Books 2/28/05

I’ve been sick for the last little while, and I hate trying to figure out what to read when I’m sick- it’s like when you can’t find a comfortable position to fall asleep. I’ve been flitting from comfort book to comfort book- finishing none.
Before I got sick however, I finished All the Available Light, an interesting collection of essays about Marilyn Monroe. All of the essays seemed really short, leading me to wonder if they weren’t just excerpts, but they were thought provoking.

I also read The Murder Room by P.D. James, and even though I accidentaly saw who did it toward the beginning of the book (it really was an accident!), it kept my rapt attention as I tried to figure out how and why.

I also finally got to the biography of Simone Weil by Francine du Plessix Gray which I’ve had out of the library for ages now. I picked it up randomly, and I’m quite glad that I did. Weil lived in France in the 1930-40s and was a tortured genius who could never accept her own brilliance (her brother was smarter). She fell into the trap of many of the early saints of Christianity- she was so eager to understand the suffering of others (and Christ) that she denied herself any comfort, finally dying of anorexia. Her life was complicated by her hatred of her Jewish heritage, and peppered by experiences of her own making that deepened her philosophies- working in a factory to experience the reality of the idealized “worker” in Marxism. She was a passionate union organizer, and searched her whole life for meaning and truth. Fascinating woman.

I have no idea what I’m going to read next. I’m just sick of being sick.

Current total: 20
Just Finished: Simone Weil by Francine du Plessix Gray

2 thoughts on “Books 2/28/05

  1. The Marilyn Monroe book sounds interesting. Yona Zeldis McDonogh (isn’t that an amazing name?) was kind enough to edit a draft of my latest book manuscript for me — because she lives in Brooklyn, and the book is set in Brooklyn. She’s an interesting person — I think she also edited a book about Barbie (the doll).

    I’d like to read more about Simone Weil too. Something I read about her (can’t remember where) said that she believed in Christianity and considered herself a Christian but refused to be baptized because she thought it would be sort of an “easy way out” of the persecution Jews were experiencing at the time. Does that fit with what you read?

    As always, your reading choices are interesting.

  2. I’m so glad to hear from you Trudy!

    I love Yona Zeldis McDonogh’s name! I read her Barbie anthology years ago, it’s really good as I remember. It’s on my shelf, I should read it again.

    Simone Weil’s whole issue with baptism was really convoluted as far as I read, and this is only from the one book that I read.
    She felt that she was Christian, and was drawn to Christianity because it was “the religion of slaves”. She obviously had some issues with self worth, and I think the humility of Christianity appealed to her. She really went for the concept of Christ and his suffering, but had issues with the Catholic view that salvation was only possible through the church, and she had major issues with the Old Testament that tied into her ambivalence toward the Jews. She wanted a Christianity that only recognized the New Testament, and denied her Jewish identity numerous times. However, her mental state was such that the idea that baptism would be an easy out of persecution isn’t at all unbelievable. She wasn’t one to pass up persecution! For a long period of her life she felt that her calling was to be a Christian outside of Christianity, to witness from outside the faith. She was finally baptized near her death by a family friend.

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