Let the games begin!

“WINNING MEANS FAME AND FORTUNE.

LOSING MEANS CERTAIN DEATH.

THE HUNGER GAMES HAVE BEGUN.”

Excuse my lack of updates, but it’s due to the fact that I’m finishing up “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I FLEW through the first book in December, read a few other books, then purchased “Catching Fire” at the International bookstore in Rome. Another book where I just could not put it down…so as soon as I finished I bought “Mockingjay” and have been reading that nonstop for the past day. I’ll update as soon as I finish!

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“Life of Pi” – Yann Martel

I can well imagine an atheist’s last words: “White, white! L-L-Love! My God!” – and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying, “Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain,” and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story. 

Yet another book that had been patiently waiting on my list and that was eventually given to me by my good friend Indira before she moved back to Brazil from Rome. “Life of Pi” is not my usual cup of tea, but being a raving lunatic of a “Lost” fan, let’s say the survival genre has begun to intrigue me a bit…

Pi comes from an Indian family with a zookeeper for a father, and therefore grows up speaking and interacting with, taking care of, and learning about and understanding all of the different animals in the zoo. Growing up Indian, his family and community expect Pi to follow their family religion, but torn between the romance of three very distinct and diverse religions, Pi questions why we must choose just one, and from then on practices as a devout Hindu, Muslim, and Christian. Once news breaks that Pi’s family will move to Canada where his father will open a zoo, they sell the animals and ready the ones they plan to take with them as they pack up their lives to take the far-flung journey by ship across the vast Pacific.

“Bapu Gandhi said, ‘All religions are true.’ I just want to love God,” I blurted out…

Shipwreck. Pi finds himself thrown overboard into a lifeboat with minimal supplies as the ship begins to sink only to find that he’s not alone, but  joined by a zebra with a broken leg. Seconds later a hyena crashes into the boat in a last attempt at survival leaving Pi amongst a predator and its prey, and as Pi watches the ship in its tragedy sink to the bottom of the Pacific taking along with it his hopes and dreams of a new life in Canada, he notices the zoo’s pride, a Bengal tiger dubbed ‘Richard Parker’, swimming towards the boat. Pi helps save the beast as well as a female orangutang floating by on a heap of bananas, and so 3 become 5: an orphaned Indian boy, a zebra with a broken leg, a hyena, an orangutang, and a Bengal tiger, all on one lifeboat. And so the real story begins as Pi struggles to tame the wild Pacific as well as his travel companions on his journey towards survival.

I had to stop hoping so much that a ship would rescue me. I should not count on outside help. Survival had to start with me. In my experience, a castaway’s worst mistake is to hope too much and do too little. Survival starts by paying attention to what is close at hand and immediate. To look out with idle hope is tantamount to dreaming one’s life away.

“Life of Pi” was a pleasant surprise for me, and a total page-turner. I found myself eagerly awaiting my train rides so I could lose myself in the adventure, constantly making and using my spare time reading and utterly unable to put the book down.  A story of endurance, hope, survival, religion, mortality, self-realization and spirituality, “Life of Pi” and its epic narration will leave you with your jaw to the floor down to, and especially during the very last few pages.

After recently finding out that “Life of Pi” is to become a movie, I’d highly recommend reading the novel first – it’s all about the adventure, and in my experience the book always tells a better story.

I was giving up. I would have given up – if a voice hadn’t made itself heard in my heart. The voice said, “I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen every day. I will put in all the hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen.”

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in a world of my own…

books will wallpaper my home.

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Currently Eyeballing…

Anyone ever read these books before? All suggestions, comments, praise or criticism highly appreciated! :)

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“Just Kids” – Patti Smith

“but secretly i knew i had been transformed, moved by the revelation that human beings create art, that to be an artist was to see what others could not.”

I’ll be honest, even though this book is a national best-seller, I’d never even heard of it until I saw it featured on the Free People Blog’s book club. I have a vague idea of who Patti Smith is thanks to her popular hit “Because the Night,” and I’ve seen an erotic, yet tasteful Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition in Chicago, but didn’t have a clue as to the storyline of the book, let alone the relationship between the two artists. I check the Free People blog religiously, so every once in awhile I happened upon a book club update sharing favorite quotes and photos from the reading. My interest was immediately peaked. The citations spoke to me – in a time when I fled my home country, my family, my friends, everything that I hold close and dear, I found that I could relate with the idea of the journey, the pull to follow what you believe in your heart that you’re truly supposed to be doing, that even when the going gets tough you push through the pain and the struggle and do the only thing you can, which is to keep on moving on. You don’t give in and you don’t give up. I was compelled by a sense of comradery for a passion and a woman of which I knew nothing about, but this felt kinship propelled me to instantly add “Just Kids” to my never-ending and constantly growing list of books to read.

“we hadn’t the money to go anywhere, had no television, telephone, or radio. we had our record player, though, and drew back the arm so a chosen record would play over and over as we slept.”

Recently while visiting my friend Jessica and purusing her small lot of  books she has managed to collect here in Rome, low and behold, there it was; “Just Kids” sitting perfectly on her shelf. I slowly started towards it remembering the beauty of the photos and quotes I’d seen in months before when Jessica interrupted my reach grabbing the book and thrusting it into my hands. “Borrow this.” she said, and so I did.

As soon as I had devoured my current read I picked up “Just Kids” and dove in. I must admit that the beginning of the book lacked a little in not only style, but prose and I soon found myself questioning the worth of the book as it seemed a little unorganized jumping from here to there, but I have a silent pact with myself. Once I begin reading a book I must finish it no matter how difficult and torturous the journey (Jack Kerouac, I’m looking at you!). Over the weeks I slowly became more enthralled in the novel as Patti found her groove and the story began to unfold.

“we learned we wanted too much.  we could only give from the perspective of who we were and what we had. apart, we were able to see with even greater clarity that we didn’t want to be without each other.”

“Just Kids” paints a picture of the beautiful relationship between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe as they fell in love, created art and life together, found their paths, and lived life’s breathtaking momentous highs and the deepest most desolate of lows through the 60’s and 70’s. The novel is littered with cultural references, inspiration quotes, name dropping (Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix – just to name a few), and above all, heart. Smith not only shares her personal life journey, but also gives us a glimpse through the window as we’re thrown into the fabulous but not always glamorous life at the landmark Chelsea Hotel, Max’s Kansas City (a popular Warhol hotspot), fashion, art, music, sketches, jewelry making, painting, photography, hustling, and AIDS – all of it whirling around the star-crossed soul mates in circles of chaos, confusion, and ultimate truth and understanding.

“on that night, too excited to sleep, infinite possibilities seemed to swirl above me. i stared up at the plaster ceiling as i had done as a child. it seemed to me that the vibrating patterns overhead were sliding into place. the mandala of my life.”

Was “Just Kids” one of my all-time favorite books? No, no it was not, but even if you’re not up to speed on your artistic and musical references, you’ll still find something enjoyable in Smith’s story and everlasting friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethrope. Give it a try; like me you may also find a little piece of yourself nestled between the pages.

“you know, the dreams you had for me weren’t my dreams,” he said. “maybe those dreams are meant for you.”
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