"The Childe...More restless than the swallow in the skies..." -Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Morning Walk for Mimi

How does one live in a small town, often go on walks, and after nine years still discover paths he has not tread? Habits sometimes keep us from discovery I suspect.

This morning I participated in a locally organized Walk to End Alzheimer's. I have lost a grandparent to this disease. I was also looking for a way to enjoy the outdoors on a wonderfully mild weekend. So I followed the 2.8 mile route, which at one point diverted from the usual streets and took me behind the local high school's football and baseball fields. Then, hooking right, I followed a lovely paved walkway adjacent to a local retirement home.

It all appeared new to me, this area of town. Mysterious at times, enticingly so at a couple of points, yet disorienting and taxing to my eyes and feet. When I made it to the finish line, a group of Girl Scout volunteers cheered me as if they knew me. I appreciated this gesture, though I did not recognize any of them. Was this, in a small measure, analogous to living with Alzheimer's?

With love and treasured memories of Mimi and all those who have left us.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pinpointing 'The Fault in Our Stars'

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's commendable how John Green keeps his teen tragedy moving right along, given that so much of the action is just suffering kids sitting in rooms. The Fault in Our Stars could easily have settled into stationary dreariness and still come out meaningful. The characters are all somewhere between likable and very likable (with one engrossing exception). They are all suffering from cancer or attached to someone who is sick. Feeling meaningful is a pretty wide target to hit with that setup.

Yet, from early on I found myself genuinely interested in Hazel, the protagonist, and her supporting cast. In particular, I was taken in by how the ailing youths wield cynicism. Most of the time, practiced as they are from chronic/terminal illness, they do so deftly--not with abandon. Sickness has forced them to grow up quick. Like seasoned adults, they pick their moments. The resulting dilemmas make for compelling scenework.

The Fault in Our Stars did move me to sniffle and tear up. If I had not been reading in public, I would have let myself sob as I read some of the later chapters. This is well-crafted, accessible, and meaningful fiction. The ending, which goes nowhere new and wallows somewhat, felt belabored to me. Yet, like the rest of the novel, it felt earned. Thanks to John Green, I will be giving young adult fiction the time of day going forward.

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