D’s Loquacious End-of-Year Reads for 2010

Hey everybody! Hope your Christmas was excellent and that you’re enjoying the remainder of your holidays.

Apologies for the severe lack of posting. It’s been due to a lack of motivation, I’m afraid. I meant to post this back in October (or was it late September?), but, well … you know.

So to rectify this injustice, here are a couple of novels – both recent AND not-so-recent – that I managed to complete in recent months.

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

I did not read this in high school. Or university. This is my first time reading this book from cover to cover, without giving up after several pages and returning it to the library.

Yes, I am of sound mind (to thoseof you who can’t figure out why I’m reading this). I’m probably the last person over the age of 30 to touch this book.

So, what have I gleaned?

One: Rich people are vain, selfish, mean, possibly alcoholics, and yes, they CAN kill you.

Two: Jay Gatsby? Arrrgh. I hate him. That is all.

Three: Even after completing this book, I still don’t like it, despite the fact that it’s a “great American classic” or whatever the cliche is.

Perhaps I am too uncouth or not well-read enough to appreciate it. In which case, those of you who love this book, please use your strongest argument to convince me otherwise. ‘Cause I’m not a fan.

The Cry of the Dove, Fadia Faqir

A warning in advance: this book is so sad. But it’s good.

The Cry of the Dove tells the tale of Salma, who in her former life is a shepherdess from a family in a tiny Bedouin village. She ends up pregnant out of wedlock, which violates tribal law and causes upheaval in the village.

 To restore honour, the villagers set out to kill her, but for her own protection, Salma is thrown in prison. She gives birth to her child, who is ripped out of her arms shortly after, and spends many years in prison. She’s later smuggled out and whisked away to England to start a new life.

But even that isn’t easy, as she tries to navigate this new way of life – the culture, the customs, and the racism. Amidst all this, she’s continuously haunted by thoughts of her brother coming to kill her … and by the cries of her lost child. And even though Salma finally starts to get her life on track and truly start to enjoy the freedom she has, she never stops hearing those cries.

While the “time-shifting” narrative is often my favourite, I did find a bit difficult to follow the story in a couple of places. Nonetheless, you could sense the frustration and melancholy in Salma’s story. Despite everything that happens to her, you just want her to succeed, move forward and grow stronger. This book may not be for everyone, but I liked it and it’s one I’d recommend.

And that’s it for me for this year. Hopefully I’ll be able to tackle more – and even better books in 2011. ‘Ta for now!

Advertisements

A Little Phone Schooling

I was sitting at work earlier this morning when the phone rang.

Which is nothing earth-shattering, since I work in an environment where – in addition to a direct phone line -there’s a shared line which everyone answers at some point or another.

I looked over. The call display showed a long-distance number I didn’t recognize.

And that’s I felt the tiny pit of dread in my stomach.

Because in my line of work, you can’t really avoid picking up the phone.

And at 9:32 a.m. on a Sunday morning, the phone conversation can go only go one of two ways.

The call started innocuously enough. The woman merely expressed her interest in a guest she’d just heard on a program and wanted to get in touch with the show to find out more.

I mentioned that while I wasn’t in the same department, I would find the phone number and put her in touch with the program.

And then I said, “Just hang on …”

Big. BIG. MISTAKE.

“You do NOT tell me to ‘hang on’,” the woman retorted in a shaky-but-icy tone. “You can tell me to hold. That is RUDE and IGNORANT.”

*blink*

I honestly cannot remember how I responded. But I’m sure I used the words “Ma’am”, and “hold”, and I can’t guarantee I was anything more than civil.

I realize that in the age of cellphones, smartphones, texting and telemarketers, the essential rules of phone conversation have evolved – and perhaps eroded – somewhat.

But … Um. SERIOUSLY?

If anything, I TRY to be cordial to whomever is on the line, whether it’s a colleague or a complete stranger.

But I suppose you can’t win ’em all.

I also think if the woman had phrased her comment differently, I probably would take it a lot better.  But her tone just smacked of, “You people today.”  

So, according to people of a certain age, not only do I NOT know how a subway turnstile works, I am now also rude and ignorant.

(And for all they know, I wear rouge instead of pinching my cheeks. And YOU know the type of women who wear rouge.)

Good to know all of my parents’ hard work in raising me has been in vain. They should be SO proud. 

Sure, you’re all chuckling. But let this be a cautionary tale. Because one day, you too will have to take a phone call such as this one.

Just don’t say you weren’t warned.