Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Internal Medicine – Terrence Holt

12 May, 2018

Internal Medicine: A Doctor's StoriesInternal Medicine: A Doctor’s Stories by Terrence Holt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before there was effective chemotherapy, children with leukemia died quite quickly, it was not a painful death, but it was of course, devastating for the family. This is a story of a German oncologist come to the US, whose background is not entirely known. He was a researcher and experimented with chemotherapy on these children for whom there were no therapies. All the children died. One little boy bled to death over a period of two hours. Torture, trauma and even more devastation for the family than can be imagined.

In The Brothers Karamazov, there is a long poem where the Grand Inquisitor confronts Jesus.

‘My God,’ I remember saying. ‘It’s the Grand Inquisitor.’ All of a sudden I was thinking about Dostoyevsky. I’d never been able to make head or tail of that part of the book, but the question that introduces it had always stuck in my mind. It goes something like this: If you could usher in the Millenium—end all human suffering, forever and ever—if you could do that, but only by torturing to death a human infant, would you do it? Could you do it?

“I didn’t understand, when I read it the first time, if there was any point to the question: it just seemed another of Dostoyevsky’s grotesque Christian paradoxes. But that was before I met Schott, before I came face-to-face with someone who had also heard the question—and answered it.

The oncologist, Schott, is asked how many children he has experimented on and how many died. Many, many, but all died, except one, Schott tells him. Then two weeks later he hangs himself.

Much later, it is discovered that the one child that survived was Schott’s son. He did all his terrible works in the hope of saving all of them.

Now we call it “drug trials” and for those in the same position as the little boy, no effective treatment and an imminent mortality, it is a lifeline. Do you think that terrible things result from the chemotherapy sometimes, terrible tortuous deaths? I do, but they are considered an acceptable risk and they are never reported in the media.

This story resonated with me because there was an English guy here with a big Bertram fishing boat who caught tuna. He was a bear of a man with ginger hair and a bushy golden beard and a loud laugh. He had oesopheagal cancer. He bled out once and was saved. The second time over two hours he ex-sanguinated. All therapies had stopped working and he’d been sent home to die.

Next day, wrapped in a sailcloth, sailing out on his own boat, his wife watched as he was buried at sea.

This book is fictionalised short stories, very well written, of difficult situations the author as an internist experienced – a man who cannot be convinced he has cancer, a woman whose claustrophia takes precedence over the oxygen mask that will save her life, and other stories. It’s all very low key and there is much to make one think. A solid 4 star read.

One story in particular has me still thinking. The author is working in a psych ward with patients who eat garbage and needles. He comes to the same conclusion r. d. laing did, that the people are perfectly sane. It is their reactions to the situations that they find themselves in, these people in particular how they feel about their bodies, that they feel can only be solved by actions that are definitely not normal. This would equally apply to anorexia and Body integrity identity disorder (BIID). I wonder too, (I’m not at all pc) if it doesn’t also cover some people’s gender dysphoria? So because I’m still thinking on this, and that’s what the best books do, it’s 5 stars.

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Gratitude & Judaism v Christianity when discussing existential psychotherapy & neurology!

12 March, 2018

GratitudeGratitude by Oliver Sacks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a very short book. I had read two of the essays before, this time I got the audio book and listened to them. Sometimes it is a different experience. Just four essays written by Oliver Sacks before he died. All the links are to the essays as they were originally published.

The first essay, Mercury or the Joy of Old Age is a brief meditation on what it will mean to him to be very old, 80.

The second essay, My Own Life on learning the cancer from his eye has metastised and is now terminal. It’s quite moving.

The third essay, My Periodic Table relates his life, and the treatment for his cancer to the elements.

The fourth essay, though, the last one, is the one that stands out for me. In part because I come from a similar background, in part because my flat in London is quite literally around the corner from Sacks’ family home, although by the time I arrived there, it was only a Jewish area in a very small way. It was now an eclectic mix of young professionals, Londoners, Jamaicans and Irish. Still there was a very good bagel shop…

It is also my favourite because of a quote I have loved for a very long time, it’s by Chaim Potok, from his novel The Chosen. The quote is peculiarly apposite as Sacks’ cancer started in his eye.

“Human beings do not live forever, Reuven. We live less than the time it takes to blink an eye, if we measure our lives against eternity. So it may be asked what value is there to a human life. There is so much pain in the world. What does it mean to have to suffer so much, if our lives are nothing more than the blink of an eye?

I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing; but the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing; but the man who lives the span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not automatically given to life.

It is hard work to fill one’s life with meaning- that, I do not think you understand yet. A life filled with meaning is worthy of rest. I want to be worthy of rest when I am no longer here.”

The essay Sabbath is a perfect elucidation of that quote by a man who gave life meaning to many despairing people and after a long life well-lived, deserved his eternal rest.

Alev HaShalom, rest in peace, Oliver.

__________

message 1: by Will
WillBeautiful. I read these NYT essays online just after finishing his autobiography and thought they were some of the most moving pieces he had ever written.

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message 2: by Choko
ChokoGreat review, thanks!

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message 3: by Caroline
CarolineWhat a wonderful review…

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message 4: by Kalliope
KalliopeI was eyeing this recently… Glad to encounter your review.

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message 5: by Forrest
ForrestThis review is inspiring!

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Petra XKalliope wrote: “I was eyeing this recently… Glad to encounter your review.”

The links to all the essays are there, so you can read the book like that. A freebie with no review required! If you do, I hope you enjoy them.

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Amy (Other Amy)Fantastic review, Petra. I will definitely be reading these when I get a quiet moment.

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message 8: by [deleted user]
Great review there, Petra

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Petra XThanks all. I really appreciated all those lovely comments.

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message 10: by [deleted user]
I’m sorry, when i commented i forget to like it.

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Iris PLovely review Petra, enjoyed it very much…

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message 12: by Michael
MichaelI love the wisdom you’ve found to answer toe Potok quote. Reminds me a bit of my favorite Leonad Cohen line: We are so small between the stars, so large against the sky. Still, the problem of suffering looming so large isn’t really answered, but as one of the largest unsolved problems from Job on down that’s quite understandable.

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Petra XMichael wrote: “Still, the problem of suffering looming so large isn’t really answered…”

I think suffering and pain have to be defined before answering the ‘problem’. Potok differentiates ‘pain’ as in the world. Well there is plenty of that. ‘Suffering’ is something personal. He puts ‘suffering’ up against ‘meaning’. Meaning, in the context of the quote is being successful at something, not a one off, but something that takes time and effort that has made a difference in the world. (Perhaps raising children successfully, perhaps discovering a cure for cancer). That would make us happy. And that offsets the suffering.

The pain of the world doesn’t need to be addressed because it is just part of the human condition, I think Potok means, and we can lift ourselves above it by giving life meaning.

Does that make sense? I know what I want to say but I don’t think I have expressed it well enough.

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message 14: by Michael
MichaelPetra X wrote: “Michael wrote: “Still, the problem of suffering looming so large isn’t really answered…”

I think suffering and pain have to be defined before answering the ‘problem’. Potok differentiates ‘pain’…”

Seems a germ of somethimg fresh yet connected to a long line of efforts to formulate why we are on Earth. Part of what people struggle for to account for resilience (Rabbi Kushner and Frankl before they invented the word). Lot of good juice from writers near their end sometimes, when their back is against the wall and they don’t want to go gentle into that good night. I got a lot of good clarity like that from Hitchen’s Mortality. Other writers get less clear and more mystical or hyperbolic. Grief over another’s loss, impending or in the aftermath, leads writers to look at the puzzle of life and death and suffering in a burst of creativity as well. Thinking of Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Harding’s Enon.

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message 15: by Petra X (last edited Dec 04, 2015 06:41AM) rated it 5 stars
Petra XChaim Potok, a Rabbi, was saying (to me) in this quote nothing with deeper meaning. That is the genius of the quote. It is clear and precise.

Christianity and Judaism are two completely different paths. Christians think there should be just one. That is part of their purpose and reason for being here. Jews think it is just one path and Christianity another (and Islam etc. others) and they can all run alongside each other. Perhaps this is because more than anything Jews started off as, and remain, a tribe who live in a certain (and endlessly obsessive way) and tribes can coexist with others.

It is very Christian to ask ‘why are we here’ and therefore to look for the purpose of their existence (and meaning) in life. I know that is an essential part of Christian life and it generally comes out as ‘to serve’, to convert people to also being Christian, to get them to ‘see the light’, to find the reason God put them here. The corollary is that if you see the light you will not be punished in the hereafter with all those that do not recognise Jesus, but will be ‘saved’ and lived for all eternity.

But there is nothing like this in Judaism. It is a much more existential take. There isn’t an aferlife to be saved for, so Jewish philosophy doesn’t include the why are we here, how do we divine our God-given purpose and what do we need to do to save ourselves and others?

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message 16: by Michael
MichaelPetra X wrote: “Chaim Potok, a Rabbi, was saying (to me) in this quote nothing with deeper meaning. That is the genius of the quote. It is clear and precise. Christianity and Judaism are two completely different …”

Fascinating. Thanks for taking the time for the synthesis. Was always fascinating how Sachs could parse how his patients made meanings through the distortions of the altered neural experience. I never thought of how his Jewishness might have affected his lens. I loved to get some of his family origins from “Uncle Tungsten” and think I will enjoy these essays. I keep thinking about the characters who come to your bookstore looking a certain books to inform their search for meaning on quirky paths.

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Petra XMichael wrote: “..how his patients made meanings through the distortions of the altered neural experience. I never thought of how his Jewishness might have affected his lens…”

I think his Orthodox upbringing did. Christianity is directed towards salvation and earning an afterlife through believe in Jesus, Fate, “things happen for a reason” and “God never sends you more than you can bear” and the idea of being tested or being here for a purpose are all foreign to Judaism.

Jews aren’t even allowed to question an afterlife being as we cannot know, all that is said is “eternal rest” .* Everything else is continually questioned and there is no authority, any rabbi or none is an authority. So Jews are entirely of this life.

The questioning of everything starts very young perhaps as soon as we can read. Sitting in the synagogue following the passage of the Torah being read in the Chumash is kind of boring. The passage is printed in Hebrew and English and the bottom of the page is Rashi, who interprets the passage word by word. Later, in Cheder (Hebrew school analagous to Sunday school but four nights a week plus Sundays) Rashi will be d questioned and other viewpoints including the students own will form part of the discussion. There is never a right answer, not even Rashi’s. It’s the arguments that count, you believe something means whatever it does to you. I think that’s where Sacks was coming from.

*There is the somewhat mythological resurrection that will happen ‘some day’ but this appears to have arisen in medieval times. Also there is plenty of belief in the afterlife among individuals no doubt derived from the desire that all is not lost with loved ones after death and influenced by popular culture.

I’m an existentialist, I don’t believe in any religious stuff at all. I just know it because of my upbringing. But in a non-religious way I did apply it to my son, maybe that’s why he’s become a lawyer. (Argumentative!)

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JonathanLovely

Mother of God

10 March, 2018

Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western AmazonMother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon by Paul Rosolie
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was very eager to read this book as I had spent three months up the Amazon living in a settlement of Caboclo Indians. These are mixed race from the rubber boom of the 19th century. They hadn’t gone to the cities to live but remained in the jungle intermarrying with those they called ‘the painted men’. They had no contact with tourists of any kind and I was the first non-Indian to have visited them.

How I got there was I was sailing around the world with three friends and when we got to Brazil, they all went to Rio de Janeiro and I thought it was my one and only chance to go up the Amazon. Over the next month I went first to Belem, then Santarem ending up in Manaus. I spent a few weeks working out how to avoid the tourist routes and arranged tours. I was in a travel agency when the guide, an Indian, said he was going back home for three months and did I want to come? We negotiated a price and then after a fantastic two day journey sailing on river boats, canoes, a bus (it got stuck at a pot hole big enough to sink it in which Victoria Regina lillies 6′ across were growing) and finally walking we got to Lake Amañas in Amazonas.

40 or so people lived around this lake which was so big it took a river motor boat 2.5 hours to sail around. A few people lived in houses on stilts, one with the most beautiful parquet floor a la William Morris I have ever seen, but most on floating houses. I lived in the latter. The dish-washing and toileting arrangements involved holes in the sweet-smelling wood floor with pirañas waiting to clean the plates or receive… offerings.

My days were filled with fishing with seine nets and leaky pirogues, hunting with spears and dogs, music on tiny little guitars and panpipes and visiting the people who lived around the lake. I was most impressed by the medicine man who was as graceful and beautiful as a ballet dancer and who applied sound hygenic and herbal principles to his work, he wasn’t a shaman. I learned how to catch crocodiles in my bare hands although I only did it once (it was enough!)

So when the author writes about his trips into the jungle, I’m not exactly ignorant and he is writing to impress with things he says are unique but in fact are quite everyday.

The Amazon rises and falls 40′ a year from the melt-water of the snow in the Andes. This means that the forest can be flooded for part of the year, then it is known as igapo, and trees quite tall can look like little bushes when you manoeuvre your leaky canoe around them. I arrived when the waters had gone down considerably and on dry land there was a small tree with a dead and stinky anaconda draped from not far above the ground, over the top and down to the ground again. It was bigger than anything in the Guinness book of world records and eclipsed the author’s biggest ever 25′ one. The author said he fantasised that if he had taken a picture it would have been on the front cover of Time. Judging by the size of the tree the dead one I saw was between 35-45 ft. long. The Indians I was with said that it was a big snake, unusual but not unique and that they left it there as a warning to other snakes not to come near.

Another thing was when the author described the ‘rarely-seen landscape of floating islands’ by moonlight. These floating islands were common on the lake where the river flowed very slowly through. They vary greatly in size from a small rug upwards. They are made up of matted grass roots, the beautiful water hyacinth and small bushes. I was told you can’t walk on them, although the big ones will support your weight because they are full of biting ants. Also, in the daytime, crocodiles hide under them for the shade.

Once, when I was visiting the medicine man I tied up my canoe to the bank but when I came back an hour or two later I found myself land-locked by a huge island, the size of a football pitch. All you can do is push it with the paddles, it’s a heavy job, until it starts to part and move off slowly. They are never stationary for long.

The last example I want to write about is his encounter with ‘rare, fast-moving’ morpho butterflies. So rare apparently that his Indian friend takes a leaf to wrap up a dead one the author found in a parcel. I was out hunting one day with the medicine man’s son. We had two dogs with us and spears and found ourselves in a beautiful little glade with a small pool in the middle and sunlight shafting down from high up above the canopy. There were morphos everywhere! Although the author says they were very fast fliers, these ones were taking it easy. Their huge, hand-size wings, glimmering and shining all the blues a sky can be, as they glided around the glade sometimes settling on us. One brushed my cheek with a wing and left a drift of angel dust. It was like an enchantment.

The author left the Amazon and went to India. He became just the sort of bleeding heart white liberal that infest the Caribbean sitting on committees to preserve the natural environment or even taking it back and not giving a damn about how the locals are supposed to make a living. They’ve made their pile, they’ve got a house and family ‘back home’ now they want to see a paradise preserved for their winter homes.

Conservation is important. Good conservation is taking necessary progress into account and negotiating a way through that. When that isn’t done, people will remain not just poor when they can see they needn’t be, but bitter and seek to take what they can. Poaching, burning, corrupt politicians (and huge foreign conglomerates) are their weapons.

So what finally got me to put the book down was this sentence that shows the attitude of the author that he finds elevated and admirable and I find beyond irrelevant:

“What is it about our species that allows us to watch sitcoms and argue over sports while cultures and creatures and those things meek and green and good are chopped, shot and burned from the world for a buck? “

All creatures are not meek and good, but his point is, as is with a lot of propaganda, if you can’t work it through the facts, then go for the emotions, guilt-trip ’em. It is implied that we should get off our lazy arses and fill our days and evenings with meaningful work towards conserving the wildlife of this planet just like he does, no time for levity, frippery or going to the pub.

This is a bit like blaming people for the problems of pollution and Garbage on the planet when really it is industry, from cafes on up, that are responsible for over 95% of it. As long as it’s the individual doing their best to be green, we will get swallowed by a massive wave of communal self-congratulation and governments, industry, banks and businessmen will continue on in their own sweet way, destroying the planet for money. This should not be an emotional issue as it is sold, it certainly isn’t to industry or the banks. So that sentence of his and its import made me dnf this book.

Now it could be that if I didn’t know the Amazon so well, didn’t live on a beautiful island where conservation and progress are in opposition but forever butting up in the middle, that I would have enjoyed this book. Instead I found it to be ego-driven with the author’s great delight in being such an interesting person. He wasn’t. His adventures weren’t spectacular to me and the unique events were commonplace.

Two stars. One extra because it was quite well-written.

______________________

This was how I got up the Amazon with the The Forsyte Saga.
This is how to catch crocodiles in your bare hands and where floating islands play a part.

Stamboul Train

25 February, 2018

Stamboul TrainStamboul Train by Graham Greene

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like Greene, I liked that the book was entertaining, social commentary and political all at the same time, a hallmark of Greene novels. What I didn’t like and what really upset me, is the marking out of someone as Jewish. Rant follows! If you are not Christian, not White or not able-bodied you might well identify with it.

I have no idea if anyone else in the story, in many, many stories, newspaper articles, tv reportage, online news sites, are Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist or White. But Jews, Jews have to be identified. Especially if they are in finance, although in Greene’s story, he wasn’t. Bankers and other financiers who are not Jewish are not identified by their religion, only Jews. Are there more Jews in banking than any other industry? No. In London there is a joke that on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, you can’t catch a taxi. Who would think of mentioning that a taxi driver was Jewish?

It isn’t necessarily anti-Semitism in any shape of form, but something of the Nazi doctrine remains (yes, I know it dates back to Roman times but this is the 21stC and we know about genetics now) that Jews, whether they are from Zimbabwe, Eastern Europe or Malaysia are all really one race and no one should forget that and all that the writer wants to imply (usually negative stuff).

That’s some baggage there for all of us born Jewish whatever religion or philosophy we actually espouse.

It is no longer considered polite or politically-correct to point out that some woman is actually a transgendered pre-op male. ie. A man. We have to rightfully consider not only their feelings but that (unless you are going to sleep with them) it really doesn’t matter anyway. But somehow being Jewish does.

I am a redhead with green eyes (see my profile pic). I have been married twice, once to a White Catholic and once to a Black, Anglican guy from the island. When people write books or newspaper articles, they don’t mention things like my first ex was White or a Catholic or my second was Anglican. My present partner is White and an atheist. They would probably mention that my second was Black and definitely that I was Jewish.

Why is Catholic not important? Why is Anglican not important? Why is atheist not important? Why is Black important? Why does my mixed race son who looks White have to have it pointed out in articles that he is Black, and Jewish, do people think he might pass as a White Christian which is somehow wrong, somehow fooling people if it wasn’t pointed out?

Comments:

message 1: by Hanneke
HannekeYou are quite right to point that out, Petra. It is certainly very strange that it gets mentioned and not if you are of a different denomination.
Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast)I haven’t read this but definitely have noticed the phenomenon. It’s really prevalent with race in fiction, I’ve found—it’s always assumed that the protagonist in an English-speaking country is white, even if their skin colour is never mentioned, but people of colour are always identified by their “chocolate skin” or their “cinnamon skin” and all manner of other identifiers.
message 3: by Greta (last edited Feb 23, 2018 06:18PM)
GretaI’m glad someone finally draws attention to this. It bothers me too. If it’s not relevant, there’s no need to mention race, religion, skin color or whatever. I recently read a memoir written by an “Arab-American” man. The description and half of the reviews mentioned this, although it wasn’t in the least relevant, so I didn’t mention it in my review, and referred to him by his name, like we normally do. What also annoys me, is that women in fiction are mostly referred to by their looks, and to which guy they belong : “A clever detective and his beautiful assistant” ; “an average guy and his beautiful girlfriend”; “a charming man and his beautiful wife”. It makes me so angry sometimes that I want to (ab)use my power as a librarian and change the description 🙂

Petra XGreta wrote: “It makes me so angry sometimes that I want to (ab)use my power as a librarian and change the description 🙂 …”

I don’t see that as an abuse of power. Do it!

I do see Arab-American from the point of view that very large numbers of Americans, it seems to me, want the prefix as in African-American, Italian-American etc.

“The beautiful glamour model turned up for the meeting dressed in a form-fitting and revealing red Victoria Beckham bandage dress to give evidence against Harvey Weinstein”

Why not, “against fat, ugly, Harvey Weinstein wearing a navy Brooks Brothers suit that bulged at the seams”?

LOL it would be funny wouldn’t it if men were described like that.

message 5: by Ivonne
Ivonne RoviraIt’s amazing how many novels from the 1920s through the 1950s have gratuitous mentions of Jews. It’s jarring to 21st century readers. As you noted, they don’t randomly identify people as Catholics or other Christian denominations.
message 6: by Lyn

Lyn ElliottI agree that allocating labels to mark Jews, blacks, Muslims as different, at best, is intrinsically racist, no matter what the context or the outcome.

message 7: by Jonathan

JonathanEarly Agatha Christie books often have negative, stereotyped Jewish characters too. Come the late 30s they disappeared, hopefully due to some feelings of compassion and remorse. Books help us remember what people who were other than white Christians had to deal with – and read about. Still winds me up too though!

 message 8: by Ina
Ina Cawlthe old Jewish stereotype and most people who believe in it have never met or befriended Jewish person.
being Somali i get a glimpse of when your identity is stereotyped into something negative

Petra XJonathan wrote: “Early Agatha Christie books often have negative, stereotyped Jewish characters too. …”

Agatha Christie was a racist, homophobic, classist and very anti-Semitic. She was a horrible, horrible person. Her depictions of Jews were invariably nasty, she wrote about servants as “simple” and “vapid”. In 1939, despite being told that the word was offensive (in the Uk, even back then) she called a book, Ten Little Niggers. This was later changed to Ten Little Indians and eventually became, And Then There were None.

Petra XIna wrote: “being Somali i get a glimpse of when your identity is stereotyped into something negative”

Agatha Christie was vile about Muslims, Arabs and anyone not white too, Agatha Christie – ten racist moments.

Ina, if you came to the US you would get more than “a glimpse” of what it means to be Black and Muslim, it would be full in your face.

message 10: by Petra X (last edited Feb 24, 2018 05:07AM) rated it 4 stars
message 11: by Greta (last edited Feb 24, 2018 05:21AM)

GretaPetra X wrote: “Greta wrote: “It makes me so angry sometimes that I want to (ab)use my power as a librarian and change the description 🙂 …”

“The beautiful glamour model turned up for the meeting dressed in a form-fitting and revealing red Victoria Beckham bandage dress to give evidence against Harvey Weinstein”

Why not, “against fat, ugly, Harvey Weinstein wearing a navy Brooks Brothers suit that bulged at the seams”?

LOL it would be funny wouldn’t it if men were described like that.”

Laughing. You should be a librarian and change the book descriptions. You definitely have more imagination!

Greta wrote: “Laughing. You should be a librarian and change the book descriptions. You definitely have more imagination! …”

It substitutes for having a life!

message 13: by Ina

Ina CawlPetra X wrote: “Ina wrote: “being Somali i get a glimpse of when your identity is stereotyped into something negative”

Agatha Christie was vile about Muslims, Arabs and anyone not white too, Agatha Christie – ten…”
i really know that,this is not the best time to be black and Muslim in Western world as you would feel the racism in the airport before even before you even enter the country

message 14: by Greta

GretaPetra X wrote: “Greta wrote: “Laughing. You should be a librarian and change the book descriptions. You definitely have more imagination! …”

It substitutes for having a life!”

Ah, but you’re larger than life, Petra!

Petra XGreta wrote: “Ah, but you’re larger than life, Petra! …”

On a diet!

!

Jackie, Janet & Lee: The Other Side of Camelot

23 February, 2018

Jackie, Janet & Lee: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Janet Auchincloss, and Lee Radziwill -- The Other Side of CamelotJackie, Janet & Lee: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Janet Auchincloss, and Lee Radziwill — The Other Side of Camelot by J. Randy Taraborrelli
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a 21 hour audio book and I dnf’d it at 75% because it is life-sapping listening to such a shallow book about vapid women who put money first with nothing that couldn’t have been and perhaps was, written in something like the Daily Rag – DailyMail.co.uk of course or the Enquirer. Except the book does expose the media-whipped up spin of the adulation of the undeniably beautiful Jackie as utterly misplaced. She was a gold-digger pure and simple. And a cunt.

The awful writing (this is a biography not chicklit) and worse narration – Hundreds of sails like a host of butterflies composing a backdrop for the party. One guest gasped and said, “I don’t believe it. It’s not real. It’s being produced by Walt Disney.” But it was just another example of the Auchincloss style.Janet Auchincloss knew that the cruise were scheduled and she had guessed that they would arrive in time to help decorate her daughter’s wedding. It did! And in her chosen colours: white on blue. (Narrator gives an excited sort of giggle at “In her chosen colours.”

Fact-checking – “In the fall of 1966, Jamie Auchincloss was studying at Cambridge in London.” Cambridge University is a couple of hours away on the train, about 70 miles.

Yet again, Jackie dumps a man because he isn’t rich enough although she as Jack Kennedy’s widow is very wealthy herself. – “Jackie was with the architect Jack Warnecke for two and a half years. They were going to marry although a date had not been set. He ignored his business for Jackie, lavishing her with everything she wanted. He phoned her to tell her that he was in a little trouble, he owed the bank about $1M (about $8M now). He said if they were going to get married she should know. He ended the phone call by saying, “I love you.” She replied, “Goodbye for now, Jack. And that was that.

Why Jackie is a world-class cunt – Lee “Princess Radziwill” – a title she insisted upon although her husband had actually given up his many years before they were married, had been having an extra-marital affair with Ari Onassis for over six years. Naturally there were tabloid and Enquirer articles and photographs. Ari never stopped having an affair with the opera singer Maria Callas. Lee had not discussed her affair with either her mother (who knew and had been to see Ari) or Jackie. Therefore when Jackie was deep in vodka and wondering if she should have finished with Warneke over money when she “loved” him, was invited to Skorpios by Ari she could pretend to herself that she wasn’t really having an affair with her sister’s boyfriend as she hadn’t been officially “told” about it.

(When Ari started to seriously court Jackie, he dumped Lee by merely never being available to her or returning her calls. Lee was naturally very upset but what could she do when she’d called out her husband on his affaire? They were all a bunch of phenomenally wealthy, entitled assholes. The veneer of charm and manners doesn’t actually cover up their gutter behaviour towards each other)

Jackie was unkind to her sister in other ways too, like not even once going to the theatre to see Lee’s debut as an actress, screwing Peter Beard who again was

Jackie sells herself, cash up front. – As the gentleman said to the beautiful girl, ‘Would you spend the night with me for a million dollars?’ Yes, she replied. Right he said, now we’ve established what you are, let’s get down to a sensible price. Or up.

Jackie, maintaining the same fiction that she didn’t know Ari was her sister’s lover, married Ari. But before she did, she got her in-laws, the Kennedy’s to get her a premarital settlement of cash down, $20M (in today’s money) and $1M for each of her children. Having sold herself she then refused to discuss it as talking about money was “unsavory”. Ari continued his affair with Maria Callas and Jackie continued spending on “nice” things.

Queen of the Fakes, supremo of the golddiggers, Janet Auchincloss, – Janet had kept her alcoholic, gambler of a first husband and father to Jackie and Lee away from John Kennedy’s inauguration (and also stopped him from giving away his daughter and her wedding to Kennedy) primarily because she thought he might be interviewed and give away who Janet really was. Ashamed of her ‘common’ Irish Catholic forebears, she had invented an English and French history for her family, one where her family had never been in trade. Her second husband, whom she was with for 39 years, was impotent. She had to weigh up phenomenal wealth against real love and sex. But money was her passion.

Maternal disapproval: Jackie loses her virginity but does not gain a boyfriend
– When she found out that Jackie had lost her virginity in an elevator to a one-night stand, she was upset, not just that her daughter would do such a thing, but do it with a man who wasn’t truly wealthy. When this was pointed out to Jackie, she saw sense. No point in contacting the man again.

Janet’s bible, authored by Psalms Kalu He says, in the blurb, “The fact that you are poor is evidence that you are not a good Christian!”

Notes on reading and how I was fooled by Jackie’s “class” – I always thought that Jackie was the epitome of elegance and class. But then “class” depends on whose defining it. I mean a gracious, well-mannered balanced bearing that is welcoming to all. Like Princess Diana had. But a lot of people define class as being at the top of the social tree and having a lot of money and a facade of being gracious and well-mannered etc. From this book I see that Jackie didn’t have the first but the facade of the second fooled me.

Notes on reading and how exactly Jackie dumped her first fiance because although rich, her mother said he wasn’t rich enough – Jackie was engaged to Jack Husted and he had been invited to the Auchincloss’ for a party. Janet, Jackie’s mother, had ascertained that he had no family money and “only” earned $17,000 a year (about $160,000 in today’s money). She said to Jackie that if she married him she would never be able to travel and live well. So Jackie when taking her fiance to the airport, slipped off her engagement ring and put it in his pocket. As Jack later said, she was icy cold and never spoke to him again. But Jackie felt bad about this and so, good Christian that she was, went to church to pray to know if she’d done the right thing.

So why am I giving this awful book 2 stars? One because it at least fascinated me enough I listened to three-quarters of it, and one because there was an ah-ha moment in the book, at least for me. My mother didn’t love me but adored my brother. Janet loved both Jackie and Lee, but not equally, Jackie always came first, and Lee said (paraphrasing) that if you didn’t receive praise for your accomplishments and looks when you were young, you were forever after inclined to doubt compliments and never quite believe in yourself. So true.

The Metamorphosis, or My Unfaithful Cockroach of a Husband (ex)

2 February, 2018

The MetamorphosisThe Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A paraphrase. When my ex-husband went out one evening from unsettling dreams of how faraway his wife was, he went out drinking and whoring. Next morning he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin. A cockroach. Much he knew it though. None of his friends recognised it, in fact they preferred the cockroach to the person he had been and he had a great time. When it was time for him to come home, armour-plated as he was he crushed his wife underfoot (well fists and kicks, but same thing).

Unlike Kafka’s poor cockroach whom no one could come to terms with and is destroyed by their ultimate hatred of creepy, crawly insects that roam the house, my ex was embraced by all and became the most popular party person. Although at one stage I did have to fight off a woman who was swinging her handbag at me and tell a Spanish prostitute that my husband’s unwanted attentions were no business of mine.

The moral of the story is that there is more than one type of human cockroach and Kafka only wrote about one. It’s all in the shell, if you are ugly, big, brown and with six legs you are hated. But handsome, big brown and with only two, you are adored.

Read this book back in 1999 and loved it. Social isolation for visible or invisible characterists reverberated with me, as did the cold gang mentality that rules once each has identified itself as a sympathetic member.

5 star book
2 star ex husband (I did get my son so he gets a star for that).

The Dictionary of Cliches

22 July, 2017

The Dictionary of ClichesThe Dictionary of Cliches by James T. Rogers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My life at times has been like a soap opera. This review, you might call news of a kidnapping with apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
_________________________________________

This is an entertaining sort of book for pulling out at odd moments or when you need a topic to talk about, or for me when I need reminding about lurrrve, kidnapping, people who forge Chippendale chairs and that I once had a life.

I was sitting around the swimming pool in a marina, not looking glamorous in a bikini and owl-eye shades, but wearing beat-up shorts and flip-flops, sailor’s clothes, when I noticed this man looking at me. Not my type, not really, so I didn’t respond. He got up to get a drink and when he came back he took the lounger next to mine, smiled and opened his book. This book. A few minutes later he said, “I could say do you come here often, but that would be a cliche,” and on we went from there.

Grahame was a very nice man, a Canadian, he owned and captained a big dive boat trimaran that had a crew of six and chartered throughout the Caribbean. We went out for drinks a few times but nothing much else because I was mad for another man, Richard, who was equally mad for me but his wife was rather an obstacle, even after she’d left before we were even together. So we were just mad for each other and often at each other, and having drinks and long, soulful talks.

I heard that Richard was sailing away soon; he wanted to sell the classic wooden yacht he’d restored with the same techniques he used for forging the antique furniture he sold for huge amounts of money, and in desperation I decided to kidnap him. I got a seafront villa on a deserted beach where the sea is so wild few people go. I stocked the fridge with champagne, grapes and chocolates and a joint in case that was his poison, and put in my bag his favourite brand of cigarettes. At the bar I induced him to come to the car and was just going to drive it off when he said, “I’m not going ANYWHERE with you” and got out of the car and went back to the marina bar. So did I. I was furious and humiliated. Revenge would come publicly and instantly.

I radioed Grahame on his boat to come and meet me in the bar and a couple of minutes later there we were, arms linked, going to my car, ‘something wrong with the handle that opens the bonnet’ I said and he got in. And I drove off.

It was a night filled with the most passionate, vengeful sex. I was so angry, he was so crazy. Everything I did was to spite Richard, but Grahame was off in his own head, complaining of extreme pain where others feel joy, telling me of the creepy thoughts of death he always had with sex.

Next morning I took him back to the marina in time for breakfast and Richard and I resumed our strange circling of each other. We always contrived to be in the same place day and night. Occasionally Grahame would persuade me to have a drink, but my interest, such as there was, had gone.

One day Grahame wasn’t there anymore and a friend came over to tell me that he had bought the trimaran and Grahame had gone home to Canada, voluntarily going to a mental home, but that he’d left me a book. This one. A dictionary of cliches.

(What happened after that with Richard involved voodoo and curses and more rubbish like that, but I never heard from Grahame again).

This story was full of cliches Do you believe any of it?

 

(It was all true and considerably toned down!)

 

The Perfect Storm

14 May, 2017

The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the SeaThe Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea by Sebastian Junger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I didn’t see the film so I came fresh to the book. It had a lot of impact on me because I have been in a small boat, a 34′ catamaran in a 4 day storm out in the Atlantic before Brazil. It wasn’t a ‘perfect storm’ but it was still rough, with huge seas and a constant exhausting beating against the wind. It prevented us going into Fernando do Noronha, our next stop, we couldn set a course for the archipelago at all. So I could not just see but feel what a difficult position they were in.

I know quite a bit about sword-fishing. I’ve read Linda Greenlaw‘s books. An aside – there are very few countries and vessels in the world where a woman would have the opportunity to swordfish let alone be a captain. It is an extremely physical job, setting hooks and squid bait, on spooled longlines hat run for miles and rip your fingers. The hooks are so big they could rip right through a man’s palm if the spool should run on. Then there is the killing of the swordfish when hauled in, gutting and icing them. As well as directing the crew, a hard-drinking group of macho men, maintaining the boat, it’s structure, mechanics and electronics. The electronics, depth sounders, radar and the like are not just for navigation but crucial in working out where the fish are. This was Linda’s strength, this finding the schools of swordfish.

Not only was Greenlaw one of an infintessimally small number of women swordfishing, but she was the most successful captain of all time. Where the normal catch is 1 ton a day, for seven days straight she hauled in 5 tons each day. The money from the catch on a boat is 50% to the owner, then the expenses are taken off and a set formula applied to the rest where the captain takes the most and the newest deckhand the least. That month the deckhand took home $10,000.

How do I know about swordfishing? My ex-husband was Chief Fisheries Officer and used to supervise the boats that came to fish in our waters. Because the permits they bought were limited in what they could do and the by catch could not be sold, a local would always be on the boat with them, sometimes my ex. It was all quite fascinating.

Swordfish have a long, barbed extension to their jaw that is both a weapon of attack and used to slash prey fish to weaken them. When they are hauled on board alive, they are very brave and will attack to the last. They can kill a man, or almost as bad, a wound from the sword will almost always become infected and the boat might be very far in distance and time from home.

There are always by-catch pulled up with the swordfish. There are the tuna. If you’ve only seen one dead held aloft by a fisherman it’s as if you’d only ever seen a rose browned with frost and never in it’s full bloom. Sailing across the ocean, three Atlantic blue fin tuna, each about 15’ swam in front of the boat maintaining an exact distance for more than hour. They were gorgeous, a rainbow of shimmering colours like sunlight on oil, like just beneath the surface. But the tuna aren’t a problem, they are gutted and thrown on to the ice along with the swordfish – generally a perk of the fishermen, the boat owner doesn’t get a share of by-catch.

The problem is the live sharks pulled up. They are vicious and their carcass is dangerous. It alone will rip the skin from a man. It’s not smooth, it’s not even sandpaper-like, it’s actually covered in tiny teeth, denticles. Sharks have to be shot as they being pulled up. The fishermen sometimes take the teeth as mementos and to sell. The flesh has to be thrown overboard immediately before it spoils and stinks of ammonia, piss. If shark is bled within minutes of being caught, and then iced, it is delicious. It’s a firm, white fish with a mild flavour. Very nice deep fried in the Trinidadian style of bake and shark with chives, thyme, garlic and hot peppers.

The book was a blow-by-blow account of the storm and how it affected the crew, their family on shore, and the boat, Andrea Gale, Linda Greenlaw’s sister ship. Linda’s boat was the Hannah Boden, both owned by Alden Leeman. The boat foundered amidst terrible seas and all crew were lost and never found. It was a harrowing story, and because I knew the subject so well, I lived through it and felt it and it upset me a great deal. The author, Sebastian Junger, has that power to bring you into the story and involve you. I did enjoy it, but perhaps not in quite the way one usually uses the word “enjoy”.

You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know – Prosopagnosia

26 March, 2017

You Don't Look Like Anyone I KnowYou Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know by Heather Sellers *After reading

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first two thirds of this book were the author using the reader as a therapist and just letting out one long blast of hatred towards her family for being so appalling. Or at least that’s the way she tells it. There was absolutely nothing to do with prosopagnosia even vaguely hinted at.

The last third of the book was about prosopagnosia. Sellers sets herself up as an expert and authority on this neurological disorder that she and I share. Having read Prosopagnosia, Face Blindness Explained. Prosopagnosia Types, Tests, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Research and Face Recognition all covered, I don’t share her confidence. The author says she can’t recognise people often, but then reading carefully it seems she can recognise people very often but not reliably, which is what I have.

I’ve had lunch with someone I see at least three times a week and thought I recognised them later in the supermarket but wasn’t sure. However I recognised their handbag (I gave it to her) so that was ok. Facial recognition is by a part of the brain that is discrete, that is all other kinds of recognition are not handled by that area.

For the few people I have met who know they are face blind to some degree, there are various other problems, some of which are to do with interpreting facial expressions which look as though the person has Aspergers, but in fact they don’t. Not all of the things we share are negative, all of us are somewhat intellectual and most of us are artistic as well. This leads me to believe that mild prosopagnosia may just be yet another neurotype, a different kind of wiring, personality really, that is less common that the average one, but not rare, one that people are generally unaware of and just say, “I’m never any good at remembering faces”.

One thing that changed for me was that I decided to be open, to ‘come out’ as it were and tell everyone, so that people would stop thinking I was sometimeish or cutting style on them by not speaking to them. However, half the people laugh and say they don’t believe it and the other half look at me like I’m mad and they don’t believe it either. The only people who do believe it are people who know me well and are forever prodding me when they see someone I know and if I don’t recognise them will tell me their name first. So all I’m doing by telling people I’m face blind is making myself look even more eccentric. What to do?

The book wasn’t a hard read and it was well-written but really reading about other people’s dysfunctional families can be extremely boring. Tolstoy’s opening lines of Anna Karenina, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” might well be true, but it doesn’t make them interesting. The book started off as a 2, degenerated rapidly to a 1 and redeemed itself ending up on a good, golden, solid five!

Comments

CecilyTwo to one to five? I can’t wait for your review! (Not that that’s meant to pressure you.)

AthenaInteresting reaction to your telling folks about your Face Blindness. I have Nominal Aphasia (difficulty accessing words) & have had the same reaction from all but my closest friends. Neurological conditions seem to trigger enough discomfort to some that they go into denial of both the condition & persons with the condition. Sorry you have to live with it, Petra.

Petra EggsAthena wrote: “Interesting reaction to your telling folks about your Face Blindness. I have Nominal Aphasia (difficulty accessing words) & have had the same reaction from all but my closest friends. Neurological …”

I’ve never heard of nominal aphasia. Is it difficult to live with? Prosopagnosia isn’t but the social consequences of it can be.

PattyMacDotCommaDid you know that this condition caused Jane Goodall a fair bit of trouble in her work with chimps? I can only imagine! http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/pa…

message 5: by Laura
LauraOliver Sacks had that problem, and spoke about it in one of his books, and made me realize that I too had prosopagnosia. I just thought I had a hard time “seeing” people. And when I dont’ recognize them, it feels just weird. And espciallly out of context. Twice now I have met parents of my daughter’s friends out of context (not with their children since they are all in college), and have just had very stilted conversations with them. Makes me feel bad, after the fact, that I didn’t know who they were until I started putting clues together from what they said.

But, back to the actual review. It sounds like you had to slog through quite a bit to get to the best bits. Not sure if I would be willing to do that.

message 6: by Petra Eggs (last edited Mar 09, 2016 07:44PM) rated it 4 stars
Petra EggsPattyMacDotComma wrote: “Did you know that this condition caused Jane Goodall a fair bit of trouble in her work with chimps? I can only imagine! http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/pa…

Yes I did know. Brad Pitt has it too.

Petra EggsLaura wrote: “Oliver Sacks had that problem, and spoke about it in one of his books, and made me realize that I too had prosopagnosia. I just thought I had a hard time “seeing” people. And when I dont’ recognize…”

A better book for finding out much more about face blindness is Prosopagnosia, Face Blindness Explained. Prosopagnosia Types, Tests, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Research and Face Recognition all covered.

Part of the problem with You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know is that there was no relationship between her upbringing and prosopagnosia. I couldn’t see why they were in the same book.

ElyseHi Petra, I, too, read this book years ago… after reading another book which I felt was even better in the topic.

But… I remember hearing a movie was going to be made of this book. I never heard more — maybe it got canned?

Fascinating disorder if people really have it.
Personally – I’m not aware of ever meeting anyone who has a full blown case of face blindness.

I learned a lot from all the comments in your thread. One after another -I knew none of the things mentioned.

message 9: by David (last edited Mar 10, 2016 02:40AM)
David CerrutiPetra, I’ve enjoyed your occasional comments about prosopagnosia. In my case it is not as severe, but does lead to some embarrassment. Oliver Sacks wrote about it in several of his books. This excerpt is from “Uncle Tungsten:”

Many years later, when I took my first book to an editor at Faber’s, she said, ‘You know, we’ve met before.’

‘I don’t think I remember,’ I said, embarrassed. ‘I can never recognize faces.’

‘You wouldn’t,’ she rejoined. ‘It was many years ago, when I was a student of your mother’s. She was lecturing on breast-feeding that day, and after a few minutes she suddenly broke off, saying, ‘There’s nothing too difficult or embarrassing about breastfeeding.’ She bent down and retrieved a small baby which had been sleeping, concealed behind her desk, and, unwrapping the infant, breastfed it before the class. It was in September 1933, and you were the infant.’

message 10: by Dov
Dov ZellerI really enjoyed your review and the thread. I don’t think I will read the memoir. (You give it four stars, but your review gives me the impression you feel ambivalent at best about the book.)

The first time I read about face blindness it was an essay in a yearly collection of American science writing, maybe a decade ago. 2007 Best American Science Writing 2007 I think.

Someone I knew at the time had a mild case of prosopagnosia. She was a professor, so she struggled a lot. When I told her about the essay I’d read, she began telling me stories of very awkward classroom situations that came about, almost daily, because she couldn’t recognize her students’s faces. It was very challenging for her and she enjoyed telling stories (I think it was nice for her to be able to laugh at something that had for so long been such a source of stress.)

I didn’t know about Jane Goodall and Oliver Sacks! Two of my heroes…

message 11: by Petra Eggs (last edited Mar 10, 2016 05:16AM) rated it 4 stars
Petra EggsElyse wrote: “Fascinating disorder if people really have it….”

So do you think I’m making it up, that I’m delusional or that I’ve got something else and am just saying I have this? That ‘if” kind of bothers me.

Actually, it not fascinating. Not at all. It is a deficit, not a positive.

Petra EggsDavid wrote: “In my case it is not as severe, but does lead to some embarrassment. Oliver Sacks wrote about it in several of his books. This exce…”

You were the baby in 1933? Or I am totally misunderstanding you?

Petra EggsDov wrote: “I don’t think I will read the memoir. (You give it four stars, but your review gives me the impression you feel ambivalent at best about the book….”

Something I really hate is people diagnosing other people with diseases and disorders and she diagnoses her mother as a paranoid schizophrenic because she told her symptoms to a therapist and he said so…. This point is laboured throughout the book. It was one of the things that annoyed me most.

The book, to me, was worth reading only if you wanted to read a dysfunctional-family story from the point of view of a very angry daughter unless you have prosopagnosia and really want to learn more about it. Otherwise it’s a 2 star.

message 14: by David
David CerrutiPetra wrote: ”Or I am totally misunderstanding you?”

Oliver Sacks was born in 1933, and was writing about himself in “Uncle Tungsten.”

message 15: by Petra Eggs (last edited Mar 10, 2016 06:48AM) rated it 4 stars
Petra EggsThanks. Sorry for being so obtuse. Uncle Tungsten is one of the very few Oliver Sacks books I haven’t read, perhaps the only one. It never appealed to me.

message 16: by Reese
ReeseAn engaging and enlightening review!

message 17: by Athena
AthenaPetra X wrote: “I’ve never heard of nominal aphasia. Is it difficult to live with? Prosopagnosia isn’t but the social consequences of it can be. “

It can be when the words won’t come (worse under stress); people I don’t know very well assume I’m stupid or stoned & give me the fish-eye, even tho they know I’m epileptic. I use a lot of mnemonics & tricks to avoid having to ‘reach’ for a word when I’m around strangers so I end up being kinda wordy sometimes.

Petra EggsDifficult, I could see. I know that people lack patience with stutterers or look at them like they are children. Is it related to epilepsy?

message 19: by Athena
AthenaPetra X wrote: “Difficult, I could see. I know that people lack patience with stutterers or look at them like they are children. Is it related to epilepsy?”

It’s related to damage in the temporal lobe & a couple other brain areas. I have Left Temporal Lobe Tonic/Clonic Epilepsy (mouthful!), so for me it’s a result of T/C seizures (grande mal). Epileptic seizures start in particular brain locations & often move out into the rest of the brain; usually the initial location suffers the most damage during seizures so in my case that’s what caused the aphasia (and amnesia, once, which was inexpressibly terrifying). Those make me very good about taking my medication! 😉

Petra EggsI’m glad you take your medication.

message 21: by Athena
AthenaPetra X wrote: “I’m glad you take your medication.”

🙂 Me too! Is Face Blindness simply “one of the many ways God tells us he loves us” (sorry, couldn’t resist the joke), or is it rooted in particular neurology, or do ‘they’ not know yet? I’ve not seen it addressed in the pop neurological journal (Neurology Today) that haunts Dr’s offices, my chief source of neuro info …

Petra EggsLots is known about it but mostly about the sort that develops after a brain injury. Interesting thing about it is that the facial recognition is restricted to one small area of the brain and has nothing to do with any other kind of recognition. To me this would say it is evolutionary and that we might think apes, perhaps even newts, all look alike, but they don’t to each other.

Petra EggsSabah wrote: “I know you said that the majority of the book was like one long blast of hatred and it only became focused on the condition in the last chapter but you’ve given this 4 stars so would you say this is still a book definitely worth reading for those little or basic understanding of face blindness? …”

No. The author, Helen Sellers, is self-obsessed and thinks tends to make her own experiences empirical and thinks that people should follow her advice because it works for her. It’s still good but better is Prosopagnosia, Face Blindness Explained. Prosopagnosia Types, Tests, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Research and Face Recognition all covered. It dragged for me in the sense that I was only looking for what would apply to me and then it was brilliant.

message 24: by Athena
AthenaPetra X wrote: “Lots is known about it but mostly about the sort that develops after a brain injury. Interesting thing about it is that the facial recognition is restricted to one small area of the brain and has n…”

Interesting. I’ll have to toss out a question to my epilepsy community & see if anyone has had issues with it since it has brain injury sources. Thanks Petra!

Petra EggsAthena wrote: “I’ll have to toss out a question to my epilepsy community & see if anyone has had issues with it since it has brain injury sources….”

This Prosopagnosia, Face Blindness Explained has all the bases covered for brain injury. On the review I wrote of it, is the check list for seeing if you have it to any degree. You might find that useful with the group since a lot of people don’t remember faces well but don’t think anything about it.

message 26: by Athena
AthenaPetra X wrote: “This Prosopagnosia, Face Blindness Explained has all the bases covered for brain injury. On the review I wrote of it, is the check list for seeing if you have it to any degree. You might find that useful with the group…”

Thank you!

message 27: by Erika
ErikaI had never heard of prosopagnosia and can only imagine how challenging it must be particularly for someone who has to deal with a lot of people that they are expected to know by sight. Question: Does prosopagnosia still occur if the person has something very distinctive about his or her face? For example, one blue eye and one green eye, or a beard with a round patch of gray. I ask because I’m interested in how that part of the brain works. For instance, if a person with prosopagnosia knows intellectually that Joe Smith has a beard with a coin-sized portion of gray will that intellectual knowledge aid them in facial recognition?

Petra EggsErika wrote: “Does prosopagnosia still occur if the person has something very distinctive about his or her face? For example, one blue eye and one green eye, or a beard with a round patch of gray. : D…”

How would I know? I don’t know when I haven’t recognised someone! I think there are people I almost always recognise and people I almost never do. But again, how do I know?

message 29: by Erika
ErikaI don’t know…I guess I was just asking a general question about how prosopagnosia functions. I hope I didn’t offend you, not my intent!

Petra EggsOh gosh no, you didn’t offend me. It was a straight answer. I can’t tell you if unusual facial features mean I remember people better, because I don’t know when I haven’t recognised someone. If I did know then I would be kind of recognising them, but I don’t. That’s the difficulty in answering your question. I could say I always remember this particular guy I like because he’s very fat and has a beard and is jolly-looking. But say I have seen him and not recognised him? I wouldn’t know…

message 31: by Erika
ErikaAh, that makes sense.

Petra EggsIt’s a problem! I don’t know what I don’t know. I only it if someone is with me and points it out or I remember later like with Imran (very rare) or people are very cold to me and I can’t think why, then I wonder.

message 33: by Ivonne
Ivonne RoviraMy daughters have autism, and they’re “face blind,” too. I wonder if all autistics have that, or if it’s a coincidence?

Very interesting review — as always — BTW.

Petra EggsIvonne wrote: “My daughters have autism, and they’re “face blind,” too. I wonder if all autistics have that, or if it’s a coincidence?”

I don’t think so. Try reading this Prosopagnosia, Face Blindness Explained. Prosopagnosia Types, Tests, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Research and Face Recognition all covered. If you have difficulty finding it, I have it as a pdf I am happy to share (since it was shared with me).

message 35: by Cecily
CecilyPetra X wrote: “I don’t know when I haven’t recognised someone!”

Shades of Donald Rumsfeld and his unknown unknowns. So frustrating for you, but I guess there is some consolation in knowing there’s a reason.

Petra EggsRumsfield was quite good on that.

Noughts and Crosses

17 June, 2016

Noughts & Crosses (Noughts & Crosses, #1)Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Reading this, I read about a quarter of it I suppose, I thought say it was written by someone white from the opposite point of view, that is whites are on top and pushing their agenda, and they wrote in this very ‘I came top of English and joined a writing circle’ kind of way, would we still praise it? Or are we being all white-liberal and this book is kind of helping us say ‘mea culpa’ and the author is very, very cynically playing on that?

And I know it’s all about we can overcome prejudice and just share the love together, but to me that is not the underlying agenda of the book at all. That’s just the hook…

You may have a totally different opinion and disagree with every word I have written above. I respect that, and am happy for discussions. You might even change my mind. But, don’t troll me…

The rest of this is about me, you might not want to bother reading it.

On the island I live on, when I arrived there were about 6,000 people, not poor, nice place to live, very difficult to get to and everyone said ‘hello’ when you passed them on the street. It became very wealthy quite quickly and the government gave many scholarships for the bright young things who wanted to go to historically-black African-American universities in the US. Some of them were staff working before college, and they were a lovely bunch.

When they got back they would come and see me from time-to-time. Mo had become a Black Muslim. He invited me to a poetry reading and said that if I heard anything against whites I shouldn’t take it on, it wasn’t directed at me. Maie came back and started a political party for youth representation, grew her locks and wrote in the paper about how whites need re-educating. I had tea with a friend, a UN official, and later another one of these kids passing our table, now a journalist, said to her, “I know you have to do business with them but you don’t have to socialise with them to.” (My friend who didn’t feel like that told me). And so it goes.

They were the new intelligensia, angry young blacks carrying a chip on their shoulder of all the ills that African-American society has to deal with in America. What they had forgotten was that the black man is king in his own country, and the island government was entirely black, and doing very well.

They are older now. They are running the colleges, the schools, the newspapers, some are aiming for politics (not quite old enough), and they are nice to your face whilst maintaining their pernicious attitudes. They teach a form of history that is fake, they worship some of the most evil people looking only to see what their attitudes are towards white people. But always very pleasant to your face. They have me caused a lot of harm whether educationally with my kids , or giving book contracts for schools to a furniture supplier rather than to the white woman and her bookshop.

So I know where this book is coming from.

Do I say that Black racism is here and all the whites are innocent victims? Somewhat, nobody white has any power really. But there is plenty of white racism, very covert, it is not our society, but it exists and is often social. You don’t get invited places, neither do your children. Some of them won’t patronise a ‘traitor’s’ business (mine) and speak disparagingly of you. They have caused me a lot of harm what with no contracts from their schools, social isolation for my kids and talking trash to me (those who don’t know me) about blacks in general. They say things like ‘when we all leave this place is going to be like Haiti again’. (It never was, it was never poor).

I do see both sides. My ex is black, from a top political family. Two of my sons are black, one has locks, he’s lovely and loud and very protective of me. Although I am their stepmother (for most of their lives) when people say as they still do, ‘she ca’an be yu mudder, she a white woman’, they will immediately say I am and none of us will say ‘step’, just mother, just sons.

My youngest son turned out white, more or less, and as long as the whites in school didn’t mix with the blacks he was invited everywhere. But then came the funeral of a Prime Minister, a brother in law and everyone knew it was my family, and the invitations stopped from most of them. At 8 my son’s hair went kinky and light brown (rather than blonde). He was blamed for everything and thrown out of the white school. The black tutor I employed charged me 5 times as much as he did locals.

I really know it from both sides.

And I know where the author is coming from and I am disgusted.