Arubabookwoman’s Tenth Anniversary Thread
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I dropped off the face of the earth midway through 2018, first to prepare our house for sale and a move to the east coast in early 2019. In October my husband’s cancer came back with a vengeance, and we have been on a roller coaster ride since then. He is currently in a clinical trial for a targeted therapy drug and is now somewhat stable. However, we are looking at a killer T cell trial or a bone marrow transplant as the next step. We decided to proceed with the sale of our house, and it goes on the market in 2 weeks, but we also decided to stay here in Seattle for the time being, since we are truly blessed with the best possible medical care.
I’m not sure how much visiting I’ll be doing, but I do want to at least track my reading. I’ll try to keep a timely list of what I’ve read in the first few messages on this thread, and to make bookish comments/reviews if I get a chance.
1. Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton by Edith Wharton 292 pp 3 1/2 stars
2. Blood’s A Rover by James Ellroy (2009) 658 pp 2 1/2 stars
3. Moo by Jane Smiley (1995) 434 pp 3 stars
4. The Death of Truth by Michiko Kakutani
5. Vox by Christina Dalcher (2018) 336 pp
6. The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers (1942)
7. The Deadly Dinner Party by Jonathan A. Edlow 260 pp
8. Juniper, The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon by Thomas French and Kelly French (2016) 357 pp
9. Bibliophile by Jane Mount (2018) 224 pp
10. The Futilitarians by Anne Gisleson (2017) 273 pp
11. Seventeen: A Novel by Hideo Yokoyama (2003) 368 pp
12. Labyrinths by Jorge Borges
13. Educated by Tara Westover (2018)
14. The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
15. Everything Is Teeth by Evie Wyld (2016) 128 pp
16. The Apprentice by Greg Miller (2018) 449 pp
17. The Night of Camp David by Fletcher Knebel (1964) 347 pp
18. Signal Loss by Gary Disher (2017) 353 pp
19. The Cleaner by Paul Cleave (2006) 402 pp
20. The Twisted Sword by Winston Graham () 656 pp
21. Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua (2010) 352 pp
22. Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif (2019)
23. The Wall by John Lancaster (2019) 255pp
24. The Art of Dying Well by Katy Butler (2019) 289 pp
25. Maid by Stephanie Land (2019) 289 pp
26. The Lost Man by Jane Harper (2019) 352 pp
27. The Watchtower by Elizabeth Harrower (1966) 352 pp
28. North of Dawn by Nuruddin Farah (2018)
29. The Ravenmaster by Christopher Skaife
30. Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent (2018) 240 pp
31. Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston (2017) 336 pp
32. The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson
33. Women Rowing North by Mary Pipher (2019)
34. The Silence of the Sea by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (2016) 433 pp
35. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou (2018) 352 pp
36. A Change of Time by Ida Jessen (2015) 250 pp
37. Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton (1922) 188 pp
38. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (2017) 248 pp
39. If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
40. The Tattoo Murder Case by Akimitsu Takagi (1948) 353 pp
41. Cassandra At The Wedding by Dorothy Baker
42 Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
43. Beaufort by Ron Leshem
44. Bella Poldark by Winston Graham
45. A Year of Reading by Elisabeth Ellington
46. The Book of Books by Timothy Knight
47. A Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates
48. Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima (1978/9) 192 pp
49. Manual for Survival by Kate Brown (2019) 432 pp
50. The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie 272 pp
51. The Hill To Die On by Jake Sherman
52. The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Eng (2012) 352 pp
53. Henry Himself by Stewart O'Nan (2019) 384 pp
54. Upstate by James Wood (2018) 224 pp
55. An Elegant Defense by Matt Richtel (2019) 448 ppby
56. A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum (2019) 346 pp
57. Sacred Cesium Ground by Kimura Yusuke (2019) 176 pp
58. Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates (2018) 324 pp
59. Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli (2019) 401 pp
60. Fall and Rise by Mitchell Zuckoff (2019) 624 pp
61. A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George (1988)
62. Dead Lions by Mick Herron (2013) 348 pp
63. What Patients Say What Doctors Hear by Danielle Orfi (2019) 248 pp
64. The Unwanted: America Auschwitz and a Village Caught In Between by Michael Dobbs (2019) 368 pp
65. Citizen Vince by Jess Walter (2008) 320 pp
66. Turbulence by David Szalay (2019) 160 pp
67. Real Tigers by Mick Herron (2016) 369 pp
68. Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch (2016) 397 pp
69. The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis (2018) 221 pp
70. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (2019) 432 pp
71. The Unpassing by Chia-Chia Lin (2019) 288 pp
72. Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio by Amara Lakhous
73. Slow Medicine by Victoria Sweet (2018) 304 pp
74. Happy Are The Happy by Yasmina Reza (2015) 161 pp
75. The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty (1990) 192 pp
76. Spook Street by Mick Herron (2017) 321 pp
77. The Yellow House by Sarah Broom (2019) 304 pp
78. Billion Dollar Whale by Tom Wright (1/2)
79. My Life As A Rat by Joyce Carol Oates (2019)
80. Conviction by Denise Mina
81. Quichotte by Salman Rushdie
82. Under the Cold Bright Lights by Gary Disher (2019) 313 pp
83. Newcomer by Keigo Higashino (2001) 334 pp
84. On the Clock by Emily Guendelsberger
85. London Rules by Mick Herron
86. A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson (2019) 400 pp
87. The Snakes by Sadie Jones (2019) 418 pp
88. Trustee From The Toolroom by Nevil Shute (1960) 304 pp
89. The Collected Schizophrenias by Esme Weijun Wang (2019) 224 pp
90.The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer (2012) 304 pp
91. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (2019) 224 pp
92. Marathon Man by William Goldman (1974) 336 pp
93. As If by Blake Morrison (1997) 209 pp
94. Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar (2014) 218 pp
95. The Devil’s Footprints by John Burnside (2007) 224 pp
96. Deep State by James B. Stewart (2019) 382 pp
97. Sourdough by Robin Sloan
98. Job by Joseph Roth (1930) 212 PP
99. The Elephant in the Room by Tommy Tomlinson
100. My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (2019) 378 pp
101. The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan
102. American Predator by Maureen Callahan
103. Joe Country by Mick Herron (2019)
104. Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri
105. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
106. American Marriage by Tayari Jones
107. Crisis in the Red Zone by Richard Preston
108. The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy
109. Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
110. Becoming by Michelle Obama
111. The Go Between by L. P. Hartley
112. The Need by Helen Phillips
113. Tin Man by Sarah Winman
I sold my house in April and moved to the East Coast (Florida), just in time for Hurricane Michael. Timing is everything, right? I had hopes of one last Third Place LT reunion before I left, but it got away from me. I know what you mean about the health care in Seattle. I am planning to return in March to see my doctors, my dentist, my orthopedic surgeon... Your husband is truly in good hands (Cancer Care Alliance?). Wishing you and him all the best.
>13 AlisonY: Alison--Close--he has CLL, a form of leukemia that is often slow-acting. Unfortunately he has something called the 17p deletion, which makes it quite aggressive.
>14 labfs39:-Lisa, maybe we can get together when you are here in March.
Right now the Fred Hutchinson Center here is in the process of finding a bone marrow donor--they are quite confident that they will find a suitable donor. Before the transplant can occur, his regular oncologist has to get his white count down to 20,000 or below (right now its at 256,0000 and it's been going up 20,000 or so each week; normal is less than 10,000). Once it begins, the transplant process takes about 4 months, and the Hutch is probably the best place in the world to be for a bone marrow transplant. What is surreal is that despite his awful blood work numbers, he looks and feels fine.
But I have been reading, so a few comments about books follow.
I'm not a short story fan, nor am I a horror/ghost story fan. However, I can recommend this book. Because--it's Edith Wharton. While there were a few stories I was puzzled by, or that didn't pull me in, or that were duds, in most of the stories Wharton's prose shone, the characters were well-developed, and the plots were varied and original. My favorites were: "The Dutchess at Prayer" in which an evil husband isolates his wife at an Italian country estate and, knowingly or unknowingly, seals her lover into a tomb; "A Bottle of Perrier," which is set in the middle eastern desert castle built by a medieval crusader, where the water tastes and smells terrible; and "Kesfol" where the ghosts of murdered dogs appear once a year on a Brittany estate.
3 1/2 stars
On to books:
2. Blood's A Rover by James Ellroy (2009) 689 pp
This is the third volume of Ellroy's Underworld USA Trilogy, in which historical figures from mid-20th century America mix with fictional characters to give us an inside look at dirty politics, corrupt law officers, and the criminal underworld (Mafia). I loved the first volume, American Tabloid, which took us through the assassination of JFK in Dallas in November 1963. Volume 2, The Cold Six Thousand began in Dallas on the day of JFK's assassination, and brought us through the 1968 assassinations of RFK and MLK. I also liked the second volume, in which many of the same characters carried through. There's lots about the Vietnam War, LBJ, drugs, the Mafia moving on Las Vegas, and Howard Hughes also making a move on Las Vegas.
This final volume begins with the RFK assassination, brings us through the 1968 election of Nixon, continues on with the activities of the Mafia, as well as the decline and corruption of J. Edgar Hoover, and ends as Watergate is beginning. However, I didn't like this one as much as the first two. It seemed more scattered and less focused, and either I began to tire of Ellroy's staccato prose, or it wasn't as compelling as in the first two volumes. In fact, the only reason I kept reading is because the book began with the brutal heist of an armored car, and the failed attempts to solve that crime constitute a sort of leit motif throughout the novel. I kept reading because I wanted answers regarding that crime.
Overall, I highly, highly recommend American Tabloid and also recommend The Cold Six Thousand. Read this one only if you are a completist.
2 1/2 stars
A lot of people haven't liked this offering from Jane Smiley. It's a satire of life at a midwestern agricultural university. There are dozens of characters. Most are stand-ins for particular campus types, and include students, professors, and administrative officials (including a super-human administrative aid who really runs the whole university). Even the lunch lady from the cafeteria has a part to play, as well as the owner of a big corporation who, with possible evil motives, is dangling the offer of research money to the cash-strapped university. All the characters are broadly-drawn and no one individual could be called a "main character." I had a hard time keeping track of who was who, which detracted from my enjoyment of the novel. There is also very little plot. It is more of a "slice of life" novel.
Nevertheless, the novel is enjoyable if you go into it recognizing these limitations. Instead of focusing on and examining a specific aspect of academic life or a character or two, Smiley is covering Academia and its denizens with the broadest possible brush. It's not her best novel, but still worth a read.
I hope all goes well for your husband with getting his bone marrow transplant. Some of my dad's blood figures aren't great at the moment, but like your husband he feels well so he's quite resistant to the idea of treatment at the moment. You're lucky to be close to a great hospital for treatment - it definitely is what we call a healthcare post code lottery out there.
Thanks for the good wishes re my husband. I hope your dad continues to feel well. It’s all such a roller coaster ride isn’t it?
I'm also a Wharton fan -- and think maybe I read these at some point.
So, are you going to tell us what you picked up at ALA?
A Thousand Acres is on my list too but I just keep putting it off. I'll have to move up the TBR list.
I hope your husband continues to feel well while waiting for his transplant. Fred Hutch is fantastic.
>30 labfs39: I totally understand Lisa. We are at the hospital nearly every day ourselves-see next paragraph. Maybe next time
Beth asked what free books I got at the ALA conference, and here they are:
Deep River by Karl Marlantes (don’t see touchstone yet)
Black Souls by Gioacchino Criaco
Unquiet by Linn Ullmann
Optic Nerve by Maria Gainza
Courting Mr. Lincoln by Louis Bayard
Diary of a Dead Man on Leave by David Downing
China Dream by Ma Jian
Rabbits For Food by Binnie Kirshenbaum
The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele
The American Messiahs by Adam Morris ((don’t see touchstone)
Family of Origin by C. J. Hause
The Darwin Affair by Tim Mason
The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell
The Editor by Steven Rowley
Red Birds by Mohammed Hanif
An Agent of Utopia by Andy Duncan
After the Party by Cressida Connolly
The only one I’ve read so far is Red Birds, and I was mightily disappointed.
I’ve updated my February and March reading in paragraph 2 above. I finished the Hal Challis series with Signal Loss by Gary Disher, and I strongly recommend the series to mystery fans. I also liked The Cleaner by Paul Cleave, in which we are in the mind of a psychopathic serial killer, but didn’t care for its sequel, Joe Victim, which I did not finish.
Other books I really liked are:
Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama, which is billed as a mystery, but really is not. It’s an in depth look at the inner workings of a newspaper covering a major story (a plane crash) back in the day before cell phones etc. made communications so much easier.
The Wall by John Lancaster I really loved his book Capital from a few years back (and a couple of his other books), so I picked this up. It’s in a genre entirely foreign to him (speculative/dystopian/post-apocalyptic), but I also loved this one. In near future Britain, climate change has caused the seas to rise, and also caused many refugees to try to cross into Britain. Britain has built a wall around its entire sea coast to keep out the “Others,” and every young person must fulfill a 2 year term on the Wall fighting off refugees. Highly recommend this one. (Negative reviews I read seemed offended by the recognizable political implications of “the wall” as well as climate change.
Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua An Arab Israeli attorney finds what appears to be a love letter in his wife’s handwriting in a book He purchases at a used book store. He goes a bit off the deep end with jealousy. This was a fascinating look at the lives of Arabs and Palestinians in Israel, the obstacles and prejudices they face, as well as a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a secular Arab male.
I was also blown away by Labyrinths by Borges, one I hope to reread a few more times in my life.
And if you’re interested in more Trump reading I recommend The Apprentice by Greg Miller (subtitle: “Trump, Russia, and the Subversion of American Democracy”)
Didn’t care for The Night of Camp David, which I read and enjoyed in the 1960’s, and which was recommended as pertinent to our current political situation, but which is so dated and hokey I suggest you avoid it.
Any other books I’ve listed you’d want to comment on or would like my opinion, feel free...
Despite a month from Hell, house is sold, we moved, and are settling in to an apartment in a high rise in downtown Seattle (across the street from Amazon corporate headquarters by the way). In early Feb. the doctor allowed a quick trip to Fla. to visit kids before we would be ‘confined’ by the transplant. The day after we got back my husband had to be hospitalized for severe anemia, and he remained in the hospital to get the chemo needed to get his white count down to where the Hutch needed it. While he was in the hospital we accepted an offer on the house which gave us only 3 weeks to find a place to live, pack, and move. Monday(2 days after the offer) he was out of the hospital, and by Friday we signed a lease on the apartment.
The next day, however, I began having difficulty breathing, went to the ER, and was hospitalized with major blood clots (pulmonary embolisms) in both lungs. I’m not sure how that happened, though we did have 2 long plane flights. While we were in Fla. my knee had begun hurting quite a lot and was swollen so I had feared a blood clot in my leg and went to the ER there. They did an ultrasound and said no blood clot, but I had something called a Baker’s Cyst in my knee which was the cause of the knee pain. The blood clots in my lungs came from blood clots in my leg, but who knows how and when I got this. In the hospital for the clots, I had an MRI on my knee which showed in addition to the Baker’s Cyst, a torn meniscus, runner’s knee, and severe arthritis. I will need a knee replacement, but no surgery while on blood thinners.
Got out of the hospital with 8 days til the move. My lovely friends had hot meals for us every night and helped clear out the garage. Our middle son came from NYC and helped with the actual move. We also had great professional movers. After the move, I saw an orthopedist, had a cortisone shot, and am pretty mobile again. Now just need to wait and see whether the blood clots caused permanent heart or lung damage.
A week after the move our youngest son came from NYC to help with the settling in and was a great help. He also took our dog Dante back to NYC and will care for him during the transplant since we can’t have pets around. I really miss Dante, but he seems to be adapting to life in NYC and visited the Brooklyn Bridge this weekend.
The past 2 weeks we’ve been at the Hutch just about every day for preliminary tests and education. “Conditioning” consisting of chemotherapy and total body irradiation begins on 4/13, and the transplant of the stem cells takes place on 4/17. The donor is a 20 year old European woman. So many more people in Europe are on the donor registry than in the US (apparently because everyone has health care, and people are also encouraged by their health care professionals to register). It takes about 2 weeks for the donor stem cells to begin to engraft, and gradually my husband’s new immune system will develop. This period of time after the transplant is the most critical. Our younger daughter will be coming from NYC 4/16 and will be here part of that time.
I really appreciate everyone’s kind words and thoughts and will try to update when I can.
Oh my, that's a lot! It's fortunate that you have family and friends to help you out. Stay strong! Sending you hugs.
I picked up a dozen books at ALA and only one overlap with yours (Family of Origin), so between the two of us we probably got everything good there.
Good luck with the knee. Take care of yourself. Fingers crossed that all goes as planned with the transplant. It sounds like you have great support, and certainly your LT friends are behind you.
On the knee issue, I was having a lot of knee pain last year and found out I had a meniscal tear too along with some wear and tear to the kneecap. In case it helps at all, my consultant at the time told me that the tear would not heal itself, especially as 6 months had passed and it was no better. However, I had a few other health issues going on at the time so I decided to delay the proposed operation and figured the surgery option would always be there if I changed my mind. I'm glad I did, as 1 year on it's considerably better than what it was. It sounds like you have a lot more going on besides with your knee so perhaps that story's not overly useful / relevant, but I know how painful the tear can be, and in my situation time was a good healer, despite what the surgeon told me. I continued my yoga class whilst it was at its worst, and my teacher did a lot of great work on exercises to create space beyond the knee which I think was beneficial.
I hope that all goes well for your husband's transplant, and I hope that you get back to good health yourself as soon as possible.
I'm glad family and friends have been there for the two of you, and the movers were great. Hope your own health issues work out and I hope to hear that the transplant went well and your husband's immune system is improving.
I second the recommendation of the Garry Disher series. He just isn't writing more fast enough:-)
I'm very glad to hear the kids are available to be there. Wishing you much, much better health very soon!!!
I hope you're settling into your new place and that it is becoming home.
Second Person Singular was an interesting novel and I'm happy that so many people are finding it. I also really enjoyed Seventeen and will read Six Four soon. There was something very compelling about the minutiae of daily newspaper life. And I've made note of your disappointment with Red Birds. This one is on my wishlist, but I will wait until I find an inexpensive copy rather than blow the book budget on it.