Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Five ~ home sweet home






Songbird was thinking of home when she came up with these five questions for today's RevGalBlogPals Friday Five.



1. My first home — Where was your first home?
I was told we lived on Read Avenue (in Chattanooga, Tennessee) when I was born, but nobody every pointed out which house that was, even though the street is only three blocks long.  My dad opened a grocery store a few blocks away, and the apartment behind the store is the first place I remember living.  How appropriate is it that this bookaholic reader with a book blog first lived on Read Avenue?
2. Dreams — Do you ever dream about places you used to live?
Most recently, I dreamed about the house where my children grew up.  My mother also lived with us, and she was in that dream.  Years earlier, I dreamed that I walked out the door of the church where I grew up and onto the porch where I lived when I attended that church.  Even in the dream, I knew that was weird.
3. Bring back — If you could bring back one person from your past to sit at your dinner table, who would you choose?
Oh, my mother, of course.  My young daughter once said, "I know who's your best friend."  Names ran through my mind, and when she said, "Grandma," I smiled, knowing she was absolutely right.  If Mother came back, I'd probably have a hard time getting her to sit down and talk, since she was the one who liked to cook and serve the food.
4. Favorite room — What's your favorite room in your current living space?
Kiki reading
Since I have a roommate, my bedroom is the one room that is completely mine.  (Oh, pardon me, Kiki, I know it's your room, too.)  I have my desk there, along with a comfortable chair and six bookshelves lining all the walls except the mirrored closet wall.  And I have Kiki to keep me company.
5. Object — Is there an object or an item where you live now that represents home?  If not, can you think of one from your childhood?
A few of my books
I looked around, considering my piano and the chair that belonged to my grandfather.  But no, it has to be the books.  I agree with Anna Quindlen, who said, "Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home."
  • And I agree with Horace Mann:  "A house without books is like a room without windows."
  • And Marcus Tullius Cicero:  "A room without books is like a body without a soul."
  • Who also said, "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need."

Beginning ~ with an essay (BBW #4)

Review #4 for Banned Books Week (BBW)

The Face on the Milk Carton ~ by Caroline B. Cooney, 1990, YA fiction (Connecticut), 9/10

Summary:  A photograph of a missing girl on a milk carton leads 15-year-old Janie to think she was kidnapped a decade ago.  So she goes on a search for her real identity.
"Janie finished her essay.  She never knew what grade she would get in Mr. Brylowe's English class.  Whenever she joked, he wanted the essay serious.  Whenever she was serious, he had intended the essay to be light-hearted."
I was curious enough to keep reading after those opening lines, but more because of the mystery of that face on a milk carton.  Writing an essay?  That's what I do when I review a book.  On the other hand, when I was her age, I also had to learn about writing and (as I read on the next page or so) thought about names.  She thinks "Jane" is too plain, so she considers "Jayne."  I, on the other hand, was the only Bonnie I knew, besides the aunt I was named for, so I longed for a more usual kind of name.  I guess all kids feel weird about something.

I kept reading this book, but I wasn't imagining how it would feel if I'd been taken from my mom and dad, as I think most teens would, but as the mom wondering where her daughter was.  For example, this section really got to me.  All I could think was that her mother had missed all of these life events.
"Janie climbed the stairs to her room, passing by the ascending wall of photographs.  Her parents disliked albums: they immortalized Janie on the stairs.  Janie at the beach, on skis, in a Scout uniform, in her first dancing dress.  Janie on their trip to the Grand Canyon.  Janie in gymnastics.  Janie at the Middle School Awards Ceremony.  Janie on the runway for the fashion show the hospital sponsored as a benefit" (p. 26).
Why was this book banned?  I can't imagine, since there's nothing in it that seems objectionable.  Janie and a boy had an opportunity for sex, but didn't.  Yet in 2002-2003, it was challenged in Texas Public Schools for "sexual content and challenge to authority."  Ignore them and read the book, which kept me turning the pages.  When I learned there are three more books in the series, I got online tonight and put them on hold at my library so I can read.....
Whatever happened to Janie? (1993)
The Voice on the Radio (1996)
What Janie Found (2000)
I rate this one 9 of 10, an excellent book.  Also posted on my Banned Books blog.

  If you want to play along, this meme is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages. Share the first sentence or two of the book you are reading. (Sometimes it takes several sentences to get the full thought.) Then, share your impressions of that beginning.  Click this link to see what others say about the books they are reading this week.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

More reviews from the Banned Books blog

Natalie's review:  What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonja Sones

 Bookfool's review:  The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Bonnie's review:  Falling Up by Shel Silverstein

 Bookfool's review:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's [Philosopher's] Stone by J. K. Rowling

Bonnie's review:  Epaminondas and His Auntie by Sara Cone Bryant

Natalie's review:  Lush by Natasha Friend (a second review)

Bookfool's review:  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

List of books reviewed earlier in the week on the Banned Books blog.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Library Loot ~ September 28 - October 4

The little girl who comes for tutoring on Mondays needs help in math, but this week she had nothing from school to work on.  So my roommate Donna asked her, "What are you reading?"  My ears perked up as I was going into the other room.  She replied, "Wild Girl" (or maybe "Wild Girls"), but didn't have the book with her and didn't remember what it was about.  Out of curiosity, I got online and found both titles.  The child Donna tutors is in fifth grade, so either of these is a possibility, but I'm guessing it's the one for younger children — the second one here.  Both sound interesting and Patricia Reilly Giff is a good writer, so I put them on hold at my library.

The Wild Girls ~ by Pat Murphy, 2007, YA fiction (288 pages)
When thirteen-year-old Joan moves to California in 1972, she becomes friends with Sarah, who is timid at school but an imaginative leader when they play in the woods, and after winning a writing contest together they are recruited for an exclusive summer writing class that gives them new insights into themselves and others.
Wild Girl ~ by Patricia Reilly Giff, 2009, children's fiction (147 pages)
When twelve-year-old Lidie leaves Brazil to join her father and brother on a horse ranch in New York, she has a hard time adjusting to her changed circumstances, as does a new horse that has come to the ranch.
What do you think? Does either book sound good to you?

Library Loot is a weekly meme co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.  Claire has the Mister Linky this week, if you'd like to share a list of the loot you brought home.  You may submit your list any time during the week.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Epaminondas and His Auntie ~ BBW #3

Review #3 for Banned Books Week (BBW)

Epaminondas and His Auntie ~ by Sara Cone Bryant, 1907, children's, 10/10

A child can feel good about knowing (or understanding) something when the child in the story just doesn't get it.  Every time Auntie gives Epaminondas something to take home, he messes up.  The cake she sent with him arrives in crumbs, and Mammy tells him he should have brought it home under his cap.  Next time, it's butter and it's a hot day, but Epaminondas remembers and puts it under his cap.  See the buttery yellow cover?  That's butter melting all down his face and neck.  Mammy says he should have dipped the butter in the water to cool it, but the next thing he brings home from Auntie's is a puppy-dog, almost drowned (more than "almost" in the original).  Should have tied a string around its neck and come along home, says Mammy.  So imagine the loaf of bread he brings next.  Mammy gives up and says to him,
"O Epaminondas, Epaminondas, you ain't got the sense you was born with; you never did have the sense you was born with, you never will have the sense you was born with!  Now I ain't gwine tell you any more ways to bring truck home."
Should the language be changed to make the mother sound more educated?  No, of course not.  The language is colorful, and changing it makes the book lose its appeal, in my opinion, though many have tried.  "You ain't got the sense you was born with" sounds more like something his mama would say than "You don't have the sense you were born with."  This is especially true at the end of the book where the instructions to Epaminondas must be phrased in a way that leaves the kind of ambiguity that "allows" him to step on the six mince pies left to cool off while Mammy goes to visit Auntie herself.  I wasn't happy with the original version, back in my childhood days:
"Well, now, you hear me, Epaminondas, you be careful how you step on those pies."
I never, ever thought that sounded like anything an adult would say to me. It was that word "how" that didn't work for me. And this is "how" Epaminondas did it:

This book has been rewritten many times, including this version where, to eliminate the charge of racism, the main character becomes a possum.

Epossumondas ~ by Coleen Salley, 2002, children's, 7/10

This is a retelling of the Epanimondas story. That same section of the book goes like this:
"Ooooooh!  Epossumondas!   Epossumondas!  You DON'T have the sense you were born with!  You never DID have the sense you were born with!  You never WILL have the sense you were born with!  Now I'm not telling you any more ways of bringing truck home..."
That word "truck" in the mouth of a modern woman talking to a diapered possum just "ain't" right. But the 21st-century author did phrase the final instructions in a way that's more logical to our ears:
"Well, Epossumondas, you be careful about stepping on those pies!"
Yes, we realize immediately what going to happen, even with these bland words.  Being careful "about stepping on those pies" works better for me than being careful "how you step on those pies."  But still, this one doesn't grab me like the original, which has more character.  I don't relate to the silly little possum, but I could imagine myself responding to instructions from my own mother, just as the little boy Epaminondas did.

The boy's struggles to do the right thing endeared him to me, in a way holding an opposum does not.  When I was a child, I thought like a child.  Would I have misunderstood the way Epaminondas did?  No! ... so I could feel good about myself.  Would I have known what my mother meant?  Yes! ... so I could feel good that I was a big girl who could understand instructions.  I wouldn't have related to a possum wearing a diaper.  No, I was too big for that.

Back to Epaminondas and His Auntie:
According to Intellectual Freedom in Libraries: Then and Now, access to library materials was restricted in response to an objection by the San Jose, California branch of the NAACP claiming that this book depicts a black child as “completely idiotic and stupid.”
Epaminondas isn't stupid.  He isn't an idiot.  He's a little boy trying very hard to get it right.  It's the adults who aren't thinking clearly.  His Auntie could have been more specific, if only she had known how badly the poor guy was struggling to do the right thing ... just as I did, when I was a child.  He was doing exactly as he was told, poor fellow.

Best comment I found online was written by Jan Zehr in 2003.
I credit "Epaminondas and His Auntie" with my ability to think critically. I am an entrepreneur have employed many people. The single, biggest problem in today's work force is the lack of ability to think critically. When given an instruction, if it is remembered(!), that instruction is construed to mean applicable in EVERY instance. Epaminondas is the condition of too many people today.

One example, true story, comes to mind of an airplane crash, the accident site was flooded with jet fuel and one of the survivors, on fire, was told to roll on the ground. Yes, that is the normal survival routine that we are all taught....it just doesn't apply if the ground is flooded with jet fuel!  Life is flooded with jet fuel. We have think beyond the instructions we've been given. We have to analyze the conditions and THEN think of the solution.

I compare "Epaminondas and His Auntie" with Aesops Fables. I do NOT think that because a character is black it is bad. Does everyone need to be white? Let's rewrite "Epaminondas" in every color and every language. It was a definitive book in my childhood.  Jan Zehr
Yes! Thanks, Jan, I love it!

I still love the book, having re-read it for the ten millionth time before writing this post.  I rate it 10 of 10, because I still can't put it down.

Also posted on my Banned Books blog.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Seeds of Change ~ by Jen Cullerton Johnson

Wangari Maathai died yesterday, a great loss to the world.  I was quite impressed when I first learned about her by reading Unbowed: A Memoir, and just this summer I read a beautiful children's book about her called Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace by Jen Cullerton Johnson.

Here's a summary of the book — and her life.
"As a young girl in Kenya, Wangari was taught to respect nature. She grew up loving the land, plants, and animals that surrounded her — from the giant mugumo trees her people, the Kikuyu, revered to the tiny tadpoles that swam in the river.  Although most Kenyan girls were not educated, Wangari, curious and hardworking, was allowed to go to school. There, her mind sprouted like a seed. She excelled at science and went on to study in the United States. After returning home, Wangari blazed a trail across Kenya, using her knowledge and compassion to promote the rights of her countrywomen and to help save the land, one tree at a time.  This book brings to life the empowering story of Wangari Maathai, the first African woman, and environmentalist, to win a Nobel Peace Prize."
Look at one of the fantastic illustrations.
Read what people are saying about her:
Wangari Maathai, born 1 April 1940, died 25 September 2011.  May she rest in peace.
Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace ~ by Jen Cullerton Johnson, illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler, 2010, biography for children (Kenya), 9/10

Unbowed by Wangari Maathai, 2006, memoir (Kenya), 9/10
Both books are excellent. Rated: 9 of 10.

Mailbox Monday ~ hey, I won a book

Wendy at Caribousmom had several book giveaways during BBAW (Book Blogger Appreciation Week). I entered the one for Speculative Fiction — and won!

The Knowledge of Good and Evil ~ by Glenn Kleier, 2011

Read an excerpt.

Summary from the Publisher:
On December 4, 1968, world-famous theologian Father Louis Merton visited the ancient Dead City of Polonnaruwa, Ceylon, entered the Cave of the Spirits of Knowledge, and experienced a vision.  It’s claimed he found a backdoor to the Afterlife, that he looked into the Mind of God and escaped with a secret so powerful it could change all humanity ... bring wars to a standstill ... end forever the age-old hatreds between races, creeds and cultures.

Six days later as Merton prepared to announce his discovery at a religious conference, he suffered a horrific death under mysterious circumstances.  But the secret did not die with him.  Merton left behind a journal.

Years later, beautiful psychologist Angela Weber and her troubled fiancĂ©, Ian Baringer, are on the hunt for Merton’s long-lost journal and its door to the Afterlife.  Angela, an agnostic, wants to help Ian heal the wounds of a traumatic childhood plane crash that took the lives of his parents.  Ian, a defrocked priest, no longer trusts in religion’s promise of eternal life.  He must know for certain if he will ever see his parents again, and is driven to find out firsthand what lies beyond, and what it holds for mankind.

Together, Angela and Ian plunge headlong into a global chase, pursued by a shadowy cult, dead bodies, and destruction in their wake.  If Ian and Angela succeed, they will defy the gates of heaven and hell to learn a secret hidden from the world since the dawn of time.
This one sounds very good.  And the good news for ME is that the book arrived in the mail Saturday.  Yippee!  Thank you, Wendy!

Today's Monday, so I think I'll call this Mailbox Monday, even though I've never done this meme before.  The book did arrive in the mail, after all.  This photo comes from Wendy's blog.

This week’s edition of Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Leah at Amused by Books.  To share what arrived in your mailbox and see what other readers got in the mail this week, click here.  Be warned:  Leah says joining the fun "can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists."

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Falling Up ~ BBW #2

Review #2 for Banned Books Week (BBW)

Falling Up: Poems and Drawings ~ by Shel Silverstein, 1996, children's, 8/10

A good part of the humor of Shel Silverstein's poetry is the play on words, often by one who is taking something literally.  Here's an example from page 75:
They Say I Have

They say I have my father's nose,
My grandpa's eyes,
My mother's hair.
Could it be that my behind's
The only thing that's really mine?
The drawing that accompanies this poem shows a child with arm outstretched to three relatives:  dad without a nose, mom without hair, and poor ole grandpa without any eyes.  We must study the child to imagine THOSE eyes for grandpa, THAT curly hair for his (her?) mother, and an appropriately adult-sized nose for like THAT for dear ole dad.

I can relate to this poem, because I remember a time when I was a very small child that I was quite perturbed when my mother said, "Keep an eye on your baby brother."  I was so perturbed and so anxious that, to this day, I can vividly recall the feelings I felt.  I wrote a post about it for my Words from a Wordsmith blog, with the words I threw back at my mother that day, "How can I keep an eye on him?  Do I take out my eye and put it on him?"

Some of the humor of these poems comes from their evocation of the questions most children ponder.  Did you ever wonder about God?  The kid on page 78 did:
Description

George said, "God is short and fat."
Nick said, "No, He's tall and lean."
Len said, "With a long white beard."
"No," said John, "He's shaven clean."
Will said, "He's black," Bob said, "He's white."
Rhonda Rose said, "He's a She."
I smiled but never showed 'em all
The autographed photograph God sent to me.
Ah, the last line throws us for a loop!  It's so unexpected.  Well, it was for me, anyway, 'cause God never sent me a photograph, autographed or otherwise.  I liked the poem about God in yesterday's book, too, but didn't find a way to fit it into the review.

Here it is, from page 152 of A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein:
God's Wheel

God says to me with kind of a smile,
"Hey how would you like to be God awhile
And steer the world?"
"Okay," says I, "I'll give it a try.
Where do I set?
How much do I get?
What time is lunch?
When can I quit?"
"Gimme back that wheel," says God,
"I don't think you're quite ready yet."
The wheel sticks up above one of the world's oceans, and that tiny boy would have a hard time turning it.  Have I learned anything about Shel's theology?  Nah, don't think so.
If you would like to hear a poem or three animated and spoken by the author/artist, click here.  After the intro, click on "Shel's Books."  Then click on "Falling Up" to watch an animation from page 77: "The Toy Eater."

Falling Up is fun, and funny, and playful, and I rate it 8 of 10, a very good book.

Also posted on my Banned Books blog.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday's reviews on the Banned Books Blog

Helen's Review:  Ironman by Chris Crutcher

Paul's Review: Lush by Natasha Friend

Sheila's Review: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Bonnie's review: A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

 Sheila's Review: Night by Elie Wiesel

A Light in the Attic ~ BBW #1

Review #1 for Banned Books Week (BBW)

A Light in the Attic: Poems and Drawings ~ by Shel Silverstein, 1981, children's, 8/10

Why was this book banned?  Because it allegedly "promotes disrespect, horror, and violence."  Oh, my!  What about hilarious nonsense, made-up-words, and giggles?  It has also been banned because of "suggestive illustrations."  One library also claimed that the book "glorified Satan, suicide and cannibalism, and also encouraged children to be disobedient."  Oh, come on!  I think we need to give children more credit. They are smarter than some parents apparently think.  Okay, on to the book.

I love playing with words, as in this one from page 110:
Bored

I can't afford
A skateboard.
I can't afford
An outboard.
I can't afford
A surfboard.
All I can afford
Is a board.





The drawing shows a child with a board across his shoulder that spreads across both pages.

The best way for me to praise this book is by quoting from it, words and drawings.  I'll "quote" this drawing from pages 140-141, because it's one I could find online:
click to enlarge
The poem on page 22 made me think it could have been his life's philosophy:
Put Something In

Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-gumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
'Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain't been there before.
Thank you, Shel Silverstein, for putting some silliness into this world that wasn't been there before.

If you would like to hear a poem or three animated and spoken by the author/artist, click here.  After the intro, click on "Shel's Books."  Then click on "A Light in the Attic," and choose one of the three (or all three) poems, read by their creator.  "Eight Balloons" is my favorite.

In a sign drawn on a flower, Shel dedicated this book to his daughter Shanna — Shoshanna means "lily" or "rose" in Hebrew — who turned eleven the year it was published. She died the following year, not yet twelve.

I rate this book 8 of 10, a very good book.

Also posted on my Banned Books blog.

Caturday ~ online friends


I love my online friends.

The problem is that we don't have any lines I can see from the windows in my room.
Donna got Sammy a birdfeeder, and she likes to watch the birds.  I keep hoping Bonnie will put one outside MY window, too.  But she says the birds aren't getting much of what Donna puts in the feeder, 'cause a big ole squirrel is taking nearly all of it.

Donna laughed one day because a whole bunch of black birds came to the feeder, and the squirrel stayed away.






Kiki Cat, signing off

..... and waiting

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Five ~ completion

This Friday Five comes from Sally at RevGalBlogPals, who wrote:
Many apologies for this being a little late today, when I woke this morning I had one thing on my mind and that was the completion of my Masters Thesis. Well I've done it, just some tidying up now so it is ready to submit by 3rd October. For me this marks the end of a programme of study that began in 2006, and has included formation for ministry and the Master's study. The journey along the way has been filled with endings and beginnings of different sorts, but the feeling of having completed something is terrific! How about you as you look back over the last few years?

1. Have you completed something?  What was it, and how did you celebrate?
2. Is there something you are waiting to begin?
3. Is there a project you keep putting off and why?
4. What would be your dream project/job?
5. Be creative, you are going to publish a book ... what is its title?
1.  I completed a move to a new home, sort of.  The boxes still stacked in the dining area don't discount that, do they?  To celebrate, I ate out with a friend.

2.  Waiting to begin? No, not I.  Beginnings are the easy part — completions are the problem.

3.  The project I keep putting off is writing a book.  Why?  Because other things keep crowding it out.  Things like moving, followed by heart surgery, moving again (see above), unpacking boxes.  But I have my notes, my ideas, my outlines — and I've written pages and pages of my book.  Unfortunately, those notes were in my laptop that was stolen.  I do have the notes I printed out and saved in half a dozen notebooks, but not the notes that were in my flash drive, which went through the wash in the pocket of my jeans (yes, that did rather wash away its contents).  I'll revise as I type out what I had before.  Maybe what I write now will be even better.

4.  My dream project is to complete my book.  Actually, I have more than one book planned (see #5 below).

5.  My tentative book titles:

"TA-DAAAA!!!!!"
  • Women Unbound, based on last year's Women Unbound reading challenge (my wrap-up post)
  • Genesis: Soap Opera with a Twist, which I've already written, but am now revising
  • Around the States in 50 Books, so readers can travel to each state in books
  • Around the World in 80 Books, so readers can travel all over the world in books

Beginning ~ in the shade of an apple tree

Adam & Eve ~ by Sena Jeter Naslund, 2011, fiction (France), 8/10
A nude couple is standing in the shade of a small, leafy tree.  The quality of the filtered light on their bare skin attracts me, and I stand with them to enjoy the dappled shade.  Through pinholes formed where leaves cross, the sunlight creates globules of brightness on the grass.  My bare toes nudge inside one of those softly defined orbs, but then I remember to look up.

From the sky, at the rate of 12.2 feet per second per second, a grand piano is hurtling down like a huge black bird of prey over our upturned faces.  In that moment is a beginning and an end, alpha and omega, Genesis and Revelation.

Because we always ask, like any logical child, "Yes, but what came before the beginning and after the end?" I start with the year 2017, three years before I fell into Adam's world and lived with him in the shade of an apple tree.
Just as intriguing, the chapter is entitled "When the piano falls."  This is a great beginning, and it made me set aside the book I had started earlier the day I bought this one.  That's the "book beginnings" part of this post, so on to my review.  Here's a summary I found online:
By decoding light from space Lucy Bergmann’s astrophysicist husband discovers the existence of extraterrestrial life, and anthropologist Pierre Saad unearths from the sands of Egypt an ancient alternative version of the Book of Genesis. To religious fanatics, these discoveries have the power to rock the foundations of their faith. Entrusted to deliver this revolutionary news to both the scientific and religious communities, Lucy becomes the target of Perpetuity, a secret society. When her small plane crashes, Lucy finds herself in a place called Eden with an American soldier named Adam, whose quest for both spiritual and carnal knowledge has driven him to madness.

The "Adam and Eve" part of the story takes place in "Mesopotamia," which is Iraq, more or less.  That section seems almost like a fairy tale, except for the occasional airplane that flies over or the pilot who crashes there.  The best part of the story takes place in France, where the earliest cave drawings were discovered.  I enjoyed the mystery of the drawings more than the bad guys chasing the good guys.

"Suspension of disbelief," so necessary to the enjoyment of a novel (as I learned in college), became more and more difficult.  For example, I found these words bizarre, coming from the mouth of a farmer's son who, before that point in the book, had acted rather like a simpleton:
"Throughout my youth, my difficult youth, the chief imperative was to escape the domination of my father" (p. 285).
At that point, I actually put down the book and walked away from it, though I went back later.  Having read 285 pages, after all, I wanted to see how the book ended.  When I started writing this post, I found a couple of others who agree with me.  I ran across this at Bippity Boppity Book and said, "Yes!"
"Adam is dumped off here.  Lucy crashes here.  Another soldier ends up crashing here.  What is this place?  The Bermuda Triangle of the Middle East?"
I laughed when I found these words in a New York Times book review.  My feelings exactly (see above).
Imagine a farmboy-turned-soldier from Idaho saying, “Throughout my youth, my difficult youth, the chief imperative was to escape the domination of my father.”
Odd that it was the same sentence that tripped that reviewer and me.  And now, one complaint about symbols.  That ampersand (&) in the title has been a problem every time I've written about this book (here, here, and in this post).  For some esoteric reason known only to computer geeks, Blogger's program keeps changing it to & followed by amp with a colon.  I've deleted amp; repeatedly.  I'd quit using that symbol and simply write out the word "and" except that the author says about that ampersand,
"I've done that on purpose because I want to suggest that this is a modern take on the old story of Genesis."
By the way, I never did figure out who watched "the nude couple" and looked up to see a piano "hurtling down ... over our upturned faces."  Yes, I know it says, "I fell into Adam's world and lived with him in the shade of an apple tree."  But I'm still confused.  I also can't figure out how, while flying from Egypt to France, someone could crash in Iraq (or Mesopotamia).  Maps, anyone?
France is above Algeria
Even though several things about this book frustrated me, I still think it was a very good book and rate it 8 of 10.

  If you want to play along, this meme is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages. Share the first sentence or two of the book you are reading. (Sometimes it takes several sentences to get the full thought.) Then, share your impressions of that beginning.  Click this link to see what others say about the books they are reading this week.