Monday, April 10, 2006

Disability & Quality of Life; Book Review "Thanks"

I'm sure that I've said it before, but, if not, I'll say it here. I am firmly convinced taht your attitude is a very key component both to your quality of life, and, to your ability to - in balance - effectively manage your Chronic Illness!

And, with this in mind, my advice is to develop hobbies. Within your hobbies, remember to share with others, especially the "guides" within your hobbies, your thanks for their input. For example: perhaps you decide that you want to become a great cook, and use Martha Stewart as a model. After you dook something, using one of her recipies and receive rave reviews from your "eaters", write Martha a thank you email or letter! It'll make both of you feel so much better.

For me, I love reading. And, when I finish a book that I really love, I go to the Author's website and let him/her know, and thank them. Most even write back! I even got an autographed "drink coaster" from one, and am going to be a "reader reviewer" of one of my favorite author's upcoming book, while it is in draft.

I've copied below the thank-you email that I just sent to an author so that you can see what one looks like. Hope you too enjoy a hobby and thank those who inspire you.

Dear Mr. Katzenbach:

Not sure why I just found you, but am soooo glad that I did! The Madman's Tale is the third book of yours that I have read, and just finished it. (Started with State of Mind, followed by The Analyst). Loved State of Mind; liked the technical structure of The Analyst, but thought it was too sad - he was soooo isolated - but REALLY LOVED THE MADMAN'S TALE!!

I am a voracious reader (I've been "managing" Multiple Sclerosis for over 45 years, and now find myself on full time Disability) particularly of books of intrigue. I find, however, that increasingly I need novels that keep me invested within the book. If the story is too predictable, it just doesn't "hook me".

You, sir, have a marvelous mastery of phraseology; your lyrical prose paints pictures so accurately that I found myself in the Hospital along with Lucy, Peter and Francis!! I have obtained, and will read next, Hart's War - the book, and not the movie. I want to view my OWN mental movie through your words!

Couldn't help but document, and share back with you, some of my favorite phrases from The Madman's Tale. These specific phrases were so eloquent; they so accurately depicted an emption, or a feeling, or, in the case of Francis, so clearly defined, in my humble opinion, (IMHO) SPECIFICALLY WHAT IT MEANS TO BE "HUMAN", that I couldn't help but let you know just how your words affected me! Your prose kept me reading EVERY WORD, and not just skimming to catch the thread of the story, hurrying to "who done it"!

Many authors can describe events, action, places and things, and some can capture the superficial quality of the characters. What I find unique about you, Mr. K., is your ability to capture the essence of each character's "ghestalt"; raison d'etre (sp?); unique personality; and, how each both taps into the collective humanity, yet stands uniquely apart from it.

1) pg 168: "When I think back, I can see so many little things that should have meant something....I was young, and I didn't understand that crime is like all the mechanical parts of a transmission. Bolts and nuts, screws and pins, all meshing together to create a self-contained momentum that travels forward, controlled by forces that are a little like the wind; invisible, yet leaving signs in a piece of scrap paper that suddenly takes flight and dashes down the sidewalk, or a tree branch being tugged frist one way, then the next, or merely the distant dark storm clouds scudding across an ominous sky."

2) pg 200: "We are all defined by the dark, I thought. Anyone can portray anything in the daylight. But it is only at night, after the world had closed in, that our true selves come out."

3) pgs 218 & 219: "Sometime later that day, or maybe after the next, but certainly at some point during the steady procession of mad folks being escorted into Lucy Jones's office, it occurred to me that I had never really been a part of something before.....As a child, not being able to join in is a terrible thing. Maybe the worst.....In all those years, I was never once invited to a birthday party. Never asked to a sleepover. Not once shoved into the back of a station wagon for an off-the-cuff trip to Friendly's for an ice-cream sundae. I never got a phone call at night to gossip about school or sports or who had kissed whom after the seventh grade dance.....My life was unique because of the absence of all those little things that make up everyone else's normalcy."
4) pg 269: "But that wasn't the real terrain of each housing unit. The contours and topography were really defined by all the variety of madnesses contained within." (Note: this one REALLY resonated with me, as I was a Human Resources Executive for over 30 years before I went on Disability. Whenever I walked into a room, I took deliberate "stock" of the temperature of the room; of the currents and eddies swirling around; of who was bouncing off of whom, etc. I've just never seen it articulated as you have done!)

5) page 326: IMHO, this is the depiction that separates someone like Francis who may be "crazy", yet is still humane, from a sociopath! I loved how you phrased it!! "All my life, all I wanted was to be normal. Even tortured, like Peter and Lucy were, but normal. Able to modestly function in the outside world, enjoy the simplest of things.....But I couldn't, because I knew, right in that moment, that I would forever be doomed to be closer in spirit and action to the man I hated and the man that scared me. The Angel was giving in and luxuriating in all the murderous evil thoughts that lurked within me. He was a fun house mirror version of myself. I had the same rage. The same desire. The same evil. I had just concealed it, shunted it away, thrown it into the deepest hole within me that I could find and cover it up with every mad thought, like boulders and dirt, so that it was buried where I hoped it could never burst forth."

In these few words, you clearly articulated the essence of "free will". AND, IMHO, just why God gave us humans free will. He wants us to control our baser, evil urges, and do what is "right" through choice, not through coersion.

You have succeeded in depicting the essence of being "acceptable"; of being acknowledged as a human being, with "rights" to exist. And, after all, that's what all humans live their existence for; simply to be acknowledged as existing.

Well, I've taken up too much of your time. If you want to use my words as a review of your book anywhere, please feel free to do so.

Also, if you ever need to a reader to read an ARC of your new book(s), I'd be delighted to do so.

THANKS, again, for many enjoyable hours! I'll probably be writing you again after I finish Hart's War!


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