Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Turtle Catcher:


In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published books.

The novel is an engrossing tale of immigration and assimilation in early 1900's Minnesota.

In her own words, here is Nicole Helget's Book Notes essay for her novel, The Turtle Catcher:

Let Me Go, by Cake (for Frieda)

Frieda is a feminist before the term feminism found meaning. She feels confined by her role as wife and mother. Her brain is a firecracker. She has ideas, good ones, but, because of the time, has to defer to her husband, who isn’t nearly as capable or strong as she. She’s a far better example of how to be a “man” for her sons than her husband, and in the end, she leaves her husband to try to change the world. So, this song is for her. When she moves, she swings her arms instead of her hips. She moves her mouth instead of her lips.

Love to Lay You Down, By Conway Twitty (for Pernilla)

In a different way than Frieda, Pernilla is a feminist, too. She’s sexy, unabashedly so in a time in which women were supposed to be demure and faithful. She has her heart set on Luther. She’s blunt, inarticulate, so like Conway Twitty, she’d not talk of poems and promises either. She’s just all about laying down Luther. I just love that Twitty performed this song at the time of the onset of the “Reagan Revolution,” a movement of conservatism and decency. This song feels wholly indecent for its time, like Pernilla.

Lions of the Kalahari, by Sam Roberts (for Commissioner Patterson)

Commissioner Patterson, the character in my book, came to me because my daughter, Isabella was reading The Lions of Tsavo while I was writing The Turtle Catcher. It’s a memoir about John Patterson building a railroad in Africa and having to ward off man-eating lions who ate something like 130 Indian and African workers. The movie, “The Ghost and Darkness” is based on these events. And while the movie character is a humble soul, the real Patterson was not this way. He represents himself as an imperialistic blowhard. A racist. So I poke fun at him in my book, but try to make him sympathetic, too, by giving him a wife whom he truly loved and was taken from him. This song by Sam Roberts is my gift to him. “If I die, won’t you please feed me, to the lions of the Kalahari.”

Crawling Back to You, by Tom Petty (for Liesel and Lester)

This is my favorite Petty tune from the most underrated album, Wildflowers. It’s sort of a sad album, which may explain why I’m so attracted and moved by it and why it didn’t catch on in the mainstream so well as others. I remember walking outside in the heat of Minnesota’s July to this song, Crawling Back to You, while I was 8 months pregnant, unemployed, separated from my husband, trying to finish this book, The Turtle Catcher, and just feeling so, so low and lonely. “Crawling Back to You” is a weird (is that a recorder or piccolo riff in the beginning?), slow, full of pain tune. I remember stretching out my arms to the sun and just surrendering to the heat and ache. And then I went home and gave all that emotion to Lester and Liesel, and let them literally and metaphorically “crawl” back to each other. People’ve asked me why my work is so dark and gloomy, and I’ve found myself in the position to have to defend that tone. I think because I’m a mother, I have to try and keep my mood up in the house, with the kids, and so I unload this doom and gloom on my literary work. Life is sad. And the more you make yourself aware of the pain in the world, the harder it is, for an artist, for me anyway, to write about happiness, redemption, forgiveness, and hope. I try to incorporate some of these sentiments, but having those elements be the crux of my work doesn’t feel honest to me. Perhaps Petty was in this type of mood while working on Wildflowers. I’d like to ask him.

In the Pines, as sung by Kurt Cobain (for Liesel and Lester) (ED NOTE: The Louvin Brothers too

I love Cobain’s rendition of this traditional song, written originally by a slave, I think. It’s a mournful tune, a lament about distrust, loneliness, and lying. If Lester had a more cynical way, or the articulation to express to Liesel his thoughts, maybe he’d sing this to her. “You caused me to weep/ And you caused me to moan/ You caused me to leave my home…/ In the pines, in the pines/ where the sun don’t ever shine/ I shiver the whole night through.” And of course there’s the fact that Lester is confined to a cold purgatory because of Liesel’s lie. This song’s nearly perfect.


King, Warrior, Magician, Lover

So, Jeremy lent me these two books over the Easter break, that I'm just finishing now. The KWML book presents four character-types of the male psychy. These 'archetypes' are put through the Jungian wringer, and examples to everyday life are shown. To further the argument, Moore and Gillette suggest that a balance of all 4 character types is necessary to achieve fulfillment within and reach the full potential of the mature masculine personality.

I really liked the book, and the self-analysis is fantastic. I've definitely been in a state of change recently, and this really helped me identify, reinforce and solidify the concepts I've been thinking of. Pretty good, quick read, if not a bit too general, on the male psychological state.

"The New Earth" is a lot more "new earthy", general and wish-washy. Ignoring a lot of Tolle's "we're on the verge of creating a new world by personal transformation and global collective consciousness" shlop will make this book bearable. Eckhart's strength is when he uses real examples to make a point. For example, presenting that the "I" and "me" in our culture actually includes all our possessions and past (all enveloped and constantly enforced by our ego), Tolle argues that this association with the ego is the driving force behind all that is evil in the world. He is very insistent and complete in his views, and tries desperately to convince you that this is the only way to a better life. I like the idea, but practically it seems difficult to pull off... or even to aspire to realiztically. Anyway, not as good as KWML, but once you get passed the first 30 pages it's totally readable (there's an endoresment!) and did bring to attention and define things a bit...

R.I.P. Nick Adenhart

Rookie pitcher for the Angels dies in car accident with suspected drunk driver.

ESPN posts this:

Not that it's any secret, but it's pretty obvious that Disney/ESPN only cares about Adenhart's death insofar as it translates into ratings, traffic, and ad dollars - anyone with a modicum of common sense or genuine concern would have yanked that sucker down in a heartbeat.

...more secure website authentication questions.

Abandoned blog draft-post look back:

Originally to be posted on February 26th, 11:30AM:

What is the name of the hedge-fund manager your ex-wife married?

How many hours did it take you to drink that bottle of Jack Daniel's yesterday?

What time was it when, in a drunken rage, you threw your novel into the fire?

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

more here:

One of the many questions surrounding the LSATs...

No, not anything necessarily specific on/to the LSAT, but more whys, hows, and wheres (I'm good and bad at). The experience, I suppose. And I have a feeling these posts are going to be totally random.

So, things I learned over the last two first days of LSAT class.

First, when biking (to Jarvis) take College there and back. Queen is fun, but after 4+ hours in class physical exertion is endeavoured; calculated risk computation should be avoided. On College one avoids, for the most part, unparalleled streetcar tracks, cabs, congestion, crossing crowds, and the occasional cat.

Ok... what else, what else... oh, stuff on the test.

Strength - Reading comp. I've always been a concept/forms/structures guy and less a details (who sang that?) sort of guy... Reading comp plays into that perfectly... just read the passage (or 2), and answer the questions.. pretty simple. If there is something specific that I can't remember I'll at least remember where on the page / space it was referenced... Reading speed is not a strength of mine, but time, so far, hasn't been a factor.

Slightly lesser strength - Logic Games /Analytical Reasoning. I'm doing well in the simple / straight forward diagram-out logic games, and learning the tricks for the complicated ones fairly well...

Flat out suck at: Logic Reasoning; and more specifically, Sufficient and Necessary Condition questions. I'm falling on my face with these... I keep on looking for that trick to get them, but end up getting tricked. I know there is a deeper understanding in there that I don't have, but am pretty sure it'll click at some point... just need to start focusing on those one by one and get them intuitive... these types of questions are the root / base of a good number of exam questions, so yeah, gotta get that shit down.

So... not feeling all that bad about the test at the moment... mostly good feelings / experience, but no question there is definitely some stuff I need to work on. I remember learning to drive stick shift with my dad taking me to different auto sales lots... we'd ask to test drive a vehicle (in fairness we were interested in that type of vehicle), and my dad would drive it out of the lot. When sufficiently out of sight we'd switch seats and I'd give it a go. Anyway, the first time in the driver's seat I'm all 16 years old and jacked up, ready to screech the the fuck out of the rear wheels of that basic model Ford Mustang. First gear.. Gas.. Stall. First gear.. Gas.. Stall. Starting to get honked at a bit... yeah, this was at an lit intersection. "So, you're not a natural. No big deal", he said to me.

So glad I did not get that car.

I was beginning to wonder, cuz my parents are geniuses...

While the view that intelligence is overwhelmingly inherited has been widely held, the evidence is growing that it is, at a practical level, profoundly wrong.

Song of the day: Joel Plaskett - Nina and Albert

Such a great double song.

Gorgeous. Joel Plaskett's 'bar style' is too much.

Listen here

... all I asked for was good-bye, now I'm driving across the dessert watching lightning skip across the sky.


... why you're angry is beyond me, is there something I can do to make it right. Albert, you're my man. Nobody can love me like you can. You're coming around behind me, Albert, don't you try to find me. I'll look you up when I think that you'll understand. Albert, Ronald Reagan died today. I pulled over at the side of the highway and cried today. Black clouds hang above us, does anybody love us, Albert.

Get ready to pay more for your Cuban vacation

Umm.. well, maybe not, and surely not relevant, except for the garage guys here at work, who are lamenting the fact that 'everything' will now go up in Cuba... So really, this post is more about the guys in the garage and not really about International relations.

I'm not sure about Obama getting nothing in return, but a good first step I guess...

Mechanic on the beach.

Getting really busy at work, and this week is basically a write off for anything but work and class (I don't spend a single night at home this week! - yeah, I know... I got it rough...). Hopefully the end of the week makes up for it...

I've got a few things I really wanna post about and I'm looking forward to getting around to them late tonight after class.