Monday, March 18, 2013

God's Reading List: Doris Lessing

“For she was of that generation who, having found nothing in religion, had formed themselves through literature.” 
-- Doris Lessing, A Proper Marriage
If I had to pick one writer who inspired the idea of "God's Reading List" it would be Doris Lessing. I read her five book "Children of Violence" series when I was in my twenties and it altered the way I thought forever. Lessing's protagonists are highly psychological, self-aware and critical.
 But now, sitting with Molly talking, as they had so many hundreds of times before, Anna was saying to herself: Why do I always have this awful need to make other people see things as I do? It’s childish, why should they? What it amounts to is that I’m scared of being alone in what I feel. (The Golden Notebook)
Lessings characters are constantly moving in the direction of greater and greater consciousness, are constantly questioning their own thoughts and their own motives. When I first encountered her work, I was twenty-one years old and had no metacognitive abilities whatsoever. Reading her work cracked open a door in my mind and let the light in.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


The first time I ever heard Nina Simone sing was when I watched the remake of the film The Thomas Crown Affair with Pierce Brosnan. Her rendition of Sinnerman punctuates the climax of the film and I loved it, wanted to watch that part of the movie over and over again just to hear the song. This was back in the days of video cassettes and I had to rewind and watch the credits, trying to find out who that fantastic music belonged to. It was hard to read on that grainy old tube television, was it Nina or Nino?

I followed up by going out and getting a copy of a CD combining Pastel Blues and Let it All Out. I loved Be My Husband, was thrilled by the smoothness of Mood Indigo.

Listening to Nina Simone forcess me to think about what it means to have a voice. I don't know much about her early life, what the initial reactions to her voice were, or what she thought of her voice herself; but, I do know that I was taken aback by her voice. It was never pretty and it was often raw and harsh. She sounded like a man in a lot of her songs...that wasn't right, was it?

Her voice is so unique I wonder how she ever got comfortable singing. So far in my life, I've been the kind of person who would be quiet, wouldn't make a single sound for fear of my difference or of being less than. What is it like to be a woman of confidence? What is it like to have such a different  voice and not be afraid to belt it out?