the mother said
on the sixteenth
the eldest daughter.
later when she
© Allison Wright, 2013.
It is a feature of human nature that we more readily accept into our personal realm those with whom we share something in common than those with whom we do not. By reading a book, we accept whatever that book holds into our own space, the space we hold most dear.
The fact that Muriel Vasconcellos is a translator whom I respect as a result of contact on ProZ.com is what prompted me to read her recently published memoirs, Finding My Invincible Summer. It is thanks to Emma Goldsmith’s translation blog that I knew the book had now made it to the shelves. I already had an inkling that Muriel had lived an interesting life, so clicking “yes” to instant Kindle® download was the only sensible decision to make, my own curiosity notwithstanding.
What an absolute pleasure this book is to read! The pleasure reaches way beyond the depths of its incredibly well-constructed narrative, beyond the smooth cadence within and between each sentence; a rhythm which ultimately spans the entire book. The joy of reading this work has very little to do with discovering details about by one person – who happens to be a translator – and her journey with and without cancer. The delight resides in the ability of this story to resonate with one’s own journey in life on a number of levels.
I am working on the assumption that everyone knows at least one person who has suffered pain; one person who has had to find healing within. If you have taken that journey yourself or have helped someone take that journey, the insights contained in this book will have the capacity to refresh and uplift. Even if all you yourself have suffered in your life is emotional pain, and remain healthy in the eyes of conventional medicine, Muriel’s account of her gradual realisations about what truly matters could well trigger a beneficial shift in perspective in your own life. At the very least, it will make your head swirl.
I do no justice to the beautiful descriptions throughout the book which surprise and delight the reader with gratifying frequency, yet with a total absence of pretension. It is this lack of pretension which is most appealing. I have read many of the publications meticulously detailed in the bibliography, and have experienced, whether at first or second hand, a goodly number of the alternative therapies explored by the writer. I have read of many people’s journeys towards self-fulfilment. Yet I have never come across an account that is as once quite so well-modulated, humble and powerful.
The wonder of Finding My Invincible Summer lies in the lean simplicity with which it deftly deals with complex issues. It is a warm, thoroughly honest and intensely personal account which almost unintentionally invites you with a solid sense of humour and well-grounded gentility to enter a realm where you, too, may live your “invincible summer”.
Read the book, and let me know if you agree!
“It’s the same old story— yeah”
Simon & Garfunkel, “Keep the customer satisfied”-
For the chronologically-challenged, here’s the brushed up CD version.
I do hope there are still those out there who recognised the quotation immediately.
The same old story is a reference to the fact that despite the convergence of opportunity, technology, and even a bit of money, I gave myself several Christmas presents rolled into one, which I unwrapped last weekend.
I purchased a €6.99 book online for the very first time, using my credit card online for the very first time, and downloaded it to the free version of Kindle for PC® I had downloaded at least a year ago.
I had only ever used the said Kindle for PC® to obtain free excerpts from books needed for translation research purposes, or the free bits of latest releases which provided tantalising immersion in some exquisite descriptions and fleeting fascinations in every other chapter of “how to do life” books, but nothing permanent. I tell myself that it not because I do not want to spend money; it is because I seldom have time to devote to reading a whole book. The truth is that it is part of the same old story.
It is the same old story because I recall that my sister and I were the recipients of Hula hoops long after the actual craze was over. Nevertheless, we created our own craze in our own back yard.
I still find it incredible that so many hours of my childhood were devoted to mindless repetitive action. This seems to have been part of a pattern: I remember riding my bicycle in a circle in the panhandle of our dusty driveway for a total of 100 laps in one go, once upon a time, at age 11. This feat is not to be sneezed at, since previous record attempts were thwarted by the insistent calling of the maternal voice. Then, there was the endless hitting of golf balls on practice ranges in pursuit of the perfect wave, or something. And all those pancakes we made when hunger and boredom coincided…
Likewise, I have just caught on to the Kindle e-book craze – long after everyone else.
There I sat on Saturday afternoon in the comfort of my own living room, with my laptop on my – erm – lap. It is a private craze, and may well prompt me in time to acquire a less clunky version of Kindle – something which precludes the use of glasses, and can be read until the wee hours of the morning, as I did before the necessity of specs made reading lying on one’s side in bed downright uncomfortable. I might even get called a bookworm again. I loved that.
I have agreed to give my feedback on the book I purchased. What I love about Kindle mode is the ability to highlight text and make notes. Big deal, you say. For someone whose entire student life was spent pencilling double lines in margins near the striking bits, it is fantastic!
I do not have to hold a single thought in my head! I simply feed it into the space which has replaced scribblings in the margins. At the end of my read, I can collect up all my comments in one place, and efficiently construct my feedback!
I shall stop now. This is old hat to all of you. I do pity you when I finally take the plunge and get a smartphone. My first failed attempt is documented here.
I have a book to read. Cheerio!
A word of warning: I read quite slowly. The review will be a while, even though I have, remarkably, read “57%” of the book. Does Kindle count the words in the bibliography, do you think?
I have a book to read. Cheerio!
P.S. Margot knows how I feel: