Monday, December 24, 2007

Beyond the Wall

I haven't been reading much lately. Pretty much since Thanksgiving I've been so busy and just out of sorts so no book sounded like anything I wanted to read. I did quite a lot of Sudoku and got myself totally addicted to watching Heroes on Netflix, but no books.
But I've been feeling better and life has slowed down now that school is out, all the shopping us done, Ryan's birthday is over, and all I have to do now is cook Christmas dinner,(currently in the oven) and enjoy the fruits of all my work.
So, in the midst of my stress I went to the library and got a few books, to depressurize with. This is the first one I've read and while it was interesting, it didn't help my stress much. The book is sort of an autobiography of a person who was moderately autistic as a small child, and has gradually improved, so now would be classified as having Asperger's Syndrome, the same thing that Ryan has.
The subtitle is "Personal experiences with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome." I have been researching more about Asperger's because I want to help Ryan and the rest of the family as much as I can. But sometimes reading these books I just feel overwhelmed with all the stuff that I am not doing, or look, this guy's mother did this good thing or similar feelings. I am so glad for David, who can give me a better sense of perspective when these type of feelings threaten to overwhelm me.
The most interesting aspect of this book was his progression. He was severely autistic enough that as a very young child his parents were advised to put him in an institution. Which they did not, even though it was very difficult for them as they also had two other children, one who was moderately retarded.
He learned to talk, learned to function enough to go to regular public school, but was bullied horribly in elementary. His life got progressively better as he has gotten older. The interesting thing to me about Asperger's and many forms of autism is that the people who have these conditions can get better. Though that is not the right terminology. They aren't sick, or even disabled in the sense we usually think of, they are just different. They feel differently, sense things differently and as far as we can tell, even think differently than the majority of people. So the process of "getting better" is really one of assimilation and learning to deal with the preferences of the majority population.
I can see that in Ryan. There is nothing "wrong" with him, he just doesn't think or process the way I expect him to. Dealing with him involves re-examining a lot of assumptions of how we react and think. Assumptions that are very deeply held, until Ryan asks "Why?"

The Book of Fate

I had actually forgotten about this one, but I found it when I was cleaning out under the bed. That's where a lot of my books end up. I was having a mommy's night out in Nov. and the book stores close early in the winter, the library closed early so I ended up buying a book from the grocery store, which has such a great selection of the kind of books that I read.
This was one of those political thrillers, sort of like Tom Clancy but without the extra hundred pages of weapon and tech. specifications. It was also another one of those blame the Masons for everything types,. though that was just a cover for the real bad guys, who were normal bad spy guys.
So it was a book, pretty suspenseful but nothing extra ordinary either. I think I've read some other ones by this author, but I'm not sure. In fact, when I bought this one it took me probably fifty pages to remember that I had already read this one, and relatively recently too. So not one of the most memorable things I've ever read.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Guards! Guards!

Have I mentioned before that I really like Terry Pratchett? I almost always have a Pratchett novel in mid-read somewhere lying around.
This one is good starting from the dedication:

They may be called the Palace Guard, the City Guard, or the Patrol.
Whatever the name, their purpose in any work of heroic fantasy is identical: it
is, round about Chapter Three (or ten minutes into the film) to rush into the
room, attack the hero one at a time, and be slaughtered. No one ever asks
them if they wanted to.
This book is dedicated to those fine men.


And a few other good quotes:
Say what you liked about the people of Ankh-Morpork, they had always been
staunchly independent, yielding to no man their right to rob, defraud,
embezzle and murder on an equal basis. This seemed absolutely right, to Vimes' way of thinking. There was no difference at all between the richest man and the poorest beggar, apart from the fact that the former had lots of money, food, power, fine clothes and good health. But at least he wasn't any better. Just richer, fatter, more powerful, better dressed and healthier.
The food was good solid stuff for a cold morning, all calories and fat and
protein and maybe a vitamin crying softly because it was all alone.

Guards! Guards! Terry Pratchett. Harper Torch. 1989

The Whispered Secret

This is the second of the Leven Thumps books. I don't know how many there are. I think our library has at least one more. This one was very like the first book.
I still like the books, though a stylistic detail is starting to bug me. The author likes to use a lot of simile and metaphor in his writing, to the point it gets distracting. A few well placed unusual metaphors make a book seem interesting and new; a constant barrage of them gets old after a while.
There were some details I particularly enjoyed: an almost quote of scripture (though it was in an odd place); Leven growing because "offings grow through experience"; and Geff's most horrifying experience was being placed in Clover's pocket. Those references don't make any sense unless you have read the book, at least the first one, but I don't want to write enough to explain them.
While moderately enjoyable, this is definitely more of a children's book and series.

Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret. Obert Skye. Shadow Mountain. 2006