Amid a literary landscape increasingly rife with metafictional and postmodern high jinks, Jill McCorkle's sixth novel, Life After Life, is as resolutely down to earth and unpretentious as the hot-dog franchise owned by one of her characters.
One of the more lovable assisted-living residents is Sadie Randolph, a retired third-grade teacher who's slipping away to dementia but still believes "in dictionaries and manners" and that we're all "forever 8 years old" at heart.
So, I entered a contest for my book club a few months back which would have provided snacks and prizes for my chosen novel, The Snow Child. Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life is a tricky book to talk about since the narrative is so distinctly nonlinear. The title is clever and makes it seem that Ursula’s life cycle is endlessly on repeat. The sense of deja vu continues throughout the novel for both Ursula and the reader as she relives several traumatic early experiences: the bloody death of two pet rabbits to backyard foxes, a near-drowning while on a seaside vacation, being left in the yard as an infant.
The parts that do change, however, alter both Ursula’s life and those of all the people around her.
I think I need to go start a more careful reread of Life After Life now as I am sure I have missed so much.
Jack the junk: Marie Kondo has become a household name in Japan for her KonMari method of de-cluttering and tidying.
If I could go back in space and time I would befriend Kondo as a child, for selfish reasons — first of which would be to please my mother.
In a sense, what Kondo does now is no different to what she did in her formative years: tidying and thinking about tidying.
It was the young Kondo who was the black sheep — an eternally cleaning busybody, as she outlines in her book.
The young Kondo was prescient enough to interpret this message, or rather reinterpret it, as to what she had been doing wrong, she writes in the book. Kondo admits that she is surprised by the phenomenal success of her book in Japan, but thinks that in part it is because it is more than a self-help book. For Kondo, cleaning is not just an aesthetic improvement; it reflects psychological issues. The book was published earlier this year in Europe, and this month it gets its American release.
One of the big departures in Kondo’s cleaning methodology, at least for me, is to clean by category, not location. I admit that following the KonMari method put me in a new mode of thinking when it came to deciding whether to keep a book or chuck it. At the end of the day when I tuck into bed, I always feel happier if I’ve done the right thing. Tween girls who know the Disney Princess stories by heart and are looking to extend those fairy tales may be excited to discover the spinoff stories about the women's children. The newest Ever After High book, "The Unfairest of Them All," was just released a few weeks ago, and it picks up after Legacy Day.
The main characters are from the "Snow White" story: Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, and Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen. Parents and young readers are likely to compare the wildly popular "Monster High" series to the new "Ever After High" books. The "Ever After High" series provides girls who aren't ready to give up their beloved princesses a fun way to delve into the stories again.
The previous post in this blog was How to create customized Easter baskets at Walt Disney World. The next post in this blog is Registration is open for SeaWorld Orlando's hands-on summer camps. The final episode of 24 has aired, and all that’s left is to wait for the promised movie.


The next morning, longing for oblivion and fearing that, by age 13, I'd already blown my college prospects, I got to class early and begged to speak to Mr. Philosophy became my thing, and I've spent countless hours ruminating on why there's something rather than nothing, without any discernible results. The Fermi group conducted particle accelerator experiments that apparently show that pairs of insanely tiny particles called muons are produced ever-so-slightly more often than pairs of anti-muons. Shel Silverstein wasn't a religious Jew, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't have studied the Jewish mystical text the Zohar, which posits a time without time when God studied the Torah with as-yet unborn rabbis.
HarperCollins has announced they'll release a collection of never-before published Silverstein poems and illustrations next year. For her first novel in 17 years, McCorkle has dared to write a heartwarmer that takes place largely in a retirement home and stresses the importance of good old-fashioned kindness.
Among her frequent visitors is her all-time favorite student, Ben Palmer, an amateur magician who was all too effective at making his high school sidekick, Joanna, disappear a€” not just during his magic shows but from his life. After all, she lives life after life after life…In fact, the blurb teaser is: What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? Her countryside upbringing does not change much in any of her lives, although what she takes away from these incidents in each iteration does. Sometimes a neighbor girl is slaughtered, sometimes Ursula is raped by a visiting American, sometimes she marries a wife-beating control freak or a high-ranking German official, sometimes she remains unmarried but has trysts with a series of inappropriate men, sometimes she has a child and sometimes she is childless, sometimes she grows up to befriend Eva Braun, kill Adolf Hitler, or rescue those who are bombed out of their homes during the Blitz. Sometimes, it seems, she can change the world; other times, Ursula is barely able to change her own life, and when she does, it often causes drastic consequences for those she loves. She advises being tactile, but when clearing out books she warns against dipping in and out of pages. Her early forays in bringing order to her closet, her room and her family home brought pain instead of joy.
My mother would always tackle cleaning room by room — the kitchen, followed by the utility room, then the bedrooms. She demystifies the mess that keeps piling up by forcing you to examine everything, and I mean everything, in your life.
And it actually feels good to have a pile of rejects and an orderly library-like bookshelf.
The "Ever After High" book series by author Shannon Hale debuted last summer and has quickly become popular with girls ages 8 to 12, including my own 9-year-old daughter. Decisions made that day pit the Royals, who believe in fulfilling their destinies, against the Rebels, who want to write their own stories. After all, both are based on merchandise lines that feature dolls and other licensed products, and it's easy to see the promotions in the stories. And if these clever characters help cement an interest in reading, this is one parent who won't complain. All Disney artwork, copyrights, trademarks, service marks, and trade names are proprietary to Disney Enterprises, Inc.
I can't wait to see it, but wouldn't it be nice if Shel were still around to write a song sending up our metaphysical mess? NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium.
The uncorrected advanced proofs we received were 500+ pages (with the slightly altered ARC cover shown here). Sometimes, Ursula dies tragically, but in other lives, she commits suicide, seemingly aware that her life has somehow gone awry and must somehow be restarted. I am literally going back to read and chart the timeline and see if I can find any patterns, clues or other significant motifs, which might give me insight into this confusing story. It starts out on a high note, and halfway through, slides into repetitious boring nonsense.


Like most people will attest to when it comes to cleaning, the relentlessness of it defeated her. But I would be lying if I said in among the keepers there aren’t books I will never read again, or even finish reading in the first place. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. Still, and although I ultimately liked the book very much, I did think it dragged a little in a few parts and wish it had been maybe 100 pages shorter; such a cut would have made the remaining vignettes crisper and more profound.
In another, the doctor who arrives just before the event is able to cut the cord strangling her tiny neck. In person, the 29-year-old Kondo is petite, no bigger than a broom, but more powerful than a Dyson vacuum cleaner. It was during one of these episodes, after despairing over her fruitless efforts, that she heard a voice. Think category, such as clothes, accessories and books — which is why I am sitting among my pile of paperbacks.
Kristin writes about Disney news from a parent's perspective, covering Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Channel, Disney Publishing and Disney Interactive and more. For example, the students in Hale's books use MirrorPods and MirrorPhones and listen to Tailor Quick and One Reflection.
But their books share little beyond a title.) Readers of McCorkle's earlier fiction a€” including Ferris Beach, Crash Diet and Going Away Shoes a€” will appreciate another deftly orchestrated symphony of voices.
Their 12-year-old daughter seeks refuge from her feuding parents with Sadie and her cohorts a€” who include an outspoken high school English teacher and a recently widowed lawyer from Boston who is drawn to Fulton because it's the hometown of her long-dead paramour. In addition, the focus stays on the relationships between female characters, rather than veering off into romance territory. White—who was almost as scary as his namesake on another darkly riveting TV series, Breaking Bad—have it in for me because he'd correctly intuited my hatred of science, especially chemistry?
Each of these characters makes a discovery or connection that demonstrates how life can hold surprises well past our expectations. These intriguing questions are left unanswered, an aspect of this novel which I both hate and love.
The reader gets to make meaning of the novel because there are no easy solutions for this multi-layered puzzle.
I relish books that give me the necessary clues but leave me to fit the pieces together how they may; I just want to be clever enough to uncover the answers!
Her gentle wit and sympathetic portrayal of the offbeat and the elderly evoke Anne Tyler as well as several Southern storytellers, including Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, Clyde Edgerton and All Things Considered commentator Bailey White. One narrative strand, which I'll leave for the reader to discover, is particularly unsettling. As in Thornton Wilder's Our Town, a not entirely rosy portrait emerges of a small community where people know a lot about each other a€” though often not the most important things a€” and where the dead live on in local memory.
Also, the short chapters giving voice to the recently deceased seem superfluous after Joanna's moving portraits. But the characters in McCorkle's quaintly touching novel are bound to stay with you after you put it down, giving them a sort of afterlife a€” or "life after life" a€” after all. Joanna has found meaning for her life as a hospice volunteer, helping people achieve good deaths by compassionately eliciting and recording their memories and last words in a journal a€” the entries to which make up some of the chapters in this novel.
She takes under her wing a pierced and tattooed single mother who is determined to escape her own mother's legacy of prostitution and suicide, doing whatever it takes a€” including engaging in a risky affair and giving pedicures at Pine Haven a€” to give her baby a better life than she had.




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