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.Signs You Should Give up on a Book.

You may know by now that I love to read. There are so many good books out there and time is limited to read them all. Every day thousands of new books get published. So what can you do? Usually, I will give a book…

.Book Thursday.

Psychologie interessiert mich brennend. Ich liebe es mein Wissen zu erweitern denn nach oben gibts es keine Grenzen. Das Buch welches ich heute rezensieren möchte ist von Sandra Konrad und heisst “Nicht ohne meine Eltern”. In diesem Buch findet der Leser heraus wie gesunde Ablösung…

.Emails From My Dentist that Would Actually Make me Schedule an Appointment.

I hate going to the dentist. Hate it! With a passion! And I am always scared and avoid appointments like the plague. There were times when I was in so much pain but I still didn’t go. Every thought of going to a dentist’s office creates immense stress and discomfort in me. This is due to many traumatizing dentist visits in my childhood. I am not exaggerating. Did I mention that I hate dentists? Will this ever get better? Maybe if my dentist would send me an email like these listed below I would agree to schedule an appointment to overcome my trauma. Maybe.

Possible emails:

YOU’RE OVERDUE FOR A CLEANING! Jennifer at reception started having an affair with one of the dentists, and her husband will be storming into the office to confront them about it during your appointment.

YOU’RE OVERDUE FOR A CLEANING! Our new latex gloves are chocolate-flavored.

YOU’RE OVERDUE FOR A CLEANING! We are going to start publicly posting on our website when all of our patients’ last appointments were, so you can’t lie when your mom asks. 

YOU’RE OVERDUE FOR A CLEANING! The TV in our waiting room is playing Notting Hill and Die Hard 1.

YOU’RE OVERDUE FOR A CLEANING! I really shouldn’t be telling you this, but did you know that Dwayne Johnson is one of our patients, too? Who knows, maybe you might bump into him here.

YOU’RE OVERDUE FOR A CLEANING! Your teeth look disgusting when you wear a white shirt. Everybody thinks so.

YOU’RE OVERDUE FOR A CLEANING! We promise we won’t annoy you about getting your wisdom teeth removed this time. And won’t even ask you how often you floss. That’s none of our business.

YOU’RE OVERDUE FOR A CLEANING! We’ll let you take a silly one on the X-ray and ask as many silly questions as you want (and even more than you usually do).

YOU’RE OVERDUE FOR A CLEANING! One time, somebody put off their cleaning for an extra month, and all of their teeth fell out, and they died. I’m sure that won’t happen to you though… but you never know.

YOU’RE OVERDUE FOR A CLEANING! There’s a bouncing castle in the parking lot now.

YOU’RE OVERDUE FOR A CLEANING! There is caramel toffee and champagne in the waiting room.

YOU’RE OVERDUE FOR A CLEANING! Honestly, forget about posting it to our website. How about we call your mom directly and tell her when you last came in? We have her phone number since she’s your emergency contact. Guess that means you’re probably single, huh? Maybe you wouldn’t be if you had a better smile… just saying.

YOU’RE OVERDUE FOR A CLEANING! We taught the fish in the lobby’s aquarium how to do a loop-the-loop—you gotta come check this out.

YOU’RE OVERDUE FOR A CLEANING! Help! We’re trapped under something heavy and need you to come free us. We’re only able to reach our keyboard to send this one email, and the battery is about to die, so you’re our only hope.

YOU’RE OVERDUE FOR A CLEANING! In the mood to have a neck and foot massage in the waiting room? Come on down!

.Book Thursday.

“Heroes go forth. To be alive is to go forth.”  What this book is about: Johannes is a free dog who lives in a park on a small island. He loves running and keeping track of everything that is happening in the park including human…

.The Easter Bunny.

Okay, fine. You caught me. Congrats on catching the real Easter Bunny in the act. Yeah, I’m real. As real as Santa Claus. You know what else is real? My hatred of Santa Claus. Seriously, screw that guy. Like his job is any harder than…

.Book Thursday.

“She had repeated this trip every August 16 at the same time, with the same taxi and the same florist, under the fiery sun of that destitute cemetery, to place a bouquet of fresh gladioli on her mother’s grave.”

Until August (Wir sehen uns im August) by Gabriel García Márquez (translated by Anne McLean) revolves around forty-six-year-old Ana Magdalena Bach and her annual visits (on the 16th of August) to the island where her mother is buried. Ana’s itinerary includes a visit to the cemetery where she places a bouquet of her mother’s favorite flowers and indulges in a one-night stand with a different man every year before she returns to her family – her musician husband of over two decades and her two adult children. One of her trysts ends in a humiliating gesture and she carries both the emotional and physical reminder of the same through the years. Every visit to the island and her experiences with the men she meets inspires her to reflect on her actions, her marriage and her family. In sparse prose we are given insight into her motivations, her internal conflict and her desire in a journey of self- explorations with a thought-provoking ending.

A departure (in terms of theme and approach) from the nature of Gabriel García Márquez’s more famous works, this is not the author at his best but for those of us who have enjoyed the author’s work in the past, it won’t be difficult to appreciate the segments that shine with the author’s brilliant writing. But sadly, that is all we can expect from this short novella. I have no doubt had this manuscript been developed into a full-length novel with well-fleshed-out characters, and their motivations and relationships explored deeper; this would have been a worthy addition to the author’s oeuvre.

Please read the Preface to the novel where the author’s sons discuss their decision to publish this novella posthumously despite his wishes to discard the draft manuscript. A segment of this novella (translated by Edith Grossman) was previously published (1999) in the form of a short story. 

Releasing a posthumous work by a beloved author will always be a fraught exercise, even more so when the author in question is widely considered one of the 20th century’s best. Pre-publication hype is countervailed with confected outrage about ‘betraying’ the author’s wishes.

Gabriel García Márquez did not think Until August ready to be published, but it is by no means ‘rough’ or incomplete. Per the explanatory notes, this was the fifth draft. It may not have been perfectly polished to the author’s highest standard, and there is a suggestion that it was intended as a part of a larger whole — a cycle of novellas — yet it works just fine as a standalone story and is not some kind of inferior work.

That said, if you have not read García Márquez before, don’t start here. Until August is not characteristic of his famous style, containing no magical realism (although you could argue the book’s ending contains just the slightest hint) or baroque prose flourishes. The style is spare and pared back, the story simple and repetitive in the manner of a piece of music. The overall effect is of old-fashioned charm and elegance mingled with tawdriness, like evening wear scented with sweat and booze. It is a very short work (despite claims of ‘novel’ on the cover), barely cracking 100 pages, and that is with large type and wide margins.

I can remember reading One Hundred Years of Solitude and a switch flipping in my brain: books can be this? It felt like graduating to an entirely different level of reading experience. Until August is not likely to have that effect on anyone (what an incredibly high bar!) It feels like what it is: a minor work of a master.

.My Tips on Raising a Boy.

This article is dedicated to my son Joel. Even though he drives me nuts sometimes, I have to admit that overall he is a very cute, smart, sweet kid. He will be eleven years old this year and leaving elementary school with flying colours to…

.Book Thursday.

I love Japanese authors and their style of writing. Many stories are unique in that they utilize magical realism, a style of writing that combines mystical elements with real-life experiences. Usually, there is a mix of fantasy and reality, which Japanese authors use to explore themes…

.A Day at the Condom Factory. *

*This is how I think it is like working at a condom factory. Reminder: It can always be worse.

EMPLOYEE: You see any good penises lately?

SECOND EMPLOYEE: It’s Friday. So, yes.

EMPLOYEE: Me too. Our whole job is to look at, then discuss penises at a professional level.

SECOND EMPLOYEE: Yes, we’re just professionals who study penises and then have meetings to discuss what we learned about the penises so we can make a better product for penises. Five days a week, 260 working days a year.

EMPLOYEE: Speaking of which, today I’m giving a presentation to our coworkers, who are also penis professionals. I’ll be sharing all of the new things we’ve learned recently about the experience of sex from the perspective of the penis.

SECOND EMPLOYEE: Is the one employee who works in the Vagina Department going to be there?

EMPLOYEE: Unimportant. What are you working on today?

SECOND EMPLOYEE: More research on lambskin and how it fits on different types of penises.

EMPLOYEE: Remember how we discovered that you can use the skin from a lamb to cover a penis?

SECOND EMPLOYEE: Yeah, that was a wild project. Very aggressive timelines. Tons of lambs and penises. I’m really proud of that work.

EMPLOYEE: Our work is the type of thing you can talk about openly with mixed company, such as during dinner with your in-laws, when chatting with a neighbor, or when you’re catching up with parents of children that go to your kid’s school.

SECOND EMPLOYEE: Definitely. I discuss my career working with penises with my father-in-law all the time. He’s one of those technical types of guys who likes discussing cars, sound systems, and the various trajectories of the penis that the skin from a lamb is designed to accommodate during sex.

EMPLOYEE: My dad loves talking about my work with penises too. There must be something about that generation, because they sure do love penises.

SECOND EMPLOYEE: Don’t we all in this line of work? Why else would we dedicate the majority of our lives to the study of penises and penis mechanics?

EMPLOYEE: It’s sure not for the health insurance.

SECOND EMPLOYEE: For me, it’s really about leaving a legacy and doing something that my children and my family can associate me with for the rest of their—hey, look, a penis.

.Book Thursday.

It’s about time I finally cracked this charming little book open. I’ve had it sitting on my bookshelf for a while. The book is a tribute to bookstores, book lovers, and England. This epistolary novel delivered exactly what I expected it to! If it hadn’t…

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