Grillo Center Labyrinth

Grillo Center Labyrinth
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Saturday Morning Walkers - September 9, 2007

Hi everyone!

Well, the Saturday Morning Walkers did not walk this Saturday. We were a very busy and well-traveled group this week! Barb and Laila arrived safely in Prague to start their exciting adventure and Terri and Jan leave next Saturday to join them in Venice. The rest of us are still in the United States. The reason that I wasn't able to walk yesterday was that I attended the Colorado Caucus Convention put on by Barack Obama's campaign. It was held at Manual High School in Denver and was essentially a training session about the workings of the caucus system of electing delegates to the National Convention. It was also kind of a pep rally to energize and motivate those of us in attendance - it was successful on all fronts - I learned so much about our political process starting on the local level and I am definitely motivated to get involved in that political process. It is time for all of us to stop complaining about how terrible things have gotten and become empowered to know that we can make a difference in how our world works. Enough lecturing - on to the fun stuff!

Book Report:
I finished two books this week. One I would recommend, the other I'm not so sure about.

I read the new book, Everyman by Phillip Roth. It is a very poignant and thought-provoking novel about reaching your "golden years" and taking a long, hard look at how you lived. I highly recommend it.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. [Signature]Reviewed by Sara NelsonWhat is it about Philip Roth? He has published 27 books, almost all of which deal with the same topics—Jewishness, Americanness, sex, aging, family—and yet each is simultaneously familiar and new. His latest novel is a slim but dense volume about a sickly boy who grows up obsessed with his and everybody else's health, and eventually dies in his 70s, just as he always said he would. (I'm not giving anything away here; the story begins with the hero's funeral.) It might remind you of the old joke about the hypochondriac who ordered his tombstone to read: "I told you I was sick."And yet, despite its coy title, the book is both universal and very, very specific, and Roth watchers will not be able to stop themselves from comparing the hero to Roth himself. (In most of his books, whether written in the third person or the first, a main character is a tortured Jewish guy from Newark—like Roth.) The unnamed hero here is a thrice-married adman, a father and a philanderer, a 70-something who spends his last days lamenting his lost prowess (physical and sexual), envying his healthy and beloved older brother, and refusing to apologize for his many years of bad behavior, although he palpably regrets them. Surely some wiseacre critic will note that he is Portnoy all grown up, an amalgamation of all the womanizing, sex- and death-obsessed characters Roth has written about (and been?) throughout his career.But to obsess about the parallels between author and character is to miss the point: like all of Roth's works, even the lesser ones, this is an artful yet surprisingly readable treatise on... well, on being human and struggling and aging at the beginning of the new century. It also borrows devices from his previous works—there's a sequence about a gravedigger that's reminiscent of the glove-making passages in American Pastoral, and many observations will remind careful readers of both Patrimony and The Dying Animal—and through it all, there's that Rothian voice: pained, angry, arrogant and deeply, wryly funny. Nothing escapes him, not even his own self-seriousness. "Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work," he has his adman-turned-art-teacher opine about an annoying student. Obviously, Roth himself is a professional. (May 5)Sara Nelson is editor-in-chief of PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

I also read what might be the weirdest novel ever - My Wife and Dead Wife by Michael Nun - it is billed as a comic love story - it just didn't do it for me. Nun is one of the writers that is coming to the upcoming Literary Sojourn in Steamboat Springs.

From Publishers Weekly
Typical sophomore slump issues plague Kun's muddled [third] novel, an underplotted affair that chronicles a man's breakup with his flighty girlfriend. Hamilton Ashe is the sweet but befuddled narrator, a tailor's assistant in Decatur, Ga., whose domestic life takes a sudden turn for the worse when his girlfriend, Renée—who has been with Ashe for so long that she refers to herself as his wife—loses her hospital job. A period of reassessment follows for Renée, who begins learning the guitar and tries to fulfill her heretofore hidden dream of becoming a country music star. It's funny to watch Ashe panic as he goes from erstwhile "husband" to soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, all the while recalling his similarly ill-fated former marriage. Kun captures the couple's changing dynamic in a series of sweet, winning scenes and paints a comic portrait of the dysfunctional tailor's shop where Ashe works. But aside from the impending breakup, the absence of plot movement becomes increasingly noticeable as the story progresses, and the novel ends on a sour note when Kun builds his climax around a confusing, underdeveloped murder subplot involving Ashe's ex-wife. Kun shows much of the same comic flair and solid character writing that made The Locklear Letters a surprise winner last year, but he'll need to significantly upgrade his storytelling next time to get back on track.

Rae loved the memoir she read last week - Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. It may take ingenuity to interest browsers in a memoir by a middle-aged mother who, 11 years ago, was suddenly widowed, then became a Unitarian-Universalist minister, and now works as chaplain to game wardens in Maine. But good memoir writing does not depend on celebrity or adventure—who'd have thought that a self-confessed recovering neurotic like Anne Lamott or a monastically inclined poet like Kathleen Norris would make it big?—and Braestrup's insightful essays are extraordinarily well written, mingling elements of police procedural and touching love story with trenchant observations about life and death. Alert to comic detail even in grisly circumstances (bears, for example, like to play ball with human skulls), she tells stories of lost children, a suicide, drunken accidents and a murder, always with compassion and a concern for the big questions inescapably provoked by tragic events. Why did Dad die? her children ask, and her response describes not only her theology but also her reason for being a chaplain: Nowhere in scripture does it say 'God is a car accident' or 'God is death.' God is justice and kindness, mercy, and always—always—love. So if you want to know where God is in this or in anything, look for love. (Aug.)

Website of the Week (actually I've got a couple) - in keeping with what I was speaking about earlier there are two websites that I want to share with you. Rae discovered one of the - - their mission is to create the public and political will to end hunger and the worst aspects of poverty.
The other is one I heard about on Satellite Sisters - - they enable you to connect with and provide micro -loans to unique small businesses in the developing world. For as little as $25, you can sponsor a business, receive updates and when the loans are re-paid, you get the loan money back in your account allowing you to re-invest in another business.

Podcast of the Week - a specific episode of This American Life titled Unconditional Love - deals with two amazing stories of parental love - one involving adoption and the other dealing with an autistic child.

Vocabulary Word of the Week - from Rae - laconiclaconic \luh-KON-ik\, adjective:
Using or marked by the use of a minimum of words; brief and pithy; brusque.

Readers' reports range from the laconic to the verbose.
-- Bernard Stamler, "A Brooklyncentric View of Life", New York Times, February 28, 1999

In the laconic language of the sheriff department's report,there was "no visible sign of life."
-- David Wise, Cassidy's Run

There was one tiny photograph of him at a YMCA camp plus a few laconic and uninformative entries in a soldier's log from the war year, 1917-18.
-- Edward W. Said, Out of Place: A Memoir

Laconic comes, via Latin, from Greek Lakonikos, "of or relating to a Laconian or Spartan," hence "terse," in the manner of the Laconians. Entry and Pronunciation for laconic

Cooking and Dining Report:
Not much of either going on this week in our house - Jack's been away and I've just been "grazing on whatever is left in the frig".

I did make Giada's Cannellini Bean Dip and the Italian Prune Plum Torte for a Labor Day barbecue. I may have included these recipes before but they are worth repeating:,1977,FOOD_9936_25941,00.html - bean dip - plum torte

Sondra and I did have a lovely breakfast at Radda this morning - it is a nice place to go on a Sunday morning - still pretty undiscovered at that time of day. Sondra has been there for their "happy hour" - 2 - 5 every day and a great "apertivo" menu. If you can't be in Italy, this is nice taste of what it might be like!

Well, that's it for now - have a wonderful week ahead!



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