Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Severed Wasp, Remains of the Day and knitting progress

The Checkered Blanket is continuing;
started scarf on size 3 needles.

I am now re-reading A Severed Wasp by Madeline L'Engle.
It's very absorbing.
It is not a tale for the faint of heart; 
it is bringing together and seeking to make sense of some
really difficult times not only in the character's lives
but in history, in this place the time and circumstances of World War II
and loss of faith, horror, relational complexities, 
a changing world and a changing moral set.
It's worth reading and gives much food for thought,
but if you are looking for a cozy, simple and light read,
this is not the book for it.
If you want to read about music, NYC, culture, questions of faith,
growing up, relationship complexities, with tragedy, horrors and hope,
than this may do the trick.
I did not really remember much of the book when I suddenly 
had this very sudden focused want of this book
that I read in my undergraduate years.
It brings together not only L'Engle's Small Rain but her
YA book The Young Unicorns and the Austin Family 
books that L'Engle has written.
I read so many of L'Engle's books when I was in undergrad;
they helped me process things, move towards further light
and influenced me in areas of music, books, culture but also
city life, need for quiet, baths and things like bath salts and power.
She really is an all encompassing author that way.

Remains of the Day: another my husband listened to 
in graduate school.
My next read after L'Engle's book.
I am trying to get through them before Great Lent.

I finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
I kept feeling at places that I'd read it before;
like when the teacher of music gets tea or coffee at the pupils house
or other details; I kept feeling like I'd read of them somewhere else...
This book to me is clearly autobiographical.
There was an irony of how Francie is growing up and questioning the
theatre and what happens if the heroine is not rescued; 
what about the continual predicament of the poor, the immigrants
and then at the end of the book there is this huge
comic reversal where the poor Mother of Francie and thus Francie and her brother
are rescued from their own poverty. 
What is being documented in this book is important not only
culturally but as a historical record of huge social and technological changes.
One of them is the loss of Francie's faith in God; 
her Grandmother Mary's character is crucial; she is not just
'the good woman/ the Saint' but a picture of the innate piety and 
love for God, the Saints and Others that 
is so deep that she can endure much suffering and
have such a meaningful death. 
I think she is painted in ways as rather weak / helpless
but to endure what she did, she had to be very strong.
The changes in the Catholic church that happened after the book was 
published in 1943 are very far reaching.
Catholics used to all fast from midnight on for Holy Communion as
Francie fails to do early in the book; the regular confession and 
monastic presence (the Aunt who is sent off to a Convent early on 
and not seen again) is significant. 
While Francie clearly still believes in the existence of Christ 
and maintains some piety, she seems to be well on her way to
being hardened to faith as something that can really be a source of help.
Of course we don't get to see Francie later on,
when she is done growing up or at least not in her teens.
This book has much to show about the power of woman for 
enduring and loving life; but it also shows a lot of
compassion for most, nearly all, the characters in the book;
and not just triumphs of woman but of Francie's Dad,
Johnny licking his alcohol addiction just days before he dies.
He dies a broken man, stripped of his union and of his strength 
but yet he won over the very thing that killed him
and the point of him doing it for the child to be born
is not lost.
It's a well written book and you can tell that the author had
been writing plays by this time; the book lends itself easily,
esp. with the dialogues, to theatre. 
And that's what I've read, am reading and hope to read...
and what I am creating.
What are you reading and creating?
Yarn Along with us!


Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

I'm currently reading a trilogy of Peter May's detective books set on the remote Scottish isle of Lewis. They are very, very "dark" indeed in places and quite graphic, but they are giving me much to think about in regards to human nature, the propensity to sin and what it means to have faith in the darkest and bleakest of circumstances.
Not back knitting yet, but hoping it won't be long :-)

karen said...

love your projects on the needles! I loved reading a tree grows in brooklyn twice. As a teen I empathized complete for Francie. As an adult I felt for the mom and all of her responsibilities and being two parents instead of one. Funny that as a teen I thought the mother a little harsh. But through the eyes of an adult she was most loving!

Reinventing Mother said...

Love your knitting colors and you have given me good thoughts for reading. I've got to find a book to latch on to!

Anonymous said...

Love the looks of your blanket on the needles! Wonderful colors too!

Laura at Beehive Rugs said...

Your knitting looks beautiful. I read a tree grows in brooklyn several years ago and really enjoyed it. Books are wonderful.

Matushka Anna said...

I really like the colors that will make up the blanket! And can you believe I've never read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? Shameful. I need to rectify that.

Desiree said...

You have motivated me to pick up another book. I finished my last novel and tried two new books. Both were really boring.
I love your yarn colors! Beautiful!

GretchenJoanna said...

You reminded me that I wanted to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, so I just ordered it for my Kindle. :-)

Lisa said...

I'll tell you - I couldn't fast from midnight, and we go to early Mass. I eat a yogurt, which seems to stay with me well. I would feel lousy otherwise, or get a headache. I suppose people were tougher back then? I don't know. Your project is pretty, and you seem to stick with it faithfully!

elizabeth said...

Lisa ~ I know; it's not easy.

We Orthodox still do it - I can usually do the mid-night on one - though I've been told I can have a bit of Orange Juice if I need it. (I used to get shaky).

However, I am a totally mess for the evening liturgies during Lent; fasting only from noon on to about 6 pm but I always need a nap in the afternoon to pull it off due to it being tired! But I must say that we are only asked to do what we can do and as we get older, things are harder and ascetical effort is lessened; same with illness; I think that only having a yougert is pretty good actually.

My point really though, in bringing this up, is that my impression today is that a lot of the ascetical life has been lost in Christianity and before, it was the norm.

Nicole said...

Wow! Certainly lots of reading. Isn't it nice when books have a nice influence over you?

Anonymous said...

You inspire me to read more! And I love the blues in your project. *hugs* :)