A few odd and wonderful books (including “Eating Bull”)

Last week I became sick. It hit quickly and suddenly. One minute I was running trails with my partner and the dog and the next sharp pains rammed my head. I finished the run (I always finish my runs–why can’t I be as proficient with my writing?) and spent the night shivering and sweating in bed, and I stayed there all the next day, too.

I was sick for almost a week. The first few days I did nothing but sleep and moan to my partner that if he loved me, he’d put me out of my misery (thankfully, he doesn’t love me that much). By the third day, I was well enough to read. It was unseasonably warm and I sat outside in the sun, dunked my feet in the wading pool, and read. I finished four books, an odd assortment of memoir, detective/crime and a young adult novel with a fat teenage protagonist who stole my heart.

It was nice to slow down, take time off from work and laze around and read. I didn’t watch TV or post on social media (I’m falling out of love with social media and will post about that soon) or worry about blogging or reading blogs. Instead, I read books. I devoured them. It reminded me of when I was young and growing up out on the farm, and how I spent long summer days perched in the sturdy branches of a poplar tree, reading for hours.

And maybe it’s because I still had a slight fever but each book I read felt shiny and filled with endless possibilities (oh, don’t you love it when that happens?).

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The Wrong Kind of Indian, by Jey Tehya. This was sent to me as an advanced review copy, in exchange for a blurb, and all I can say is, wow. Tehya can write and the book, which reads like a memoir (and after a bit of online sleuthing it appears that it is a thinly disguised memoir), follows Jenn, a young part American Indian woman who lives in Portland. She falls in love with a man from India and the book chronicles their affair, along with Jenn’s constant battle with her weight and self-acceptance. Each chapter alternates between present to past and the childhood segments, while brief, are vividly honest and pack with small and brutal emotional punches. I read this slowly, savoring each page. The only criticism is that it lagged a bit toward the end, when Tehya touches down on her character’s eating disorder. This felt forced and over-emphasized, and I soon wanted to wave my arms and yell: “Yes, yes, I realize that Jenn has an eating disorder. Let’s get on with the story, shall we?” Still, it was a minor stumble in an overall skilled and accomplished book. I highly, highly recommend.

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Eating Bull, by Carrie Rubin. Oh. My. God. Why didn’t I read this earlier? I downloaded it months ago but never got around to reading. It’s a fun, though at times gory, book, and with one of the most lovable teenage protagonist ever. Jeremy is fat, and not just chubby but close to three hundred pounds fat. His life at school is miserable and his home life, with his grandfather’s quips about his weight and his mother’s jerk boyfriend, isn’t much better. He consoles himself through food and video games. Jeremy, who is part Native American through his father who he’s never met, fantasizes of being a warrior. His life changes when his mother takes him to a health management clinic where he meets a female type warrior named Sue, who pulls him toward a new vision of himself. Jeremy and Sue take out a lawsuit (yes, Sue sues!) against local fast food joints claiming that they overly contribute to the obesity epidemic. While this is happening there’s also a killer on the loose, Darwin, who targets fat people. The book is told from chapters alternating Jeremy’s, Sue’s and Darwin’s viewpoints.
I’ll admit that I was initially put off by the second chapter, which chronicles Darwin’s first kill. There was no lead-up to this sudden change in perspective and at first I thought I was reading of one of Jeremy’s video games. The violence felt gratuitous and out-of-place so early in the book, and if I hadn’t of had so much trust in Rubin’s voice from the previous chapter, I might have stopped reading.
I’m glad that I didn’t. For the book just kept getting better and better, and Jeremy became more and more endearing as it hurls toward the ending, where Jeremy attends at pow-wow and meets fellow Indian Dan Folsom, whose words of wisdom change Jeremy’s life, along with the bow and arrow set he buys at the pow-wow. What follows, while unrealistic, is nevertheless foot-stomping, cheering-at-the-top-of-your-voice worthy. And has there ever been a more lovable and fumbling hero than Jeremy?
I won’t give away the ending but will say that I highly, highly (highly!) recommend Eating Bull, especially to teens who feel as if they don’t belong and adults who felt as if they barely survived high school (and face it, that’s most of us). A fun and endearingly heart-touching mystery.

Well, I was going to gush about the other two books that I read but I see that I’ve gone on long enough so I’ll call it a day and leave you with a few pics of our recent walk out on the sand dunes by Kincaid Park (these were taken between 10 p.m. and midnight. See how light it is? We are truly blessed up here during the summer).

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Can you believe this light? Those blues just do me in.
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The inlet from high above on the dunes.

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No, I’m not choking Seriously, hee, hee.
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Sand dunes, in the middle of nowhere. It’s very odd but wonderful.
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Seriously foraging for food, her all-time favorite activity.
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24 thoughts on “A few odd and wonderful books (including “Eating Bull”)

    1. I think you’ll like it. It’s kind of cool to read a book about Portland and recognize many of the landmarks. Cheers and woof-woof. P.S. We had to take Seriously back to her other owner yesterday. It will be a sad week without her, sigh, sigh. But we’ll have her back next week and life will be good. Take care.

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  1. Love the pictures as always.

    It’s interesting how many bloggers I’m seeing discuss a desire to get away from social media. I’m feeling the same thing too (actually have been feeling it for a year or two), but for me it also includes blogging. There’s something about it that just isn’t there anymore.

    And in other news, we just booked an Alaskan cruise for the end of July. Not exactly the way I want to see the world, but it will take us to Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka. Any suggestions for any of those locations for the few hours we’ll be at each one?

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    1. OMG, you guys are coming to Alaska! You will love it. Are you looking for hiking trails, fishing spots, restaurants, good viewpoints, etc.? Let me know and I’ll hook you up with some ideas. Cheers and have a great weekend.

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    2. Thanks, Mark. I’ll shoot you off an email soon. What type of hiking? Shortish distances? Rough terrain? Mud? Mosquitoes? Bears? (hee, hee). And what type of restaurants do you like to visit? You’ll have a blast on the cruise (is it just you and your wife or our your kids coming too?). Cheers and more soon.

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      1. My wife is not much of a hiker so hikes would need to be relatively short and relatively easy terrain. Restaurants — open to anything.

        It’s just the two of us.

        Thank you in advance.

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    1. Thanks, Julie. I’m feeling quite better now. And yes, Seriously was by my side most of the time. She likes to hog the sofa. I’m lucky if I get just a teeny-weeny slice of cushion, and each time she moves, I fall off. The things we do for our dogs, eh? P.S. I did have chicken soup, even though I’ve been a vegetarian for over 30 years. Don’t tell anyone, okay, hee, hee. Big, big hugs, and hope you and your family are having a lovely summer.

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    1. Thanks, Kev. I still (still!) owe you a blog post and don’t worry, it’s coming. Right now I’m flying through the days on allergy meds, which is quite lovely but doesn’t do much for my ability to carry a logical thought to completion, lol. I was so surprised at how much I loved “Eating Bull.” I kind of teared up a couple of times, it was just so endearing. When Dan the Native American man sat down beside Jeremy on the bus and offered his wisdom, I swear I almost bawled. It just felt so perfect. Anyway, I’m shutting up now and hoping that your week is going well and if it isn’t, pop a few over-the-counter allergy meds and trust me, nothing much will matter. Cheers,

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  2. Ah, girl, sorry you were sick but glad you’re feeling better. Great reviews and I do indeed second your review of Eating Bull. Love the photos too. Funny, I look at them and wonder, “Is she really that great a photographer or is that just a jaw-dropping gorgeous place or both?” I’d love to visit Alaska so I could bask in that beauty personally.
    I hear you on the social media and blogging. I haven’t done much of anything in months and what I’ve done has been somewhat half-hearted. Well, not my book reviews but I have to admit I feel like I always have to be cheery when I’m on social media, always putting on a “happy face.” Given events in Florida lately, that happy face has been harder and harder to find. What I really want to do, if I ever get myself enough time to plan, is settle on a schedule of social media that satisfies me, keeps me just enough involved with people I care about but not so much that I feel I have to be checking Facebook Twitter, etc. all the time. It’s a challenge, but for every minute I’m on social media, that’s a minute I’m not doing my own writing or reading a good book.

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    1. Oh, Marie, I totally feel the same way about social media and putting on a happy face. Everyone seems to do it, too. I’ve pretty much given up on Facebook. It’s depressing to read about so many people’s “perfect” lives and “perfect” experiences. I’d rather read books about tragedy and dysfunctional families, thank you very much. Plus it’s odd, isn’t it? Just as the world is kind of going to hell, everyone on social media acts so damned cheery (sorry to swear so much–see what even thinking about social media does to me?). I love blogging, though. And reading blogs. I’ve noticed that the less I’m on Facebook and Twitter, the more time I have to write. I’ve been turning off my Internet for large chunks of space, which really helps. P.S. I’m not a very good photographer and most of the pics are taken with a cheapo digital camera I picked up at Target for $50 three years ago. It’s just really that beautiful up here. Cheers, hugs and happy writing.

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      1. Ah, well, you have a good eye for perspective which is more important than the cost of your camera 🙂 And that’s a good trick to just turn off the internet. At work, I’ve learned to shut down Outlook when I need to concentrate. Amazing how much it helps! And don’t apologize for swearing … If you heard half the words that come out of my mouth … 😉

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    1. I totally sympathize, Karen. I’ve never, ever had sinus problems until this year and it’s hit hard. I seem to suddenly be allergic to everything, and everything then clogs up my poor sinus passages. I’ve been watching “Desperate Housewives,” which pretty much sums up my state of mind. It’s great fun. Hope you are feeling better. P.S. Allergy meds make my head even foggier, which is kind of like walking around high all of the time. I think I’d fit right in down where you live, lol. Take care, and big hugs.

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  3. I’m sorry to hea you were sick! Great photos though! And those books both sound really good. I’ve been trying to do more reading this year – especially since I’m not writing. 🙂

    I hear you on the social media thing. I fantasize about deleting my Facebook and Twitter accounts! The only social media I’m really enjoying at the moment is my blog and Instagram. It’s all dogs and books and my Instagram feed – gotta love that!

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    1. Well, duh, what else would one want to see on Instagram than dog pics, hee, hee. P.S. I’ve slacked on my reading, now that I’m no longer sick. Kind of sad but life has taken over (you know, stuff like a job and freelance writing assignments, sigh, sigh). Cheers and woof-woof.

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  4. I stopped by to thank you for your recent rating of Eating Bull on Goodreads only to find this here. Thank you so much! What a wonderful treat to find. You made my day, and I’m so glad you enjoyed the novel. Thank you for taking the time to review it. And good on you for taking time to just read (though sorry you were sick 😦 ). I’ve been bemoaning my lack of reading time lately too. I need to claim more time in my day for one of my favorite activities.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Carrie. “Eating Bull” was a welcomed surprise. It just kept getting better and better. As I mentioned, I cried a few times, which to me is the biggest compliment one can give to a book. Cheers and have a great week.

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