Review

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the CrematorySmoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This interesting and informative book was recommended to me by a friend.

Caitlin Doughty writes intelligently and concisely. What may seem a ghoulish book becomes a deep understanding of what happens to our mortal remains (in modern day United States). Doughty brings in the cultural differences surrounding death and dying. I believe this is important for us to take on board. What may seem macabre to us in the Western Industrialised nations is not necessarily so in other cultures. Doughty does not mince her words and I think this is the foundation of her reasoning. The book is not gloomy in any way shape or form. In fact parts of it are amusing. Above all, it is a thoughtful treatise.

There are some excellent reviews of this book on Goodreads and I encourage you to have a look if you are interested in the topic.

For myself, I am glad that I read this book. For one thing it has stimulated me to make an effort to set down what I want to happen to my body when I die. Avoiding the thought of death is ridiculous. Death has to happen to all of us, sooner or later.

The Order of the Good Death is a group that Caitlin Doughty has put together with like-minded people. Her website also offers some interesting reading.

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Review

Random

Random is a wonderful word. Once, when we were staying at Wellington Forest Cottages in the Ferguson Valley, a large white rooster came out of the forest. His name was Random and he was a pest. Bloody thing started crowing at any hour of the early morning. The cottages were (probably still are) fairly basic and, at night, the kangaroos kept trying to get into the kitchen to raid the rubbish bin. It is quite frightening to be greeted by a large ‘roo in the dark while on your way to dunny (lavatory for non-Aussie speakers). The dunny is situated out-the-back so the ‘roos are just another obstacle to be avoided.

The old timber cottages are picturesque. They are also extremely cold in winter. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t go there is summer because of the fire hazard. The forest is extremely dense and the maze of roads would make a quick getaway nigh impossible. In the advertising blurb it is stressed the GPS are ‘notoriously unreliable in this area’.

Most of the cottages were built in the 1920s to house the timber workers.

COTTAGE2-600x500
photo courtesy wfccc

Back to Random the rooster. His days were numbered but he was still there when we left. I think he would’ve seen off a fox quite easily, but it wasn’t a fox that was going to get him.

 

 

Random

Review: The Bookshop on the Corner

The Bookshop on the CornerThe Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Such a lovely light book – helpful after the rather traumatic Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles. No rape, racist killing or guns in The Bookshop on the Corner. Lots of books and romance. I guess this book could be classified as Chick Lit? Anyway, I enjoyed it. I loved reading about the back-blocks of Scotland. For light reading.

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Review: The Bookshop on the Corner

Review: In the Garden of the Fugitives

In the Garden of the FugitivesIn the Garden of the Fugitives by Ceridwen Dovey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Often when I read a novel, I find myself skimming through and then doubling back to read in more detail. Sometimes I’ll read the end chapter and then skip back and forth to bits that need more explanation. In the case of Ceridwen Dovey’s In the Garden of the Fugitives this is unnecessary. From the very beginning, Dovey lays out the story. There is no need to dart back-and-forth. However, toward the end there is a hidden, secret denouement. I read past it at first then had the “Aha!” moment. Even if you skip to the end, this moment will not be evident unless you read the entire book.

Ceridwen Dovey is a skillful, intelligent writer. She knows her subject, whether it be the archeological realm of Pompeii or the ins-and-outs of psychotherapy methods. I would venture that the two protagonists are pitted against each other in the same psych. arena. I only realised this after I finished the book and had to return to where I felt, or rather I sensed, where and when the denouement occurred. In retrospect, I realise that the timeline is not necessarily linear either.

If you do attempt this book, do not be put off by the format – letters (or emails). Be alert to the strength and significance of Dovey’s writing. It is illuminating. It is surprising. It is subtle and nuanced. It is unsettling and haunting.

This book, for me, is extraordinarily, mine.

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Review: In the Garden of the Fugitives

Writing a Thesis

I am not a dedicated blogger. Every now-and-again I think of something interesting to say – but I don’t often follow through. Usually I think to myself, “more research needed before I post this”. Of course, this is a hangover from working for six-plus years on my doctoral thesis. Indeed, after my Scholarship finished, I had to work as well as complete the thesis. I have written about this before. My GP picked up on my listlessness/ennui and, without being patronising or mansplaining, suggested I take a look at the stages of chess. He pointed out that it seemed I was stuck in the Middle Game. I am not a chess player of any skill whatsoever, so he alerted me to the final step – the End Game. The comfort zone of ‘research’ must be concluded.

I considered his advice when I returned home. Among other things associated with research, I counted that I had 27 books from the University Library. OK! I decided to return all the books to the library – bar the two that I was actually using.

The next step was to consolidate all the chapters that were in separate documents on the computer. The Bibliography took more time and I was grateful for the Endnote referencing program. I was pleased that I had religiously listed every resource in the program so tidying up the Bibliography was not too arduous. Editing the thesis took time, I couldn’t believe how many times I repeated myself! Even so, one of the examiners pulled me up on repetitive phrases.

So, after six years of being fairly isolated from ‘real life’, I completed the final draft in six weeks. It was not all clear sailing after that. There are always a few glitches to contend with. One of them nearly broke my heart – but I’m over it now. Maybe I’ll write about that one day? Maybe not.

Submitting the work was a huge relief. Waiting for the examiners reports was deadly; like waiting for a bus that never arrives. Eventually the three reports came in. As is usual with my work the reports ranged from ‘excellent, no changes needed’ (I really liked that one) through to, ‘what a terrible thesis’. One of my mentors at Murdoch University defended my thesis to the examiner (who shall be nameless) and after some rewriting it was accepted.

I received notification that I had passed three days before my 60th birthday. I was now a fully fledged ‘Doctor of Philosophy’. Fat lot of good it did me. I never use my honorific – Aussies aren’t too taken with such things plus I’m always wary of being taken for a medical doctor.

C’est la vie

Writing a Thesis

For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

For the Most BeautifulFor the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really tried not to read this enchanting story too quickly.

As far back as I can remember I have been fascinated by the Greek myths; the stories, the heroes, the gods and goddesses. Thank you to my good friend Suzie Leaderbrand for recommending this book.

A more complete review will follow sometime soon.

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For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser