Alexander Averin

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Home Safe

Dear Diary,

Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.

Mark Twain

I do apologise because I can’t remember who recommended this book to me (probably via a booky blog post?) but I just want to say thank you. Someone out there who I hope will come forward.

Elizabeth Berg writes sensitively and I very much enjoyed Home Safe.   It caused me to stay in bed half the morning and to feel sad when it ended, always a sign of a good book. The blurb on the book possibly wouldn’t have enticed me to read it but it is a fine book and she is a fine writer and I would also like to recommend this title to others.

Some tastes from the book below:

She sits down and puts her hand to her chest and rocks. Thinks of all she has lost and will lose. All she has had and will have. It seems to her that life is like gathering berries into an apron with a hole. Why do we keep on? Because the berries are beautiful, and we must eat to survive. We catch what we can. We walk past what we lose for the promise of more, just ahead.”

― Elizabeth Berg, Home Safe

When Suzie introduced Helen, she told the audience that one of the best things about books is that they are an interactive art form: that while the author may describe in some detail how a character looks, it is the reader's imagination that completes the image, making it his or her own. "That's why we so often don't like movies made from books, right?" Suzie said. "We don't like someone else's interpretation of what we see so clearly." She talked, too, about how books educate and inspire, and how they soothe the soul-"like comfort food without the calories," she said. She talked about the tactile joys of reading, the feel of a page beneath one's fingers; the elegance of typeface on a page. She talked about how people complain that they don't have time to read, and reminded them that if they gave up half an hour of television a day in favor of reading, they could finish twenty-five books a year. "Books don't take time away from us," she said. "They give it back. In this age of abstraction, of multitasking, of speed for speed's sake, they reintroduce us to the elegance-and the relief!-of real, tick-tock time.”

― Elizabeth Berg, Home Safe

I just want to say one thing. If I ever write a novel again, it's going to be in defense of weak women, inept and codependent women. I'm going to talk about all the great movies and songs and poetry that focus on such women. I'm going to toast Blanche DuBois. I'm going to celebrate women who aren't afraid to show their need and their vulnerabilities. To be honest about how hard it can be to plow your way through a life that offers no guarantees about anything. I'm going to get on my metaphorical knees and thank women who fall apart, who cry and carry on and wail and wring their hands because you know what, Midge? We all need to cry. Thank God for women who can articulate their vulnerabilities and express what probably a lot of other people want to say and feel they can't. Those peoples' stronghold against falling apart themselves is the disdain they feel for women who do it for them. Strong. I'm starting to think that's as much a party line as anything else ever handed to women for their assigned roles. When do we get respect for our differences from men? Our strength is our weakness. Our ability to feel is our humanity. You know what? I'll bet if you talk to a hundred strong women, 99 of them would say 'I'm sick of being strong. I would like to be cared for. I would like someone else to make the goddamn decisions, I'm sick of making decisions.' I know this one woman who's a beacon of strength. A single mother who can do everything - even more than you, Midge. I ran into her not long ago and we went and got a coffee and you know what she told me? She told me that when she goes out to dinner with her guy, she asks him to order everything for her. Every single thing, drink to dessert. Because she just wants to unhitch. All of us dependent, weak women have the courage to do all the time what she can only do in a restaurant.”

― Elizabeth Berg, Home Safe

Bye for now,



E Wix said...

Sounds a really worthwhile read!

Friko said...

A writer who understands women.

Anonymous said...

I'll certainly add it to my wish list, thanks so much for the recommendation. I have read one of hers before I think.

Dartford Warbler said...

Thanks for this review. I will look out for this one.

Writing from the Edge said...

Thank you for telling me (us) about this book. Loved the excerpts you chose.

Pam said...

Great excerpts. Has me curious now. Will try to chase this up.

Jenny said...

Oh, I LOVE Elizabeth Berg. Her books are wonderful reads - every one of them.

labergerebasque said...

I LOVE Elizabeth Berg and now I LOVE your blog! When I first moved back to the Basque Country and met my Sheepfarmer, I realized how much men here appreciate vulnerability in women. It is NOT considered a sign of weakness, but rather another dimension in why women are so important to a man who sometimes needs to feel needed as well as wanted. He wants to be the one she will sometimes lean on…it is important to him and his reason for “being"