30 September 2013

The Dude and the Zen Master

The Dude Abides.

One September day, I read The Dude and the Zen Master in one sitting, about two hours, in the sun, in my back yard.  Seems like The Dude deserved the sunshine-y, high-quality treatment!

True confessions: I don't know much about Zen Buddhism, or even Buddhism in general. And this book isn't going to make you an expert either.  It might whet your appetite to know more, though, as it has for me.  What I do know seems to make excellent sense on how to be a decent human being.  How to live with yourself and others in a healthy way.

Little did I know that Jeff Bridges is a real perfectionist and pretty hard on himself.  I just always imagine him being just as "chill" as The Dude in The Big Lebowski.  Not so.  He worries a lot.  He worries about his performances as an actor, or as a public speaker.  Zen seems to help him escape some of this anxiety, that Zen is just "being" - just "showing up".  Kind of "don't sweat the small stuff."  I know that I can benefit being reminded of this!

24 September 2013

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland
(accompanied by my "tools of the trade")
Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland is a magnificent novel, under consideration for both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award. I am honored to read it as part of the "very-long" list of the Maine Readers' Choice Award.  I finished it more than a month ago, but I haven't been able to write about it, mainly because I want so much to do it justice.

As much as I insisted that I like a book that has a very compact time frame (in my post about The Dinner), I have to say that Lahiri can achieve the opposite - a book that spans an entire human lifetime. 

20 September 2013

The End of the Suburbs

What do you think of when you think of "Suburbs"?

A streetcar suburb
(image courtesy Paul Sableman, Flickr Creative Commons)

Or this?

(courtesy "MyBiggestFan" Flickr Creative Commons)

06 September 2013

The Dinner

Herman Koch's The Dinner is an ethically conflicted novel.

How far would you go to protect your child?  

How far into "we just want the best for our son"?

It actually makes me a little ill (indigestion?) to contemplate my reaction, my horror, if my son committed a senseless act of violence.... the source of the discord in The Dinner.