Book Review: A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

A Dirty Job

This novel by Christopher Moore attempts to combine fantastical characters and outrageous situations with some very realistic observations of families coping with a dying loved one.  I am not entirely certain that the author was completely successful in accomplishing this.  There was some deeply sincere discussion of hospice and the tragedy of loss, but the book really jumped over the edge of being ridiculous.

When I first started to read it I felt as if I were being drawn into a standard Twilight Zone-like version of the “Death Merchant” and the main character, Charlie, a beta male, was just another grim reaper.  As I read further, I was delightfully surprised as Christopher Moore’s characters came to life…even the Morrigan, evil creatures that live in the sewers of San Francisco, and the squirrel people, bazaar as they were.

I read this about a month ago and was waiting to see how my book club members felt about the book before I posted.  I think I can safely say that you will love it or you will hate it.  I personally loved it.  Some of my book club members got into some really heavy philosophical discussion on theology and the metaphysical that I really did not feel that the book warranted.  That a soul could occupy an inanimate object really seemed to bother some.   I feel that the author, with his nutty characters like Lily, the goth girl, Minty Fresh, the pimp, the Emperor, and others, did not intend the book to be anything more than humorous entertainment with a touch of horror and emotion.  In that regard he was more than successful.

My only disappointment was in the ending.  I like to be surprised and I wasn’t.  I sort of figured out what was likely to happen early in the book when the hellhounds were introduced.  There was another aspect to the ending that I was sort of disappointed in, but I’ll let you figure that out.

I would give this book a five star rating, because I was one of the 50% who really liked it.  I would certainly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys an easy read of contemporary fantasy.

Emotional Inspiration

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Image from MD JUNCTION

“Put a voice in your hurt and give your tears a sound”

So very often I read an article written by someone who has suffered an angry moment, a pain or a loss.

I wonder sometimes if these people are crying tears as they write their words.  Sometimes I am deeply moved even to the point of tears myself.  Writing and reading can be so very therapeutic.   The therapists at a facility where I was employed as a nurse would have their patients write every day.  They also had required reading assignments.  Writing is cathartic and reading is distracting in a good way.

Some of the very best, most passionate writing I have ever read came from these clients most often while the instigating event was fresh in their minds.  These are very often the folk with the most powerful voice.   I am fortunate to have had these people share their work with me.  It has aided both my understanding and my capacity for empathy.

KEEP WRITING!  KEEP READING!

Another Award

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I feel so very honored.  I haven’t been nominated for anything in thirty years…at least not that I can remember.  Thanks Eva Van beck for thinking of me.  I like the word versatile…it’s sort of like a nice way of saying, “Anything goes!”

The rules of this award are simple:  Name your nominee and provide a link to that person’s blog.  Share seven personal things about yourself.

Nominate 10 other bloggers, and leave them each a note about their nomination.

Things you may not know:

  1. My family started the first nudist resort in Florida in 1964.  It is still owned and operated by my cousins.
  2. I have two house doggies who are like my babies, a pug and an Australian cattle dog.
  3. We have a black cat named Boozer.
  4. My husband is a recovering alcoholic, but not anonymous.  He is humble but proud.  I participate in his program of spirituality and attend the open speaker meetings and have learned so very much about life experiences from this group in A.A.  I drink lightly and socially and it doesn’t bother him at all.  Gratitude is the thing I have learned most about.  I pray everyday to thank my higher power for my many blessings and ask for guidance.
  5. I hate road rage and unnecessary noise.
  6. Tranquility and serenity are two of my favorite things.  I dislike conflict and drama, but it is often what I write best about.
  7. Growing old is a bitch.  I missed my exit because I could not read the signs at night on a rural interstate and had to drive forty miles out of the way just to get turned around.  Now I wear glasses to drive.  I am also technologically challenged, which I blame on my age.

Nominate other bloggers:

Beautiful Day

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HDR Photo by Louis Trocciola

 

Pigeons fly

Dew drops from a rose

An old man sitting on a park bench picks his nose

No one notices

Sun rises

Squirrel warms his tail

Bag lady scrapes her food from a garbage pail

No one notices

Breakfast cooks

Puppies are feed

Cocaine addict crawls himself back into his bed

No one notices

Ice melts

Birds chirp songs into the wind

“High” school student takes his knife and cuts his best friend

No one notices

Morning Air

“Sir, what did you say?”

Old man says, “Looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day!”

Someone notices

~ S. K. Nicholls

My Husband: The “Rocket Scientist”

No really, he is a rocket scientist, a graduate from Cornell, a Subject Matter Expert (SME) at Lockheed Martin making Hellfire Missiles.   I really admire the work he does.  Because of his philosophy on peace, I asked him why he worked in an area that made weapons.  He said, “If we don’t make them, somebody else will.  Then where will our liberty be?”  He truly is smarter than me and most people I know.  He sometimes brings math problems home and they are six pages long, with symbols I cannot even begin to recognize, and I had to take General Statistics 301 in college.   I am lucky to be able to work long division without a calculator.  But he can’t boil water (except to test a thermostat).

Seriously, he can’t cook…anything except frozen pizza and chicken pot pies…in the microwave.  He doesn’t even grill outdoors.  The only food he knows how to prepare is ceviche, because you don’t have to cook that.  It cooks itself with citrus juice.  He does know how to empty the dishwasher, and he is getting better at that.  He loves my southern styled home cooking, so we’re okay.

We have been married for five years.  It was love at first sight.  He fell in love with my feet.  I was wearing tight jeans and my snakeskin “Come fuck me” stilettos.  We met for the first time seven years ago at a little Bohemian coffee shop in Winter Park, and talked for two hours.  We share the same social, political and spiritual philosophies.  He reminded me of my favorite cartoon character from the British, “Wallace and Gromit”.  He looks like Wallace and his sense of humor keeps me laughing every day.  He remembers every song he ever learned, and every joke he ever heard…which has pluses and minuses.  But it does amuse me when he breaks out into some funny little song for no apparent reason at all.  He always has a way to make me smile.

He’s a real Renascence Man, having traveled around the world as an Army brat in his military family, before settling in Florida.  He speaks three languages fluently and a little more of others.  He reads two to three books a week, and works crossword puzzles daily.  He’s not into sports…which is fine with me.  But he doesn’t know his right from his left, which scares me in that he is an engineer.  Last night we were coming back from my daughter’s, which is only six blocks away and twice I had to redirect him to take his OTHER left, or his OTHER right, and he has been there a hundred times.  I think he gets preoccupied.

Being an engineer, of course he has a Man Cave, and it is filled with every tool known to mankind, including a hydraulic lift.  He can fix anything: circuit boards, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, appliances, computers, and automobiles…anything that I can break, he fixes.  He is a real handy man around the house.  He rebuilds cars and has five or six orderly projects going on at any one time.  No one could call him lazy.  He is technologically savvy, but I can’t operate the TV remote or the many things he has connected through it.  I am waiting to be able to open the front door with it.

He is social and giving, kind and sensitive, a very gregarious sort of fellow.  He is loving and supportive in every way possible.

I was twelve years single before we were married.  I had dated upwards of sixty men, and most of them I wouldn’t date twice.  I was convinced that I was not going to settle for anyone less than one who was worthy of my affection.  I got the best!  I love him dearly.  Mother’s day has passed and I did not raise his child, but he still remembered me on that day.  Even if he did buy me a custom fishing rod and a new Penn reel…not exactly what I was expecting, but happily received.  He didn’t raise my children either, but is the greatest Grandpa a kid could have.

There is a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day…but no Spouse’s day.  He just had a birthday, Valentine’s was just behind us and I wasn’t blogging then.  I wanted to take this opportunity to tell the world how much I appreciate him, and how truly blessed I feel.   I hear a lot about people and their kids on blogs, but not too much about their spouses.  Maybe I missed that on Valentine’s Day!  Playing catch up!  Hoping yours is the best for you!

Book Review: The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

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I honestly did not realize that this was a non-fiction book when I read it.  I was reading it for a Random Readers book club that I had joined, and it was not until another reader mentioned googling some of the characters in this non-fiction literary work that I knew my mistake.  I laughed all through the book, sometimes side-splitting laughter, but was confused toward the end in that there did not seem to be a cohesive plot.  Yet I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

Ronson, a journalist in real life and within the character of the book, takes the reader through his design to write a book on psychopaths in the corporate world.  THAT book never really gets written.  He presents his interviews and acquaintances in hilarious anecdotes.  His style is stream of consciousness, and it comes off more as a fiction read than a non-fiction read.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, unless you are looking for a seriously objective scientific examination of Bob Hare’s Psychopath Checklist in this, “Journey through the madness industry,” as an inside look into criminal profiling.  You won’t find that here.

What you will find is a light-hearted and humorous examination of the debate between Scientology and Psychiatry in anecdotal evidences.  You will find yourself suddenly suspecting your neighbors, even your spouse…not to mention diagnosing your very own neuroses.  You will bond with characters, like Tony, a young man who deliberately feigns insanity to stay out of prison, only to find himself locked up indefinitely in a psych ward.  Some of the characters seem very nasty, even frightening, and others are the guy next door.  There is some redundancy in paragraphs that are repeated and the author seems a bit scattered at times as he attempts to pull his examinations and evidences together.  All in all, I would give him four stars and recommend the read.

Mother’s Day Memories

Romantic pink rose bush

My mother died when I was eight years old.  I am fifty-two now. I don’t think that you ever get OVER losing a parent, but you do get THROUGH  it.

Even at such an early age I have very fond memories of her.  All during the month of May wild pink roses bloom on the hillsides and forest edges of West Georgia.  Their roots run deeply into the red clay.  When myself and my two sisters were very small, we would gather bunches of these delicate flowers and pick the thorns off so that our mother would not prick herself .

My own children did the same for me, bringing in bunch after bunch throughout the whole month of May so that every corner of the home was decorated with fluffy pink ruffles of sweet fragrance.  With the thorns so tenderly removed, the roses took on an even more loving character.  There was something special about them that they thought to remove the thorns without being asked.

My mother was a romantic, a ballerina, a writer, and a dance instructor.  She was a very sharp dresser and took care that she was always presentable.  She was such a perfectionist that she would repaint all of her nails if one nail showed any flaw.  Her clothes were always color coordinated, and her matching accessories were carefully selected.  She sang like a lark as she worked around the house and she sang in the Church, a soprano.  To hear her, you would have thought she was the happiest person in the world.  She read stories to us three girls every single night, regardless of how tired she might have been.  She corrected our manners and our grammar with gentleness and firmness.  She made us delicious meals, and kept our home clean and tidy.

After her divorce from my father when I was seven years old, her mood changed.  My mother and us three girls moved to the city of Atlanta from our small town home in LaGrange.  She continued to dance and to sing, and with her witty humor started a comic line complete with hand drawn illustrations.  She was convinced that she was going to be famous someday.  The Church pastor told her that she was going to go to hell for divorcing my father.  She had cursed his unborn child by his second wife and felt independently responsible for the condition of my father’s only son who died the day after it was born with multiple birth defects.  My father was an upper middle class highly functioning drunk who had beat her and trashed the house almost daily when they were together, but still she loved him.  For financial reasons, we moved back into the home of my Grandma.  Mama had started secretarial school, and rented a house that we were to move into the next week.  We were all excited.  We thought.

There are things about the night of her death that I wish not to remember but cannot forget. Etched into the mind of an eight year old.  Twenty six years old, laying naked on my grandma’s bed, with IV solutions running into arms, stretched out in crucifixion pose, from bottles suspended on a coat hanger from the curtain rods.  Pill bottles scattered on the bedside table.  Thick, black syrup of Ipecac oozing over her lips.  The foul smell of feces, from enemas, filling bedpans on the floor. While the country doctor husband and wife team worked frantically to save her life. February cold.  The ambulance reflecting the red light of this emergency off the white walls of the house as the stretcher carried her out.  Little girls, we three, gone to stay with an aunt for the night.  No sleep.  Fear!  Wondering when she would come and get us.  Uncle crouched down by the gas heater in the morning.  “Your mother has passed away.”  What does that mean?  My year older sister went screaming to lock herself into the bathroom. Three year old younger sister never conscious of the agony in that moment. A memory that she will never have, thank God.  Yes, this is what it was really like.  This is what followed me along with the lilting sound of her voice and the stories she told, as she tidied the house and put us to bed.  The comic strip had its last illustration, albeit a sad and frightening one.  Do you seriously regret the loss of the memories? Never regret.  If you cannot remember, be glad.  Do you feel denied the memories? Count your blessings. Do you really think it was easier growing up with SOMETHING to remember?  I would have rather been three. I would have rather never known that sorrow, those memories.  Try to remember the roses.

In the South, there was a Mother’s Day tradition in Church of wearing a white rose corsage if your mother was deceased, and a red rose corsage if your mother was living.  I hated that tradition.  I felt marked as one of few children who were forced to wear the white rose.  It was an act of old women, in my eyes, not children.  I insisted on wearing the blend of white and red in a pink corsage.  A large part of her dead, a small hint vaguely alive. Slivers of memory.

As a nurse and a human being, I have always had empathy for the pain of the suicidal, but there is one thing that I do know without a doubt, and that is that the act of

Suicide is the Epitome of Selfishness.

Perspective of a survivor, not a victim.