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I'm also slowly reading (and savoring) The Givenness of Things by Marilynne Robinson. I love her essays as much as I love her fiction, but as a scientist she's really starting to hurt my feelings in this one. We aren't THAT bad.
TL;DR: I'm very much a Marilynne Robinson fangirl.
Still a "growth" industry.
21: A friend who was raised in the Midwest himself said he completely identified with the author's background.
23. Seajack what do you mean by author's shouldn't read their own stuff?
I was a little concerned about picking this one up. Like the author, I too, had lost a beloved father. In my case approaching 12 years ago and it still hurts like I've lost an arm or some other critical part of me. In the last year I'd also lost my mother, and losing the second parent somehow manages to feel like you're loosing the first all over again. So it was with some degree of trepidation that I started this, I thought it might be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. I needn't have worried, it was as emotional as a piece of limp lettuce.
It is an odd mismatch of a book. The hawk is something I'd barely be able to recognise if it bit me on the nose. So training of a hawk is something outside my range of experience, meaning that the methods and approaches were interesting. The comparison of her training with that if TE White was intellectually interesting, but I'm not sure that is was a necessary diversion. The contrast was clear, they were both in very different situations, emotionally and in terms of experience. I still don't think it added much to the narrative's direction.
The training of a hawk in response to her father's death is an unusual response to grief, but that doesn't make it any less valid. However, grief is an emotion and there was curiously little of it in this book. I didn't get any sense of the depth of her loss. I found her description of herself as an orphan when her mother remains alive as entirely unjustified. Her mother was noticeably absent throughout the book. I found little in this book that I could recognise from my experience. The only elements were the wish to avoid people and the appointment at the GP with depression. That struck a chord, although we arrived at the same place via different routes into that situation and out of it again.
Maybe I'm not able to review this objectively, maybe I can't see someone else's experience as equally as valid as mine. I can't say I enjoyed it. the writing was good, she can put words together well. But it was curiously unemotional, it barely seemed to flicker from a strange flatness of emotion. I can't recommend it,. I didn't hate it, but I can't say I feel positive towards it either. OK is as good as it gets.
I listened to it on audiobook, and found Helen Macdonald's reading voice to be clear, melodic and almost mesmorizing. >26 KateVz:, I agree that most authors shouldn't read their own writing. They are not professional readers or actors, and most often I find their voices to be odd or distracting, too close or too far from the microphone, they speak too quickly or they mumble, and in the worst cases, they have nose whistles or minor speech impediments. I have learned to steer clear of books read by the author unless highly recommended to me.
>27 Helenliz:, everyone deals with grief in their own way. When unemotional or "suppressed," coming to terms with grief can be difficult. To me, H is for Hawk was at its core an existential examination of how to conquer death, and, as a result, to cope with grief. These ideas arise primarily from the Pulitizer prize winning Denial of Death by Ernest Becker. Macdonald was already a falconer, so she had an idea of how death is part and parcel of that sport, and to control the bird of prey is, to some extent, to give the falconer power over life and death. While grieving her father's death, she sought to train what is thought to be the most difficult of the birds of prey, the goshawk.
The T. H. White sections of the book are an analogy through which the reader can understand White's attempt to control what he viewed as the dark part of his soul through the taming of a fearsome goshawk, and how badly that went for him the more that he tried to deny and suppress his true nature. H is for Hawk, while somewhat sympathetic with White's efforts, starkly contrasts Helen Macdonald's training methods, and her results.
H is for Hawk is accessible on more than one level, but is probably most satisfying to those with a philosophical background.
I'm listening to Toni Morrison read her novel, A Mercy, and I can't imagine anyone else telling me the story of 17th C. southern colonial America from the p.s o.v. a young black slave girl, a Native People ditto, a young white woman whose family can't marry her off without shipping her west to "certain death" in Virginia, and an indentured servant from whose voice I haven't heard anything yet.
Morrison is mesmerizing; she reads beautifully in a natural poetic rhythm that makes her words sing.
Last year I chose to listen to Fannie Flagg read her novel, The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion. So much better to listen to Southern fiction read aloud in an authentic Southern voice.
Flagg has just the right light tone and she fluctuates it perfectly to convey irony, sarcasm, despair, etc. but not by acting -- just by intonation.
You can tell, my experiences of author's narrating their own works for recorded books has only been positive. Makes me look forward to listening to more writers read.
We all have different taste. I'd like to hear what you think. I did not enjoy, as a CD recording, a novel by David Balducci. Now, he didn't narrate it (unfortunately?); it was performed by several narrators two acted parts, one read the exposition. You can't imagine a more annoying way to have a thriller presented to your ear.
She: He's got a gun!
He: She said.
Different He: Say hello to the long sleep.
Him Again: He growled, poking the gun under her chin.
And so on.
Of course, I prefer non-fiction audiobooks, which is why I read this group. I just finished listening to Amy Poehler's Yes Please, which she read herself along with other celebrities and members of her family. The reading was good (of course, she is a professional) and I enjoyed the portions of the book about her growing up and her personal life.
I'm working my way through Rock the Casbah, which started slowly, but later gained traction for me.
How can you not fall for a novel that opens with a funeral service for a hated and cruel uncle whose ashes will be interred along with his sister-in-law's boyfriend's? At $800 a pop just for the burial, Mama had the foresight to buy the extra-large urn and double them up. Mutual enemies in life, they will battle through eternity in a tight space because Mama's needs must.
A debut novel by Peggy Lampman, daughter of Birmingham, scion of Alabama.
Books finished earlier this month include Those Angry Days by Lynne Olson, The Money Makers: How Roosevelt and Keynes Ended the Depression, Defeated Fascism, and Secured a Prosperous Peace by Eric Rauchway, and Age of Ambition by Evan Osnos.