My Seven Lives.Occasionally, if you read lots, you stumble across a gem that simply makes you smile. My Seven Lives by Solveig Sedlet is like that.
The author is a "Dane" among "Danes". I didn't stumble across
My Seven Lives. A friend sent it to me, thinking I might like it. She was right. A memoir of Solveig Sedlet and her family growing up in Denmark to include the five horrendous years of Nazi occupation. Her life truly is a novel. Good, good memoir.
When you start reading it, you almost think, "Oh no, here's another one of those memoirs with some history that's interesting but no pizzazz-no sense of spirit and no great family stories. Where is the juicy stuff? But, what we have is a subtle memoir, kind of creeps up on you and gently picks up speed. About the time you feel too much history, too much detail, the author adds the personal and profound about her family. There are tidbits on Danish life; and, then on occasion, some feeling jumps out at you which surprises. Like how the occupation of the Nazis divided people. Here they are doing without; but, with just a little cooperation, they can have coffee, sweets, the good stuff that had been taken away.
Some people choose to cooperate in various ways with the occupiers and others don't. Bad feelings ensue. There's the Uncle who was German, somewhat gets caught up in the propaganda and suffers for it eventually but given grace by the author's father. A gem of a story.
I thought she was a little hard on her brother, Willy. I'm not going to tell you why; read the book to find out. People make mistakes and while reading her Memoir, pondering her choices, I was struck by one of the great attributes of our wonderful country. We are a nation of Second Acts and thirds or how many it takes.
There's a little vignette on one of her visits back to Europe where she has automotive trouble and is assisted on the German autobahn by an American GI that she dubbed, "Arkansas." She's touched by his genteel approach to life. It's a poignant moment of the book.
Her life is not without its clouds; however, and she saved her best writing for those times--good and insightful.
As a writer and publisher, I always pay attention to things about books that others probably don't notice: binding, attractiveness, how the book is laid out. A super job all the way around. This is a book without vast distribution and one of the reasons that it needs to be sought out more. Book lovers should make a gargantuan effort to find and buy books like My Seven Lives and get the "buzz" going.
Unfortunately, many readers look to publications like the NY Times Book Review, various supposedly best sellers, and too much to the big chains and various other ways to get books. Don't be guilty. Now that I've told you about this book, get it. Here's an email to order: firstname.lastname@example.org, price $13, add $2 for mailing. JA
I saw a kind of sappy story the other night on TV entitled The King and Queen of Moonlight Bay. This guy, Al, (played by Tim Matheson -I watch him a lot) was a father who apparently abandoned his wife and daughter early on. His seventeen year old daughter, Alison, (Kristen Bell-Veronica Mars TV Show) comes to visit for the summer.
Al is living on a lake in a trailer in Lake Havesu, AZ, a place I know really well and have visited often, He is obnoxious, trailer trash (the story keeps using this term) and a slob. There's lots of unanswered questions: why he left, etc. What I liked about the story is the honesty of it. The main character didn't try to pretend he was anything other than what he was. And, he viewed his failures as real, not because he was depressed or an alcoholic, he was just a sorry individual in his own mind.
But, here we have his daughter, Allison, making a noble attempt to get to know him. Lots of stops and starts, but in the end, all is OK. Al has a kind of redemption through Allison and gets his life together. She loses her virginity, (not quite sure how this fits into the story but nicely done) with a well-respected local boy-has a summer romance(which we've all had as teenagers). The father talks with her about sex because she asks him which is nice-an aspect of the story which shows that a father can deal with intricate issues.
And, as the movies and TV can do--they make whatever they want happen; i.e., a precocious 17 year old who somehow is not influenced by her peers, is very communicative, acts grownup, adinifinitum-Not likely in real life. But all that aside, the story has some redeeming points. (1) Life can be one of second chances and all sorts of other things if we want them and are willing to change. (2) We can undo some of the things we've done, some of our regrets. Ed Asner, who died not long ago, played a kind of poet and grandfather figure in the story and had the best line--"It is never too late to change unless you're dead."________Dan Foster