Friday, July 27, 2012

Paris mayor featured in NY Times article - News

Paris mayor featured in NY Times article - News: Paris Mayor A.J. Hashmi is the subject of a New York Times article published today.

-- This was a very interesting read for me.  Yes, I found myself bristling, but also realize that the "Southern slams" are what sells in New York, and when you get down to it this article is somewhat on track.  I can't link to the New York Times, so am just linking here. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Unusual genre for author - Lifestyles

 Why We Broke Up

Unusual genre for author - Lifestyles: At this time of year, I can’t help but think of Grease and Summer Nights and romance — or not.

And that thought reminds me of a mysterious brown package that came to me by post earlier this year. It was an unexpected gift from my aunt, and it felt a little like Christmas, so I tore open the package and found a hardcover book.

Upon seeing it, I was a little confused. Why would she think I needed to read Dan Handler’s new book? He wrote A Series of Unfortunate Events, under the pseudonym of Lemoney Snicket, and I just couldn’t see her getting into that genre. Intrigued, I opened it up to read and couldn’t put it down, and it is still in my favorite books of 2012 list.

“Why We Broke Up” is a young adult story of Min (short for Minerva, Roman Goddess of wisdom) who has a penchant for saying “whatnot” and for old films, and Ed, co-captain of the basketball team who has a penchant for all things jock and for saying “no offense.” It is their breakup story, told through the articles of their falling in love story, which makes for a great literary device, helping garner the book a Printz Honor (2012). True to her nickname, Min is a teen girl who is just beginning to know what she thinks, despite not knowing as much as she thinks she does.

My hardback is a treasure for its silky pages and color graphics of all of the “items.” More fun is found on the web page, which possibly helps first timers (or repeat timers) get through the break up, and causes the rest of us to laugh and smile in relief that the past is the past and we’ve all been there done that, but yes, we’ll all do it again because it is so worth it.

Min conjures up that whole first love thing that we all remember. For example, Min, writing of their first real conversation, says: “After a few minutes, we’d stop rattling, we’d adjust, we’d settle in, and the conversation would speed into the night. Sometimes it was just laughing at the comparison of favorites, I love that flavor, that color’s cool, that album sucks, I’ve never seen that show, she’s awesome, he’s an idiot, you must be kidding, no way mine’s better, safe and hilarious like tickling. Sometimes it was stories we told, taking turns and encouraging, it’s not boring, it’s OK, I heard you, I hear you, you don’t have to say it, you can say it again, I never told this to anyone, I won’t tell anyone else. You told me that time... I told you that time... That time... That time...”

Min also describes surviving the breakup, and the breakup scene is just like it should be, told in an edgy stream of consciousness voice that immerses you in the emotion, helping you remember that particular angst and perhaps even have compassion for someone going through it, like Min’s friends did.

I’m glad Min survived the breakup, may we all do so well. Why We Broke Up is a book that teens and adults will love, and will hopefully pass on as needed. I was glad for the gift of this story; others will be, too (and yes, you might be surprised that your teen will read something other than dystopian fantasy). But that’s just my opinion. You be the judge.

Unplug and pick up a book — you might just change your life.

Sydney Young is a Paris resident and an avid book enthusiast.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Honorable Mentions

Yes, it's time for more Honorable Mentions. These books are all on my short list, so I am jealous that I haven't gotten to read them yet!

The Paris Wife

Stacy Miller says that The Paris Wife is not to be missed. And seriously, who could pass on anything Earnest Hemingway, especially a "tell-all" from his wife's voice? Here is a popular quote that will spark your interest even further:

“He was such an enigma, really - fierce and strong and weak and cruel. An incomparable friend and a son of a bitch. In the end, there wasn't one thing about him that was truer than the rest. It was all true.”

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: A Novel

Stephanie Harris loved Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk which was just recently published, and was incidentally written by a Dallas (former) lawyer who is married to a still practicing Dallas lawyer. It's about a subject that has been on my mind lately - is surely on all of our minds. Here is a back cover excerpt, dropping in on the soldier when he is appearing as a halftime guest of honor during a Dallas Cowboy game:

Over the course of this day, Billy will begin to understand difficult truths about himself, his country, his struggling family, and his brothers-in-arms--soldiers both dead and alive. In the final few hours before returning to Iraq, Billy will drink and brawl, yearn for home and mourn those missing, face a heart-wrenching decision, and discover pure love and a bitter wisdom far beyond his years.

Poignant, riotously funny, and exquisitely heartbreaking, "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" is a devastating portrait of our time, a searing and powerful novel that cements Ben Fountain's reputation as one of the finest writers of his generation.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

And finally, the gift I couldn't wait to give my sister, Kristi Young, in honor of her college graduation. A book about loss and survival, and the proverbial American traveling down the wild road, in a whole new feminine way.

“I made it the mantra of those days; when I paused before yet another series of switchbacks or skidded down knee-jarring slopes, when patches of flesh peeled off my feet along with my socks, when I lay alone and lonely in my tent at night I asked, often out loud: Who is tougher than me?

The answer was always the same, and even when I knew absolutely there was no way on this earth that it was true, I said it anyway: No one.”

― Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Enjoy reading Kristi, now that you have time! I'm so proud of you, wild thing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Perfect Saturday in Paris, Texas

We all occasionally have them, perfect Saturdays. I had one not too long ago, when I had no duties to anyone but myself.

Naturally, I started my day at the farmer's market.

(Photo taken from Farmer's Market Facebook page, go check it out). The fresh peaches were outstanding. As were the coffee, bread, goat cheese, tomatoes, fresh veggies and friends, of course.

And then I had time to go to the library where I picked up a few new books that I was interested in.

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

I've noticed this book getting mentioned here and there as "worthy" and find that it is, so much so that I don't want to rush through it. Good girl talk - great girl talk, and I'm all for some good girl talk. Here are some excerpts from the chapter called "Stuff."

* * *
And that's not even counting the stuff in my closet. One day I peered inside and realized it looked like it belonged to someone with multiple personality disorder. The bohemian look, the sharp suits, the frilly dresses. Those days are behind me, and I finally know who and how I'm dressing. I'm dressing a person who has eighteen pairs of black pants and eleven pairs of black pumps. Of course, that number is illusory, since it includes the black pants I never felt looked great but purchased on sale, the pair that never seem to be the right length, and the two pairs that fit funny. Not too big or too small, just funny. Naturally there are two pairs of the shoes that I wear all the time, because they're comfortable, and one pair that I wear on occasion because they are great-looking and my toes don't entirely go numb for at least three hours.

* * *

It's Thoreau who wrote about this most indelibly and directly: "Simplify, simplify." . . . Tocqueville was more expansive: "Americans cleave to the things of the world as if assured they will never die. They clutch everything but hold nothing fast, and lose grip as they hurry after some new delight."

* * *
My God, Tocqueville! That was almost two hundred years ago, and here we still are. Yes, I'm going to love this book.

Another book I found on the new shelf at the library is one that interests me a bit, about the current state of the military.

Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power

Here is what part of the cover says: Sensible yet provocative, dead serious yet seriously funny, Drift will reinvigorate a "loud and jangly" political debate about how, when, and where to apply America's strength and power--and who gets to make those decisions.

I'm not sure I'm going to agree with the book, I'm not even sure I'm going to like it, but I sure do want to exercise my wit in this area. I've recently watched yet another generation of boys go off to fight this war, and I don't know what to think. After peeking in and finding some pretty broadly stated conclusions at the beginning of the book, I'm also not sure if this author is going to be able to effectively engage me in the debate, but I am willing to try and see.

I also picked some books for my teen daughter to read, and will let you know about those next time, as I scored some brownie points there.

I ended my jaunt at Vital Beat for a fruit smoothie, so it was a perfect Saturday morning in the hood.

(Photo from webpage). Thanks, ladies and all! Healthy food for brain and body, all the way around.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Location:Paris, Texas

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Colin Firth -- Audible Notable

The End of the AffairThe End of the Affair by Graham Greene

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Colin Firth. Need I say more? As a narrator, he brings incredible depth to a book that explores life, death, love and faith. This book is a prime example of the reason that classics are classics. Few writers can take such a deep subject and have something new to express about it, while still allowing the reader to make up her own mind.

This book begins with the end and goes backwards, forwards and in between. This book begins with hate, anger, and jealousy, and ends in forgiveness, love and hope. Here are a few good quotes:

Maurice Bendrix: "Love had turned into "love affair" with a begining and an end.”

* * *
Sarah: Love doesn't end, just because we don't see each other.
Maurice Bendrix: Doesn't it?
Sarah: People go on loving God, don't they? All their lives. Without seeing him.
Maurice Bendrix: That's not my kind of love.
Sarah: Maybe there is no other kind.

* * *
Maurice Bendrix: You have to understand. I'm jealous of everything that moves. I'm jealous of the rain!

* * *

One can't read classics all of the time. They are too deep. But they are good to read every once in a while so a good goal to try is to read a classic once a year. Because they are so deep, they are very fulfilling and they are great brain fodder. If you want to read at least one classic a year, I highly suggest this book, by way of the Colin Firth audible rendition.

View all my reviews

Old Glory and Freedom, Paris Texas style

July is the month for vacations, beaches, lakes, heat and flags. Old Glory, whipping in the wind, "Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light, what so proudly we hail, at the twilight's last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars. . ."

And here on vacation, the Flag whipping in the wind reminds me of one of the most special Fourth of July celebrations I've ever been a part of, annually for almost twenty years now.

This year, the key word was Freedom, and we sang it so many times that all I could hear was Mel Gibson as William Wallace screaming: "Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!" to his last breath.
Freedom from what? For what? It's a personal question, so you decide.

Paris's First United Methodist Church has chosen to annually decide in favor of religious expression, yes God and country, in church. What, no separation of state and religion?

Bring Up the Bodies (Wolf Hall, #2)

I'm thinking about that a lot these days, while reading about Henry the VIII, for the millionth time but with a fresh spin, in "Bring Up the Bodies," by Hilary Mantel. I can't imagine the turmoil those people went through in those years, during Henry's break with the church and his disastrous determination to have a male heir at all costs. I love hearing this story through Cromwell, whose name isn't producing the dread shudder anymore, now I can see him as a . . . Lawyer, albeit one with no power to avoid the chopping block, but at least he was in good company.

I'm not just glad for freedom, I revere it. And I love the freedom to pray for freedom, and sing over soldiers, God and country, with music, words, and prayers that tie those things and us all together, while recognizing deep truths. I love the reunions of old friends, God and country.

I love the red, white and blue that we all wear.

I love getting to see Opera Goddess, Alaina Logee, return from New York or Italy or wherever, with her incredible voice that grows stronger and better each year. (Tell us when and where, Alaina, don't be shy, it's time for all of us to get to experience you on the big stage). And there is her beautiful, talented cousin Adriane Anderson, who is all grown up and who is also taking her talented self to New York soon, best wishes to you.

I love that this service transcends the fractious power of church and unites us as one.

I love that new faces, true musicians, join us.

And finally, one highlight is always the Armed Forces songs, which I now know by heart. Active military and veterans are invited to stand while we sing over them, thanking them for their service.

This year, a soldier wore his old dress uniform, and it still fits. We may forget it, with all of our chatter (freedom of speech), but freedom still fits. May we never experience Tyranny. I've traveled, I've seen it and I'll take America and our chatter any day. And so I thank you, the military and those who serve us.

Freedom still fits.

Thank you, Sir, for reminding us of that.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'ArtSacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art by Christopher Moore

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very witty book about the muse that inspired the Master Painters.

View all my reviews

This is the kind of book that you like to curl up to in the dog days of summer and just enjoy. The underlying premise is that someone or something is driving the famous French Master artists crazy -- for surely Vincent van Gogh didn't just shoot himself and then run a mile for help. I especially loved listening to this book, because I love hearing all the French names and places and phrases, pronounced just right. It reminded me of that summer years ago that I got to "study" law in Lyon, France (which is greatly underappreciated) and visit the United Nations, and the soon to be formed European Economic Community. We only had to show up on Tuesday/Thursday mornings and it was pass fail, so we mostly toured and traveled.

A book made me want to go to France in the first place, and I have never lost my fascination for it or forgotten those memories, including the art and the witty, crazy people. This book was right on for transporting me right back to France.

If you love art, too, Sacre Bleu is a fun, irreverent look at the role of the artist's muse and the origins and importance of the sacred color of blue in the work of the Masters. And it made me wonder: what/ who is our muse, Paris, Texas? For surely we have one, we are such a creative, artistic, loud, noisy, opinionated, unique community.

(Note about ratings: 3 means it is a good book. 5 is supposed to come around once in a blue moon, but if there were that few 5 star books, frankly, I'd find another hobby. I try to select only books that I will love, but it doesn't always work out. For me, a five star book is so well written that I love it beginning to end (not to be confused with a happy ending). A four star book is one that I love but the ending falls flat or the writing isn't top. I thought this book would be at least four star for me, but the ending fell far short of what this writer could do and just seemed a common place modern wrap up. Many people feel differently, and this book is so unique that if you are interested I think it is worth your time.)