Our favorite FBI agent was born on February 23, 1964. Thanks to YouTube for some great Scully moments.
Our next book club meeting will be on February 27 at 10:30AM. We are reading Oona Out of Order. At the start of the book, Oona is an aspiring musician, and music plays an integral role in the book. Here’s a sampling of some of the music that is important to the characters.
Oona’s favorite song is Sunday Morning by “Velvet Underground”
The first time she jumps, she listens to Kate Bush’s album The Hounds of Love over and over again:
She meets Kenzie at a Suzanne Vega Concert and he breaks down when Vega sings “In Liverpool”
Later, Oona promises to take Kenzie to see Garbage – a good band, but a bad move, Oona.
Edward is a fan of Nirvana:
Finally, the last chapter brings us back to Velvet Underground with All Tomorrow’s Parties:
I’ve been working on a playlist for all 78 Tarot Cards. Here are my choices for the first half of the Major Arcana. What do you suggest? I love having multiple songs to think about especially from multiple genres, so please leave your pics in the comments!
Fool: The Joker (Steve Miller Band)
The Magician: Sunny Goodge Street (Donovan)
The High Priestess: Mysterious Ways (U2)
The Empress: This is to Mother You (Sinead O’Connor)
The Emperor: You Should See Me in a Crown (Billie Eilish)
The Hierophant: Chicken Man (Indigo Girls)
The Lovers: We Found Love (Rihanna)
Chariot: Running Down a Dream (Tom Petty)
Strength: Leather and Lace (Stevie Nicks)
Hermit: Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)
Wheel of Fortune: The Bug (Mark Knopfler)
Let me know your thoughts! The rest of the Major arcana will be showing up next month!
Our book club discusses Oona Out of Order on February 27, 2021 at 10:30 AM. Ready for discussion questions? These come from Litlovers.com and from the publisher with a few thrown in by myself.
If you could write a letter to yourself in a past year, what year would you pick and what would you say?
If you could jump back (or forward) into any era of your life, when would it be?
Was this a good book club book?
How old are you on the inside and on the outside? How does this, if any, dissonance, affect your attitude and decisions?
1. Discuss the novel’s epigraph: “Time heals all. But what if time itself is the disease?” How do you interpret that question? How does the novel seek to answer it?
2. In the prologue, Oona reflects that her condition is the closest thing she could imagine to immortality. What do you think she means? Do you agree?
3. Oona has a “no spoiler” approach to time travel and takes precautions to reveal certain things about her future but keep others secret via her annual letters. Do you agree with her approach? If you were to switch places with Oona, how much of your future would you reveal. and what would you add/remove from the letters?
4. To counteract living her life out of sequence, Oona spends much of the novel searching for constancy. Who/what are some of the constants she manages to establish throughout her leaps?
5. There are moments when Oona laments mistakes she’s made in her life and considers trying to fix them. What mistakes do you think she has made? Do you think she was better off trying to prevent them or learn from them?
6. Oona and the people closest to her often describe her life as “bittersweet.” Do you agree that her time travel makes her life feel more bittersweet than it would if she were living “in order”? Why or why not?
7. Discuss the evolving role of music in the novel and in Oona’s life.
8. How much of Oona’s destiny do you think is predetermined? Do you think she’s capable of changing her future? What do you think this book ultimately says about fate vs. free will? Do you agree or disagree?
9. Did you have a favorite section in the novel? Why?
10. Let’s dissect this book by each of its parts. Starting with Part I in 1982 were 18-year-old Oona is in love with her boyfriend Dale and she deciding whether to tour with him or go to economics school in London. What were your initial impressions of Oona in this section?
11. Part II comes quickly and Oona is transported to 2015 and she’s age 51. Let’s talk about Oona’s jump to her future. What would you have done if you were Oona and went from being 19 to 51?
12. Oona says she’s never been susceptible to nostalgia and wonders: is this what it means to get older, replaying happy memories because the best times are behind you? Do you agree with this? Why or why not?
13. Oona goes from an unhappy and confusing year at age 51 to back being in her 20s again in 1991. What did you think about Oona partying in this era? Why was it important for her to let loose?
14. After the ’90s, Oona is 40 and in 2004. And she’s married to a Brit named Edward. In this section, she never really falls for Edward and instead has feelings for her guitar instructor Peter. Let’s talk about Oona’s relationship with Edward and Peter in this section.
15. And, in a twist, the next section is when Oona is 39 and in 2003—right before she meets Edward. So she experiences the romance with Edward backward. Were you surprised when she did actually fall for him, even though she knows how it ended up?
16. Oona is then back to her 30s and in 1995. She’s grieving over her failed marriage to Edward and a fight with her mother. But in this time period, she goes with her mother to Asia. Let’s talk about how Oona matured throughout this year.
17. When Oona goes to 1999 at age 35 she learns that Kenzie is not just her assistant but also her son she had with Dale. Did you suspect that he was her son or were you surprised by this? Do you agree with her mother that Oona wasn’t fit to raise him in her condition?
18. In 2017, Oona is 53 and has a repaired relationship with Kenzie but her mother dies of cancer. Let’s talk about this chapter.
19. The chapter ends with her running into Peter, her former guitar teacher, and they agree to meet up in 2018 for a dinner date. Do you think they will get together?
20. And it ends with Oona back in 1983 and at age 19 where she’s learned from all the different eras. How did it change Oona for good?
I’m so happy that my daffodils are up that I’m going with a classic, by William Wordsworth. Although credited only to Wordsworth, his sister and his wife both contributed. Wordworth’s wife, Mary, contributed the lines:
“They flash upon that inward eye/Which is the bliss of solitude”
Here is the poem:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Time for our February book: Oona Out of Order, by Margarita Montimore. This is a light fiction book that raises some interesting questions about our inner age versus our lived age, and how we reflect on our past, present and future. We will discuss the book on February 27, 2021 at 10:30 AM. If you are on my mailing list and getting email from me, watch for a zoom link closer to the date. If you are new to book club, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a zoom link.
Here is an interview with the author:
This is a much lighter book than our last read, and at first I didn’t care for it, but it are on me. What would you tell your younger self if you could? How old are you inside? These are fun questions to explore.
I miss doing in-person presentations but I have to admit that running book club in pajama pants is pretty awesome. Here’s what’s going on in February:
I made a thing!
Check out my article on Peter Pan’s legacy and evolution in Clarkesworld Magazine!
Romance Book Club: 1PM February 13
Librarian Brendle Wells and I co-host this book club with the Sacramento Public Library. This month our book is Edge of Glory by Rachel Spangler. I was so impressed by this f/f romance between two Olympians – one a skier and one a snowboarder. I had low expectations but the story takes its time, the characters are layered and fun to be with, and all the glimpses into Olympic life are fascinating. Join us on zoom! Information on how to join can be found here at the Sacramento Public Library webpage.
Between the Lines Book Club: 10:30AM February 27
This program is also offered through the Sacramento Public Library. For Zoom information, email me at email@example.com. Our book this month is Oona Out of Order, by Margarita Montimore. Check on Fridays for more Between the Lines posts!
Our book club book this month is Hidden Valley Road, which we will be discussing on Saturday January 23, 2021 at 10:30AM over zoom. Here are some interviews with the author!
One of the things I miss in the Covid-Era is going to San Francisco and Oakland to see my friends, not to mention beautiful art and gardens and that glorious Bay. When a friend of mine asked about books set in San Francisco, I was only too happy to waste some time making her a list. Here are some of my favorites, with links to reviews when applicable:
The Heroine Complex series, by Sarah Kuhn
I love this contemporary paranormal series about a group of sisters and friends in the Bay Area who fight the supernatural even when the supernatural takes the form of demon-possessed cupcakes. Expect inclusivity, feminism, action, and romance.
The Fifth Sacred Thing, by Starhawk
In the year 2048, The United States has split into smaller nations. The utopian San Francisco must defend itself against invaders without losing its core values in the process.
Mama’s Bank Account, by Kathryn Forbes
This is a sweet collection of short stories about a Norwegian immigrant family living in San Francisco in the 1910s. A good comfort read.
The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
This contemporary novel about Chinese immigrant mothers and their American-born daughters is a classic.
At the end of the 19th century, Li-Lin must protect Chinatown from mundane and supernatural threats.
During the Great Recession, a laid-off web designer gets a job at a mysterious bookstore in this gentle fantasy.
All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Anders
This is a near-future science fiction/fantasy book about a witch and a mad scientist who fall in love while saving the world.
A young married woman and a hooker with, and I quote, “a heart of gold” become friends and help each other survive in Gold Rush San Francisco.
Tea with the Black Dragon, by R.A. Macavoy
This classic mystery has just a hint of fantasy as a Chinese man helps a woman find her missing daughter. It hasn’t aged well, but for its time was unusual and exciting for having a male Chinese romantic protagonist.
Two women meet in 1940’s San Francisco and romance and adventure transpire in this poignant historical feminist and LGBTQIA-friendly fantasy.
Copy Boy, by Shelley Blanton-Stroud
In this historical novel set in the Great Depression, a woman reinvents herself in the journalistic world of San Francisco.
What are YOUR favorite Bay Area books?
Our book club will be held on Zoom on January 23, 2021. Here are discussion questions for our book, Hidden Valley Road, courtesy of penguinrandomhouse.com! I will be adding a few more before our meeting, but these should help you get started.
1. How does the Galvin family adapt when the boys develop schizophrenia? Do any of the family members handle it better or worse than others? 10. As the Galvin children begin having children of their own, how does their upbringing on Hidden Valley Road affect how they raise their own children?
2. At the time when the Galvin boys are being diagnosed with schizophrenia, studies in mental illness claim the parents are responsible. How do you think this affected how Don and Mimi handled the changes happening in their family?
3. How did growing up on an air force base positively or negatively affect the Galvin family?
4.. How did this book change your perception of mental illness?
5. Discuss how the youngest Galvins, Lindsay and Margaret, both came to terms with their family’s struggle with schizophrenia in different ways.
6. Did your feelings change about any of the characters during the course of reading?
7. What was your impression of Mimi at the beginning of the book? Did it change by the end?
8. Tragedies have the power to shape families to bring them closer or pull them apart. How is the Galvin family shaped by their own tragedies?
Finally, here is an interview with the author:
This month’s poem comes to us from Robert Frost:
It’s a new year and a new book! This month we are reading Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, by Robert Kolker. We will be discussing the book on zoom (link pending) on January 23rd, 2021 at 10:30AM.
Here’s the publisher’s description:
Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don’s work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their twelve children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965. In those years, there was an established script for a family like the Galvins–aspiration, hard work, upward mobility, domestic harmony–and they worked hard to play their parts. But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the ten Galvin boys, one after another, were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen to one family?
What took place inside the house on Hidden Valley Road was so extraordinary that the Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institute of Mental Health. Their story offers a shadow history of the science of schizophrenia, from the era of institutionalization, lobotomy, and the schizophrenogenic mother to the search for genetic markers for the disease, always amid profound disagreements about the nature of the illness itself. And unbeknownst to the Galvins, samples of their DNA informed decades of genetic research that continues today, offering paths to treatment, prediction, and even eradication of the disease for future generations.
With clarity and compassion, bestselling and award-winning author Robert Kolker uncovers one family’s unforgettable legacy of suffering, love, and hope.
Happy New Year! It’s already shaping up to be a busy one!
Here are two places you can find me in January:
January 9: 1PM: Romance Book Club
We will be discussing The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan, one of my favorite authors! Here is the link for more information:
And here’s a review of the book from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books:
January 23 at 10:30AM: Between the Lines Book Club (zoom link pending).
Our book this month is Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of An American Family, by Robert Kolker
Watch our Friday space for more information about this book!
Blessed Solstice, dear readers. This year’s Solstice poem is by Mary Oliver, who sadly passed away in 2019. Starlings were introduced into North America by Eugene Schieffelin in 1890, as part of his quest to introduce every species of bird mentioned by Shakespeare to the USA. You can see these birds all over Sacramento and Natomas in complex murmurations.
Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,
dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine
how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,
this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;
I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.
My daughter and I have been binging Schitt’s Creek which, of course, we love, and I took special delight in seeing Twyla make her way through a tarot reading for Ted and Alexis in “The Hike” (Season 5, Episode 13). Frankly this is more of a recap than an analysis, but I love the details of how this reading plays out in the season finale a full season later.
SCHITT$ CREEK FINALE SPOILERS AHEAD
Twlya is an expert reader who learned from the best:
“Oh, one of my mom’s ex-boyfriends was a magician, and a gambling addict. But he was also really good at reading tarot cards. He predicted when he was going to leave my mom, like, to the day.”
The viewer can’t tell what deck Twlya is using or what the cards are, or what the layout is, but Twlya certainly sees a lot in the cards. There is a sinking ship and people dressed in black having a party: “Well, more like a funeral.” Alexis is understandably disturbed by this and leaves. As viewers, we are pretty sure that Ted and Alexis are not going to die on their upcoming trip to the Galapagos Islands, so we assume that Twlya is just not a good reader and that the joke lies in the inaccuracy of the reading.
However, Alexis comes back later and asks for a second reading, to which Twlya responds,
“I’d be glad to do it, Alexis, but I should warn you, I think the deck may be cursed. I predicted four other drownings today.”
So far not great. But then Twlya reveals that Alexis left before Twlya showed her the last card, which was the ten of cups.
“And I saw your family with this big… golden ring of light around them. Like you all had something to celebrate. It’s gonna be a good year, Alexis. You’re on the right path…And that golden ring means prosperity. Hm. Either that or it’s a stain from a beer bottle. Because my mom’s ex gave me the cards.”
Twyla’s reading is actually pretty spot on, beer bottle stains aside.
Ted going to Galapagos sinks the “relationship” and the relationship dies, and that is very sad. David and Patrick get married though, and there is a big party, and everyone wears black except for Moira and Alexis, and the family is, more or less, on the right path. They have increased prosperity and they have grown together as a family and as a community.
So I suppose the moral of the story is that readers make mistakes, but the cards don’t lie, not even cards with beer bottle stains on them. I loved how this reading turned from funny to touching, and how perfectly it played to the series finale.
For a lovely post on the ten of cups and this episode, try this Tumblr post.
And here’s a clip of Twlya being Twlya, with a glimpse of the reading at the very end!