Thursday, June 01, 2006

Flapper and Velma Still Cooks in Leeway

It is an absolutely beautiful day outside today. Inside too. It's amazing what a change in attitude can do. Sometimes it's all about just changing your point of view. I'm almost finished with Mere Christianity, and in it last night I read Lewis explain how in the beginning of our relationship with Christ, we need to pretend to be like Him, pretend to be kind, to do the things He would do, because as we pretend, soon the actions will become real. So today will be a good day, because I've decided it will be, and I will act as though it is until it truly becomes so.

Flapper by Joshua Zeitz is a well-researched, fascinating look at a turning point in our country's history. Before reading this book, I thought that flappers were just an interesting side-note in the past. But now I can see how their influence still shapes our culture today. Zeitz does a great job of explaining how the youth culture came into being and how the world changed in response. Families were having less children at the start of the twentieth century, and due to home appliances and the industrialization of the country, the children were needed less at home. So many went to school, and for the first time spent more time with others their own age instead of with their families. This change along with the advent of the telephone and automobile defined an entire generation. Zeitz also gives brief bios of the movers and shakers of the day: the Fitzgeralds, Clara Bow, D.W. Griffith, and more. This book is valuable reading for anyone who wants to understand more about our youth-obsessed culture, including the beginning of propaganda in advertising. All this is written in an engaging style.

Velma Still Cooks in Leeway by Vinita Hampton Wright is a powerfully written Christian novel. After reading Dwelling Places by Wright, I dropped her an email complimenting her on it, and she replied with a kind email recommending that I read this book, because it was her favorite. I can see why. Any writer would be proud of a work of this strength. Velma starts writing in a journal to help make sense of her life and its events for the reader, but she comes to understand much more about her past and present than she thought possible. Wright's characters are so lovingly developed; these are people that you want to know if your life. Even the minor characters have depth and design. The dialogue rings true and never distracts from the drama. Velma's conversations with Zeke especially are fraught with meaning. The reader finds them amusing, Velma annoying, and for Zeke they are embarrassing. Most writers don't achieve that level of strength in dialogue. It's another terrific book from Wright.

Today is the last day of school for Doogie and Molly. Doogie was practically jumping off the walls last night, he was so excited. I've started reading God's Politics by Jim Wallis and Murder on Nob Hill by Shirley Tallman. I think I'll probably finish the latter first. Mia is happily watching Arthur on PBS. Thank goodness they've switched to their summer schedule so she has shows to watch all day as she runs around (and around and around and around). Enjoy the first day of June!