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  • Jeff Somers 7:50 pm on 2018/08/09 Permalink
    Tags: , david joachim, diveorce, guide to life, hard to do, , john updike, , on your own again,   

    10 Books to Read Before Getting Divorced 

    Despite the knowledge that many marriages aren’t forever, most who say “I do” assume there partnerships will be forever—otherwise, why bother? But divorce really is the answer, sometimes—the right decision for all involved. That doesn’t mean it won’t also be a painful period of transition.

    Or not. The key is considering your options before you make that fateful choice. While no book can speak definitively to your specific situation, there’s a good chance there’s a book out there that can help you do just that. If you’re thinking your marriage is headed for a divorce, you might benefit from a little reading. The following books will offer perspective, advice, and entertainment, and just might make the decision easier for you, whatever you choose.

    If You’re in My Office, It’s Already Too Late, by James J. Sexton
    First a book to help you determine if your relationship is truly beyond repair. Sexton, a successful divorce lawyer who estimates the number of marriages he’s helped dissolve to number in the thousands, muses on what he’s learned about failed marriages from his work, and offers a guide to figuring out just how far gone your own relationship might—or might not—be. As Sexton explains, expectations (realistic and otherwise) are the foundation of a long-term relationship. You might see yourself in his warm and witty book—and find alternative solutions.

    Reconcilable Differences, by Cate Cochran
    Divorce is often equated with failure, but Cochran offers a different take, examining ten “successfully failed” marriages—including her own—where divorce didn’t mean a cataclysmic breakup, thrown crockery, and psychologically-damaged kids. Instead, these couples found their own way forward and made divorce a positive force in their lives, making up new rules that worked better for them and their kids. This could be just the sort of perspective you need.

    Two Homes, One Childhood, by Robert E. Emery
    If you’ve got kids, you’re going to have to start thinking about them before you tackle the divorce itself. It’s possible to insulate them from the worst of the process, but it takes planning and cooperation—so start the planning now, with this excellent book. Emery shifts the focus from your needs to the needs of your children, helping you and your soon-to-be-former partner develop a plan that will evolve along with your kids, and ensure they get to have a childhood despite the dissolution of your marriage.

    On Your Own Again, by Keith Anderson
    Living with someone can become a habit, and one of the scariest things about divorce is the idea that you’ll once again be on your own. Once you accept that divorce is your only way forward, there’s no time to lose in thinking about how you’re going to clear the rubble and start again. Anderson offers a concise and well-organized approach to putting the past behind you and finding a way to live by yourself—how to find the self-confidence that you can, in fact, rely on yourself to not only survive, but thrive.

    A Man, a Can, a Plan, by David Joachim
    Despite the title, this book is for anyone who has no idea how to cook or shop at a grocery store. If your spouse took care of the groceries and the cooking, a divorce might leave you facing epic takeout bills. This book allows anyone—and we mean anyone—to feed themselves with a modicum of style, without knowing anything at all about fresh produce or advanced cooking techniques. While we can’t recommend staying on this meal plan forever, it’ll get you through those first confusing months when dinner no longer magically appears on the table every evening.

    Getting Back Out There, by Susan J. Elliott
    You may not be divorced yet, but if it’s become inevitable, then jumping back into the dating life probably is too. Dating after you’ve been in one relationship for a long time can be a brutal, eye-opening experience—so start getting yourself mentally and emotionally prepared for the modern dating scene, a battlefield intimidating enough for young folks, and almost paralyzing for someone on the other side of a divorce. Elliot doesn’t just offer platitudes or a strategy for catching someone’s eye, she guides you to consider where and why you went wrong before—and how to avoid making those same mistakes.

    The Sociopath Next Door, by Martha Stout
    Dating will bring you into contact with a lot of new people—and some proportion of those, science tells us, will be sociopaths. Stout’s sensational book argues that there are more sociopaths out there than you think, and they can be difficult to identify, and thus avoid. If you want to avoid dating one (or, maybe, dating one again), Stout helps you to learn how to spot one in the wild, before they buy you a drink and turn on their superficial charm.

    This Isn’t the Life I Ordered, by Jenniffer Weigel
    Television personality Weigel offers a fun, entertaining reflection on her own divorce, and tells how embracing the new layout of her life led her to bigger and better things… eventually. If you’re headed for a split, learn from Weigel’s experience, and set yourself up to take advantage of it as a change, not a failure. Weigel’s journey through her own painful split will prepare you for the challenges and missteps to come with your sense of humor intact.

    Heartburn, by Nora Ephron
    Not only was Ephron a great writer, and not only is this a great novel, but the fact that it’s largely autobiographical should be comforting. If a smart, rich, successful people like Ephron can suffer through a brutal divorce, you don’t have to feel too bad about your own. And if she can come out stronger and wittier for it, maybe you can too. As an added bonus, this story of cookbook author Rachel’s split from her philandering husband is side-splittingly funny.

    The Rabbit Angstrom Novels, by John Updike
    John Updike was a writer with myriad obsessions, and they all came together in the four-book, decades-in-the-writing saga of flawed but fascinating Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, who attempts to abandon his young family in book one and doesn’t make life any less complicated for himself as the decades rush on. What you end up with is, in large part, one of the most finely-detailed accounts of the ups and downs of a marriage in literary history. Considered as a whole, Rabbit’s race through life offers the sort of minute study of a relationship that will force you to reconsider you own.

    The post 10 Books to Read Before Getting Divorced appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 7:00 pm on 2015/12/07 Permalink
    Tags: , , , john updike, ,   

    5 Fascinating Novels about Marriage 

    It’s often noted that happiness is terrible fodder for fiction. Outside of comedies, most stories run on an engine constructed from tragedy, betrayal, and sorrow (unless we’re talking sci-fi and fantasy, which prefers vampires, ray guns, and children chosen by magical prophecy to save us all). This may explain why there are precious few happy marriages in literature, and why those that do exist largely act as counterbalances to the ruinous relationships of the primary characters. A happy marriage, as anyone who has been to a dinner party knows, is a boring marriage—which is why these five authors chose to base entire novels around the examination of a single toxic pairing, with fascinating results.

    Deep Water, by Patricia Highsmith
    Highsmith didn’t have a very rosy view of human nature, and based on this novel of simmering rage and murder, she didn’t care much for marriage, either. We join the marriage in media res, after all the love and trust has already leaked out, with Vic very aware of wife Melinda’s adulteries, which he tolerates with apparent disinterest as he pursues his own solitary hobbies. Highsmith imagines marriage to be a process of decaying affection combined with rising resentment, leading to an explosion of violence and anger. She then adds a twist: one of the spouses is a sociopath who presents a mild, even virtuous face to the neighborhood while masking darker impulses.

    Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
    Groff’s remarkable new novel focuses solely on the relationship between Lancelot (nicknamed Lotto) Satterwhite and his wife, Mathilde Yoder. The book is divided into two sections; the first tells the tale of their relationship from Lotto’s bright and superficial point of view, the second from Mathilde’s darker and more manipulative one. Groff deftly depicts the true nature of marriage: a partnership, with each spouse providing something the other lacks, supporting each other in the places they are weak, and often knowing the other person better than they know themselves. With Lotto’s opening section providing the puzzles and Mathilde’s the solutions, Fates and Furies is an engrossing look at an intimate relationship.

    Too Far to Go, by John Updike
    Updike had a unique style and viewpoint, and the characters in his stories and novels, especially the men, could be very predictable in their attitudes, lusts, and fears. This collection of stories exploring a relationship and marriage from first date to post-divorce kiss is a product of that unique Updike style. From the initial nervousness of meeting someone you simply must know better, to the final exhausted familiarity between two people who know each other so well they can no longer be together, Updike makes every moment along the way interesting and meaningful, rendering this a remarkable book for anyone who has ever been married.

    Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates
    Yates’ novel of 1950s suburban malaise is almost a horror story, presenting a bleak portrait of mid-century American life as one where dreams go to die. Frank and April start off as ambitious people convinced of their unique place in the world, a conviction that’s slowly stripped away until a final desperate plan to leave everything behind and move to Paris is their last hope—a hope destroyed when April becomes pregnant with an unwanted child. As even the unrealistic dream of moving to the City of Light drains away, the spouses turn on each other, venting their disappointment with their own lives and decisions on each other with horrific results. What makes it an enduring work of American literature is not so much its focus on the emotional mechanics of a marriage as it is its stark examination of the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves, and how a spouse can enable those lies, or destroy them.

    The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
    An unconventional story about a marriage, certainly, and if Niffenegger had stopped with a science fiction tale of a man unstuck in time and the woman he falls in love with struggling to piece together their fractured narrative, it wouldn’t have been the success it was. Niffenegger’s genius is in exploring the relationship and the subtext concerning gender roles in the traditional “fairy tale” concept of marriage: Clare meets her future husband for the first time (from her perspective) as a child, spends her youth meeting him intermittently as he remains an elusive dream, marries and starts a family with him, and then spends the rest of her life waiting for him. It’s easy to look at this not as a romance, but rather an indictment of the traditionally “romantic” view of marriage from a woman’s perspective, as a passive object waiting for a man’s love to act on them, a role pressed onto many women in their childhoods by endless pop culture imagery.

     
  • Jeff Somers 7:00 pm on 2015/12/07 Permalink
    Tags: , , , john updike, ,   

    5 Fascinating Novels about Marriage 

    It’s often noted that happiness is terrible fodder for fiction. Outside of comedies, most stories run on an engine constructed from tragedy, betrayal, and sorrow (unless we’re talking sci-fi and fantasy, which prefers vampires, ray guns, and children chosen by magical prophecy to save us all). This may explain why there are precious few happy marriages in literature, and why those that do exist largely act as counterbalances to the ruinous relationships of the primary characters. A happy marriage, as anyone who has been to a dinner party knows, is a boring marriage—which is why these five authors chose to base entire novels around the examination of a single toxic pairing, with fascinating results.

    Deep Water, by Patricia Highsmith
    Highsmith didn’t have a very rosy view of human nature, and based on this novel of simmering rage and murder, she didn’t care much for marriage, either. We join the marriage in media res, after all the love and trust has already leaked out, with Vic very aware of wife Melinda’s adulteries, which he tolerates with apparent disinterest as he pursues his own solitary hobbies. Highsmith imagines marriage to be a process of decaying affection combined with rising resentment, leading to an explosion of violence and anger. She then adds a twist: one of the spouses is a sociopath who presents a mild, even virtuous face to the neighborhood while masking darker impulses.

    Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
    Groff’s remarkable new novel focuses solely on the relationship between Lancelot (nicknamed Lotto) Satterwhite and his wife, Mathilde Yoder. The book is divided into two sections; the first tells the tale of their relationship from Lotto’s bright and superficial point of view, the second from Mathilde’s darker and more manipulative one. Groff deftly depicts the true nature of marriage: a partnership, with each spouse providing something the other lacks, supporting each other in the places they are weak, and often knowing the other person better than they know themselves. With Lotto’s opening section providing the puzzles and Mathilde’s the solutions, Fates and Furies is an engrossing look at an intimate relationship.

    Too Far to Go, by John Updike
    Updike had a unique style and viewpoint, and the characters in his stories and novels, especially the men, could be very predictable in their attitudes, lusts, and fears. This collection of stories exploring a relationship and marriage from first date to post-divorce kiss is a product of that unique Updike style. From the initial nervousness of meeting someone you simply must know better, to the final exhausted familiarity between two people who know each other so well they can no longer be together, Updike makes every moment along the way interesting and meaningful, rendering this a remarkable book for anyone who has ever been married.

    Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates
    Yates’ novel of 1950s suburban malaise is almost a horror story, presenting a bleak portrait of mid-century American life as one where dreams go to die. Frank and April start off as ambitious people convinced of their unique place in the world, a conviction that’s slowly stripped away until a final desperate plan to leave everything behind and move to Paris is their last hope—a hope destroyed when April becomes pregnant with an unwanted child. As even the unrealistic dream of moving to the City of Light drains away, the spouses turn on each other, venting their disappointment with their own lives and decisions on each other with horrific results. What makes it an enduring work of American literature is not so much its focus on the emotional mechanics of a marriage as it is its stark examination of the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves, and how a spouse can enable those lies, or destroy them.

    The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
    An unconventional story about a marriage, certainly, and if Niffenegger had stopped with a science fiction tale of a man unstuck in time and the woman he falls in love with struggling to piece together their fractured narrative, it wouldn’t have been the success it was. Niffenegger’s genius is in exploring the relationship and the subtext concerning gender roles in the traditional “fairy tale” concept of marriage: Clare meets her future husband for the first time (from her perspective) as a child, spends her youth meeting him intermittently as he remains an elusive dream, marries and starts a family with him, and then spends the rest of her life waiting for him. It’s easy to look at this not as a romance, but rather an indictment of the traditionally “romantic” view of marriage from a woman’s perspective, as a passive object waiting for a man’s love to act on them, a role pressed onto many women in their childhoods by endless pop culture imagery.

     
  • Jenny Shank 3:00 pm on 2015/03/30 Permalink
    Tags: basketball, basketball literature, , john updike, march madness, Natalie Diaz, , , Shann Ray, , , , tom perotta   

    5 Basketball Reads for March Madness 

    When March Madness begins, college basketball fans might not think they’ll have much time to read. But in its waning days, perhaps your alma mater has lost in the opening round, your office-pool bracket’s gone bust well before the Sweet Sixteen, or a hated rival has made it to the Final Four. You’ll need the comfort of great basketball lit to remind you why you love the game, and to pass the time until the tipoff of next year’s madness.

    When My Brother Was An Aztecby Natalie Diaz
    Natalie Diaz, who grew up in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, is currently excelling in her second career as an award-winning poet. Her first job? She was a basketball player, helping the Old Dominion Lady Monarchs reach the NCAA championship in 1997 when she was freshman point guard, and leading them to the Sweet Sixteen for the next three years. After that, she turned pro, playing roundball in Asia and Europe before reinventing herself as a writer. In her moving and intense PEN/Open Book Award–winning debut poetry collection, When My Brother Was An Aztec, she writes about “this sun-ruined basketball I haul—rotted gray along the seams—perpetual missed shot.” In “Top Ten Reasons Why Indians Are Good at Basketball,” she writes, “When Indian ballers sweat, we emit a perfume of tortillas/and Pine Sol floor cleaner that works like a potion/to disorient our opponents and make them forget their plays.” I don’t know about you, but after reading that passage I’ve already forgotten any play I was even considering.

    American Masculine, by Shann Ray
    Shann Ray is another great hoopster turned writer who played in the NCAA for Pepperdine and professionally in Germany. Basketball appears several times in his lyrical American Book Award–winning story collection American Masculine, perhaps most beautifully in “When We Rise.” Two middle-aged brothers, grieving over the loss of a third brother, challenge each other to a game in which they try to sink the first shot through snow-covered basketball hoops in Montana. One of them thinks, “A sweet jumper finds the mark, a feeling of completion and the chance to be face-to-face not with the mundane but with the holy.”

    Bad Haircut: Stories from the Seventies, by Tom Perrotta
    There must be something about snow-covered basketball hoops that fuels the creative impulse, because in Bad Haircut, Tom Perrotta’s story collection about a boy growing up in New Jersey during the ’70s and ’80s, the story “Snowman” features two ninth graders who set out to play basketball “outside in 20-degree weather, just two days after the biggest snowstorm of the year.” The narrator’s friend Neil Duffy insists they play in the cold because he wants to provide color commentary material for the future TV announcer covering his hoped-for basketball glory: “You know how bad Duffy wanted it? Duffy wanted it so bad he used to go out after blizzards, shovel off the court, and practice until his fingers froze. Then he’d go home, drink a cup of hot cocoa, and head back for more. Now that’s dedication, Marv.”

    Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories, by Sherman Alexie
    Basketball and snow make for good literature, but so do basketball and donkeys. Basketball is a source of strength, connection, and comedy in many of Sherman Alexie’s books, including Ten Little Indians, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, and 2012’s Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories, in which “Basic Training” tells the tale of a donkey basketball league, a post–World War II amusement that “helped high schools raise money for new football uniforms or new trumpets for the band or typewriters for the business classes.” What is donkey basketball, you ask? It’s basketball played by people riding donkeys around the court. Any mess left by the animal athletes is all part of the fun, of course.

    Rabbit, Run, by John Updike
    If donkeys can play basketball, then why not rabbits? This is how Harry Angstrom, former high school basketball player protagonist of John Updike’s Rabbit books, is indelibly introduced in 1960’s Rabbit, Run:

    “Boys are playing basketball around a telephone pole with a backboard bolted to it. Legs, shouts. The scrape and snap of Keds on loose alley pebbles seems to catapult their voices high into the moist March air blue above the wires. Rabbit Angstrom, coming up the alley in a business suit, stops and watches, though he’s twenty-six and six three. So tall, he seems an unlikely rabbit, but the breadth of white face, the pallor of his blue irises, and a nervous flutter under his brief nose as he stabs a cigarette into his mouth partially explain the nickname, which was given to him when he too was a boy. He stands there thinking, the kids keep coming, they keep crowding you up.”

     
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