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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Book Bite - Braving Boo'ya Moon and the Junk Drawer

I just realized I never wrote a review on Lisey's Story by Stephen King, which I read a few months ago. It was unlike any other Stephen King novel I've read, in that it was a tragic love story. Most of his other novels do contain a romantic sub-plot or have love as a theme. However, this was a straight-out love story. The twist is that one member of the romantic couple is dead. The main character, Lisey, has been a widow for two years. As the story follows her through her continued grieving process, strange things start happening. (Of course strange things start happening, I mean, it is a Stephen King book after all.) Her husband was a famous author and as she goes through his archives of work she learns more about the imaginary place he went to get his stories, in the land of Boo'ya Moon. As she delves further into his world of writing, and relieves memories of their life together, she learns more about the man she loves and also learns how to let him go.

I actually found this novel a little hard to read. King uses some strange turns of phrase that would always trip me up whenever I came across them. They didn't make sense, even after an explanation. Not only that, but he repeated them constantly. I found it distracting. (In the Afterword, King explains these phrases were lifted from the works of some of his favorite, and famous, authors' works, in a type of homage to them and their influence in his writing. That's nice, but I don't think it worked.) The story was interesting and engaging, but I also had a hard time sympathizing with the main character, or truly feeling her loss and her love. I can't really put my finger on why, either. All in all, it was an interesting exercise from King, but it's definitely not one of my favorites. I think he has told more compelling powerful love stories in The Stand, The Dark Tower series, and others.

The other book that I have read recently is a non-fiction work called It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh. If you've seen Clean Sweep on the TLC channel, then you've seen Peter in action. He is a professional organizer and with this book, he takes you step by step through the process of de-cluttering your house, getting it organized and then he gives tips and instructions on what to do to keep it from getting cluttered up all over again. The tone is personable, refreshing and often times humorous which helps the reader to learn and remember the principles being discussed. Illustrations from real life situations and testimonies families Walsh has helped were also a nice touch.

I was very pleased with this book. Before I started reading it, I was worried it would contain a series of useless suggestions like "Buy color-coordinated storage bins." or "Use a label maker." Quite the opposite, the book gets to the heart of the matter first, addressing the emotional and practical issues behind clutter and junk, such as the emotional ties to family heirlooms, our materialistic society and its influence on us to "buy more stuff", etc. Walsh recognizes that it's pointless to begin cleaning up your clutter until you address the behaviors and situations that led to that state, and commit to changing them. I am a "collector" and also cling to emotional mementos. Combine that with two major deaths in my family (guilt and reluctance to get rid of stuff associated with them) and my mother moving out of her home of 30 years (my childhood home) and I have accumulated junk up to my eyeballs. So I found this book to be an invaluable resource, and have already began working through his plan. Perhaps I will give you an update later, when I have followed all his steps. I highly recommend it for both the hopeless hoarder and the person who just may have one junk room, or a garage filled with boxes instead of the family car.

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