READ: We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

“We Are Not Ourselves” by Matthew Thomas sat on top of my bookshelf, untouched, for the last three months. The book was the last of a stack that I checked out 5 months ago at the UC San Diego library. I picked the book up last Friday after work, read the first page, and then proceeded to read all 600 pages of the book in less than 4 days. Unputdownable.

I recommend not reading reviews or Amazon descriptions because most of them reveal the plot twist in the book – just grab it and read. A lot of readers enter this novel and know what the plot is – I did not know and I liked having it slowly come to me. It kept me reading late into the night. As the reader, it was revealed to me at the same time as the characters realized what was going on.

Overall, this book explores a normal, middle class, American life. The American Dream. So many of my favorite novels look at the myth of the American Dream – “The Great Gatsby,” “Revolutionary Road,” everything by Franzen. Thomas looks at the American life with all its highs and lows. It is not achievable in so many ways. We can work hard, save money, and do everything we are supposed to do, but it can all go away in an instant because of uncontrollable forces. And then when we achieve what we thought we were supposed to strive for – are we happy? Is it what we want? What the f*&k do we really want? What is the goal?

This book is the story of Eileen, the daughter of Irish immigrants who has been raised to believe in the American dream. Eileen meets Ed, they fall in love and they build a life together. Love, work, eat, make love, raise children, move on up, pay for school, purchase things, laugh with friends, take vacations, get sick, die…its what we do. It is our life. All of these things create a life. Thomas takes us deep in Eileen and Ed’s world, and it will leave you heart-broken, happy, and wondering about what you can do to savor all the happy moments in our ephemeral lives.

“It mattered so little that they’d won and yet nothing mattered more.”

*************************************************************************************************************

This story in the New Yorker by Lauren Groff! Her new novel comes out next month!!

Poetry by Peggy Freydberg. Love.

A few weeks ago at a reading Karen Joy Fowler quoted Nancy Pearl’s true signs of a reader and I SO identify with two of these:

  • Mispronounce words (ALL THE TIME!! Example: I used the word ephemeral above because I love it. I have no idea how to pronounce it, so I’d never say it out loud.)
  • Confuse real memories with things we have read (yup!)
  • Bad at small talk

I just finished the 2nd Tearling novel, “Invasion of the Tearling.” Second novels in trilogies are always hard because you know that you will be left hanging and waiting for the third one, however don’t let that keep you away from this series. I really liked the first one, and this one was just as good. It is a combo of different sci fi/fantasy/fairy tale conventions. A sort of  “The Handmaid’s Tale” with some magical jewels and “The Lottery”-type sacrifices thrown in. Fun, escapist reading.

Love this…

 

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