Trying to read more in 2017. I cancelled my netflix sand put the time I spent on Netflix (1-2 hours a day) into reading instead. I had this book, a Border's sale book, and packed it up to read. I have always liked William Blake and he is like a supporting actor in this story, which is more centered around a family who become his neighbors. My main impression of this book, though there are other aspects, is that William Blake was an artist who had politically leftist leanings. In the climax of the story, royalist zealots had been pressuring everyone in the town to sign a loyalty oath. The father of the family had refused, not for any political reasons, but that he didn't see the point. When the mob came to get Blake, the father instead spoke up to say he refuses, which diverted attention away from Blake. Blake's response to the turmoil of the time (parallel to the French revolution) was to be an artist.
More Than A Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing, (Haymarket Books) a collection of essays and interviews (and a few student poems), is a must-read for anyone concerned about the state of public education in America today. When I received my review copy in the mail, I was working on another project. Because I am retired, I am not as personally affected by education politics as I was when I was working. In many ways and for many reasons, I had left that world behind, so I wasn't compelled to start reading it right away. But it kept staring at me. It kept shouting to me, "Read me!" Finally, I cautiously started, knowing I would find it interesting, but not expecting to be blown away. Once I got started, I was hooked. Here are the reasons why:
I see that I got this at Border's on the Sale table for 5.99. What a steal that was considering I LOVE this book. As I am organizing my library, I came across it, like an old friend, I was glad to see again after a long time. This book is a "year in my life, profusely illustrated, abounding with anguish, confusion, bits of wisdom, musings, meanderings, buckets of joie de vivre and restful sojourns." (cover jacket description).
I don't even remember where and when I got this book, but the title really resonates with me, so I know it is something I would definitely choose. I had always thought that travel should be more than sightseeing. It is hard to do more than that unless you have an intention to.
Well, Birdman got Best Picture. I'm glad I saw this movie. But it's choice as Best Picture says more about the voting members of the Academy than anything else. It is about actors and those enmeshed in this whole world of making a living as an actor, whether in film or theatre. The character's compulsion to do this play comes from a note written on a napkin that Riggin (Keaton/Birdman) got when he was just starting out. This note gave his life meaning, and he seemed to want to milk that meaning at a time when meaning was so elusive. I can imagine that the members of the Academy were moved by it, because it hits close to home, about their notes on napkins, and what gives their lives meaning. Yes, this was a good movie. Michael Keaton was great in it. The percussion score - amazing. But Best Picture of the Year? It's not my note on a napkin. Selma or Boyhood would have been my choices over Birdman.
Talk about a feel good sports movie. This is it! So many good moments. My favorite was when the teacher (Migrant Ed or English) reads Coach White a poem that one of the runners wrote in class about running, comparing it to flying like a bird. I also love it as an example of choosing to be where you are needed, where you have a sense of community, rather than going with the material rewards. The "Where are they now?" piece at the end was icing on the cake.
The thing you walk away with after watching this movie is the incredible acting, for which the actor (Eddie Redmayne) won an Oscar. I have to admit, I still don't understand the "Theory of Everything". What I get from this movie, is admiration for Hawking's resilience and brilliance (which I already knew something about). But what I didn't know was the twists and turns of the love story. How interesting that it was he who left her for someone else, though she stayed with him even though she was in love with someone else. The love gods shone brightly on these two people, first with each other, and then with their second spouses.
I have tried to read Toni Morrison in the past, and I find it very difficult. In this novel, she has a way of weaving the story revealing an outcome first, and then explaining it later, like an unraveling. Many times I thought, what's that about, did I miss something? Come to find out, she hadn't told that story yet. It was so sad and sometimes disgusting to read this, and I kept wondering when will I meet a redeeming character, someone I can sympathize with? There is a kind of redemption in the end, but I still leave the book feeling disturbed, which is what I'm sure the author intended.
I was at the market and I ran into a teacher friend of mine, a high school social studies teacher who is an avid reader of history. When we catch up, she always describes these heady, intellectual, and interesting books that she is reading. She asked what I was reading and I had to confess it was Allegiant. She tried not to be shocked, but she said, "I haven't read it, but I see my students seem to really like them." Since then, I have been dealing with a sense of shame, that I read and and enjoy young adult novels, especially of the dystopian genre. To say, "I don't care," would be a lie, because obviously I do care otherwise it wouldn't have struck me. But it is what it is. The story is never boring, it is always moving, and I like when I am not bored by what I read. I do love this trilogy, starting with Divergent. The theme of choice is carried through in the series, especially the difficult choices that Tris makes as the story is woven.
Reflecting on what I read and consume helps me to secure the gist and relevance of the book, film, or any creative work, into my memory. Sharing my reviews, has potential to turn a self-centered act outward, like book clubs do.