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March 2012 (121 posts)
Every Monday, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors at O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. This week, we've been riveted by the subtle, compelling novel:
by Peter Cameron
In the standard domestic drama, a poor lonely girl comes to work for a rich lonely man, and the two fall in love, a la Jane Eyre. The thought-provoking Coral Glynn begins in just this way. It's right after World War, and Coral comes to nurse the dying mother of Major Clement Hart—an Englishman whose leg and confidence have been badly damaged on the battlefield. The Major quickly falls in love with Coral, and the two decide to get married, until a gruesome murder in the neighboring woods sends Coral fleeing back to London. For a few pages, it seems as if this book may turn into a Gothic thriller: how will the two reunite and who exactly is the killer? But Peter Cameron is so much more of skilled and subtle writer than this. Underneath his page-turning plot is a careful, complex examination of loss—and the human ability to fully experience love after too much loss. Coral has suffered all kinds of quiet, devastating violence in her own life—the unspoken kind that's either ignored or simply expected when it comes to working-class woman, post-war or not. It's her emotional life that becomes the real mystery of the novel. Coral can't engage with others, even as they become entranced, if not bewitched, by her. She tries to connect, of course, and at strange, unexpected times, longs for more, such as when she enters a florist shop and is overwhelmed by the beauty of the flowers, feeling "in some way that ll the life and warmth of the cold, drab town, of her life, had collected in this room—that she was in the hot golden center of the world." Here is the pleasure of the novel—albeit a painful one. In bringing Coral to life, Cameron knows what not to say, how to leave the kind of tiny, white space that lets us readers imagine the huge, colorful, overwhelming world of even the most broken human heart.
What not to say in book club this month
18 new reads for spring.
Every Monday, we're rounding up the things, small and big, that make us stop and think. Today, we're inspired by...
"The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated."
-Annie Murphy Paul, on how reading fiction improves the brain.
"If you take that away, it's one more notch against that experience. It's one more big societal minimizing, or sort of, negating, of the full extent of terror that comes with bullying."
-Filmmaker Lee Hirsch, on pressure to edit the "F" word out of his documentary on teen bullies.
"All of us have the ability to speak our minds. We are essentially language animals and are nothing without it."
-The often-banned writer Salman Rushdie.
They found that regular walking can change the way our genes work--specifically, our fat genes, reports Time magazine. The researchers observed people who had the type of genes that had been linked to high body mass index, and found that this type of daily exercise was able to tamper the effect of the genes by 50 percent. You'll have to put in some effort: the participants walked briskly for an hour a day. But isn't that worth it to change your obesity destiny? As an added motivation to get up and get outside--like we need one--the researchers noted that sitting in front of the TV can actually trigger those sneaky fat genes to promote weight gain.
We'd just like to thank the good people at the Harvard School of Public Health for sharing this news now, when we can enjoy the delights of spring, instead of telling us to get outside in the middle of a cold, dreary winter.
How your gait can predict how long you'll live
Walking uphill: 7 common hiking mistakes to avoid
Hello there, Friday! It's time to write in our gratitude journal. This week we're thankful for...
A musical performance that's almost a dance in itself
Lessons we can learn from literary friendships
How a spam email spawned international friendships
At last: Permission not to finish a book
Irish Cheddar and Bacon Soda Bread from Homesick Texan
This savory version includes tangy Irish cheddar and smoky Irish bacon, along with scallions for a bit of green.
Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread from Eating Well
Sometimes the addition of whole wheat flour to traditional baked goods seems forced, but not with hearty soda bread. If you can find a wholemeal flour with large flakes of bran and wheat germ, even better.
Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread from Gluten-Free Girl
A mix of almond, sorghum, sweet rice, teff and potato flours combine for a crackly crust, a soft crumb, and firm slices.
Irish Soda Bread Muffins from Recipe Girl
These slightly sweet muffins would work well as dinner rolls, especially if you make them in a smaller muffin tin. Or, make larger ones, slice one in half and top it with a fried egg for an Irish-American breakfast.
Irish Soda Bread Cookies from Food52
Finally, a way to dunk Irish soda bread in your tea (Irish Breakfast, naturally) without it disintegrating into a soggy mess.
12 Irish comfort food recipes
Lemon-Pear Breakfast Bread
A pub fare menu we love
I thought of this when I read this article about helping the Japanese people to heal, one year after the tsunami destroyed so many people's homes and killed 19,000 people. According to the New York Daily News, "furry, robotic seals that respond to human touch are being used in Japan to treat depression among survivors of last year’s tsunami disaster. 'Paro' is being offered to people made homeless by the disaster and is offering a much-needed bit of affection with his burbling noises and the appreciative flapping of fins when he comes into contact with people."
How fascinating that just touching something can have such healing powers. For people living in temporary housing in Kesennuma, an area badly hit by the tsunami, the trauma of last spring's storm is still a very present part of everyday reality, and as one woman told the Daily News, "Many of my neighbours don't want to have new pets because they don't want to remember." Enter the adorable robots.
But you don't have to recovering from a life-shattering trauma to experiment with non-traditional healing. We all have days pocked with small-scale wounds—the unsettled aftermath of a friend's unkind words, the lingering adrenaline from a near-fender-bender. Whatever your hurt, try a touch—hugging a friend, stroking a foster kitty, cozying up to an animatronic seal should you find yourself near one—and see, er feel, what happens next.
The Power of Therapeutic Touch
The 5 biggest hair myths...and one unfortunate truth
How to pair shampoo and conditioner
The lazy woman's guide to fabulous hair
Some of us (ok, I mean me) totally fetishize the elderly. I'm always nudging grandmothers for stories about their youths, seeing in a grouchy senior citizen's frown a lifetime of hardwon wisdom. I seek out antique rings and vintage old-lady handbags, and my husband and I have puzzled our extended family by actually wanting the art deco bedroom set his grandparents bought when they were first married. ("But...it's really old! We were going to throw it out!") So I was extra excited to peruse the excellent new The Real Rosie the Riveter project. Videos of elderly women reminiscing about their nontraditional youths? I'm all over that like cold cream on a septuagenarian's cheeks.
In this project, Spargel Productions and New York University’s Tamiment Library teamed up to interview dozens of women who found themselves taking on traditionally male work during World War II. The women describe the unexpected turns their lives took when they began working outside of the home in defense factories. Then they flex their muscles and proclaim that they are women, we should hear them roar, and that being called upon to do men's work infinitely opened up the possibilities their lives offered. Well, maybe not. Actually, while the women are good-humored and insightful, they by and large seem pretty matter-of-fact about the direction their lives took. They were called upon to do something extraordinary, to leave their comfort zones and work in ways they'd never imagined. Factories jobs weren'tt always pleasant but as one of the women interviewed, Esther Horne, said, "You felt you were doing it for the war."
Rosie the Riveter.
Life Lessons from Borrowed Grandparents
What Scares Women About Growing Older