Saturday, May 28, 2011

Review: The Convert

This ithe converts a tale of Margret Marcus a Jewish girl growing up in the shadows of War World Two. While she hears about the horrors going on in Europe, her fascination  is with the Arabs. She gets upset at the formation of Israel and decides to convert to Islam. She has also spent time in mental wards.

Mawlana Abul Ala Mawdudi a man known for his staunch support of political Islam became her guardian when so moved to Pakistan. While in Pakistan Margret Marcus who became Maryam jamaleh upon her conversion to Islam, wrote a number of book supporting militant Islam and condemning the West. She was very influential in some circles in Lahore.

However it was not all smiles and writing in Pakistan. Before she had left the United States she had spent time in a mental hospital with Schizophrenia. She states in her letter that her decision to come to Islam is one of the sanest she has made in her life but one wonders. Then she ends up in a notorious madhouse in Lahore.

One gets the sense of reading this of how much of her thinking is muddled by her mental state and how much she really believes. Then again she was probably freer in Pakistan than she would have been in the US. In Pakistan she was able to marry and have kids and have her sister wife take care of her kids leaving her to write and so what ever else she wanted. while if she had stayed in the US she would probably ended up a ward of the state in a hospital somewhere.

Ever since 9/11 it has been a zero sum game for Islam and the West. If one wins the other loses. It was fascinating to trace back this ideology on the Muslim side to a specific political group and how they in a way took Maryam in and used her to showcase just how degraded the West really was.

Here was a perfect example of how when one followed the west your parents could kick you out, get rid of you or drop you off at the local state hospital while you traveled the world. While in Islam once you had a child you are responsible for it forever. That was the thinking anyway. It seemed it was to their own best advantage to use her to their political ends.

I found this book fascinating. The whole thing seemed unreal. Even the author admits all this was hard to imagine until she went to Lahore. First when she read the letters in New York public Libary it seemed that Maryam had finally found a place she could call home. That it was not rife with the strife that afflicted her with her parents in the US. However when the author went to Lahore she found something unsettling. From her old foster family saying that what she wrote home to her parents is not exactly what transpired in Pakistan. That she was guilty of a multitude of sins. When the author finally reached her for an interview she found a woman who acted complete different than what her letters portrayed. I felt that the author was being a little harsh in her judgment of Maryam. But who am I to say? I wasn’t there. Where the author gets to this point in the book I felt that it starts to fall apart. It as if the author let her emptions color what she wrote and we only get a nuanced version of the “real” Maryam. With sayings such as “I could not wait to leave the room” we are getting the author's emotions instead of what the story was supposed to be focused on.

The rest of the book is tightly written and a fascinating look at Maryam life as a political Islamist. Pick this book up if you want to know why someone would trade a middle class existence to a Life under a veil in poverty struck Pakistan.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Best of 2011


I have a couple that I have read that are my favorites ones was published in 2010 but it is among my all time favorite books. It is BoneShaker.

bone shaker

It was my first foray into the world of steampunk. I told myself that this year I was going to branch out into all genres instead of limiting myself with literary fiction. I was so glad I read this. It was a perfect read for the cold dreary northern winter. (I am originally from the south).

The second is a nonfiction book and it is

happiness project

I liked this because she gives real advice on how to be happier right where you are. And the advice she gives it well researched and works. I know cause I have been following my own happiness project and and corny as it sounds I am happier.

I got this book for an ARC and it impacted me too so I don’t want to leave it out.

365 thank yous

The man wrote 365 thank yous for things to ne grateful about. This really had a deep impact on me because sometimes in my deep dark depressions I feel as there is nothing. So I started thanking people for little things and keeping a gratitude journal and now I do feel more positive and I interact more positive also.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Armchair BEA: How I Armchair

This is my first armchair BEA that I have partispated in. I look forword to what the week will bring. I will be armchairing (can I use that word) in my new favorite lazy-boy recliner.

I love reading and writing and tech stuff above all else. After trying different career paths I decided to go back to school and get my degree in Library and Information Technology. My days are spent studying for the GRE and trying to remember math I took a life time ago.

I love meeting new people but sometimes where I am Deaf it gets in the way cause I cant understand what people are saying. That’s why I love the internet so much! It levels the playing field.

I will read just about anything. I am a very eclectic reader. My gulity pleasure is self-help books. My friends don’t hesistte to tell me most are full of crap but I cant help it. It like a great big choclate chip cookie dough ice cream (another thing I love) for the brain.

I look forward to meeting all of you! If you want to know anything else feel free to ask!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Salon


I am jealous of the people that are getting to go to BEA this year. I will be participating in Armchair BEA. I cant wait for it to start. This will be my first time participating. I am sure it will be an enjoyable week.

I have read on twitter and on blogs how many people go to author and book events. I have been trying to come up with any ideas on how get the same for North Eastern Ohio. It seems that it is only located in the big cities but I wish there were more located nearer to me so that I could attend. If anyone has any ideas let me know.

Studying for the GRE has taken up most of my time this week. I have decided to go to Library school. I hope I get in. The part of the GRE that concerns me most is that math part. The written and vocab I am not worried. I know how to make it stick but I not had any math in over 5 years and I have forgotten most. Oh well I will just pray that I score high enough to make it to Library school.

The book I am reading now is called “West of Here”. I heard about it on a few blogs so I decided to check it out. The first few chapters were slow going and I really did not get the point but after page 100 it starts to make sense and is really really good.

I look forward to meeting some of you on Armchair BEA!

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