She knows what happened, but why it happened and what it meant, she doesn’t know. There was so much of her life she doesn’t not understand.

Gabriel Tallent, My Absolute Darling

I’m part of a book club that seems to routinely read books about women who are in vulnerable and abusive situations, sometimes overcoming and sometimes not.  Sometimes the books are so violently disturbing I don’t even bother finishing them. Watching the news is disturbing enough. No need for my pleasure reading to do the same.

My Absolute Darling is an exception. It’s horrible and violent. Young Turtle lives a life of fear, abuse and violence at the hands of her father Martin. From the first chapter, I knew that all is not nor likely ever will be well for this daughter and her deranged father, but it was impossible to put Gabriel Tallent’s book down. Continue reading My Absolute Darling

“That don’t mean I won’t be here Jojo. I’ll be on the side of the door with everybody who’s gone before. Your Uncle Given, my mommy and daddy, Pap’s mommy and daddy.”

Sing, Unburied, Sing. Jesmyn Ward

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Sing Unburied Sing

Here was the true great spirit, the divine thread connecting all human endeavor. If you can keep it, it is yours, your property.  Slave or Continent. The American imperative.

The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead

This book is not easy to read, but the message is needed more today than ever. We are led by a man who degrades, insults, and mocks people who aren’t like him. This book reminded me of just how easy it is to do the wrong thing, particularly when we see others doing it. We should find a new spool and sew ourselves together with a new thread, one that binds us tightly in common good, respect, and prosperity.

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“My goodness, I thought, poor fellow! You did not give this place a proper chance, but fled it recklessly, leaving behind forever the beautiful things of this world. And for what? You do not know. A most unintelligent wager.”

George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the BardoWas the moon full? Or was the night pitch black on the night that Lincoln’s son crossed over the divide that night, leaving his parents for the Bardo. The guests at the party remember the night differently. Their perception is their reality.

The same seems true for the souls residing in the Bardo. Some know they are half-dead. Others feel sure that they remain half-living. This is a halfway land between our world and the next. They are trapped until a flash of inevitability reveals that they must take the path to where it fully ends, to where they end. “We say these things to speed you along.” Continue reading Just what is a Bardo?