Hey there! It’s been awhile, and I still don’t have much blogging mojo. So here’s a rambling post to at least get me started again.
I saw an academic tweet the other day that now the semester’s over, everyone is scheduling a two-hour meeting. Yep. My final grades were submitted a week ago, and the May meeting season began immediately. My department is in the midst of making a major decision about our first-year prerequisites; I appreciate how collegial everyone is being about this, but it’s still a difficult conversation. Chairing our meeting last week was exhausting, and there’s another to come.
Hence, no blogging and I’m struggling to have enough attention to read. Listening is easier, but even audiobooks have only got partial attention lately. Here’s what I have enjoyed despite my distraction:
Atul Gawande, Being Mortal. I listened to this because my parents recommended it. It’s an often sobering, sometimes inspiring look at how we deal with dying (in the US, particularly, but he argues that every culture that can afford it is moving in this direction). Gawande uses anecdotes effectively to make his abstract points engaging. It made me worry about living across a continent and a border from my parents, which will make supporting them as they age harder.
Nina Stibbe, Man at the Helm. Read because of this review, which ends, “it’s not too much of a stretch to conclude that Man at the Helm, with its jauntily matter-of-fact social satire, wouldn’t be out of place on the same shelf as Cold Comfort Farm and I Capture the Castle.” Shut up and take my library hold. By p. 15, I’d spotted an allusion to Grace Paley’s Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, a book of stories I loved in college and now want to read again. Stibbe’s book reminded me most of Hilary McKay’s Casson family stories, for the child’s exasperated, loving portrait of a parent thrown off course and struggling to do a half-assed job. The novel is very funny in its look at the travails of life in a judgmental 1970s English village, especially with a divorced mum with a penchant for sleeping with other people’s husbands, but it doesn’t shy away from serious subjects (money troubles, drug addiction) and is often insightful. I especially liked the fact that 9-year-old narrator Lizzie comes to realize that they don’t exactly need a man at the helm to right the family’s course, but they do need help–because everyone does to get through life. (I’d quote some, but I had to return it to the library for others to enjoy). Continue reading