DADDY LOVE

daddyJOYCE CAROL OATES

Robbie Whitcomb is a happy, precocious five-year-old boy living in Ypsilanti, Michigan with his mother Dinah and father, Perry “Whit” Whitcomb, a popular disc jockey. Whit is mixed race, a source of pain for Dinah’s mother Geraldine. But Geraldine is a mere irritant to this young, happy family, until the day Dinah and Robbie run errands at the local mall. There the unthinkable happens. Robbie is grabbed and taken. His mother is run over by the perp and dragged under the van. Robbie is drugged and placed in a sarcophagus like box where he can’t move and can barely breath. The horror begins. The pedophile kidnapper forces little Robbie to call him Daddy Love. He uses praise to control the boy but acknowledges that “punishment is fun” to administer.

I would not have wanted to read this when my son’s were little. It is a good but horrifying read. But we have to remember that most child victims are kidnapped and abused by people that they know.

 

AGE OF MIRACLES

KAREN THOMPSON WALKERage

Something is wrong. The earth’s rotation is slowing down. And it is causing a myriad of problems. Do people use clocks or the sun to tell time? The tides are increasing. People are getting sick. The earth’s magnetic fields are affected. Gravity is increasing; birds that can no longer fly are dying. People are scared; friendships breakdown.  Whales are beaching themselves at unprecedented rates. But young  people are still falling in love and in lust.

An interesting dystopian novel that is also a coming of age story.

I did have problems with the faulty science. Gravity is a factor of mass not rotation. There are other scientific issues as well. But it is well written and a good read. Ultimately an allegory of global warming.

 

FRIENDLY FETISH: A Beginner’s Guide to Kink

fetishEMILY DUBBERLY

FETISH is a naughty little book; but with popularity of erotic fiction I choose to review it.  It is a book that needs a lot of skimming. And according to interests some chapters I skipped completely. Dubberly has written a self-help book to help couples enrich their sexual lives. Chapters include Fantasies, Voyeurism, Props and group sex. So if you have an interest you will enjoy this book.

Fetish reminded me of this memoir:

CONCERTINA: The Life and Loves of a Dominatrix

 

ODDLY NORMAL:One Family’s Struggle to Help Their Teenage Son Come to Terms with His Sexuality

oddly oddly coverJOHN SCHWARTZ

NORMAL is an important book. It tells the story of the difficulties he and his wife faced while trying to help their son, Joe, accept his homosexuality. There were signs that Joe was gay came early: the desire to play with Barbie dolls, the need for a pink feather boa and pink light-up shoes, the love of glitter and costume jewelry and the lack of interest in sports. Joe had other special needs; when he started school, though, behavioral problems developed. Specialist and teachers suggested ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, sensory disorders and autism. The parents had to learn to advocate with the school system for appropriate education and help for their son. I know what that is like trying to get schools to challenge my bright son. It can be extremely frustrating. When he came out at school one spring day in 2009, rode the bus home, shut himself in his bathroom, and downed way too many capsules of Benadryl. What a horrible situation for his parents who were so supportive of their differently normal son. The final chapter, written by Joseph, is the entirety of a children’s book he wrote for class called “Leo, the Oddly Normal Boy,” which is about a boy who likes a boy.

Normal makes me think of the blog Raising My Rainbow.   Adventures in raising a fabulously gender  creative son.  How wonderful that these special children have such understanding parents.

 

THE STORY OF ENGLISH IN 100 WORDS

crystal--david-credit-crystDAVID CRYSTAL

ENGLISH is a delightful nonfiction. Crystal examines 1oo words but brings in hundreds of other words that relate to that specific word. Crystal’s text begins with what may be the first written word in our language, raihan, the word for roe-deer, and ends with something awfully recent, twittersphere. “English is also a playful and innovative language, whose speakers love to use their imaginations in creating new vocabulary, and who are prepared to depart from tradition when coining words. “Crystal thinks every word has a story to tell, even the ones as commonplace as “and.””Poor little words like ‘and,’ and ‘the,’ and ‘of’ … they don’t get any press at all,” Crystal tells NPR’s Neal Conan. “And this is a great shame, because without them, we have no syntax. We have no grammar. The whole language falls apart.”

Differences in British English and American English are considered (eg, aerial/antenna, petrol/gas), the Old Norse legacy (eg in words such as skirt, yard and kirk), posh and common words (lavatory vs toilet) and the changing fortunes and meanings of individual words (eg text).  He examines phrases: “an absence of waiters,  a rash of dermatologists, a clutch of car mechanics, a bout of estimates, a lot of auctioneers, a mass of priests, a whored of prostitutes.” Interestingly there is a difference between acronyms (eg OPEC) “string of letters pronounceable as a word and initialisms where individual letters are pronounced separately (eg CBC). The book is full of fascinating factoids.

“English has been this vacuum cleaner of a language, because of its history meeting up with the Romans and then the Danes, the Vikings and then the French and then the Renaissance with all the Latin and Greek and Hebrew in the background. Every language that English has come into contact with, it’s pinched some of the words — thousands and thousands of words in many cases. And something like 600 languages have loaned or given words to English over the past 1,000 years.”

“One of the reasons why I love the word OK is that it has had so many guesses for its origins. I stopped counting at 50. I think we do now know where OK comes from. There was a great American lexicographer called Allen Walker Read, who many years ago did a huge study and found out that the word ‘OK’ first appeared in the 1830s … in a newspaper in Boston. Because at the time, there was a vogue for inventing humorous abbreviations using initial letters. And OK came, at that point in time, from ‘oll korrect,’ … O-L-L for ‘all,’ and K-O-R-R-E-C-T for ‘correct.’ Now, there were dozens of other abbreviations in the Boston newspaper at the time, and most of them had disappeared. But this one didn’t. OK stayed. And the reason is it had a completely fresh boost of life the following year, when it began to be used as a slogan in the U.S. elections in 1840.”


“I’d love to put in … the latest word in the English language. And, of course, there’s no such thing because as soon as you put that in a book, it’s out of date because wordsanother word is going to come into use tomorrow. So I thought, what is a word that will point us towards the future? …”So I focused on Twitter, which, at the time I was writing, was … still developing as one of the latest and coolest developments online. And I suddenly realized there was a huge family of words out there that Twitter had begun to generate. I’ve collected, over the months since it started, something like a thousand words, all based on Twitter in some shape or form.

“So you’ve got … not just Twittering and tweeting and so on. You’ve got the Twittersphere, which is the word I use in the book to capture all this. You’ve got, for people who tweet too much, they’re suffering from Twittoria … We’ve got a Twidiction here. You can look all these things up in the Twictionary.”

IN THE SHADOW OF THE BANYAN

Vaddey-Ratner1VADDEY RATNER

AKA: Life in the Killing Fields

When Ratner was 5 her life as she knew it ended. The Khmer Rouge (communists) descended to destroy Cambodia. Coming from a royal family meant her family’s lives were in danger more than most. They had to hide who they were and deny their true selves. When the Khmer Rouge first is taking over, the father says, “I could send you out of the country to France.” My heart shouted, “Go, go.” But of course had they left Cambodia there would be no novel. For four long years Ratner and her family lived in work camps and endured forced labour and minimal rations. They saw their family dwindle as members were killed or died. Banyan is not an easy book to read but an important record of a holocaust.killing

“A shaft of light fell on the front of the house and spilled into the open hallway from the balcony. I imagined it a celestial carpet thrown from the heavens by a careless tevoda—an angel. I ran toward it, my steps unencumbered by the metal brace and shoes I normally wore to correct the limp in my right leg.

Outside, the sun rose through the luxuriant green foliage of the courtyard. It yawned and stretched, like an infant deity poking its long multiple arms through the leaves and branches. It was April, the tail end of the dry season, and it was only a matter of time before the monsoon arrived, bringing with it rains and relief from the heat and humidity. Meanwhile the whole house was hot and stuffy, like the inside of a balloon. I was slick with sweat. Still, New Year was coming and, after all the waiting and wondering, we’d finally have a celebration!”

Another good book about this time is

FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

BANGKOK DAYS: A Sojourn in the Capital of Pleasure

bangkok daysLAWRENCE OSBORNE

AKA: Bar Bouncing in Bangkok

DAYS awoke in me my longing for the exotic East. In 1990 I spent a couple of weeks in Bangkok exploring the temples, the side streets, the canals and the erotic. DAYS makes me want to return. Osborne walks the streets of Bangkok, sometimes exploring the culture, but mostly going to bars. Which makes this book uneven at best. It is best when describing cultural Thailand. He has interesting insights into the Buddhist interpretation of transgender ‘kathoeys‘ or girly-boys. He muses on how easy it is for Westerners to remake themselves in the East, as did the 19th-century English schoolteacher Anna Leonowens did when she tutored the royal children of Siam and fashioned herself into a literary figure of the King and I. Bangkok serves as an existential crossroads for a cast of British, Australian and Spanish expatriates who are haphazardly searching for and running away from responsibilities trying to find themselves and have pleasure.

bangkok2