Zi71bFS9nQHnivtvUJquhejTHIQ The Story Factory Reading Zone: October 2013

Monday, 7 October 2013

Music Out of the Pages: Hearing the extra-ordinary

Crashing Eden by Michael Sussman

When I awoke, the first thing I noticed was that the sound hadn't gone away. In fact, it was a little louder. Was Dr. Krantz wrong about them piping music into the joint, or was I seriously whacked?
The more I listened to it, though, the more awed I felt by what I heard. Words couldn't capture the power or the beauty of this strange yet familiar music. There was something primal, something ancient and profound about it, as if I were somehow witnessing the creation of the universe.
Out of curiousity, I closed my ears with my index fingers. I figured that if the sound was all in my head, blocking out the world wouldn't make any difference. But, in fact, when my ears were plugged, Istill felt a vibration but heard nothing. How could that be?

Have you ever been able to hear something that others couldn't?
How did you explain it to them?
Did you have to explain it to yourself first? 

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Treatment or Adaption?

Crashing Eden by Michael Sussman

"What the hell's that?"
"Electroconvulsive therapy. They're gonna zap my brain, dude."
"They still do that" I was.... well, shocked. Shock treatment was what turned Nicolson into a zombie in the movie.
Hector said Dr. Weiner told him that ECT is much safer now and often used as a last resort for severe depression when other treatments fail. He'd be anesthetized and given muscle relaxants, and then a small current of electricity would be passed through his brain, inducing a seizure. The usual course was ten to twelve treatments on an every other day basis.
"How does a friggin' seizure help anything?" I asked.
"They don't know, man, but it works. For six months or so anyway. Only problem is, you can forget stuff."

What do you think?
Is treatment, or adaption to disability better? 

Friday, 4 October 2013

Mental health

Crashing Eden by Michael Sussman

On one end of the room was an old beat-up television. Several patients were watching The Young and the Restless, lounging in sofas and easy chairs that had seen better days. Along the wall, two others were paying a game of ping pong on a table with no net. There was also an upright piano with a basket of tambourines and maracas on top of it. At the far end of the room was a kitchenette and several small, bolted-down tables with plastic chairs.
Most of the patients were in their teens or twenties, with a few older folk in the mix. We were allowed to wear street clothes, which was a relief after dealing with hospital gowns. My only image of a mental ward came from the Jack Nicholson movie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, so I was relieved to discover that the nurses weren't scary ball-busters and the patients acted pretty normal. 

What are your experiences / expectations of being suffering from mental illness?

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Hand wounds

Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey
Oldive regarded her steadily, as if divining some measure of her reluctance, and extended his own hand. Compelled by the very neutrality of his gaze, she gave him her injured hand. To her surprise, there was no change of expression on his face, no condemnation or pity, merely interest in the problem the thick-scarred palm posed for a man of his skill. He prodded the scar tissue, murmuring thoughtfully in his throat.
"Make a fist."
She could just about do that but, when asked to extend her fingers, the scar pulled as she tried to stretch the palm.
"Not as bad as I was led to believe. An infection, I suppose..."
"Packtail slime..."
"Hmm, yes. Insidious stuff." He gave her hand another twist. "But the scar is not long healed, and the tissue can still be stretched. A few more months and we might not have been able to do anything to flex the hand. Now, you will do exercises, tightening your fingers about a small hard ball, which I will provide you, and extending the hand." He demonstrated, forcing her fingers upward and apart so that she cried out involuntarily. "If you can discipline yourself to the point of actual discomfort, you are doing the exercise properly. We must stretch the tightened skin, the webbing between your fingers, and the stiffened tendons. I shall also provide a salve, which you are to rub well into the scar tissue to make it softer and more pliable. Conscientious effort on your part will determine the rate of progress. I suspect that you will be sufficiently motivated."

Do you have any problems with your hands? 
How do you adapt, or how have you overcome them? 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Room by Emma Donoghue (A Review)

Goodreads Summary:

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

My review:
Absolutely amazing! Its hard to remember that a) this isn't a real story and b) the author is not a 5 year old child! Its practically impossible to put the book down! And you'll want to tell everyone about it!
The world that Jack sees is so different from our own and this changes the way he sees everything. It was hard not to be both shocked and charmed by his outlook on life. The fact that he is the one who tells the story (in his own words) means that the reality only gradually unfolds, giving the reader time to come to terms with the horrible truth and softening the effect of what could be a very disturbing topic.
The story is clearly based on reality, but everything is so vivid that it's hard to believe that its not really some sort of strange memoir. You feel like you're watching some sort of diary-room entry from a reality TV show at times. At other times its like Jack is writing a secret diary that only you hold the key to. This is what makes the book so hard to put down- the fact that, for a short while, it actually becomes part of your life.
Everyone should read this book! But choose your moment carefully, as its not relaxing by any means!

Action Reader's Action: Change a child's life! Spend some time volunteering a local school, or children's club. Or sponsor a child through a charity.

What's the most shocking book you've ever read?


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