Friday, March 13, 2015

Above Us Only Sky by Michele Young-Stone and Stone of Destiny, Amazon Across America

I've just finished reading "Above Us Only Sky" by Michele Young-Stone:
From the author of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, which Library Journal called, “ripe for Oprah or fans of Elizabeth Berg or Anne Tyler,” comes a magical novel about a family of women separated by oceans, generations, and war, but connected by something much greater—the gift of wings.
On March 29, 1973, Prudence Eleanor Vilkas was born with a pair of wings molded to her back. Considered a birth defect, her wings were surgically removed, leaving only the ghost of them behind.
At fifteen years old, confused and unmoored, Prudence meets her long-estranged Lithuanian grandfather and discovers a miraculous lineage beating and pulsing with past Lithuanian bird-women, storytellers with wings dragging the dirt, survivors perched on radio towers, lovers lit up like fireworks, and heroes disguised as everyday men and women. Prudence sets forth on a quest to discover her ancestors, to grapple with wings that only one other person can see, and ultimately, to find out where she belongs.
Above Us Only Sky spans the 1863 January Uprising against Russian Tsarist rule in Eastern Europe to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Lithuania gaining its independence in 1991. It is a story of mutual understanding between the old and young; it is a love story; a story of survival, and most importantly a story about where we belong in the world.
I found the storytelling in this novel about WW2 Lithuania and the people that inhabited the small towns to be fascinating. The prose was a bit clunky in spots, but the strong characters more than made up for that, and the plot was regular as a railroad, so it all worked out well. I'd give it a B+, with the recommendation for those who enjoy historical fiction and magic realism, as well as war stories, to give the book a shot.
Stone of Destiny, with Robert Carlyle, Kate Mara and Charlie Cox was a delightful film about a group of young Scottish university students who, in the grip of nationalism in the 1950s, decide to steal the Stone Of Scone (also called the Stone of Destiny) back from the English who absconded with it 600 years ago. It is based on fact, which allows for a delightful "making of" segment after the film in which we meet the real Ian Hamilton. Here's the brief blurb:Prolific actor/director Charles Martin Smith takes the helm for this lighthearted adventure comedy recounting the theft of the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey. Based on the memoirs of Ian Hamilton, Stone of Destiny follows the determined student's reckless quest to make the ultimate symbolic gesture for Scottish independence. Charlie Cox stars in a film featuring Robert Carlyle, Billy Boyd, Stephen McCole, and Kate Mara.

Shipping Brown Boxes Across the Universe'

"Amazon was a fabulous company to be at. I learned so much. That's the
smartest team I've ever worked with. It grew me as an individual. But,
really, what I'm doing is helping ship brown boxes across the universe.
Is that useful to the world? I wanted the opportunity to give something

--Greg Russell who is leaving Amazon, where he oversaw corporate
applications, enterprise data warehouse and IT, to become chief
information officer for the Seattle Police Department, as quoted in the
SPD Blotter

Yet another time that I wish I could visit NYC!

On St. Patrick's Day, next Tuesday, March 17, the Irish Arts Center in New York City will "take to the streets to introduce and re-introduce New Yorkers to some of Ireland's
most celebrated writers" by giving away thousands of free books to
commuters and schoolchildren at transit hubs across the city.

At 7 a.m., volunteers will start handing out the books--hundreds of
titles--and keep going until the books run out. This is the fifth year
the Irish Arts Center is celebrating St. Patrick's Day in this way.

Poet Jane Hirshfield noted: “Poetry offers "new ways of perceiving" in complex and interconnected  ways, she argues. The poet sees or hears or feels something and, in an act of the imagination, uses the tools of craft--words, images and form--to turn it into something previously unsaid and unknown. Each
reader in turn re-creates the poet's imaginative experience. A poem
changes us because experience changes us, and so poetry provokes new
reactions to the familiar objects and concerns of life, connecting
writer and reader and showing both how to see or hear or feel.

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