Books I read this week Vol 32, Aug 19

Tender Wings of Desire

Author: Harland Sanders

Series: N/A

Tags: Historical romance, regency romance, tavern, secret identity, sailor, glasses, chicken restaurant empire

Format: e-book

Rating: meh.

Podcast book! Betcha can't wait till the latest episode of Getting Lit comes out TOMORROW!

Ilana, her husband Matt (special guest star), and I will be talking about Tender Wings, so I don't want to give much away, other than KFC ROMANCE NOVEL.

 

To get you in the mood, I've compiled a couple of links that give a little of backstory, and a whole lot of opinion I don't agree with.

Adweek: KFC Wrote a Romance Novel for Mother's Day and it's Uncomfortably Good

Business Insider: KFC Romance Novel is a Raunchy, Steamy Tale

Goodreads: Synopsis

CNN Money

NPR:I gave my mom the KFC romance novel. Here's her review.

 

And an ad that is much more interesting than the book itself.

 

When Breath Becomes Air

Author: Paul Kalanithi

Series: N/A

Tags: nonfiction, cancer, death

Format: audiobook

Rating: blergh.

 

This was my IRL Book Club pick this month. It's about a neurosurgeon that writes his life story while he is dying from cancer at the age of 36. I considered not reading it, because living through someone else's dying moments is not something I put on my bucket list. 

I expected to cry buckets.

I did not.

I teared up once, when he describes the birth of a set of twins, and again during the afterword written by his wife.

 

I expected that, avoidant person that I am, I would spend a lot of time trying not to empathize with the dying man. Instead, I spent a lot of time trying not to do other things.

 

Trying not to get miffed at his remarkably privileged upbringing.

Trying not to call him pretentious for constantly quoting obscure authors and philosophers from his time getting a Masters in English, only to switch to neurosurgery.

Trying not to let the over flowery language detract from the story, rather than add to it.

Trying not to get bitter about the way everyone talks about him (including himself?) as if he could do no wrong.

Trying not to think that his wife gets way more credit than she does.

Trying not to question their choice to have a kid after they found out his diagnosis.

Trying not to feel sorry for the kid, who will never know her father.

Trying not to, at any time, respond with a flippant "welp, sucks to be you..."

 

Why? Because he's dead! This is a real story about a real man who is right now irrevocably dead IRL as we speak.

This book is officially in the no judgement zone. I mean, how can I say anything beyond the fact that it was his personal human experience in death?

 

The few brave souls on Goodreads that gave it less than four stars said about the same things that I had issue with. They all started their review with something like "sorry to talk ill of the dead, but..."

 

He talks a lot about his childhood, a lot about being a neurosurgeon, a LOT about literature and philosophy, and a decent amount about the high level trials of slowly dying from cancer. But all in all, it's a slow, dreamy, surprisingly cheerful ride.

It seemed like the most optimistic atheist view of death, which is weird, because he did say he was a Christian. No talk about any life hereafter, just the steady beating drum of his constant decline into death.

Did he struggle against it? Kinda. 

Did he come to some big epiphany? Not really.

 

Maybe this is more true to the experience of death than St. Augustine or John Donne. It is what it is. 

I've known from years of therapy that dreading something (and I am A++ at dreading) is far worse than actually experiencing it. Maybe that's what it's like. The questions fall away and then you're just like, "Welp. This is me. Dying."

 

If that is the case, however, I'd much rather hear the family's side of the cancer experience. Family members were suspiciously absent from his ramblings and musings. The Ancient Greeks believed that death is most difficult for the ones left behind (see: Antigone). I believe that is true. Maybe that's why the wife's afterword is so much more powerful than the book itself.

 

The one thing I liked that I could take away from this book is that at some point, when he was dying, his doctor said something like, "your family will be sad for a time, but they will get better."

I may be wrong, since I've never experienced it, but I feel like if I were dying I would be most distressed by thinking of how my death will hurt the people I leave behind. I don't have much of a bucket list. Just to love and be loved, and I've done those, in a fashion. It comforts me to know that I probably won't, hopefully won't irrevocably change the happiness level of those I love.

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