Monday, December 14, 2009

Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger (Cannonball Read - Book One)

Each and every one of us must deal with loss at some point in our life. Whether it is the loss of a love or a life, we are forever affected. Sometimes, the ache is so complete, the attachment so deep, that we are willing to do almost anything to fill that void.

Audrey Niffenegger’s second novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, is a story about deep loss and deeper obsession, and about the dark pathways we are sometimes willing to tread in order to recapture lost love. The story revolves around twin sisters, Julia and Valentina, who inherit a recently deceased aunt’s entire estate, including her London apartment. The aunt, Elspeth, was the girls’ mother’s twin, and the younger twins have in common with the older sisters their physical features and their especially intense emotional connection.

The girls are confused but excited by their inheritance, since they did not know their aunt, and their mother, Edie, never spoke of Elspeth since they stopped communicating shortly after the twins’ birth. Their interest grows once they learn that their aunt’s will stipulates that they must live in her apartment for one full year before selling it, and that their parents are forbidden from entering the flat during that time period. The “older” twin (by six minutes), Julia, decides for her frail and meek sister that they will most certainly be moving to London to take advantage of the opportunity their late aunt has bestowed upon them, since living with their parents for the rest of their lives is not an attractive option.

Once in London, the girls set about learning the city, eventually meeting and befriending the neighbors that share the building they live in – Robert, their late aunt’s lover and the executor of her estate, and Martin, a shut-in with severe OCD whose wife recently left him for a new life in Amsterdam – as well as Elspeth, whose ghost is trapped in her old apartment and who spends her days seeking ways to communicate with the girls and Robert. Julia grows close to Martin, whom she views as a sort of project, and she attempts to help him overcome his disorder so he may be reunited with his estranged wife. Valentina finds herself drawn to Robert, who continues to suffer deep sadness at the loss of Elspeth, even a year after her death. Valentina also forms a bond with Elspeth’s ghost, since she is the only one who can actually see Elspeth, and spends hours at a time having conversations with her deceased aunt, with the help of a Ouija Board and the seal from a milk jug. These relationships, along with the apartment building’s proximity to a famous cemetery, and even the seasons as they play out against the backdrop of London, affect the twins and their own relationship, and alter the course of their lives in ways for which they could never have imagined or prepared themselves.

Based on my affection for Niffenegger’s first novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife, I had exceedingly high hopes for Her Fearful Symmetry. Once again, the author’s writing is captivating, and she paints a picture of London, the cemetery next to the twins’ apartment, and even the clothing worn by the twins themselves, which is so clear and colorful that even now I can close my eyes and picture it all as if I were seeing it myself. The story is an original one, the characters well-developed and the relationships authentic, but I admit I found myself a bit bored by the end of the book. I appreciated the story that was being told, and admired the beautiful language of the author, but I never became so invested in the book that I felt the excitement, fear or contempt that I know I should have at different points of the tale. It’s possible that after loving a book so well, as I did The Time Traveler’s Wife, that I felt a bit of a letdown with Her Fearful Symmetry.

Despite my own lackluster sentiments toward the book, I would still recommend it. The writing is so lovely and the story is indeed entertaining, and while I never fell in love with it, I enjoyed it and look forward to Audrey Niffenegger’s next offering.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I is a Crazy Beetch, or, Kolby Joins the Cannonball Read

I gave up blogging about a year ago in favor of Mamahood and insanity, but I'm back. Not better than ever or anything, but on a mission. I've gone and joined the second installment of Pajiba's Cannonball Read, and I'm committed to reading 52 books in one year and blogging about what I've read and whether or not it was worth the naptime I gave up to read it. Starts November 1st. Oy.

Unfortunately, Parents magazine and the lunch menu at my son's day care do not count. Unfair!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

MacCauley Culkin made it look so easy...

So, I'm home alone. Mr. Kolby, who works for the Red Cross, was deployed last Thursday to Texas in preparation for Hurricane Ike. He'll be down there until next Thursday helping with the recovery effort. It's the longest we've ever been apart since we moved in together seven and a half years ago. I hate being without him.

I'm really proud of him and the work he does - he's actually helping people, and I know that he's making a difference. I'm just a giant baby, with a not-so-giant baby floating about in my belly, so I'm especially lonely right now. If it weren't for the ratties, I doubt I'd be sleeping at all. They're laying on and around me as I type this, and we're all sitting in the living room, surrounded by boxes that have yet to be unpacked, and, because I'm rather hefty these days and don't feel like making the exhausting effort required to get out of the recliner, we seem to be watching "America's Got Talent." Apparently this show is hosted by Jerry Springer. I don't know why, but this fact puzzles me more than David Hasselhoff's cheekbones or the lispy four-year old who seems to have made it pretty damn far in the competition. OK, that's it. I can't watch this garbage. I'm getting up if it kills me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

And the award for Worst Blogger, like, EVER, goes to...

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. You don't have to say it. I'm a shitty blogger. I can't believe it's been since late April since I've even looked at this place, and I've had so much going on that I barely noticed. It's not that I don't have anything on my mind, or that I'm not feeling inspired - I think it's more that I've been channeling my energy into this pregnancy (just entering the third trimester this week) and my brain has little room for much else.

So, anyway - what else is new? So much has been happening, it's all a blur. Besides adding to our family, Mr. Kolby and I bought a townhouse outside of the city - we close next week and move soon after - and Mr. Kolby started a new job. He's still with the Red Cross, but now he's the Disaster Liasion for New York State. Whenever something terrible happens, he's got to be there, and I'm so proud of how dedicated he is to helping other people and keeping them as safe as he keeps our family. We can't wait to move and start a brand new chapter in our lives!

And can we discuss just how damn expensive it is to have a baby? I mean, having the baby doesn't really cost anything - but all the crap you need once it's time to bring him home? Holy shit - no wonder people put this off as long as they do. We started a couple of baby registries, and we've got well over a hundred items on them - and we're putting off on picking out some things until we move. And the stores know you need this garbage, so they charge two arms and a leg for it all. And they can, because we all buy it. All I know is this: we're going to be kissing some serious familial ass for the next three months. Anything for a fucking stroller/carseat combo.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

And Baby Makes Three (or Five if You Count the Dogs)

Well, it looks like I'll be able to check off at least one accomplishment on my list of things to do in my 30th year! Mr. Kolby and I have been harboring a bit of a secret for the past three months, and it's such a relief to finally be able to say: I'm pregnant. 12 weeks pregnant, to be exact. We found out about two weeks after my birthday, and it's been a roller coaster ever since. You know, no one ever tells you just how frightening and nervewracking the first few weeks of pregnancy can be. I mean, you spend months and months trying to get pregnant, all the while thinking that once you see those little pink lines on the pregnancy test, everything will be sunshine and happiness. Not true. The first twelve weeks are damn scary - so much can go wrong, and while it's relatively rare for anything bad to actually happen, the thought is always in the back of your mind. So, now that we've cleared the first trimester hurdle, we're feeling more relaxed and excited about the next six months.
There is so much more to say, and I'll be updating the blog regularly, but right now I'm exhausted and scatterbrained and I have to pee....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Nothing to See Here...

Well, it's been a while, and I still don't have much to post because my mind has been completely preoccupied with what's going on in my little life lately. I'll be back next week with all the details, but until then, here's what I threw together for dinner tonight. It was so good and I ate entirely too much. Please share in my gluttony, won't you?

Kolby's No-Name Pasta

1 lb Farfalle Pasta
1 pint heavy cream
1 cup grated parmagiano
1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes, juice included
garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper to taste
chopped fresh parsley

While pasta is cooking (al dente please, none of that gummy, pasty shit allowed), heat cream in large skillet, adding spices and cheese after warmed. Stir grated cheese into cream until smooth. Add tomatoes and their juice. Heat through, stirring constantly. Stir in parsley and toss cooked pasta into sauce, stirring to coat evenly. Serve & enjoy!

*Try not to eat too much of this. Pasta tends to expand in the stomach, and I don't want to be responsible for any unnecessary trauma.

Friday, February 29, 2008

You Are What You Eat (And You Smell Like It Too)

Is it possible to O.D. on canned tuna? I'm asking because I have this co-worker who eats three to four cans of tuna, sometimes mixed with a bowl of white rice, over the course of one workday. Every day. He also ingests protein shakes and various vitamin supplements (dude, he, like, works out), but it's the massive amounts of tuna that make me want to vomit. He opens these cans and the odor is sent wafting out of our little office kitchen and over the walls of our cramped grey pens. Three to four times a day. How healthy can this possibly be for my co-worker, who will hereafter be referred to as Chickenlegs of the Sea? I swear, this guy must have gallons of mercury coursing through his veins.

In my mind, I'm convinced that his skeleton is coated in metal, kind of like Wolverine but without the strength, snark and sex appeal.