Erudite Mondays at Half Soled Boots
Volume 8 Number 4
Susan Gordon Lydon
I'm not sure what came over me - usually I don't post when I feel like that, but last night I thought "Sod it."
And I've got to give props to Kate who wrote a haiku full of good advice.
Wool flows through fingers
Lights or no lights the wheel spins
Turning moods around.
Now, don't you feel refreshed? I do.
Speaking of wool therapy, I have just finished reading Susan Gordon Lydon's Knitting Heaven and Earth: Healing the Heart Through Craft. I read it because it sounded interesting, but now I've put it down, I must admit I probably won't pick it up again.
The premise is well enough - knitting brings healing of real problems by its meditative peace. The execution, though, is wanting. Instead of feeling connected with the author and convinced that knitting had helped her through her times of hardship, the disjointed narrative and surface emotions failed to either interest me or prove her overall point.
What bothers me is that there was so much potential for a really thoughtful book, written from the perspective of a woman who has been through a lot of bad and good, and has wisdom to share as a result. As a reader, I expected to cry in places - maybe laugh out loud in others. But I think Lydon took the easy way out - those surface emotions I mentioned earlier - and on the whole, the book falls flat as a result.
One thing that really bugged me was her constant use of quotations from pop culture, especially music, to express her emotions. It's like her own words aren't enough - she has to call in Joni Mitchell to back her up. Or Lucinda Williams. Or Woody Allen. And when I say "constant use", I mean it: I checked a random section for you, and in nine pages there were five excerpts from song lyrics. When a person is in the depths of despair because her lover has cheated on her and then left her for another, she should be able to do a better job of making us feel her pain than by saying:
During this time I clung to some lines from a Paul Simon song "Graceland" that said "Losing love is like a window in your heart. Everybody sees you're blown apart." I felt like I had been cracked open and there was a hole inside me where the wind blew through.
As I used to say, around 1989: "No duh."
I am attacking this book because I had such high hopes for it, and I'm keenly disappointed. I had originally ordered it to give to a friend who is going through a bad time lately. She's a knitter and I thought this book might make a nice gift to lift her spirits. I hoped it would be moving and thought-provoking - I found it shallow and inattentive.
Last year my friend lent me Eat Pray Love. I liked it fine, as a casual read, but found it overwhelming narcissistic and nauseatingly self-congratulatory. I completely lost patience with the constant cycle of self-destructive behaviour, lack of resolve, devastating heartbreak caused by loving entirely unsuitable and sometimes abusive men, and desperate search for solace in other people's words. Knitting Heaven and Earth can be best described as Eat Pray Love with yarn. Eat Pray Love is a hugely popular book, I'm aware, and I'm sure Knitting Heaven and Earth also has an enormous fan base. But they weren't meant to be literature, and they sure as hell aren't.
I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I'm just not a self-help-book type of person.____________________________________
HSB Highly-Specialised Book Rating System
Knitting Heaven and Earth gets:
Given to Others: Doubtful, but not impossible.