly, however, there is no comfort to be found for the tortured souls on death row. Even when the lady finds all the evidence she needs to free an inmate, his mental state is such that he’d rather die instead.

This book is filled with stunning imagery and attention to detail, such as leaving the main characters nameless and making many references to the irrelevance and superficiality of names. And, as if the words themselves weren’t striking enough, Denfeld gave me another reason to love this novel by giving the mentally ill death row inmate a love for books. Learning to read and get lost in a story gave him the ability to see what an enchanted place prison could be and this magic is what made his final days acceptable.

It’s hard to describe such a beautifully written story in words that do it any justice, so I’m just going to force you all to read it, particularly if you like poetic prose, and definitely if you are the kind of person who finds beauty in pain.