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DARING MY PASSAGES: a Memoir ~Gail Sheehy

“’ The Change’ was not a curse that turned older women into victims; it was a freedom that allowed older women to stop trying so hard to please.” (p365)

“His study (Erik Erikson) found that men only moved on to the next period of development when they began working at a new task and built a new structure for their lives.” (p. 213)

In the 1970’s millions of readers celebrated Gail Sheehy’s amazing book PASSAGES.  She shared with us that adults keep growing, changing and developing and were not fixed beings unable to change.   Sheehy was a journalist and reporter, who did her homework and made her living writing primarily for magazines; she developed quite amazing ideas centered on questions that people were asking themselves as they worked through their lives.  As a single mother, with her own life challenges, Sheehy had a knack for discovering the important questions of the time.   DARING MY PASSAGES the author shares with us her wisdom and hindsight of how she experienced those passages and her own developments and changes.

Sheehy is the author of one of Oprah’s favorite quotes:  “You can have it all, just not at the same time.”

The book begins with Sheehy’s interesting childhood and her gutsy moves when swimming or taking the train by her very, young self into New York City from a sleepy town north.  Dad was driven but not happy and mom was becoming an alcoholic to cope.  Her mother had extremely limited options and Gail could see the problems clearly.  This set the stage for a driven perfectionism.  She always did her homework and more research than what was needed, questioning and writing, and she created a new form of journalistic interviewing techniques formed by these characteristics.

Sheehy married a medical student, Albert Sheehy, who was the father of her daughter, after putting her husband through school the marriage, was broken and she took on the role of single mom and breadwinner in a daring move. She had gotten a job with J.C.Penney and was helping Penney develop his human resources and build character and wholeness in his employees.  From there she began writing for the Herald Tribune and New York Magazine.  Her peers read like a who’s-who of journalistic name dropping: Eugenia Sheppard, Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin, Betty Friedan,  Phil Spector, Ken Kesey, Andy Warhol, Saul Bellows, Gloria Steinem, Clay Felker, Dick Frost; the stories she shares about competition and bonding over all the questions young women were exploring in the 50s and 60s to the adult contemporary concerns were exciting to revisit.

I could not put this fascinating book down, it was important to me to revisit that experience and those heady times.

Oh, and the folks that she interviewed and wrote articles about are fascinating, well worth the read for the backstories.  Sheehy shares a great deal of gratitude to everyone in her life and from whom she learned so much.  I have read all of her books over the years and have gained from her perspective and voice.  I think this is a valuable read and a good perspective to take into our future.

From the Book Jacket:  “Fascinating and no-holds-barred, DARING MY PASSAGES is a testament to guts, resilience, and smarts, and offers a bold perspective on all of life’s passages.”

“GAIL SHEEHY is the author of sixteen books, including the classic New York Times bestseller PASSAGES, named one the of the ten most influential books of our times by the Library of Congress.  A multiple-award-winning literary journalist, she was one of the original contributors to NEW YORK magazine and has been contributing editor to VANITY FAIR since 1984. A popular lecturer, Sheehy was named AARP’s ambassador of Caregiving in 2009.  She lives in NYC.”
Twitter @Gail_Sheehy.#DoYouDare
tlc logo TLC Online Book Tours   sent me a finished hardbound copy of this book to review and William Morrow publishing is offering a free copy for a great comment by October 10,2014 USA/Canada.

DARING MY PASSAGES is well worth the read and a comment.

Did you like Passages?  Do You like Memoir?   Did you lives through all these passages?

The Signature of All Things
Daring Greatly
When Women Were Birds

IMAGINARY LIFE: A Novel & A Little Love Story from Spain ~Mara Torres

“Now I can barely remember the trip to New York, because that’s what’s f*%ked* up about the imagination; you turn your back for one second and it all slips from your grasp.”  (from about 7% of an advanced uncorrected proof- unable to secure a final text)

TLC Online Book Tours  sent me a copy of this delightful story for review and it was a pleasure to read this fun story in the uncorrected proof advance copy.   IMAGINARY LIFE takes place in Madrid and although I have never been there it was fun to experience it through the imagination of Fortunata  Fortuna  or Nata as her friends called this interesting, my guess, thirty something’s search for love.

The story begins as Nata’s boyfriend has dumped her after a long relationship and many adventures.  She is talking about her feelings nearly non-stop and working long hours at a startup ad agency.  Rita and Carlotta, friends, attempt to help her move forward and enjoy life once again.   Nata’s imagination of what is happening is quite humorous as she flies from her bed to her ex-lover’s loft and has conversations she wishes were real.   She fantasies about how the conversation will proceed even as she is walking to answer her doorbell and during her therapy sessions.

The Section Titles are very fun:  Part 1: If Not Now, Then When?  Part 2: Making Plans for Real Life.  Part 3: If Not You, Then Who?   I absolutely loved her fantasized contract for her next boyfriend of how they would form a relationship and bond – Nata’s rules.   The Cosmetics Demonstration home party, which they could not have in the USA because the women are too uptight, imagined experience was very humorous.  Then came the imagined opportunity at a political rally, because all good friends discuss and argue politics all the time; except during the financial crisis when they support each other.

Meeting friends for coffee, nightclubbing and dancing until the wee hours of a new morning was a very interesting part of the story.   There is a “laid back” attitude.    The new expressions and the local references took a few pages to sort and then the book was just fun right up to the arrival of a new boyfriend.  IMAGINARY LIFE is a story about what one is thinking might happen.  Do you do this in your life?  What stories do you create about your daily living and emails? What will really happen and what did you imagine?

From the publisher’s description: “ Original and contemporary, this debut novel, a finalist for the Planeta Prize, has the nerve center of a confessional and introduces readers to Fortunata Fortuna, a character the world won’t soon forget. “

Mara Torres is a journalist and TV anchor in Madrid, Spain and now a writer of a good imaginative, contemporary tale.  IMAGINARY LIFE – a debut novel.

2 AM At The Cat’s Pajamas
The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend 
Incendiary Girls
Our Love Could Light The World

MY THINNING YEARS: Starving the Gay Within ~Jon Derek Croteau

“From the time I was a child in such an unsafe household, I’d been putting on layers of emotional fat, thickening myself for years to protect myself from the inevitable truth.  I must have been preparing myself for the ultimate rejection I assumed would come from my father, and eventually, everyone else.” (from page 210 of Advanced Copy Uncorrected Proofs)

MY THINNING YEARS is another self-help/recovery book from Hazelden Publishing.  It is a well written biography of a young man having to deal with identity issues in a verbally and often physically abusive household.  The author’s father only wanted certainly things for his three children and then they could not do them “right”.   His father was determined to destroy any “sissy” tendencies in his youngest son and determined that he was going to be a sports star in school – especially in baseball.   Croteau was a sport’s star but only in tennis.  His mother was very supportive and tried to protect her children managing her anger by chain smoking.

Food was a big issue along with perfect grades and achievements.  For the author, this translated into anxiety, anorexia, obsessive behaviors, perfectionism, and nearly suicide.  Many of his friends were females and neighbors who allowed Croteau access to their homes when his father rampaged.   Many of these friends stuck by him all of his life and protected him at school.  He loved to sing but was only allowed to be in theater productions required at school.

Croteau’s mother got him counseling help as best as she could provide by cashing checks at the grocery store and having a teacher provide the transportation so husband/father would not know.   His brother and sister had a hard time too, but not as tough as Jon because they were great at sports and not as sensitive.  Appearance was important and not having any “faggy” behaviors.

This is a well written account of how difficult it was in the 80s and 90s to find an identity and become self-affirming.  At one point in my career I was working with a group of teens as a counselor – all had eating issues, identity issues and food issues.  4 of the males in the group were anorexic and I wished I had had a copy of this book to share with them all; they were not alone it was a struggle for many.

I could identify with Croteau’s pathway too, because my home was run by a quiet perfectionist who used criticism as a tool.   My siblings were not safe or protective we were all in competition for attention and sometimes food.  Many, many people could relate to this recovery process and issues of self-affirmation.  It is good story telling.

“Jon Derek Croteau, Ed.D. is vice president at a leadership consultancy for higher education and health care clients across the globe. He is the author of three academic books on staff development and leadership as well as numerous articles for journals and periodicals, and he is a member of the speaker’s bureau of the National Eating Disorders Association.  Jon legally married his partner, Justin Croteau, in 2007 and currently resides in Vermont”

TLC Online Book Tours   and Hazelden sent me a copy of this book for review. MY THINNING YEARS is a very good read and resource.  Thank you for the opportunity.

Conquering Shame and Co-Dependency 
Mind Without a Home 
Shadows In The Sun
The Isolation Door

LUST: Sensual Poems (unabridged) ~Diana Raab (Narrated by Kate Udall)

“This is a gorgeous book of poetry. It is as hot as you would expect, given the title. Many of the poems reveal scorching, intimate moments between passionate lovers. But these poems go way beyond erotica. What makes them special for me is how they call forth the essence of intimacy’s gifts. For instance, in one of my favorite selections, “Create,” the first line evokes the very nature of what love offers us: “Make me the person I want to become, draw from me the secrets buried under, the facade of responsibilities.” Wow. Buy this book for everyone you know who lusts…and loves.”
~ Charlotte Rains Dixon

Every morning I read a poem or listen to a poem on several different websites, as I enjoy my glass of water and ease into the day. LUST was the first audiobook of poetry that I experienced and it was so sensual and provocative and relaxing while stimulating so many senses. What a way to awaken. LUST is a gift.

Every morning the happy pup and I walk 2 miles and move up hill then down, recently to avoid the heat of the day we often see sunrise. I put on my headphones and listened to this audiobook every step of the way. The sun broke through the marine air and touched our whole being like a lover and we listened to LUST 3 full times all the way through just walking and feeling alive.

The poems move through the erotic path of young love to the new parent’s stage, into the middle years and on to memories and reflections. The gifts of sexuality given over time. The words describe the sexuality of loss and dis-illusion with an amazing gentle energy that is full of release, opportunity and joy. The whole life explored as an erotic adventure with beautiful and harsh words.

I liked it all, and when I went to check out what Amazon was sharing about the book, others must like it as well, because there were only 4 copies left with the original printing of the book.

I apologize to Diana Raab for posting this tour review a day late, because I would highly recommend this as a special gift for so many friends and for the sensual feelings which arise for everyone with her delightful words. Here we are now…to let you enjoy and experience a whole lifetime of pleasures and fantasies – LUST

tlc logo TLC online Booktours and the author attempted to send me a copy of this audiobook – I ended up purchasing the book and I am very happy I did. Lovely words –precisely spoken- beautiful communication.

The website is very interesting to explore: “Diana Raab, Ph.D., is a memoirist, poet, blogger and transpersonal psychologist. Her educational background includes health administration, nursing, creative writing and psychology.” (from her website)

LUST was just the read I needed to enjoy. LUST is touching poetry. LUST is Diana Raab’s fifth book of poetry.

The Dirty Book Murder
Painting Juliana
Further Out Than You Thought