Monday, June 13, 2011

Blocked Creativity

Lately I've spent a lot more time reading than in my studio. The last sewing project I undertook was to recover the cushions on the porch furniture. My creative spirit seems to be in deep hiding, and my studio gathers dust.

Possible causes:
Disintegration of monthly art group
Rejection of creative project article by national magazine
Sale of personal items on EBay takes a lot of time

Find another quilt guild and make a commitment to attend
Move on after rejection, lots of people get rejected on their first try
Take some local classes at quilt shops
Keep selling the good stuff on EBay and donate the other stuff. Clutter removed allows space for creativity.
Attend CREATE, mixed media retreat in Chicago.

That said, I have read some great books of late.

By the Rivers of Babylon – Nelson DeMilleIn April we spent four days in the car traveling to and from Kentucky. We drove over 1600 miles, and this book on 14 cd’s consumed a lot of time. It is set sometime in the 1980’s and involves a peace delegation from Israel and a band of renegade Palestinians who have hijacked their plane. Nothing particularly memorable, but it was an engrossing travel book. Lots of Biblical references to Babylon.

In the Woods--Tana French
I previously read her third novel Faithful Place and this one had many of the same themes. It involves a team of detectives investigating a murder at an archaeological site. One of the detectives was a victim of a crime committed at the same site some twenty years earlier. As with Faithful Place, a dysfunctional Irish family is at the heart of the novel.

Russian Winter--Daphne Kalotry
This is a gem of a novel. It has so many overlapping themes and layers. I absolutely recommend it. It chronicles the life of a Russian ballet dancer during the Stalin era: her acceptance into the Bolshoi school, her rise through the ranks, her defection to the West, and her auction of her jewelry to benefit the Boston Ballet. It has romance, entanglements, family strife, political repression, search for birth parents, and auction house intrigue. Recommend.

So Much Pretty--Cara Hoffman
A novel about violence directed towards women, this time a young waitress who disappears in a rural town in New York. I read this one fairly quickly, but like much current fiction, it's told in fragments. This one uses different voices as well as varied materials as if the reader were a journalist researching a topic from original sources. Maybe I'm a lazy reader, but I find this style of writing annoying and difficult to read. That said, the story line was compelling. (History of Love uses several of the same constructs, but the author is more skillful than Cara Hoffman.)

Among the Truthers --Jonathan Kay
We are fascinated by conspiracy theories, some of us much more so than others.  In this non-fiction book, Canadian, Jonathan Kay explores the world of conspiracy theorists whose numbers have grown significantly with the rise of the Internet. True converts to a particular theory live almost exclusively in the cyber world with like minded people. He examines conspiracy theories of all stripes, medical, (Autism is caused by vaccines), literary (Shakespeare was a fraud), alien abductions, Obama was born in Kenya, messiah narratives, and the biggest of all, the conspiracies behind the 9/11 disaster. A look at current American culture through the eyes of an outsider.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks--Rebecca Skloot
Outstanding, a wonderful companion read to Autobiography of Cancer which I reviewed in the last post. This is a very readable non-fiction book which becomes increasingly difficult to put down. Cells taken from Henrietta Lacks continue to grow in labs today and have been very valuable in  research for cures for disease. This book looks at how those cells have helped advance research, but also how her family was ignored during the whole process. One of her relatives asks the question, "If her cells were so important, if so many companies have made money selling her cells to other research institutes, why can't we get health insurance"?

The Clothes on their Backs--Linda Grant
This book was short listed for the Man Booker Prize, Britain's top prize for fiction. OK, but not great. I heard about this author on a radio spot promoting her book about life in Great Britain in the post WWII years. I'm still looking for that book at my local library, We Had it so Good.

The History of Love --Nicole Krauss
Beautiful book, artfully constructed. It's difficult to describe without giving away too much. There are three generations of people who are connected only by the book, A History of Love. The book was written in 1938 by a 20 year old in Poland before he fled to the woods to escape the Holocaust. The story unfolds as we discover how the book survived, was published and how it affects the lives of the primary characters. As soon as I finished it, I picked it up to read again just to savor the words. Recommend.

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit --Mark Seal
The account of an impostor, who as a teenager emigrates to the US from Germany under the guise of a  foreign exchange student. He adopts an upwardly mobile set of  identities and eventually bluffs his way into exclusive clubs, adopts the persona, Clark Rockefeller, a fictional cousin of the cousins of the family of John D. Rockefeller. Interesting reading, it was recommended in Newsweek as one of the must reads of the summer.

Best of the bunch? History of Love, Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and Russian Winter

Books on my saved list at the library
The Postmistress
The Girl's Guide to Homelessness
The Alice behind Wonderland
Cleopatra, A Life
America Aflame: How the Civil War created a Nation
We had it so Good --Not yet available at my library
State of Wonder

Wonder if I will get through all of them?

1 comment:

  1. Sounds as if you've been busy making space, among other things. Managing online listings takes plenty of time. And reading.. I love to read, too. Thanks for the summaries. Another possible solution to add to the list: an online art quilt group? We're doing a book study of "Fabric Embellishing: The Basics & Beyond". Started a Yahoo group for it. E-mail me if you'd like more details.