The Dead Zone | GoodReads

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2.5 ⭐️'s. Not bad, not great, but still entertaining.

“Tears streamed down her face, sliding over the smooth hard surface of the nightpack like rain on chrome.” (Blade Runner, anyone?)

The Dead Zone

This audiobook is excellent, and I would definitely recommend it to someone who is a fan of James Franco (he reads it with such vervre! much accent!) and who also enjoyed the John Travolta movie "Phenomenon."

However, it is my least favorite Stephen King book to date. It's not bad, per se, but not especially gripping either. It's entertaining, and stuff happens, but not much in the way of integral plot. The end reminded me of the last 1/3-ish of 11/22/63 — which happens to be one of my all time favorite Stephen King books to date, even though the ending is a tad weak / deus ex machina-y. 

Yes, there are some parallels to be drawn with the current president. (See article.)

Other than a slightly chilling prediction of future leaders, this book isn't particularly scary either. It's listed as a "science-fiction thriller," but mild suspense might be a better fit.

“The world was going gray. Ann was still talking but her voice was far and wee, as E.E. Cummings had said about the balloon man. Flocked images tumbling over and over one another, none making sense. The carny wheel. The mirror maze. Johnny’s eyes, strangely violet, almost black. His dear, homely face in the harsh, county fair lighting, naked bulbs strung on electric wire.”

Johnny Smith, the main character, is a pretty vanilla character who happens to have a touch of psychic abilities. 

“In no time at all, the quick sand was up to his waist and now it was chest high, sucking at him like great brown lips, constricting his breathing; he began to scream and no one came, nothing came except for a fat brown squirrel that picked its way down the side of the mossy deadfall and perched on his pack and watched him with his bright black eyes. 

Now it was up to his neck, the rich brown smell of it in his nose and his screams became thin and gasping as the quicksand implacably pressed the breath out of him. Birds flew swooping and cheeping and scolding, and green shafts of sunlight like tarnished copper fell through the trees, and the quicksand rose over his chin. Alone, he was going to die alone, and he opened his mouth to scream one last time and there was no scream because the quicksand flowed into his mouth, it flowed over his tongue, it flowed between his teeth in thin ribbons, he was swallowing quicksand, and the scream was never uttered—”


Growing up, I was disproportionately afraid of dying in quicksand compared with how much quicksand I’ve actually seen in person. Still, this psychic flash from a man’s death in quicksand was strangely satisfying and reminded me of a couple Shel Silverstein poems.

“Green summer leaves, smoky haze of fall like a memory of cornhusks and men with rakes in mellow dusk. The thud of the big snare drum. Mellow gold trumpets and trombones. School band uniforms …”

There’s no denying that King can paint a pretty picture and really “take you there” with his prose. James Franco completely brings this book to life with his narration — worth it just for the audio chocolate.

Option B | GoodReads

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3.5 ⭐️'s rounded up to 4, because it has a solid message and is widely applicable. 

Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity, and we can build it. It isn’t about having a backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around our backbone.
— Sheryl Sandberg

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

This book isn't just about bouncing back from a loved one's death — it's about moving forward and post traumatic growth. Essentially: Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it, with some science and real-life examples to back it up. 

I read "Lean In," and "Originals" earlier this year, so pretty much had to read this one too. It's an easy read and likely to choke you up at times. I found it inspiring, and also helpful for knowing how to counsel others dealing with tragedy/death/loss of love — basically any kind of life hurdle. 

There is something for everyone here, for any situation where the first choice isn't available. 

So many good takeaways, and a relatively short book. Would recommend to anyone dealing with accepting "Option B." 

Keep In Mind

“Tragedy does not have to be personal, pervasive, or permanent, but resilience can be. We can build it and carry it with us throughout our lives.”

"Self-confidence is critical to happiness and success. When we lack it, we dwell on our flaws. We fail to embrace new challenges and learn new skills. We hesitate to take even a small risk that can lead to a big opportunity."

"With the right support, beliefs can fuel action and become self-fulfilling. Believe you can learn from failure and you become less defensive and more open. Believe you matter and you spend more time helping others, which helps you matter even more. Believe you have strengths and you start seeing opportunities to use them. Believe you are a wizard who can cross the space-time continuum and you may have gone too far."

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." 
— Viktor Frankl

Duma Key | GoodReads

Duma KeyDuma Key by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5/5 Stars

Long winded at times, it is also lyrical and reminiscent of the ebbs and flows of the tide, of the seashells whispering their never ending story of the surf. King cuts to the heart, tying in poetry, Nietzche, murder, and hints of madness with an ethereal eloquence.

This summer I drove from Miami to Key West and back, stopping often to explore, and falling in love with the area. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with this book—with the friendship, the repetition, the sound of the sea. That, and, I listened to the audiobook version read by John Slattery (aka Roger Sterling from Mad Men). Holy guacamole, I could listen to him read the back of a shampoo bottle and enjoy the audio chocolate dripping in my earholes. (Probably going to have to listen to all the audiobooks he narrates.)

Time, it always comes back to time, doesn't it? Time and memory. Haunted beaches. This book.
⏰❤️📕

“I thought there would be time, but we always think stuff like that, don't we? We fool ourselves so much we could do it for a living.”
/
“It's perfectly okay to paraphrase Nietzche: if you keep your focus, eventually your focus will keep you. Sometimes without parole.”
/
"Start with a blank surface. It doesn't have to be paper or canvas, but I feel it should be white. We call it white because we need a word, but its true name is nothing. Black is the absence of light, but white is the absence of memory, the color of can't remember.

How do we remember to remember? That's a question I've asked myself often since my time on Duma Key, often in the small hours of the morning, looking up into the absence of light, remembering absent friends. Sometimes in those little hours I think about the horizon. You have to establish the horizon. You have to mark the white. A simple enough act, you might say, but any act that re-makes the world is heroic. Or so I’ve come to believe."
/
"I realized the shells were talking in a voice I recognized. I should have; it was my own. Had I always known that? I suppose I had. On some level, unless we're mad, I think most of us know the various voices of our own imaginations.

And of our memories, of course. They have voices, too. Ask anyone who has ever lost a limb or a child or a long-cherished dream. Ask anyone who blames himself for a bad decision, usually made in a raw instant (an instant that is most commonly red). Our memories have voices, too. Often sad ones that clamor like raised arms in the dark."
/
“You can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think."
/
And a bonus snippet from one of my favorite poets, Frank O'Hara:

*it's no use worrying about Time
but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
and turned some sharp corners

the whole pasture looked like our meal
we didn't need speedometers
we could manage cocktails out of ice and water*

View all my reviews

#GirlBoss | GoodReads

Rating: 1.5 stars (1/2 for pure entertainment, like a train wreck)

As a female entrepreneur, I initially liked the idea of a book about a #GirlBoss even if I wasn't sold on the title. Unfamiliar with the Nasty Gal brand, I had seen the hype around the book and am always on board for strong females discussing their success.

The first part of the book drew me in, and was relatively entertaining. I was surprised to learn that the first thing Sophia Amoruso sold online was stolen (she used to steal a lot), and that she was once a dumpster diving freegan. She also believes in magic and planting wishes in her life via sigils and passwords.

It didn’t take long to realize this was not going to be the kind of book with any strong takeaways. The writing style heralds Mad Libs for blockbuster books, and the “advice” irritatingly basic and inane (geared for millennial girls): “Be a nice person at work . . . If you are a total terror to work with, no one will want to keep you around,” “Life is short. Don’t be lazy,” “Being a girl is fun,” etc. Any time the word “ain’t” is used particularly makes my skin crawl, it seemed like she was talking to tween airheads, or was perpetuating one herself (“And the top of the chain ain’t gonna like it.”). The ditsy, magically successful fashion lady.

After she passed the “rags” portion of her story and got started on the “riches,” Amoruso started to come off, as a friend put it: "sounding like a condescending know-it-all.” This portion was difficult to get through, but was peppered with other female success snippets that broke up the pomposity.

Yes, it is a Cinderella story with social media, fashion, and monetary success—but at the end of the day, it’s just a marginally interesting, braggadocious tale. Post #GirlBoss (2014), Nasty Gal suffered layoffs, lawsuits, disgruntled employees, and Amoruso stepped down from CEO in 2015. She also was dropped from Forbes' Richest Self-Made Women when Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy in 2016. It's not all bad news however, Amoruso is producing an adaptation of #GirlBoss for Netflix in 2017.

Reading this, I felt at times I was being Punk’d. My favorite part was the end, and I would never recommend this book to anyone. 

* Still, props to Amoruso for being a successful (no matter for how long) female entrepreneur. It was a bold move to write this book, and if you want to be rich, you've got to be a bitch.

“Bad bitches are taking over the world.” — #GirlBoss

Muscular Tuna, Palomino Stallion, & More | Poetry Corner

Four animal poems that grabbed my imagination from The Writer's Almanac. A few of my favorite lines:

  • (After muscular tuna) "My room is so still, the bureau lifeless, and on it, inert, the paraphernalia of humans: keys, coins, shells that once rocked in the tides ..." — Ode to the Fish
  •  
  • "In the darkness of the barn their woolly backs were full of light gathered on summer pastures. Above them their white breath was suspended, while far off in the pine woods, night was deep in silence."   — Sheep in the Winter Night
  • "They have been there since dawn, their boats side-by-side midriver, lines cast downstream into the edge of deep water, sipping coffee as light seeps through naked branches of ash and cottonwood."  — Sturgeon Season

Ode to the Fish

ELLEN BASS

Nights, when I can’t sleep, I listen to the sea lions
barking from the rocks off the lighthouse.
I look out the black window into the black night
and think about the fish stirring the ocean.
Muscular tuna, their lunge and thrash
churning the water to froth,
whipping up a squall, storm of hunger.
Herring cruising, river of silver in the sea,
wide as a lit city. And all the small breaths:
pulse of frilled jellyfish, thrust of squid,
frenzy of krill, transparent skin glowing
green with the glass shells of diatoms.
Billions swarming up the water column each night,
gliding down at dawn. They’re the greased motor
that powers the world, whirring
Mixmaster folding the planet’s batter.
Shipping heat to the Arctic, hauling cold
to the tropics, currents unspooling around the globe.
My room is so still, the bureau lifeless,
and on it, inert, the paraphernalia of humans:
keys, coins, shells that once rocked in the tides —
opalescent abalone, pearl earrings.
Only the clock’s sea green numerals
register their small changes. And shadows
the moon casts — fan of maple branches —
tick across the room. But beyond the cliffs
a blue whale sounds and surfaces, cosmic
ladle scooping the icy depths. An artery so wide,
I could swim through into its thousand pound heart.

Sheep in the Winter Night

TOM HENNEN

Inside the barn the sheep were standing, pushed close to one
another. Some were dozing, some had eyes wide open listening
in the dark. Some had no doubt heard of wolves. They looked
weary with all the burdens they had to carry, like being thought
of as stupid and cowardly, disliked by cowboys for the way they
eat grass about an inch into the dirt, the silly look they have
just after shearing, of being one of the symbols of the Christian
religion. In the darkness of the barn their woolly backs were
full of light gathered on summer pastures. Above them their
white breath was suspended, while far off in the pine woods,
night was deep in silence. The owl and rabbit were wondering,
along with the trees, if the air would soon fill with snowflakes,
but the power that moves through the world and makes our
hair stand on end was keeping the answer to itself.

The Palomino Stallion

ALDEN NOWLAN

Though the barn is so warm
that the oats in his manger,
the straw in his bed
seem to give off smoke—

though the wind is so cold,
the snow in the pasture
so deep he’d fall down
and freeze in an hour—

the eleven-month-old
palomino stallion
has gone almost crazy
fighting and pleading
to be let out.

Sturgeon Season

FLOYD SKLOOT 

They have been there since dawn,
their boats side-by-side midriver,
lines cast downstream into the edge
of deep water, sipping coffee as light
seeps through naked branches of ash
and cottonwood. Now from shadows
of limbs and swirling current a sea lion
slithers among their orange anchor
buoys and dives. The water,
already roiled brown and swollen
by rain, is so cold it seems to crack
when a cormorant skims the surface
before rising toward its island nest.