Book Report: Sick Time, Reading Time

March 23, 2023

I suppose you could accuse me of milking the situation, for I just had a cold. Nothing serious. We all get colds, but my end of the week schedule was quite open, and I certainly didn’t want to spread my germs, so I declared a time-out. I moved into the snug with books and a blanket and spent most of two days reading and napping, napping and reading. Voila! I am back to normal!

Here’s my report:

  • At the beginning of each reading session I read a poem or two in Joy Harjo’s Weaving Sundown in a Scarlet Light, 50 Poems for 50 Years. Harjo was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 2019-2022. My favorite poem so far is “Remember” and here are the opening lines:
Remember the sky you were born under,
know each of the star's stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun's birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
  • I finished reading a novel The Long-Shining Waters by Danielle Sosin. In this case the waters refers to Lake Superior in all its mystery, majesty, power and beauty. Sosin tells the story of three different women in three different time periods, 1622, 1902, and 2000. One of the women owned a bar on the North Shore and after the bar burns down she decides to drive all round the perimeter of the lake, and now I want to do that. I admit some of the descriptions seemed obscure to me, but perhaps I need to spend more time under the lake’s spell.
  • I continued reading The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer. Much of Louise Erdrich’s lecture that we attended recently focused on the Termination Act of 1953, which Treuer describes in this way:

It proposed to fix the Indian problem once and for all by making Indians–legally, culturally, and economically–no longer Indians at all.

p. 250

Under termination and relocation, unemployment skyrocketed and so did the number of Indians living under the poverty line. By 1970 half of all the Indians lived in urban areas, the single largest demographic and cultural shift in Indian country in a century and arguably more pervasive and transformative than the reservation system established in the mid-nineteenth century. A total of 1, 365, 801 acres of land were removed from trust status during this period and twelve thousand Indians lost their tribal affiliation

  • Finally, I read a short novel, The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka. The story begins in a playful way about swimmers at an underground pool. The writer’s use of parentheses engaged me, as if in conversation with her.

The rules at the pool, though unspoken are adhered to by all (we are our own best enforcers): no running, no shouting, no children allowed. Circle swimming only (direction counterclockwise, always keeping to the right of the painted black line). All Band-Aids must be removed. No one who has not taken the compulsory two-minute shower (hot water, soap) in the locker room may enter the pool. No one who has an unexpected rash or open wound may enter the pool (the menstruating among us, however, are excepted). No one who is not a member of the pool may enter the pool. Guests are permitted (no more than one per member at a time), but for a nominal daily fee.

p. 6

One of the swimmers, Alice is in the early stages of dementia and one of the rules is to “be nice to Alice.”

And even though she may not remember the combination to her locker or where she put her towel, the moment she slips into the water she knows what to do. Her stroke is long and fluid, her kick is strong, her mind clear. “Up there,” she says, “I’m just another little old lady. But down here, at the pool, I’m myself.”

p. 4

When the pool unexpectedly closes, life changes for Alice. As does the tone of the book –from playful to poignant. Alice’s dementia progresses, and it is necessary to place her in a memory care unit. Life at Bellavista pulls at the heart, as well as this trauma faced by Alice’s husband and their daughter, a reality facing so many. So well-written, but I am glad it was not longer than its 175 pages.

Before I emerged from the snug, I started another novel, The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafek. So far very good, but you will have to wait for a full report in a later post.

An Invitation

What would you want to read if you had a cold? I would love to know.

4 thoughts on “Book Report: Sick Time, Reading Time

  1. I am re-reading the old case of “For The Thrill Of It”, Leopold and Loeb. How the friendship of these two young men led to the murder of Bobby Franks.


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