Wednesday, April 3, 2013

we all owe everyone for everything

I just finished reading The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. I picked it up because I lead a fiction book club at the library where I work, and one of the next books we'll be doing is The People of the Book, which is discussed, and also because one of my all-time favourite novels, Crossing to Safety (on my recommended shelf) is the first book up.

The author's mother is diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. It's not a matter of beating the cancer, it's how long it can be fended off. This is the cancer that Patrick Swayze fought. And Mary Anne is equally courageous and beautiful. So the book club, is a book club of two. The tone is conversational, and by the time you're half way through, you feel like you know the author and his mother. You want to call them up on the phone or go out for coffee with them. Possibly a martini. There's a feeling, as the reader, that you're part of this wonderful, elegant, and grace-filled conversation, that often takes place during chemo treatments.

The book is about how and why we read, about a life spent in conversation with books, but mainly, it's about this amazing person - Mary Anne Schwalbe.

The author talks about finding a piece of paper in one of the books they'd discussed, later, when he's writing the book. His mother had written:

"We all owe everyone for everything that happens in our lives. But it's not owing like a debt to one person - it's really that we owe everyone for everything. Our whole lives can change in an instant - so each person who keeps that from happening, no matter how small a role they play, is also responsible for all of it. Just by giving friendship and love, you keep the people around you from giving up - and each expression of friendship or love may be the one that makes all the difference."  

This reminds me of one of my favourite passages by Clarice Lispector, which is in her Crônicas. She talks about how we each have a mission to fulfill in our life.

"That mission is by no means easy: each of us is responsible for the entire world."  

Reading the book, you just have to fall a little in love with Mary Anne - she reads the ending of a book first (I often do this as well), and she's been deeply involved in getting a library set up in Afghanistan.

So, I've popped the book up on my recommended shelf, above for you. And also, another interesting thing about the author is that he runs this website called Cookstr, which I'd actually never heard of, but some of my foodie friends might like to take a look at.

Meanwhile, more books. These ones belong to Rob, and he's painted them a few times.

I did my usual processing for them, but then monkeyed around with a couple of the shots. (Below, right).

And then I tried this one in BW, just for fun. I love the colour, but the BW maybe accentuates the lines.

I love how you can see the bones of the book, in the more dilapidated volumes.

The last two photos are very similar. But the focal point is different, which of course changes everything.


  1. Boy, I needed this today :-)

  2. This is what we do...keep bracketing our focus on the same subject or object, looking at it from all angles from the outside, hoping and waiting for it to reveal something from its interior, something hidden. We are looking for our own inner secret to be revealed to us as an insight from something "other than".

  3. Your first b & w pic looks like its on fire . . . or smouldering. Very cool. Thanks for the great post today. Words of wisdom AND a foodie link. What a great day!

  4. you're right, the focal point changes everything whether in photography (the seeing) or in writing (the reading and comprehending). Another really great post. So now I have even more to add to my reading pile :)

  5. How contrary to the way we normally think about our lives, our responsibilities. How opposite to all the private transactions we conduct, the personal legers we keep. A wonderful reminder of our interdividuality.


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