Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Indentical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited

I read this book about a year ago but the story has remained with me. Elyse and Paula were identical twins born to a mentally incapable mother and separated as infants. Separation of identical twins is not a common occurrence. The sisters found eachother at age 35 and noticed amazing similarities in their lives. They both had explored artistic paths and had become interested in writing though they had very diverse upbringings.   The authors are thrilled to find eachother but experience difficulty with their new reality. My favorite parts of the book delved into the history and science of biological twins. The idea of nature versus nurture are explored in a unique way. Haven't we all wondered what it would be like to find an identical twin. I was truly sad to reach the last page of this amazing memoir.

Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See

Robert Kurson writes the biographical story of William May, a man who was blinded at age three in a tragic chemical accident. He remained blind for forty-two years and created a successful, happy life which included a career and family. Kurson's book details May's stem cell surgery in 1999, when at the age of forty-five he regains the ability to see. He describes May's difficulties in learning to live with sight and seeing the faces of his wife and children for the first time. The story evolves in a mysterious way.

I read this book about a year ago and had forgotten about it until my son brought up Helen Keller at dinner one night. Our family became engaged in an interesting dialogue about sight and hearing. The book became a focal point in our conversation and created many thoughts for us to ponder. We must be grateful for our senses.

In closing, I will say that the book fascinated me on many levels : 1.) The absence of one sense and the way in which people overcome this loss to live full lives 2.) The intricate and minute aspects of our vision that evolve over a lifetime; optic magic that the correction of vision may not be able to overcome. The book has remained with me and I left the reading with the an incredulous sense of awe in the power of the human body; one which we take for granted on a daily basis. I hope you will read this book and share your thoughts on an amazing human experience. Bravo to Robert Kurson for his excellent book.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Broccoli Brian

This post is a children's book called Broccoli Brian, written by Joey and Jenny Richardson and illustrated by Ellen Byrne. The book begins with two family dogs,Brian and Milo,chasing a cat called Fraidy. The chase continues over many miles when the conflict occurs and Milo becomes stuck in a muddy pig pen. Brian saves the day with a pouch of broccoli he wears around his neck. Consuming the broccoli gives Brian great strength (aka Popeye). Milo is saved from the swine and the story resolves with both dogs going home for a much needed bath.
This story was born from our dog, Brian's, real love of broccoli and is a gift to our children about our family pets. The message is a positive one: eat your broccoli and you will be strong. We hope others will love it and we will keep it as a family tribute to our two sweet, elderly canines.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Goodbye Natalie,Goodbye Splendour (Marti Rulli;Dennis Davern)

I found this book at the library on a Saturday and was finished with it by Monday. I had seen it advertised in a magazine and had forgotten to write the title down. I have always been interested in Natalie Wood and a huge fan of her movies. The book is written from the point of view of Marti Rulli; a writer and longtime friend of Dennis Davern, the captain of the Splendour, the yacht owned by Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner. I found the beginning of the book to be exceptional. Rulli told of the circumstances in which Davern became affiliated with the Wagners and his memorable time being their boat captain. An intimate friendship resulted from his employment and the close quarters spent on the Splendour. Davern creates vivid images of lovely boat trips and visits to the Wagner home in Beverly Hills. Davern reminisces about the yacht and the love he observed between Natalie and RJ. He tells of her sketching images of her daughters, Courtney and Natasha, and what a wonderful mother she was. Rulli describes the idyllic life the Wagner’s led in 1981 through the eyes of boat captain, Davern.

The final weekend of Natalie's demise is less vivid. Durban recalls events over a period of decades to his old friend, Rulli. He alludes to the fact that Natalie died from a homicide but in the end the facts are elusive. He gives some description and undergoes hypnosis but the hard, cold facts are never fully laid out. The book becomes caught up in Rulli's determination to publish a book but was I left missing a full chronology of the allegations the authors were making. In my impression, without a full disclosure by R.J. Wagner; the real truth may never be known. As a reader, that left me a little lost. Still worth a read.

*(I read this book and wrote this review in 2009 but never posted. This week the LAPD opened an inquiry into the death of Natalie Wood, almost thirty years to the day of the incident.)