Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Gone

Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

No violin meant more to former child prodigy and then professional soloist Min Kym than the 1696 Stradivarius she found at age twenty-one. When, years later, thieves steal her violin from her, they essentially steal much more than a wooden instrument. Min Kym relates her story of losing her violin and finding her voice in her memoir, Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung.

This author brings not only music but also her instrument itself to life through her words, so that her violin is thoroughly personified on the page. I’ll confess that the extent of it made me uncomfortable at times, as I don’t believe I’ll ever feel so deeply for an object.

But, as a writer and a bibliophile, it’s not like I don’t get it. (I mean, you may not see me when I hug a novel I’m reading or kiss the spine of one of my own books when it’s finally in print, but know that I do get it.)

I won’t pretend that I understood all of the author’s musical language, or that I recognized all of the renowned names she mentioned–some I did, some I didn’t. I also had a little trouble following the logical flow of her thoughts, here and there.

Yet, it’s those intangible but very real somethings she taps into through music, those indescribable places where the soul takes flight… Whether one has the experience through music, literature, or dance, through culinary arts or through connecting with loved ones–even if we haven’t the words to truly do those places justice, the experiences are universal.

This memoir is a journey, one with soaring highs, desolate lows, and crucial discoveries, and it closes on a note of hope that makes the journey all the more worth it.

 

 

Yella’s Prayers: Meet the Model!

shanelle-cover-model-2

A new edition of my coming of age novel, Yella’s Prayers, would naturally mean a new book cover. Sure, my book covers include stock photo models, as countless covers do. But for the rerelease of the first book I ever wrote, I knew precisely which model I wanted to represent the novel’s heroine.

actress-shanelle-nicole-leonard

I’m privileged to know the multitalented Shanelle Nicole Leonard—my favorite stage actress. We’ve sung and danced on a couple of the same teams (we’ve even been in a music video before!), but she’s a far better singer and dancer than I’ll ever be. 😀

nelly-and-nettles

Shanelle has performed on a number of stages and has worked with the Seattle Shakespeare Company, Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, and more. She played the leading role in The Noise Made by People, an award-winning short film at the Northwest Film Forum’s Local Sightings Film Festival. And my favorite role of hers was that of Luna C in Oo-Bla-Dee, performed at Cornish College of the Arts, where she graduated in 2012.

While in the Professional Actor Training Program in the Department of Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Shanelle played in several productions with the Playmakers Repertory Company at UNC-CH.

Keep it up, Shanelle! 🙂

The Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Story Ever Told: A Memoir by Dikkon Eberhart

memoir-books

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Tyndale House provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Five Gold Stars

The Time Mom Met HitlerThe Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Story Ever Told: A Memoir by Dikkon Eberhart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Then she looked at me with that deep, human, gestative wisdom that many women have, and which I don’t.
“We know what we’ve lost. We don’t know what we’ve gained.”

Within and outside of its context concerning a certain newborn’s genetic condition, it could take me quite a minute to unpack an observation like the “lost and gained” one, spoken by the author’s wife. But there are a number of statements that gave me pause while reading The Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Story Ever Told: A Memoir by Dikkon Eberhart. Yes, it’s a mouthful, and it’s one of those nuanced but personable, intelligent and beautiful memoirs that makes you think and evaluate life, especially your own.

Literature and poetry enthusiasts and artists can find particular pleasure in reading about how the author relates to literary greats, to the arts, and to his father, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. Added to that, the themes of struggling with one’s identity and looking for answers to longstanding inner turmoil are universal.

Though its desired effect wasn’t lost on me, I thought the amount of earlier material repeated word for word later on in the book was a little much.

Still, the memoir is wonderfully woven overall, as well as entertaining, human, and redemptive.

 

“Your Lifework Doesn’t Matter.” Really?

Life's Work

My point, right out the gate: I’d advise against being quick to call what other people do with their lives—their art or vocation—unimportant just because their work may be (or seem) unimportant to you.

My reason for posting this point at this particular time: while waiting in anticipation for the NFL Super Bowl, I heard someone enter a Super Bowl discussion and dismiss the biggest event in professional American football as something that didn’t matter, before the person went on to change the subject.

Oh, it wasn’t the first time I heard someone indicate that competitive sports, particularly of the professional variety, don’t matter. After all, games like football and all the rest are just that: mere games, right? Mere entertainment. And games aren’t important like ending wars and addressing famine and finding cures for diseases and…

sportsBut, may I ask, just how long have human beings been playing games? Why isn’t game playing just a passing fad instead of an enduring part of the human experience, century after century? Why do thousands and thousands of people from all over the globe gather to play games with each other every four years at the Olympics, while millions and millions of other people watch? Why do men and women dedicate their hearts, minds, bodies, years, their lives to the lifework of athletics and competition, both amateur and professional, giving us tangible pictures of strength, skill, agility, strategy, endurance, perseverance, passion, cooperation? Why, year after year, do people tune in to certain channels on certain days; spend their hard-earned finances; flock to particular parks, fields, rinks, arenas, and stadiums; round up their friends and families or gather with complete strangers at appointed times to witness athletic competition? For “mere” entertainment?

I daresay that the athletic experience, whether on the side of the athletes or the spectators, meets a human need, as, critical as they are, peace from wars and cures for diseases aren’t the only needs humans have. (Of course, many amateurs and professionals also use their platforms as athletes to advance all manner of other worthy causes, which would take another blog post to get into.) Sports might not be the “thing” that meets an intrinsic need in you personally, that gives you an experience worth savoring and remembering and that teaches you something about the rest of life (as sports do for countless people). Books might be your thing instead. Drawing or painting might be your thing. The ballet might be your thing.

balletBut a novelist can’t look at an athlete and say, “Your lifework doesn’t matter,” as much of what novelists do through books, athletes do through sports. A dancer can’t look at a painter and say, “Your lifework doesn’t matter,” as much of what dancers do through dance, painters do through artwork. Filmmakers, comedians, musicians and composers, stage actors and playwrights, acrobats and circus performers, parents who amuse their infants and toddlers through Pat-a-Cake and Peekaboo and an untold number of impromptu games that have no name—I could go on to list how all kinds of people who provide others with entertainment are meeting a human need by doing so.

Hey. Even bloggers meet needs through writing interesting blogs.

So. Back to my point. I’d advise against being quick to call what other people do with their lives—their art or vocation—unimportant just because their work may be (or seem) unimportant to you. Chances are, the people you dismiss may be doing more for the world than you think they are.