Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Bootleg Buggy: Stories of my Polish Family by Tina Lonski

About 1:30AM one morning  when I awoke and could not get back to sleep, I  wandered out to the living room , picked up this delightful small paperback that I'd bought at Legs Inn, MI on our last trip.  30 minutes passed quickly and I was nearly halfway through this mere 85 paged book but my eyelids said, time to get back to bed.  However the next day, I carved out some  time to finish the book.  It is just the kind of short interlude that I appreciate and for me also from a full Polish family I could relate to all her tales. While her family and Polish ancestors settled in Michigan and mine in Pennsylvania, the attitudes, the behaviors are clearly recognizable to me, the huge family gatherings, the music, the dances, the Catholic masses,Christmas Eve,  the Easter baskets and more.  While my granpap did not make bootleg booze, that I know of, hers did and true to Polish ingenuity delivered locally during prohibition having built a secret compartment below the baby in the buggy.  Besides the wonderful tales of growing up in that heritage, she writes  about visiting Poland where she sees people who could have been her relatives and recognizes  all the foods, their smells and so many traditions, feeling at home though she'd never been there before.  Perhaps a trip to Poland will work its way into my travels at some time, it is low on my bucket list but something I think of more and more as time goes on.

 There is a section of the Polish alphabet, pronunciations and words and terms and like me she admits to learning those Polish swear words by hearing them as a child and that is what we recall, probably because her grandparents as did mine said, "never say that."  I'm glad I bought this book which has reference to a few others that may be useful in my Polish research.  I was pleased that she mentioned James Michener's  "Poland" one of my all time favorites of my all time favorite author.  It was through that book that something I knew was in our nature, a fierce independence, a cautious wariness of others, an almost trigger finger if criticized  is inherent to being Polish and is attributable to the history of Poland, a land that historically was invaded over the ancient times  an occupied to modern day communism.  It's our nature, it's who we are.  I long ago accepted that but I remember my granpap saying, "that's who we are...." that's why we fight when we have to and maybe when we don"t have to.  He well knew, as he came to this country a penniless young boy and worked in the coal mines.  This was a very quick read and one I will treasure. It is a very fast read and a 5 star rating *****

Monday, July 16, 2012

One Summer by David Baldacci

My choice for a fast reading  interlude as I continue through Condi Rice's technical book.  Here is another  Baldacci gem, published in 2011, 333 pages hardback which I whizzed through in 3 evenings.  It is a good story, aptly named and a great summer read although different from Baldacci's writings of intrigue.  It reminds me a bit of his wonderful early work "Wish You Well" after which he named his foundation to combat illiteracy.  That book is not published any longer but if you find it get it.   One Summer is a story of a family, terminal illness, tragedy, miracles, obstacles and life and people who do all they can for you as well as those who do all they can against you.  I say little about the story line so that I do not spoil it for you. 

Back cover

Two passages stood out to me:  the first on page 247, "Because life doesn"t work that way.  You can do everything perfectly.  Do everything that you think you're supposed to be doing.  Fulfill every expectation that other people may have.  And you still won"t get the results you think you deserve.  Life is crazy and maddening and often makes no sense.....People who shouldn"t be here are and someone who should be here isn"t.  And there's nothing you can do about it.  You can"t change it. ...It has nothing to do with desire and everything to do with reality which often makes no sense at all.... "

And the second on page 319, " Lizzie and Jack had been meant to be together forever if ever two people were.  Only sometimes life doesn't match what should be.  It just is.  And people have to accept it, no matter how hard it may be....You should respect the past.  You should never forget the past.  But you can"t live there."   An excellent emotion evoking book, another winner by Baldacci.   Four stars ****