The Burning Soul (Charlie Parker, #10) by John Connolly
John Connolly remains a master. I don’t know how many times I can write how genius I think he is before it gets redundant; hopefully never. Every Charlie Parker novel remains unique, and they don’t get stale.
I thought I had a handle on how this book was going to play out, and was slightly disappointed; I thought, well, it’s been ten books, it was only a matter of time before I beat Connolly to the punchline. But I should’ve known better. Connolly knows what he’s doing, and he likes taking readers for a ride. And I will continue to get on that ride, but next time I’ll try to remember to fasten my seatbelt.
Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman
A friend recommended this book to me a few years ago, lauding it as “Eat, Pray, Love, only better,” and was she ever right. I loved this book: more anthropological in nature, and without any feeling of pretension, it spoke to my heart.
Rita Golden Gelman ends her marriage of many years in her forties, and sets off to live a life of exploration. Bali and New Zealand are just two of the places where Golden Gelman makes her home over the course of many years of travel: one thing that lends itself to the strength of these memoirs is that Golden Gelman is writing many years after her adventures. She did not set out to find herself, or make changes to herself that she would bring back to her life in the U.S. She wanted to know people, their stories, what happens in their daily lives, what is important to them, to us. She wanted to lose herself in the lives of other people, in order to find a better connection with the world and all it has to offer, including its people.
There is no romantic lilt to this story: Golden Gelman had left behind that part of her life when her marriage ended, and there are no moments where the reader wonders whom she’ll end up with, or what happy ending the story may have. Golden Gelman is completely and utterly herself, and she is brilliant. She admits her errors in new places, or how difficult it is to be alone in a country without knowing a language. She discusses her isolation openly and honestly, and these moments often lead to a demonstration of the kindness that exists within people everywhere.
I feel that I’m rambling, but I wish I could find the words to describe how inspirational this book was. A few weeks ago I attended a dinner event alone, something I might not have had the courage to do a few months ago, but I was ready to do it now, and Golden Gelman’s book was the final puff of confidence I needed to leap off that particular ledge. We all have the courage to do the things we want to do, we just have to find a way to make them happen.
Nothing is Forgotten by Ryan Andrews
I backed this graphic novel on Kickstarter, and even though the novel was delayed and delayed and delayed due to printing issues, it was worth the wait. This is a collection of short stories written and illustrated by Ryan Andrews, the central story being “Nothing is Forgotten.” The art is fantastic, as are the stories. My favorite was “Sarah and the Seed.”
I’m excited to have been a part of Ryan Andrews’s first publication, and I look forward to the projects he’ll create in the future.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
I’d been wanting to read Into the Wild for quite some time, but had been waiting. I felt that I might have to mentally prepare myself for the reading, and I was right, but I don’t think any amount of preparing my head could have prepared my heart. Chris McCandless’s story cannot fail to move anyone who has an affinity for nature, or an aspiration to shuck the confines of modern dictates to live a life of self-sufficiency.
While McCandless is the subject of much debate (is he a figure to be admired? A figure to be used as an example of what idealism and ill-preparedness can bring about? An idiot who had no business in ever attempting to venture into the wild on his own?), I found resonance with the young man Krakauer presents in this account. An idealist, sure. A man to jump right into something without thinking far enough ahead, sure. But I fall into the camp of admiration: ever since moving to the Big City, my heart has longed for a simpler life, one that would see me using my hands to provide for myself. The idea of Nature as my employer and provider calls to me, as it calls to many others. But while I stay at my desk job, those with a spirit like McCandless are making that dream a reality.
McCandless can be used as a cautionary tale, without a doubt. His desire to commune with nature definitely bordered (and, arguably, surpassed) zealotry, and that is an important lesson to keep in mind. But I cannot fault him, and the fact of his existence has touched my heart. Now that I know his story, I will carry McCandless with me for many years to come.