Friday, January 17, 2014

The Joy of Googling

How can I ever be bored when I have the whole world at my fingertips?  I spend a lot of time each day on my laptop.  I hope it is not an addiction although it may have some elements of that.  I like getting email, I enjoy  Facebook postings,  I read my daughter's blog,  I meditate on the lectionary for the day,  and I write this blog.

But it is the ability to do research from my family room couch that I appreciate as much as anything.  In the last few weeks I have read three books that were fiction but read as memoirs:  Alice Munro's The Lives of Girls and Women, Paul Horgan's The Way Things Were and Bo Caldwell's  The Distant Land of My Father.

 Horgan states in a preface that only one of his ten stories is based on his own life.  I'd really like to know which one because they all seem so true to the memory of a small child.   Munro's stories are set in Canada where she continues to live so at least the setting is true to her past.  Again, I'd like to know more about her faith as that figured in the chapter that really was compelling to me in her novel.

 Caldwell's book haunted me as well because it was so emotional and painful in recounting the memories of a young girl whose father was a charming but egocentric and absent presence in her life.  I could hardly believe it wasn't autobiographical.  Then I read somewhere that it was based on the life of her mother's brother.  I wanted to know more and none of the reviews I read mentioned any more than that.  So I googled "Bo Caldwell's uncle" specifically and there was my answer!

  Caldwell and her mother found a box of transcriptions of tapes her uncle made while they were cleaning up his apartment in San Francisco after his death.  He had been imprisoned by both the Japanese and the Chinese Communists in China.  He was the "black sheep" of the family although why was not stated.  Originally she planned to write a book of non-fiction based on these transcriptions but felt it would be a bit thin.  Her husband, the novelist Ron Hansen, suggested she do a work of fiction and she did so.  Now I look forward to reading her second novel, also based on journals and letters from her grandparents who were missionaries in China.

So as I thank God daily for health, food, sleep, family, friends and much else, I'll add to the list my laptop and its connection to the world of information.

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