I mentioned a month ago that January is my month for excessive reading. Just as predictably, February is my month of writing and art. Case in point: I purchased a new journal on January 26th, and to date have written over 12,000 words in it. Which, for me, is a lot of words. This month has also been a month of wonderfully excessive painting. Still, though, there were books. In my world, there are always books.
An Unquiet Mind, Kay Robinson
My sister recommended that I read this once I started reading about people who are bipolar. My initial response to the first part was judging the author with my judgin’ face for her perfect little childhood, but that is so unfair. So so unfair. The way she documents her mental health history, weaving it seamlessly into her life story, is amazing and powerful. It’s an essential read for anyone with an equivalent diagnosis, or anyone living with or loving or compassionate towards someone with an equivalent diagnosis. David read it after I finished it and is really glad that I threw it at him.
The Post Office, Charles Bukowski
This is a book I finished in an entire day, and my reaction to it sums up my entire reaction to Charles Bukowski. I love him, but I hate him. I love his prose. I love his poetry. I love the raw element of outsider art that sneaks in through the pages of his works. I hate that he just casually rapes a character and moves on with a level of candidness that makes me suspect he would do it in real life.
Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out, Mo Yan
More than anything I read this for the title, but it was an amazing book. You know every country has their own style of fiction and fantasy? Japanese fantasy like Murakami is so easily identifiable as Japanese, while Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s fantasy can’t be identified as anything other than S. American in origin. Mo Yan clearly articulates the aesthetic for Chinese fantasy. He’s probably not the first to do so, but I haven’t read a lot of Chinese works so he’s the one that defined the style for me. I loved this book.
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K Le Guin
Those who read all the way back to my Moose days will recall Kels’ boyfriend, with whom I’ve been good friends for years. He’s been trying to get me to read anything ANYTHING by this author for a while now, and I’m glad I did. Not quite my favorite scifi, but definitely a strong and thoughtful read. Four distinctly different quotes have become unintentional prompts for some long writing sessions. Her insight into politics and the motives of humans is really interesting.
Van Gogh: The Life, Steven Naifeh & Gregory White Smith
To be honest, I’m still reading this one. And I started it in mid-January. It’s fascinating, heartbreaking, and disillusioning. My heart breaks for the lack of any mental health care that Van Gogh so clearly needed, and it’s horrible to read about what an unpleasant person. To what extent it is just his mental illness, I am left unclear. All I know is that as much as I love him and respect his art and am an avid fan, I don’t think I’d want to be his friend. Except for that overwhelming desire to give him a hug and handfulls of lithium pills.