Summer has arrived so I took a little break from writing to soak up the sun. It also reminds me that I need to come up with a writing plan for the summer. I usually write during the day while the kids are at school. I have a hard time writing when they are home because of noise and distraction.
It is Sunday morning and one of the kids is still sleeping. The other is reading a book. Perhaps early mornings will work best. I know I need to keep writing because it is helping me sort through things. I feel physically and mentally better when I’ve explored whatever is bothering me.
Writing is a commitment I’m working to make a habit. Reading feels like it is close to a habit and I committed to that in January. The 3-week cycle is working and I just finished another two books. My fiction selection was light and breezy. My non-fiction selection was heavy and challenging so I ended up taking an extra week to finish it. A bit of a mismatch in intensity ended up being a good balance of reading.
My Fiction Selection
The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende is a lovely book. It is a slow, weaving story that spans the lifetime of Alma Belasco and her love affair with Ichimei Fukuda. Allende is a compelling storyteller. The book is not without flaws and left me disappointed that the character never grew to explore in depth the events of her life. Perhaps that was the intention. Confronting your shortcomings without risking change is disappointing.
Overall the story is very over-the-top and there is a character assigned all the issues of the mid-to-end 20th century in San Francisco. Alma is a Jewish immigrant from Poland who’s parents die in Treblinka. Her lover is a Japanese-American and was interred during WWII. They are the star-crossed lovers at the center of the story. The story includes closeted homosexuality, AIDS, illegal abortion, pedophilia, classism, and racism.
I’m not sure all that was necessary. One character, Irina, had a backstory that was particularly dreadful and I’m not sure why the author went in this direction. There were other, less sensational ways, to get her to that time and place in the story. This is the character that pushed it over-the-top for me.
Disappointment underlies the theme of this book for me. I’m disappointed that Alma never feels confident enough to face her self-made hurdles to build a life with Ichimei. I’m disappointed that all the characters move in a repressed way and never challenge her to be better. Ichimei accepts her hurdles. Her husband accepts her hurdles. No one challenges the shoulds in their lives. And that is the ultimate disappointment.
My Non-Fiction Selection
I am going to focus this post on the book review and may do a separate entry on my thoughts on abortion (I’m pro-choice).
Living in the Crosshairs: the Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism by David S. Cohen and Krysten Connon is an intense read. It does what it sets out to do. Nearly every page relates an anti-abortion protest experienced by an abortion provider (both doctors and clinic staff). Individually most acts can be defined as protests. Collectively it rises to the level of terrorism.
There are individuals who are protestors. Those stories are shared from the perspective of abortion providers. The providers do not agree with the argument of the protesters but do not seek to eliminate their voice. Well-defined spaces for protest and well-defined rules of engagement allow both sides the ability to safely coexist and provide an added level of protection for the women seeking an abortion.
There are some individuals who clearly are not protestors. The murders of Drs. Gunn, Brillon, Slepian, and Tiller were acts of terrorism. That is the extreme end. The book details the path from protest to terrorism. Abortion providers are stalked from the clinics to their homes. Abortion providers are threatened with violence and death. Abortion providers homes and cars are at risk when that information is shared with individuals who have physically harmed abortion providers in the past. Every provider has an experience where their life was at risk.
The invasive and threatening tactics raise the threat level to terrorism. The goal is to induce enough fear in abortion providers that they quit. Those that instigate violence may decry it when used knowing full well that the violence only reinforces the fear they try to instill.
Living in the Crosshairs is a dry, matter-of-fact book. It doesn’t need to embellish the experiences of the providers. The number of providers across the country and the similarity of the rising level of threats does an effective job of proving the argument that these are acts of terrorism.