Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault
Source: Library Copy
Publisher: Hesperus Nova, 2014
ISBN: 9781843915362, 108 pages

Bilodo is, as the title suggests, a lonely postman living in Montreal. He’s an introverted, quiet man who delivers mail by day, returning to his lonely and empty apartment at night. Despite the monotony of his life, he’s found a way to break the cycle. He pockets personal letters and steams open the envelope in his kitchen at night, reading the contents. The letters do eventually find their way to their intended recipients, albeit a few days late. It is during one of these intercepted letters where Bilodo first comes across Ségolène’s letters to Gaston. Their letters, an exchange of haikus, excites Bilodo as he wedges himself into their world as an invisible interloper. During one of his delivery rounds, he witnesses a horrific accident, where Gaston is struck by a car on his way to deliver a letter to Ségolène. From here, Bilodo’s world takes an unexpected twist as he finds himself that much closer to Ségolène.

This short novella is quite peculiar, as the title states. The postman, Bilodo is a creeper who steals personal letters to steam open and read at night after his shift. The book is a tragic love story with elements of fantasy. It’s more psychological than anything although we don’t really get into Bilodo’s head. I wish the story was told from his point of view rather than a 3rd person narrator. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to feel sympathy for him or see his downfall as a warning. It’s a bit shallow on that end. It could have been a better novella with a bit more depth and introspection into Bilodo’s fragmented sense of sense and his deteriorating sense of life. Maybe this was lost in the translation? There were also a lot of little details that were left unanswered. How does he afford to keep two apartments with one postman’s salary? How does he suddenly learn to write haikus just by putting on a kimono? How does he go two years without anyone noticing their mail being tampered with? I have more questions. The fantasy elements were too subtle, I couldn’t suspend reality to accept its overlay throughout the novella.

The Postman: Il PostinoAt times, it felt like the book was more about poetry than about people. In those instances, I was reminded of another novella about a postman. Il Postino, The Postman. Set in Italy, this is the story of a humble and sweet postman who learns how to write love poetry from the famed Pablo Neruda to win the admiration of a beautiful girl in his village. This is one of my favorite movies and one of my favorite books. The love story, the poetry and the tragic ending are heart-breaking and so genuine. If you want a book about a postman and poetry with a love angle, I’d opt for the latter book. If you want a book about a creepy 27-year-old who spies on his neighborhood, go for the first book.

The Future for Curious People by Gregory Sherl

The Future for Curious People: A Novel

 

The Future for Curious People by Gregory Sherl
Source: Library copy
Publisher: Algonquin Books, 2014
Genre: Sci-fi, Magical Realism
Find this book at your local library

 

Set in a contemporary, yet alternate universe of Baltimore Maryland, this novel centers around the search for true love amongst a group of 20-somethings. Envisionists are quite popular and are quickly becoming mainstream by delivering one promise to their clients. A glimpse into their future life. The novel centers around two people in particular (Evelyn and Godfrey) and their relationships.  Evelyn breaks up with her indie-band boyfriend because of a sad, sappy envisionist session in which they celebrate their cat’s birthday and have a fight about tacos. Godfrey’s girlfriend insists that they go through three sessions before she fully accepts his marriage proposal.

At the outset, this book reminded me so, so much of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, albeit with a different spin. There’s even a girl obsessed with famous quotes life in the movie. Although, rather than deleting someone special from your memory and forgetting your past, Sherl’s novel is about looking into the future with the desire of adding someone special into your life. Evelyn is a ghost child. A child born after her much older sister had passed away in a tragic car accident. Evelyn was never quite able to claim the same love from her parents as her sister and was left with a rather large hole in her heart that she constantly tried to fill. This is what constantly drew her to Dr. Chin’s office for multiple sessions.

Godfrey was skeptical of the envisioning sessions and only went reluctantly because his girlfriend made him. Although he grew up with a happy enough childhood, his adult-life was less than spectacular. He gave up his passion of teaching children for a business degree, but ended up with a dead-up job that he hated and a life of un-fulfilled potential. It isn’t until he bumps into Evelyn at Dr. Chin’s office one day that the two somehow manage to seep into each other’s subconscious, revealing themselves through the various envisioning sessions they attend. This then sets off a domino effect of change in their personal and professional lives as they try to sort through their feelings, relationships and emotional baggage.

Virtually everything about this book was well-done. At its heart, it’s a quirky sci-fi romance. Although the technology to see into the future was there, nothing more about it is explained other than exists. I actually liked that. It’s just the slightest element of magical realism to a simple love story. The writing is witty and sharp. I’m not sure how old the author is, but he nailed the 20-something mind-frame. The pacing was a bit quick, especially the ending. But even though the ending was predictable right from the start, I enjoyed the ride and all the various twists in the road. Sherl created a cast of well-rounded characters full of life and curiosity.

What I’m Reading

This has been an epic year of reading for me. Nearly every book I’ve picked up to read, I have enjoyed. Its bizarre, its wonderful. I’m on a roll and I can’t stop. I forgot how much fun books can be. How engrossing they can be. Its so easy to get bogged down in the poorly written stories and characters and be put-off, but no. This has been a wonderful year of reading and there’s still so much left to do!

In the past week, I’ve checked out these books from my library. I’m not sure what order I’ll be reading them in, but I’m excited to get started.

The Little Paris Bookshop How to Eat a Small Country: A Family's Pursuit of Happiness, One Meal at a Time The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1)

Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection

Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily PerfectionDrop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs

Source: Library copy – audio book

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2012

After being hospitalized from a freak encounter with pneumonia, Jacobs makes a promise to his wife that she will not be a 40-year-old widow. From then, he embarks on a 2 year expedition to be the healthiest man on Earth.

This is my 3rd A.J. Jacob’s book, and its the one I’ve liked the least. Although I appreciate all of the information he provide and all of the avenues he explored in the realm of health and longevity, there was just something off about this book. I picked up the audio book version because Jacob’s narration is quite funny. I liked listening to him tell his story. But I think maybe the fact that it was audio made the book feel choppy. Jacobs left no stone unturned in his research. That left the listener with a lot of small tidbits of information about health fads and crazes that sometimes felt very specialized to New York eccentricities. The chapter on safety had me shaking my head at the ridiculous bubble-wrap on life that his expert would have us live in. The calorie restriction group was baffling. It felt like a slight promotion of anorexia, despite it being more about savoring your food than not eating. But I’m out of the loop on mainstream diets and fads, so maybe marathon running barefoot in the park is something Americans do all around the country.

All in all, he leaves you with a few key tips that are nothing more than common sense. Eat less processed foods, move more, and eat more fruits and vegetables. Nothing we don’t know. His quest to find out the why and how to do all this was what intrigued me about the book. But the chapters were short and few were insightful. Just as it was getting interesting, he jumped ship onto the next craze.

I found the moments where he talked about family, particularly his grandfather and Aunt Marty to be most touching part of his memoir. I could listen to him tell stories about his family for hours. They seem like such a lively and engrossing family.

Other titles

  • The Know-It-All – Wherein AJ Jacobs attempts to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica and become the smartest person in the world. Humorous and full of random trivia.
  • The Year of Living Biblically – Wherein AJ Jacobs attempts to live life according to the rules prescribed in the bible. I didn’t read it, but a good friend of mine did.
  • The Guinea-Pig Diaries – Wherein AJ Jacobs tests out different theories on himself and his family. I haven’t read this one or come across any reviews.

© 2015 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld This was originally posted on The Novel World on 9/14/2015

Weekend Cooking: The Kitchn’s Kitchen Cure

The Kitchn Cure 2015

One of my favorite recipe websites, The Kitchn hosts an annual Kitchen Cure event to declutter, tidy, clean and organize the kitchen. Its a 20 day program. Once you sign up with your email, you’re given a daily alert as the day’s task. This is actually going to be my first year partaking in this event. Its one I’ve seen, but always forget about, or see after the fact and don’t actually finish.

Now that I’ve been working full, the attention I give to the kitchen has dwindled to scouring the pantry and the fridge for midnight snacks. Although my tummy is happy, I am not. Stuff has just been piling up (those damned Tupperware containers) and its really time to downsize the junk. I’ve been wanting to re-organize it all summer, but I keep putting it off. I’m hoping that this 20 day challenge will actually get me to make some valid and much needed changes to the kitchen.

Does anyone else want to join with me?

A More Mindful Kitchen

This year’s Cure is led by Dana Velden, the author of our Weekend Meditations column, and of the new book, Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Kitchen Meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook. Dana will offer you a daily assignment to get your kitchen a little cleaner and your mind a little clearer when it comes to cooking and loving your home just a little bit more. You’ll end with a cleaner kitchen and a refreshed love of your space

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Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page.