Saturday, February 04, 2006


Yesterday I had lunch with a writer friend of mine, who also faithfully reads my blog. She pointed out that I hadn't blogged since January 19th. Yikes! Well she got me inspired. She has just completed the first draft of her fourth book. Nothing like somebody else's work to get me off my excuses and whining. Work has settled back into a manageable roar of activity, so now it is Saturday and I have just finished the first draft of my second chapter. You will see it soon here and find out what I found out about life and books in 1941.

As I mentioned in "Aaarg", I have managed to keep reading. In fact, I met my goal of 10 books in January and February is off to a pretty good start. I've got piles on the bedside table, piles on the coffee table, piles on the hearth and bags I haven't even unpacked yet. About half the books are the reading from 1950, which you will hear about later, but here is an update on other books I've read lately.

Back in mid December, I finished Goldie, a lotus grows in the mud, by Goldie Hawn (with help). Wendy Holden is named as assistant writer but the voice of Goldie is definitely there. The book has a lovely dust jacket: a picture of Goldie's face with lotus flowers scattered around it. Jane Fonda's autobiography came out at the same time, but Goldie's cover won me over. I always liked Goldie Hawn, especially her laughing and silliness. Oh yes, and her hair. She is my age and she maintained some kind of balance in her life despite Hollywood, stardom and riches.

I mostly liked the book. She doesn't dish on other Hollywood people. The emphasis is on her family, her adventures as she went through her career and her spiritual searches. Like myself, she was always looking for happiness and working to be a kind and loving woman. She had two marriages fail, she was a single Mom of three kids for a long time and her first efforts to use her power came to bad results because she is a woman and because she is a good person. She finally found love, she stayed on top of her career and she raised good children. Kate Hudson, her only daughter, also became an actress and two of her sons are Buddhists. She also gave away a large amount of money to causes and people less fortunate.

At the end of each section, she summarizes what she learned and it comes across as New Age preaching or advice, but that only bothered me a little. What I liked was the way she would take big, relaxing breaks after periods of hard work. That is definitely part of my philosophy. Also I was interested in the book as an example of how to write up a life, since I am engaged in a similar activity. If you are a Goldie Hawn fan, I recommend the book to you.

The week between Christmas and New Years, I took a trip to Cambria, CA, which is one of my favorite places in the world. It is a little (but growing, a bit too fast if you ask me) artsy town on the coast about halfway up to San Francisco. I went to chill by myself, read and visit a friend. Jean Brody is an author and owns a bookstore in Cambria, called The Cambria Book Company. About 10 years ago, she moved to Cambria and began working at the store part time. Actually she was first a customer, but since she was always giving the owners advice on what to order, they hired her. Eventually she bought the store and has run it ever since.

She published 3 novels in the 80s and 90s, but hasn't finished a book since she took over the store, so I was sad to hear that she was closing it down, but happy to know that she plans to devote her time to writing because I love her books. I have read two of the three as I was under Jean's orders not to read her first novel. I would probably like it also, but I respect her wishes. My favorite of the two is Cleo, published in 1994. I loved this book with a strange and strong passion and have recommended it to everyone. I bought it from Jean at her shop when I first met her in 2004. You can find this book on Amazon and at libraries, though I believe it is out of print. Cleo is the last book Jean published and she has the usual horror stories of editors moving on to another publisher before her book was released, etc. Personally I think Cleo should be required reading in any Women's Studies program, possibly required reading for all young women growing up now.

But this time I bought her second novel, A Coven of Women, published in 1987. I read it all that very night and was again drawn into the world of a strong, rebellious woman named Vida Austin, born in 1890 in Oklahoma. Vida was big, strong, sexy and liberated when women hadn't even thought of the term. She was raised along with her sister, to know everything a boy would know on a big farm in those days. She had a series of teaching positions and love affairs in her adult life but never married. Her most pronounced oddity was that she would catch the spirits of certain people who died and keep them in a box. This began when she was six and had a fear of people she loved being buried underground. As an adult, she would bring these people out and interact with them until they became so real that they actually went on and had further lives.

Vida's great niece inherited the box, tells the story and has her own life vagaries which she resolves by the end of the book thanks to Vida's legacy. I liked Vida's story better than the niece's, but most of all I love Jean Brody's vision of feminism and I think any woman would.

More to come, hopefully tomorrow.

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