Monday, May 25, 2015

It's A Long Story by Willie Nelson

My dad was a Willie Nelson fan so I grew up hearing all the radio hits. When I saw Willie on The Daily Show, I figured I would give the book a shot.

"How does someone who smokes that much pot get so much done?"

I really had no idea of the scope of Nelson's work. He's been doing the music thing since he was just a little kid and is still doing it at 82. Over 60 albums, tours all the time, beat the IRS, 4 wives, many kids, pot advocate, Farm Aid, etc etc etc. How in the world does he keep doing this??

Willie has had a crazy life and the book reads like a conversation, sitting around a firepit, drinking a beer (or having a smoke). Excellent read for anyone who likes the "old" country.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

This one is for a book club night coming up and I went 100% into it not having read a thing about it.

I was sucked in after the 2nd chapter and could not stop reading. Darn going to work, eating and sleeping! *shakes fist*

I had no idea until the very end that this was based on a true story. Agnes Magnúsdóttir was a real person and was the last person to be executed in Iceland in 1830. Kent, in her first novel, did a wonderful job in humanizing Agnes and giving an account, based on actual official documents, of what might have happened with the murder of Natan and Pétur. I was actually hoping for a different ending, until I realized it was history and we can't really change that!

Ah well.

The story is bleak, the writing is bleak and stark and bare to the bones. It fits so perfectly with the Icelandic landscape and harrowing times in which it was set. I can't even comprehend the poverty that the farmers of this land had to endure during the winter months.

Agnes requests, as her guide to death, assistant reverend Toti. He is able to pull the story of what really happened that night those 2 men were murdered from Agnes by just... being there. Being her friend and a comforting ear to listen. The family whose farm Agnes is forced to work on before her execution comes to find out that she is a human being and, while she did the crime she was accused of, it was for entirely different reasons than anyone thought.

“To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.” 

I couldn't help but feel for her and wished a different outcome for her. Historical fiction is still fiction but I want this version to be true.

 “They will see the whore, the madwoman, the murderess, the female dripping blood into the grass and laughing with her mouth choked with dirt. They will say “Agnes” and see the spider, the witch caught in the webbing of her own fateful weaving. They might see the lamb circled by ravens, bleating for a lost mother. But they will not see me. I will not be there.” 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Amy, My Daughter by Mitch Winehouse

I had downloaded this as an audiobook, read by Mitch, from my library. I liked Amy's music, didn't like Amy's lifestyle, but thought it would be good to see how that lifestyle may have come about.

Clearly, this wasn't a book Mitch wanted to write as no parent wants to outlive their children. So I felt for him there. He starts off describing how he got the news of Amy's death and then goes back to the beginning of Amy's life.

Apparently, from the time she was very little, Amy was destined to be famous. Singing anywhere and everywhere so that the most common phrase around the house was "Be quiet, Amy!". Her parents divorced but she stayed close to both, along with her brother Alex.

Once we get up to the point of Frank, her first album, things start rolling, mostly drink and pot. I had no idea of Amy's stage fright. I've watched many a Youtube video of her performing and, the drunken years notwithstanding, she seemed pretty good.  Amy meets Blake and anyone who could read remembers the tabloids about those two. Blake got Amy started on drugs - yes, it was her choice to take them, but also remember that addiction is an illness and some people are more susceptible to addiction. Things went downhill quickly once crack cocaine and heroin were introduced.

Back to Black, Blake in prison, kicking drugs, becoming an alcoholic, attempting to kick alcoholism... Amy had lived a tremendous amount in her 27 years.

The above are just facts. Listening to Mitch Winehouse tell the stories is emotional. It's a rollercoaster ride that people who love someone who is an addict have to ride. For Mitch, it didn't seem that he had any intention of getting off that ride. He was 100% alongside Amy.

Based on this book, which naturally is just Mitch's side, I want to say SHUSH to all those people who wonder why her parents didn't do anything. They did, but if the addict doesn't want to quit, they won't. That is a sad fact and Amy's family learned it the hard way.

I love Amy's voice and crank up the stereo when her songs come on. She could have been so much more ....

Her family set up The Amy Winehouse Foundation. Proceeds from the book go to that to help other kids with addictions.