Spring Musings

This past weekend kicked off my spring break from teaching and I think this might be the best spring break I’ve had in years. I’ve gotten a lot done around the house the first half of the week and plan to work on writing the second half. My sister was in town for her birthday (March 7th) so that was a fun way to kick off the weekend.


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I finished reading Shanghai Girls for our book club this month. I think it’s going to be an interesting book to talk about in terms of structure and content.

My initial impressions of the book are mixed. I’m not the type of person who needs a neat and tidy ending (I won’t spoil it for those of you who’d like to read it), so I actually liked the symbolism of the continuing cycle of the generations that came into play at the end of story. I also liked the story of the two sisters. I felt Lisa See’s portrayal of May and Pearls’ relationship was honest and candid. The two characters were written very well. However, the overall style of the writing, for me, seemed disjointed. I think because this is a historical novel, the historical parts of it seemed heavy handed at times. The balance between the narrative and the historical fact didn’t always work. For example, you’d be caught up in a deeply personal scene between characters and then all of a sudden a fact about the Japanese invading China or the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor would sneak in. It took me out of the narrative. I suppose it is possible that Lisa See did this on purpose to mirror the disruption the characters were feeling in their own lives due to these conflicts, however it doesn’t seem consistent enough to be considered technique.

I think my biggest problem with the plot itself is that I already knew everything about the sisters as a reader. In the final climactic moment of the story, as everything comes to a head, I already knew about their flaws, so as they revealed them to each other, I just felt bored.

I am looking forward to discussing this book with my colleagues at school. Who knows my opinions may change…
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What would you do if someone invited you to their death? When I was in 10th or 11th grade I dabbled in speech in debate for a very short time. The subject of my speech? Euthanasia. Even in my teenage years when I didn’t know anything, I felt that it should be a person’s right to die. This was before I watched my aunt be ravaged by ovarian cancer. Before my grandfather was diagnosed with lymphoma. Before nineteen year olds were diagnosed with breast cancer. This was before I became aware that it cost over two million dollars to treat colon cancer in this country.

Chuck Palahniuk published “Live Like You’re Dying” in MensHealth. In this article he recounts attending a dinner party where he didn’t know the outcome was death until the guests were asked to join hands and light candles. Check out the article. It will give you some food for thought.

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