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  • Review of Home by Marilynne Robinson

    HomeHome by Marilynne Robinson
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I loved Gilead by Marilynne Robinson so much. The review is here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/....

    But with Home, I had a different experience. I wasn't compelled through most of the book. At about the three-quarter mark, things started to happen and I felt my interest quicken. But here's a summary of my impressions, and my apologies to those who loved it so much they recommended it to me:

    1. I was disappointed to see this other, peevish, nasty side of Rev. Ames.
    2. I didn't like the Rev. Boughton very much at all.
    3. Jack is tedious and pathetic.
    4. Glory almost breaks free but then doesn't.

    Robinson really makes me wait for it, building my conflict between compassion and resentment for Jack. And just when I lose faith in him, there's a scene where the old misogynist/bigot Rev. Boughton asks to see Jack and his brother together in his room, and Jack insists Glory be included. As if he sees her as an equal to the men, rather than just the servant her father expects.

    In this, I felt Jack himself was a Rorschach test for the reader, in that while he seems almost feral, a man born without skin with which to hide himself from the world, easily wounded and always untrusting, you want to abandon him, but can you? If so, who are you? What are your values - what are your limits?

    So now Glory has decided to stop being codependent with her "fiancé", and switch her ministrations and self-sacrifice to her dying father and her feral brother. This is an arc? This is growth? What is Robinson's meaning, at the end of the story, when Glory decides to stay in a town she has said she hates, in a house she agrees to preserve as a monument/mausoleum to the family? It can only be read as failure to respect oneself in favor of service to others! This troubles me deeply.

    I apologize for the length of this next excerpt, but I have to reproduce it, because it's so telling:

    "(Glory) had tried to take care of (Jack), to help him, and from time to time he had let her believe she did. That old habit of hers, of making a kind of happiness for herself out of the thought that she could be his rescuer, when there was seldom much reason to believe that rescue would have any particular attraction for him. That old illusion that she could help her father with the grief Jack caused, the grief Jack was, when it was as far beyond her power to soothe or mitigate as the betrayal of Judas Iscariot. She had been alone with her parents when Jack left, and she had been alone with her father when he returned. There was a symmetry in that that might have seemed like design to her and beguiled her with the implication that their fates were indeed intertwined. Or returning herself to that silent house might simply have returned her to a s state of mind more appropriate to her adolescence. A lonely schoolgirl at thirty-eight. Now, there was a painful thought.

    "She recalled certain moments in which she could see that Jack had withdrawn from her and was looking through or beyond her, making some new appraisal of her trustworthiness, perhaps, or her usefulness, or simply and abruptly losing interest in her together with whatever else happened just then...She found no consistency in these moments, nothing she could interpret. He was himself. That is what their father had always said, and by it he had meant that Jack was jostled along in the stream of (the family's) vigor and purpose and their good intentions, their habits and certitudes, and was never really a part of any of it. He had eaten their food and slept beneath their roof, wearing the clothes and speaking the dialect of their slightly self-enamored and distinctly clerical family..."

    God! Who hasn't known people like this - men like this, children like this - who take and take and take from an ever-hopeful spouse or family and yet never seem quite able to be satisfied, or fulfilled, or happy! When all the sacrificial loving family member ever wants is for that feral person to be happy. Or at least safe.

    Like I said, Rorschach.

    And in this, I have to admit, Robinson delivers again, most profoundly, in pulling back the curtains and showing us, right down to the faint beat of a pulse along a pale wrist, the impact on a family of such a lone wolf. Not that the wolf doesn't suffer. Not that we don't all feel empathy as we struggle to surface from this mire, gulping and gasping air, sorry for Glory who remains below, yet intent on saving ourselves.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler

    The Beginner's GoodbyeThe Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    After reading some of the reviews, I felt a bit off-kilter, as if I'm seeing something that wasn't intended by the author.

    Nevertheless, here's my impression: this story is about a man who, because of his physical limitations, resists closeness with other people, to the point that he marries a woman who seems certain to want the same, arm's length relationship. It's only after she dies that he begins to sense that he was wrong about that. During the grieving process, he comes to realize he's been living an arm's-length life.

    I love stories about people who come out of a fog and change their lives, empowered by the realization that they've been missing something important - that their reasoning was flawed, but it doesn't have to remain that way. And Anne Tyler is such a great wordsmith, anything she writes is wonderful. This book is perhaps a bit too subtle to win the raving applause it deserves.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

    Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to LeadLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    As I read Lean In, I was intrigued at being able to get inside the head of a dynamic, smart woman who is one generation younger than me, and see the corporate world through her eyes. One of the cultural questions she answered for me was this: why are younger women so averse to the terms "feminist" and "feminism"? Apparently, Sheryl Sandberg and her contemporaries believe(d) the following:

    1. Equality having arrived, there's no need for feminism anymore
    2. Feminists are man-haters who resist makeup and the shaving of one's legs

    Okay, #2 was a bit tongue-in-cheek. However, having observed conditions in the real world for a few years now, Sandberg has come to see that the playing field is not and will not be level until more women occupy positions of power in the corporate hierarchy. She doesn't suggest that this is due to any malicious intent on the part of men, but rather it's simply a matter of ignorance.

    To illustrate, she describes having to park far away from her office door when hugely and uncomfortably pregnant. When she designated preferred parking spots to accommodate pregnant workers, no one complained. It was seen as logical. But prior to her taking her place in the C-suite, the issue hadn't been raised.

    Sandberg talks about not slowing down out of consideration for what might happen in the nebulous future. The example she gives, now famous, is of a young woman confiding her fears of not wanting to accept a job with a lot of responsibility due to the impact it might have on her family. The woman was planning ahead - she didn't even have a boyfriend yet.

    With this example, Sandberg makes the point that women, having been highly trained and educated, are waving off promotional opportunities. The jury is still out as to why, but she suggests, and I agree, that part of the reason is this: in corporate America, a woman's decision to go through pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and child-rearing is viewed as a private matter that should not impact her ability to work long hours and irregular schedules, including lengthy and frequent travel as needed. Rightly fearing this may drive her insane, a woman who wants a family may leap off the corporate ladder at a very early stage.

    Sandberg argues that if a young woman stayed on it long enough to secure a more powerful position, she would be able to exert more control over her work life (a perspective the young woman must trust will happen, since at her current low place on the corporate ladder she can only see her lack of power and control.) After a few promotions, she will be able to delegate some of her work to subordinates, afford more help at home, and influence workplace policies that unfairly impact women and families. Who can find fault with this argument?

    Sandberg is honest about her own mistakes, and I found that charming. For example, I was amazed that, for all her intelligence and education, she didn't originally intend to negotiate her starting salary with Facebook. Luckily a nice man (her husband) set her straight, and she made a counter offer to Zuckerberg. Reams of guidance have been written about how this error could have impeded her in later years, both at Facebook and with future employers, yet she didn't know. For other women who have not yet made this horrifying discovery, please read Ask for It by Babcock and Laschever (http://www.amazon.com/Ask-Women-Power...) which in addition to being enlightening and entertaining, offers tons of strategies for preparing yourself to negotiate. And not just for salaries. After reading that book I saved $150 on furniture I was going to buy anyway, by asking one question.

    But back to Lean In.

    I was also surprised that she wasn't well informed about how women can sabotage other women in the workplace, particularly women in power. This is an unfortunate truth with roots in biology, and is brilliantly explained in the amazing book, In the Company of Women by Heim and Murphy (http://www.amazon.com/Company-Women-I...) which I reviewed here:
    http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... This also suggests the reasons Sandberg was hit with such a backlash for the well-intentioned Lean In.

    There is so much more to say about Lean In, but let me close with this: I enjoyed learning how this stellar corporate executive struggled, made mistakes, and ultimately learned some strategies that will enable her, her family, and the women (and men) in her corporation to thrive. It's not perfect, and sometimes it's not even pretty, but part of the lesson is to let go of the need for perfection.

    The other message, younger women, is to get as far and as fast as you can before starting your families. Don't opt out just because it looks too hard from where you're sitting now. The view improves with each rung on the ladder.

    View all my reviews

Demi Could Learn from Us

I feel bad for Demi, melting down and all. According to the tabs, she’s distraught over turning fifty. It must be horrifying when Ashton Kutcher takes a good look at you and realizes you’re no longer young, and then your life is over. Because what’s next, granny underwear and black whiskers that spring from your chin overnight? You might as well be dead.

Here is where being a movie star doesn’t help you. Demi might have a villa in France but even she can’t stop the clock.

What a surprise it would be for her to learn that average people like me are facing the very same aging process. Of course, we’re not making a career of having a preternaturally youthful body, but still, it’s hard. For Demi it’s hard because she’s in an unforgiving market. For the rest of us, it’s hard because we have so few cultural role models. Okay, there’s Hillary, she of the big brain and ample backside, who after bringing countless world leaders to heel will soon amble pantsuited and serene into retirement, excited about entering the new phase of her life. That’s a nice thought.

For any of us, moving into menopause and beyond is big. We should maybe take a sec to acknowledge just how big. Think of the other transitions we celebrate: first word, first steps, turning sixteen and driving, getting married, first jobs, kids – we celebrate all these moments. They are achievements! Accomplishments! Positive developments!

Then comes perimenopause, menopause,  turning fifty…what rituals do we engage in to mark these transitions?  We give each other black balloons and wrapping paper. With a big laugh and a nudge, we spring a wheelchair on the birthday girl at the office party. Ha. Ha.

This whole stupid cultural denigration of the great accomplishment of aging really pisses me off.

If I had my way, we’d call all the post-menopausal women up on stage and hand them an award for getting to this point in life without losing their minds. I mean, think of all we’ve done by this age. We’ve sublimated our natures to a guy (maybe more than one) so we could get pregnant and have a peaceful nest in which to raise our babies, while holding down fulltime jobs and managing said nest. We’ve been served up thirty, forty, fifty years of magazine covers at the grocery store telling us how we can be hotter, cuter, thinner, sexier, better cooks and lovers, more organized, and better balancers of work and life – and we read the articles and tried, oh Lord, how we tried. What did we get instead? A sense of failure, a sense that we’re not cutting it. Oh, and maybe also breast cancer, fibroids, prolapse, stress incontinence, hot flashes, wrinkles and whiskers. We learned to deal with increasingly frequent deaths and illnesses, we held our girlfriends’ hands at their husbands’ funerals, we shrugged and said the hell with it.

Maybe that’s our mistake. Maybe we should make a bigger deal of the courage inherent in aging thoughtfully, gratefully, sublimely. We could talk about how we’re not phased anymore about the changes to our bods, or the losses we suffer. We could revel in the maturity, self-knowledge and sense of “been there, done that,” that keep us on an even keel when younger women would be freaking out.

Those are the things we should be talking about. There’s something ahead to be excited about: power and grace. This is our reward for getting old. Maybe if we talked about this, young women like Demi wouldn’t be so freaked out because they would see aging as something less to be afraid of, and something more to aspire to.

Leave a comment


  1. This is a powerful post, Lynne. Are you on Twitter? Your words need to be tweeted globally. Not long after turning 50, a friend and I were at a restaurant for first Tuesday wine tastings. I was saying we need ceremonies for getting through menopause. We need rituals. She said, “we have one! It’s called Wine Club.” Thanks, Lynne, for another thoughtful Friday morning.

  2. Lynne thanks for an excellent blog. Perfect subject esp this time of year when we see too many women question their self worth.
    I love your writing and look forward to more great reading.

    • Thanks, Chery. It seems at this age we should be bubbling over with self-satisfaction. WE MADE IT THIS FAR, AND WE’RE AWESOME! But of course, that wouldn’t reflect the grace part of it, so we’re just quietly awesome. I hope you’ll stop by again and often.

  3. YES! You’ve expressed exactly what I believe. Those of us who have reached the post-50 years should be celebrating! We’ve achieved a milestone that is so much more than just a number. We’ve gained wisdom, empathy, and have stories to tell. We rock!

    It’s sad that the media hasn’t caught on yet.

    • We ARE the media, Linda. Let’s make noise! Whenever you hear powerless, self-negating comments from your peers, set them straight (gracefully). Show them the way. Give them something positive to aspire to. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Libbye A. Morris

     /  February 10, 2012

    Lynne, your words resonate with me immensely! I feel so badly for Demi and others like her who feel their worth is diminished just because they are getting older. She needs role models and friends her age or older who are strong, confident women–like you and your readers!

  5. In most countries age is the least of peoples’ worries. They just want to get by inlife. Only in America!

    • Judy, I have a feeling it isn’t just America. But you’re right – once we get past the luxury of not having to beat clothing against a rock to get it clean, we tend to worry about higher-level things (see Maslow’s Hierarchy). So it’s high-class worries, you are right.

  6. Nanci

     /  February 10, 2012

    Right on girlfriend. I like to think of this time as a second chance at childhood with greater wisdom and fewer restrictions.

    • Me, too, Nanci, and it’s exciting when we realize it’s wide open – we can be whomever we want! The restrictions are for the most part self-imposed.

  7. Lynne, you are RIGHT ON with this one! I’ve known far too many women (why is it always the women??) who turn “a certain age,” only to fold up and fold away. Asian cultures treat their older generations far better than we do, in my opinion. There, “seniors” are held in respect, handled with gratitude, and revered for their wisdom; here, we tacitly ignore them and expect them to rock their golden years away. How sad! Yes, there should be “rituals” marking these mid-life-and-beyond milestones; too many folks never reach them.

  8. Once again,Lynne you have hit right to the heart of the matter through your powerful and compassionate words. If only we could honor the aging process as an achievement rather than a dreaded curse. Wise message , my friend.

    • Kathy, thanks for the validation. I keep thinking that we would be ASTOUNDED by the power we would feel if we simply decided not to play that old “younger” game any more!

  9. Mary

     /  February 10, 2012

    Lynne, a great post. I think we should start a Boomer Survival Guide. I have a few suggestions:
    Lose the age related labels.
    Don’t buy into all the negative hype.
    Shine on, be the best you can be.

    • But Mary, I wonder, do younger women feel a sense of loss that their elders are so fragile in their obsession with youth? Do they wish we Boomers-and-beyond were stronger and less obsessed about getting old? Would it help them in their own aging process if WE expressed more inner power, and forgot about competing with youth? Weigh in, sis.

  10. Mary

     /  February 10, 2012

    Yes, Lynne I believe Boomers could be strong role models/mentors to the younger generation. We have broken so many barriers in our youth, why not age now.

  11. Lynne, posted this on FB and its getting lots of response—Would you consider reading this on Youtube & posting on ME QUIET? You’re Kidding, Right?
    It’s so good and so many woman would love to hear your speak it….ok, this woman certainly would..:)
    Nice writing…no..powerful writing!

  12. Lynne, wonderful post …I think I identify, not so much on the “staying young” part, I know turning back the clock is not possible…but with trying to stay mentally away from my own negative vibes. Where I live, we have so many people REALLY up there in the age bracket, and so many of my friends have been passing away. When you lose a friend, it makes you feel vulnerable, and I’m aware of this…so I stay active with my ceramics, and buddies there….and every month I continue to join our golf meeting and luncheon, where the 90 and up age is getting larger than the below 90! And they’re still out there playing golf! It puts a smile on my face to honor these women! Tuesday, that’s what we did…we all said, Happy Valentine’s Day, we love you all!

    • Kathy, whenever I feel “old”, and I mean that in the sense of “the reality of my mortality seems overwhelming and sad,” (usually around 3 a.m.), I get perspective by thinking about how much harder it must be for my 86-yr-old mom, or in this case, your 90-year-old friends. If my mom could be our age again, she would jump at the chance to feel so young and free. So perspective is helpful, that’s point #1. Point #2 is, I’ve come to the conclusion that a person can’t be healthy-minded, at ANY age, without a sense of purpose, even if that purpose is to refuse to go quietly into old old age.

  13. lena horne

     /  February 10, 2012

    most of my hgh school and college friends look great and are better looking than when we were “young” They are my role models. and they have successful careers and families.

  14. Wonderful post! I had a hard time when I turned 50 and I was never one who gave my age much of a thought. It took me by surprise how affected I was by the big FIVE OH. I’m now 53 and it’s all good. We need to affirm our own value and find the beauty in ourselves through all the stages of our life. When we look in the mirror we need to see the wisdom in our eyes and realize that we do not need to put ourselves on a shelf to gather dust. I say reinvent yourself if you want, what the hell, why not? I’m contemplating getting a tattoo….

    • Yes, Michele, as with Nanci’s comment above, we are used to feeling restricted but if we looked hard at the limitations, we might find we put them on ourselves. I’m experimenting with wearing nice-quality “hippie” clothes, breaking some rules that way. Going out to dinner at a fancy restaurant with tousled hair, no makeup, and long necklaces. My own brand of flair.

  15. Cyndy Muscatel

     /  February 10, 2012

    Right on!

    • btw, I know we’re focused on older women but I know LOTS of older men who got themselves trophy wives or lovers and their anxieties aren’t so different. Young women like power & money but after they get access to it, they like a good ‘you-know-wha’t from a young buck without age spots and turkey necks and when these older guys can’t deliver-like the young bucks do-these young women roam, too—-I could tell you stories from the decades I lived in Orange County & witnessed this upclose—these gals do their pool guys, their personal trainers, the landscape architects who spend more time @ at their estates than hubby does…The younger/older pairing is fraught with problems that only add on to all the problems ‘peer pairings’ have to deal with…I don’t get the attraction-either way, I just don’t–Relationships are tough enough—-

      • Marla, you should tell those stories! What fun it would be to read them. Okay, I need to reel in my prurient self.

        But wasn’t there a platitude about this? “Marry a man for money and you’ll have to work hard for it every day for the rest of your life.” Or some such. Such mercenary people deserve each other.

        Look at the old f#@ks like Rupert Murdock who have young-ish, hot wives. Was it the appeal of his droopy eyelids or bulbous, veined nose? So funny! And what did these men THINK would happen when their lusty wives got hungry? Oh, I need to stifle myself. This is too good!

        • I know..me too…!! but I got ’em-LOTS of stories…these guys REALLY think these girls like them—they really do—& I’m sure some do—but most don’t—-it’s the $$ & the power—both are such an aphrodisiac…for a while anyway….

  16. Right on Sister! Love it, Lynne. You tell it like it is. Thanks for another empowering reminder that even though society tries to tell us otherwise, we are not getting older, we are getting stronger and we should be proud of it!

    • Thanks Pat, and for all my friends, here is something I memorized to commemorate my father:
      “Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
      we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven,
      that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts
      made weak by time and fate but strong in will
      to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
      from Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson

  17. Over here from Linda’s blog —

    You just said what I feel and have said about aging: Power and Grace. I feel the power as I never have before. I take care of myself by exercising (but I like it – I used to be a personal trainer, that’s how much I like it :-D), and eating healthfully. I take care of myself, my skin, etc. but without surgery or injections or other weird stuff that makes women look like caricatures of themselves.

    I’ll be 55 this month – and as I wrote that and paused, I looked down at my hands – they are capable hands, strong, they create words that I’m proud of. I finished and then found a publisher for my first novel at 50 and in my 50s. These old looking hands serve me well 😀

    Glad I visited!

    • Kat, your comment fills me with power just reading it. I look at my hands, they’re almost 58, and as they fly across the keyboard, their thinning skin is starting to reveal the amazing workings of the inner body. Strong veins, good ligaments. The scar from when I sliced my hand open at 17 from washing a glass that broke. Good, dependable, hard-working hands. I appreciate your reminder to be grateful for what I have.

      • I love my scars *smiling* They remind me of when I was in a hurry while cooking when a young mother and sliced too fast-too quickly, or when I first attempted to make a roux to impress my Louisiana born husband and used a plastic stirring spoon instead of a wooden one (it exploded!). I love seeing my granny hand holding my granddaughter’s smooth little hand *smiling*,

  18. nanci

     /  February 11, 2012

    LOve the hippie dressing idea Lynne….I think you should do a “dress” column with pics!!

  19. Lynne, check out my Blogger of the Week!

    • Wow, Renee, thanks so much! I felt the same way about you when we met at your book signing. I’m honored to be your Blogger of the Week, my friend.

  20. Great post. FB shared. Thanks for writing what I’ve been feeling.

  21. This is bang on all those wasteful exercise on being forever young, and living in unreal mindset.

    //we should make a bigger deal of the courage inherent in aging thoughtfully, gratefully, sublimely. We could talk about how we’re not phased anymore about the changes to our bods, or the losses we suffer. We could revel in the maturity, self-knowledge and sense of “been there, done that,” that keep us on an even keel when younger women would be freaking out.//

    Totally true, and I loved that. Here in India, life was hard in the younger days. But now, we do have a sense of achievement and we are accepting our age , and also our freedom . To do what we want, to travel and to enjoy life with our older husbands:-)

    Thank God I am in India, and am of the earlier generation. I am still complimented for being a good looking old lady:-) and I love it. Even if I do not get compliments any , I can live!

    Thanks for the lovely blog. I am your admirer!

    • Gardener, you live in India? That’s so interesting! I know that our AnyShinyThing community includes people who live in Germany (Melitta), Switzerland (Pat), and England (Jane), but India is a first. Looking forward to getting your take on things, and thanks for the compliments. I hope you’ll write often.

  22. Had lunch with my best male friend in the world yesterday. Feeling really good because he’s such a picky eater…and I prepared a lunch that I thought he’d enjoy. He did…and became a member of my own personal “Clean Your Plate Club”….for him a milestone…for me a treat! We talked about aging and a whole bunch of other things….mostly aging because I’m turning 65 this year. Himself? Well past that age benchmark. He emailed me when he got home and in part said, “Nice that you never age by the way.” Which was…in a small part…confirmation about how a special few of us feel, in our minds, how “old” we really feel. Then….I stumbled upon your words via Life in the Boomer Lane. I dislike paraphrasing over-used phrases, this one especially…so forgive me for this but…….you really did make my day! I do appreciate your personal view of the room….thank you.

    • Well thank you so much, Jots. Sounds like you and your friend have this “quality of life” thing down pat. Best wishes, and hope to see you around AnyShinyThing again in the future.

  23. Thanks you very much. I loved your encouraging reply.
    I will look forward to reading your views and enjoying them.

  1. Celebrity Meltdown and Linky Love

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  • Lynne Spreen

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    Lynne Spreen's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)
  • Review of Private Life by Jane Smiley

    Private LifePrivate Life by Jane Smiley
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Maybe this book is better than my capacity to appreciate. I don't tend toward writing that is obscure, or dense (or makes me feel dense). However, sometimes it's better to roll along with the storytelling and let the deeper meaning work its way up from subconscious to conscious.

    The ending of this book is extremely powerful. Margaret, due to the traumatic incident that happened when she was five, lived in a fog her entire life, married to a wacko genius, and not waking up until she was in her sixties and everything/everyone is sad and tired. Yet she seems to catch fire, fueled by bitterness, in the very last 3 sentences of the epilogue. It was a long time to wait for the enlightenment.

    I gave the book 3 stars because there's too much backstory too soon, making it hard for me to develop an interest. Once there, I felt frustrated at the repetitious nature of Margaret's obtuseness, even though she's a bright woman, and her deferring to Andrew, even though this is what people - women especially - do.

    It went on for her whole life! That she was living in a cloud due to, I believe, the trauma of the childhood incident, and that she was ill served by those around her, didn't make it any easier to like this story. I know Smiley is a master writer, and I feel like a goof not giving her a better rating, but this is my honest reaction.

    View all my reviews

  • Review of Up At The Villa by Somerset Maugham

    Up at the VillaUp at the Villa by W. Somerset Maugham
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Very much enjoyed this short book, which I read in one night. The settings are lush, dialogue snappy, and the characters realistic and strong. The plot and writing are compelling. I enjoyed it because a theme might be, "people are not what they appear to be." A character acts one way and you think, okay, he's good and upstanding. And maybe he IS, but the "why" of it is enlightening. Maugham is a respected author for a reason. What talent! A very good story.

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  • Review of Benediction by Kent Haruf

    BenedictionBenediction by Kent Haruf
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Ever in search of stories about midlife and beyond, I set up a page on facebook (www.Facebook.com/midlife.fiction) and asked for suggestions. I got 38 great recommendations, and I hope to read and review every one of them. Herewith, then: Benediction by Kent Haruf. What a masterpiece.

    Benediction centers around an elderly man who is dying, but the story encompasses many rich characters, and their small stories touched me. In fact, I think this is what made the book so special for me: I saw a little bit of myself in each of them. Each one resonated. I felt again what it was like to be a lost little girl, a lonely divorcee, a misunderstood introspective, a grieving wife, a person who is coping with serious illness. I longed for the small-town atmosphere described here (the Fourth of July fireworks over the high school football field is a stellar short story all by itself.)

    Although the central character is dying, the book is not negative. Far from it - Benediction reflects on the everyday goodness (and tawdriness) of people. His characters are beset by the normal difficulties of life yet buoyed by simple beauties and kindnesses.

    Yet, nothing in Haruf's writing is overly dramatic or in the least saccharine. In fact, that's one of the aspects of Benediction I enjoyed the most: being surprised by tears on the completion of a plainly-written paragraph, phrase or description.

    I couldn't stop reading excerpts to my husband, since he also loves beautifully crafted writing. This book put me in mind of Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. If I could describe it in one word, it would be "elegiac."

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self-publishing tips for authors

Waiting for the Karma Truck

thoughts on the spaces in between

Writing Out Loud

A Place of Observation

Guerrilla Aging

Navigating the Third Half of Life

Memoir Writer's Journey

Sharing hope one story at a time


Life in the Boomer Lane

Musings of a former hula hoop champion

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