I chose to read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine because my niece gave it a positive rating on Good Reads and I trust her instincts about books. I was quite taken with the story and finished it quickly.
As an author hoping to get a book published for the first time I will admit that the ‘dreams do come true’ story of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine author Gail Honeyman probably influenced my appreciation of the book. This is Gail Honeyman’s first novel and she wrote it as an assignment for a writing course she took while working full-time as a university administrator. She would write her novel on her lunch breaks. She entered the manuscript in a writing contest and one of the judges, who happened to be a literary agent, liked it and decided to take her on as a client. Gail’s book was just named Book of the Year in Britain and Reese Witherspoon is turning it into a movie.
I liked Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine because the heroine perseveres despite the fact that she leads a very lonely existence and has been dealt a horrible hand in the game of life. I liked the story because it shows how a little kindness and personal interest can go a long way towards making a difference in someone’s life. I liked the book because Eleanor is so straight forward and honest that many of her observations had me laughing out loud like……….
“I have often noticed that people who routinely wear sportswear are the least likely sort to participate in athletic activity.”
Some critics say the transformation that takes place in Eleanor Oliphant’s life in this book is unrealistic. That may be, but I was charmed by Eleanor and intrigued by the way she manages to finally open herself to other people. This is a sad story that turns out better than one could have imagined. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is ultimately a hopeful book and I think right now many people are looking for just that kind of story.
All Things Consoled
Coop The Great
Filed under Books, Writing
Jaguar vase and jaguar figurines in a hotel lobby in Merida
The jaguar is an important symbolic animal here in Mexico. Archeologists have discovered stone and jade carvings of jaguars that are more than 3000 years old. Mayan rulers showed their power by wearing jaguar skins, claws and fangs. Images of jaguars appear in ancient Mayan hieroglyphic texts and there is a Temple of the Jaguar at the Mayan ruins in Chichen Itza.
Jaguar art piece for sale in a gift shop in Merida
In Mayan mythology the jaguar was the ruler of the underworld. Mayan sorcerers could transform into jaguars to face their fears or confront their enemies.
Jaguar by Gabriel Perez Rajon at the Folk Art Museum in Merida
After the Spanish take over of Mexico the local Mayan people used the jaguar as a symbol of their fight against colonization. Because of all that history and symbolism I see jaguar images everywhere here in the Yucatan and I mean everywhere! In the last few days I have even found jaguars in bathrooms in two different places.
Jaguars by Alberto Bautista Gomez
The Folk Art Museum in Merida is located in an old home. Each room of the house features artists from different provinces of Mexico. There happens to be a bathroom in the section of the house featuring artists from Chiapas and so two jaguars created by artist Alberto Bautista Gomez are on display there posed just in front of the urinal and toilet. On Friday I was on an art gallery walk in Merida and asked to use the washroom at the Soho Art Gallery. I was sitting on the toilet and looked up and lo and behold there was another jaguar looking right at me!
If you visit the Yucatan province in Mexico be prepared to see jaguars everywhere! Including in the bathroom!
The Most Beautiful Bathroom in Winnipeg
Pop Up Toilet
Gender Neutral Bathrooms
After I finished reading the book The Hate U Give I watched the movie of the same title. I liked the book better. One of the themes of the story is black lives matter. Starr the African American heroine witnesses a white police officer shoot and kill her friend Khalil after a routine traffic pull over. Her friend is unarmed. Starr must decide if she will appear as a witness before a Grand Jury. The jury will determine whether the officer will be charged with a crime in the shooting.
Starr’s uncle is an African American police officer and in the book his character is explored in much more depth than in the movie. This gives the book more balance so that we get a well rounded picture of a positive member of the police force and can see things from the police officers’ point of view too.
Starr’s Dad who has been heavily influenced by the teachings of Malcom X has taught his daughter to be proud of her racial identity and her black community
Starr’s father is a devoted follower of Macolm X. The principles of the Black Panthers guide Starr’s upbringing and are more completely explained and discussed in the book. This helps us better understand Starr and the choices she eventually makes.
The character of Starr’s white boyfriend is more fully explored in the book as well and I liked him more in the book than I did in the movie.
One character in the book, DeVante is left out of the movie completely. That’s too bad. DeVante is a young black man Starr’s family tries to help escape from the clutches of a drug lord and gang leader. Although Khalil, the young man whose death Starr witnessed is dead, and Starr’s family can’t help him any more, they can help DeVante find a new life. I think this provides an important piece in the family’s healing and makes the story in the book more balanced.
I thought Amandla Stenberg did a great job of playing Starr in the movie
The movie ends differently than the book in a way that I thought was contrived and unrealistic.
I read The Hate U Give because I am doing a presentation on it for my writer’s group when I get back to Winnipeg. I have to analyze the book using a fourteen point plot outline for how to write a good novel. Ironically the text about novel writing we are using is a sequel to one about screen writing that was hugely popular. I think maybe the screenwriters and producers for The Hate U Give needed to read that text so the movie they made would have been as good as the book it was based on.
Now I Really Want To Go To Botswana
Winnipeg and Mennonites in Gone Girl
Don’t Trust the Trailer
Filed under Books, Writing
We get around everywhere by Uber here in Mexico. The rates are so cheap and there are so many drivers available that downloading Uber apps on our phones and using them for our transportation needs is a far more economical and practical choice than renting a car. Some drivers don’t speak English but others do and we have learned plenty of interesting things from them.
Many have left jobs related to their university degrees- business, technology, innovation, architecture, engineering to drive Uber because they can make a better living here in Mexico as a driver than as a professional.
Two of our drivers were Americans who had roots in Mexico, had come here for visits, fallen in love with Mexican women and had children. Since getting American immigration papers for their families is almost impossible they must remain here.
Some people drive Uber because it gives them an opportunity to have two jobs or it gives them the flexibilty to spend more time with their kids during the day. One of our drivers was a farmer and he and Dave discussed their family farms during our trip.
One driver who didn’t speak English asked Dave in a questioning way “música?” When Dave said ‘The Beatles” the driver understood him immediately and played one Beatles hit after the other on his car sound system during our ride.
We have only had one female driver. She didn’t understand English but Dave and Rudy managed to convey that they wanted to stop on our ride to pick up some items from the grocery store. While the fellows went into the store I showed her pictures of my grandsons on my phone and she showed me photos of her family and with gestures and the few words we knew of each other’s languages I learned she had five brothers and two sisters,seven nieces and nephews and that her grandmother had died last year. We even figured out that her nephew and my grandson shared the same name.
A couple of our drivers have moved here from Mexico City because there is so much less crime and extortion and corruption here in the Yucatan. They gave us lots of interesting reasons why that is the case.
I especially love Uber trips I make on my own. My last two I was lucky enough to get drivers who both spoke a fair bit of English and we had fascinating half hour conversations on our ride home from Merida. Uber is fast and convenient but the bonus for me is that I am meeting lots of interesting people and am learning so much about Merida and the Yucatan from our local drivers.
Friend For A Moment
We Placed Our Lives in his Hands
Dave the Professional Driver
Filed under Mexico, Travel