Oh how my state of mind has improved since my last post. I am walking steadily! Granted I am still only moving about for short periods of a few minutes each, but I am steadier on my feet, and I can stay up long enough to actually walk outside, to the mailbox even. I cannot begin to describe the thrill I felt at accomplishing such a simple task. I can heat myself a simple lunch, I can make a sandwich. There is much I cannot do, but I am no longer completely dependent on others for everything. The power such simple tasks hold is not to be discounted. At the same time that first trip to the mailbox was surprisingly difficult. It was further than I anticiapted, nearly 100 feet each direction. But each day I go a little further, do a little more, and I am filled with hope. I know not to push to fast, to move slowly, but even progress at a snail's pace is encouraging. Now if only I could sit, I could eventually get out into the world...
Still, it is not all bad. Now that my mind has calmed somewhat my knitting is moving along nicely, although not as quickly as it would be were I able to sit (yes a small complaint). And I am able to once again able to let my mind drift into the pages of a book and lose track of time. In that, I was very lucky in my choice of books to read this past week.
Churchill and America by Martin Gilbert is a book that had been on my reading stack for quite some time. Truth is, I had been putting it off, thinking that I just didn't have the focus to really concentrate on it. I have read part of Gilbert's biography of Churchill, which is excellent, but Gilbert can be a bit dogged and I wasn't sure I was really up to it, much as I admire Churchill.
Well, I was mistaken. The book is fantastically interesting, and it is not at all a classic biography, as it is for the most part fairly one-sided. You get the story of Churchill, and his relationship with America through his own words, through a lifetime of letters, speaches, telegrams, and various odd communications. The story is tied together with bits of communication from those who knew him and worked with him. In the end it is a highly personal story, very human, and very moving. At many times I would find myself in tears and had to stop reading. Over half the book concerns WWII and it was one of the most moving approaches to that war I have read.
The second book is a novel, The Visitors, by Patirck O'Keefe, a novel I might never have discovered were it not brought to me by a new friend, who explained that the author had just recently given a talk at the UT Library and she hoped I would enjoy the book as much as she.
It is a profoundly lyrical and beautiful novel, but not necesary an easy read. The novel is told by Jimmy Dwyer, an immigrant from Ireland living in Michigan. Time and place are interwoven throughout the novel as Jimmy's thoughts and memories wander, interweaving the past and the present as he constantly remembers, relives, and rediscovers himself and his relationship to his family through the refracting lens of time and changing relationships. It is a novel that is at times tragic, and certainly melancholy, in how history plays itself out and repeats itself, and in how Jimmy learns that the past is always with us, no matter how much one wishes to escape it. O'keefe's prose is breathtakingly beautiful. He captures Jimmy's voice perfectly and he is fully and complexly realized. The interleaving of time and place is expertly and subtly maintained and captured in the nuances of voice that define different places and relationships. This was an exquisite book that I will not soon forget.