Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Review: The Four Winds

The Four Winds The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I really liked about this book was 1) I love Kristin Hanna's writing style and character development and 2) it was a stark reality check and education on the Dust Bowl and the Depression in Migrant California. I knew this and that about the Dust Bowl and the Depression but the details of living day to day, trying not to starve or freeze or inhale too much dust is humbling.

Hannah began this book 3 years ago. It is a timely release in this moment of pandemic and economic collapse. There are a lot of historical events that were personalized by reading this book and gave me a lot to think about. I also discovered that my 15 year old son, who asked me what the book was about, finished my sentence because he already knew what casued the Dust Bowl. I did not. I was also not aware how the dust got in animals and people and made them deathly ill and even die. I looked up images of dust storms and Oh. My. Gosh. They are horrific. I needed to keep drinking water while I was reading this part.

Living day to day in the Great Depression in Hooverville ghettos was both depressing and uplifting. The author highlights relationships which is why I love her so much. I also was educated on the way the Californians viewed the migrants and how the openly treated them. The every day indignities could crush your soul yet the survival skills and relationships with others down on their luck was a saving grace. The book also covers the growing interest in Communism in the country and paints it the way I believe it was meant to be practiced. Everybody took care of each other without anybody taking advantage of another. This was another eye opener for me as I understood the ideal and why it was so popular.

These are the themes but not the story. The story is a beautiful one of family, the love of a mother, survival, and home.

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Sunday, August 16, 2020

Review: Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Review: Brave

Brave Brave by Rose McGowan
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

* I read this book when it was first published. My review is long and opinionated as shown below. However, I have new perspective and another addendum. I’ve decided to not rate it with stars but I am adding a prologue: This book is not a stand alone book. I just finished “Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow and will be reading “She Said” soon. Rose’s voice is one voice out of many. The story is much bigger than MG but her voice is important. I believe MG is more articulate than the RAGE she expresses in this book. I also think her rage is an important by-product of her experience.*

I just can’t finish this book. The author has a story to tell but she lacks perspective and introspection as well as a good editor and writing coach. I really don’t mean to demean her memoir. It is very real and her childhood was nothing short of bizarre. Yet in the same paragraph she would often paint herself as a victim then tell the reader that she was insulated because she was intelligent and pragmatic.

I’m halfway through the book and haven’t seen her courage. I’m sure it comes but the overwhelming message is Rage with a capital R and denial. Her rage is directed at any and all white males. They victimized her, trapped her, took away her voice. The Rage is overstated and globalized. Yet from the snippets I gathered and the way presented her mother, father, and the holes in her grandparents’ stories, I’m leaning toward a more Freudian take on her Rage. It was easy to hate her father. It was easy to hate the men in the cult. It is easy to blame all the men that kept women oppressed and my mind keeps wandering back to her mother. I can’t help but wonder that, if Rose pushed aside the Rage she expresses over the obvious culprits, that she might find the child Rosa who is actually very confused and angry that her mother didn’t save her.

I am not discounting the author’s anger and at whom she is directing it. I am pointing out that she doth protest too much which is a strong indicator that she needs to dig deeper, move the Rage against white, powerful men aside for a moment and see what is behind it. The Rage has served its purpose well in protecting her but there is something else she needs to find; a vulnerable, scared child? I don’t know but until she accepts that piece of her, she will continue to be angry.

** UPDATE **

I did finish the book. My opinion above stands but with a very conflicted addendum. Actually, I’m not conflicted, I’m deeply disturbed that this book went to publication. The Rage the author portrayed in the first half turned to RAGE where she seemed to believe that respect and dignity are not a two way street. The author seemed to have a superiority complex to nearly everybody she crossed paths with. And she covers herself in her role as a victim, glossing over that, in many instances, she has far more power and choice than she believed. Which might also account for her RAGE. She had choices but didn’t like the alternative so she pretended that she was victimized by other people. “They” boxed her in. “They” hurt her. “They” caused her to do this or that.

I’m struggling with which examples to use, there are so many. One is early in the book when she is homeless and hungry which inflicts her with a deep fear of ever being homeless and hungry again, driving her to take work that was beneath her. This is a great argument except that her street days were her choice. Not that she had a loving home to return to, but she had options. She just didn’t like them. She ran away from a drug rehab. She chose the street over returning to rehab which she treated like a joke.

The author whines about the hardship of being a bombshell in Hollywood. She’s treated like a sexualized object but she has a brain, she laments. She then shows up for an awards show with her boyfriend, Marilyn Manson, in what she called a “nude dress.” I looked it up. Oh. My. Gosh. Naturally, media were upset. People were offended. She explains in her book that Americans are too Puritanical about bodies to understand the irony. We are not enlightened like she is. 1) It is not socially acceptable in any first world country to walk around naked in public, 2) our roots are Puritanical. Welcome to America! 3) yes, she did just insult the reader. She is victimized by us, Her neighbors and fans, because we didn’t understand her self absorbed ways. I admit that I did not understand her irony, 4) she continues to bash Hollywood for selling sex.

She has a relationship with the singer, Marilyn Manson, who she describes as shy, deep, sensitive, and thoughtful. He is different and respects her for who she really is. In the end, they break up. Much to her disappointment, she hears an interview on the Howard Stern show where her ex boyfriend bashes her. She surmises that Manson ended up being a “typical cisgendered male, that is, harassing the defenseless woman because his man ego is hurt. Waaaaah. Poor wittle baby.” I found that incredibly insensitive and categorically misandrist. Did it occur to her that he lashed out with anger in order to mask his own pain?

Bottom line, I believe MG was raped. I believe she was sexually assaulted. I also believe that she has thinking errors of globalizing and is very self absorbed yet not terribly self aware. Definitely not “other” aware. She was absolutely right to expose the accepted Hollywood norm that is criminal and misogynistic, at best. It is degrading and reflects poorly on society.

That said, being treated poorly does not give one license to disrespect everybody else or subject others to lashing for not being like you. MG is big on encouraging critical and creative thought and being an individual but it is clear from her writing that she only believes this if we are like her. She shames those who lack or have not yet discovered their creative passion. She sneers at those who choose to dress according to our own comforts (jeans, shirt, shoes, underwear). Even if that is our authentic selves. No, really. That is my uniform of choice. Jean shorts in the summer and maybe ditch the shoes.

I found the book had one good, strong message but was riddled with hypocrisy beyond that.

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