You’re right, I’m egregiously late with this week’s book post. Please accept my humblest apologies for any inconvenience you may have suffered as a result.
This weekend I finished “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” in preparation for book club next week. I found the book to be quite different from other novels I’ve read about China, but perhaps that is because it was set in a different part of the country and a different time period. I learned a lot about foot binding, and spent a lot of time thinking about how the culture had adopted the practice as a sign of beauty and even sensuality, but when I looked up footbinding online and saw pictures of actual bound feet, I almost threw up! Heinously disgustingly ugly. It does make me wonder what things “nice girls” do these days for beauty that will be revolting to people centuries from now. Anyway, another thing I thought Lisa See did a great job with was examining the ways that women communicate, and how we so often read too much into things, over-analyze, ascribe motives and so forth when we listen to our friends and families. By way of contrast, I remembered something that Heather L. said a few weeks ago at the tea about learning to take people at their word. I won’t go into this further right now since I haven’t pulled together my thoughts for book club just yet.
I’ve been meaning to read von Kleist for years and years. Finally I got to it, reading his well known stories such as the “Marquise of O-” and “Michael Kolhaas: From an Old Chronicle” and “The Earthquake in Chile.” Von Kleist has a singular writing style. I think it might be better understood in the original German, but I’m not going to pretend that my German is good enough to read works of literature so I can’t say for sure. Translation issues aside, von Kleist seems to have enjoyed the challenge of starting with events that are utterly unbelievable and wrapping the reader around in them until suspension of belief occurs. In every story, at just the moment you are most engrossed in the tale, von Kleist abruptly ends the story without even pretending to tie it up. It reminded me of the “Deus ex Machina” endings of Greek dramas – you know, where everything has gone wrong and suddenly a god is lowered from on high to solve the whole thing in the space of two minutes. It’s a little like getting flung from a roller coaster car that suddenly stops. It’s a most interesting effect.
Nicole B. recommended this book and said she actually bought it herself after checking it out of the library, so I figured it must be good. Now that I’ve checked it out of the library, I will probably buy it too, since every recipe I’ve tried from it has been, as promised, cheap, fast, and good. I was a little nervous that it would be unhealthy food, or that it would err too far on the side of those recipes that come in the Kraft Foods mailer (“Brown ground beef. Mix with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Open 15 cans of stuff and dump it in. Add a can of cream of mushroom soup, a container of sour cream, a stick of butter, and a cup of half and half. Stir.”) I was happy to find that “Cheap Fast Good” is not like that in the least. The recipes cover a wide variety of foods, including Tex-Mex, Asian, Moroccan, Hawaiian, etc, and they keep them cheap by not suggesting a lot of random expensive ingredients. The food is wholesome and healthy, for the most part, or you can easily make substitutions to increase the health value of the recipe. The book also has lots of short articles on how to prepare foods that picky children will eat, how to get the best value for your money in the grocery store, and what to keep on hand for those inevitable days when you’re exhausted and going out to dinner seems like the only thing to do.
Joshua, 2 Corinthians
Judges, Psalms, John, Galatians
“Middlemarch” by George Eliot
“A Lamp for my Feet” by Elizabeth Elliot
“What Sticks” by Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart
“By the Banks of Plum Creek” by Laura Ingalls Wilder (to Hannah)
“Training Hearts, Teaching Minds” by Starr Meade (as a family)