Monday, June 26, 2006

Wickett's Remedy by Myla Goldberg

Myla Goldberg is the author of The Bee Season, a book which many people loved, but which I did not enjoy (and did not finish). I did not realize this until I was part way into Wickett's Remedy, a book which I enjoyed VERY much. I might try The Bee Season again.

I started reading Wickett's Remedy because it said on the blurb that it is the story of Lydia, a young Irish woman in early twentieth century Boston, and her experiences marrying "above her station." I like historical fiction, immigrant stories, and stories about women and their experiences, so it appealed to me. However, I failed to read the entire blurb so I missed the part where it says it's also the story of how Lydia gets caught up in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918; this I discovered only after I was well entrenched in the story.

As my family can attest, I'm a little bit worried about avian flu; I spend maybe a little bit too much time reading about it, and trying to figure out how to prepare for it. Another thing I worry about is high-fructose corn syrup. I am forever trying to ban it from our house. Thus our family joke is that Mom thinks that maybe you can get avian flu from high-fructose corn syrup. These are just two items on the long list of "things Mom worries too much about." Therefore, it may be that the last thing I needed was a novel that describes in fairly graphic detail the way in which you die from influenza, the societal effects of epidemic, and the grief suffered by those left behind.

This did occur to me part way through the book, but for some reason it didn't bother me. I really really enjoyed this book, despite the morbid part of the plot (which is by no means the whole story). Lydia is smart and resourceful, and attempts to both follow her heart and do her duty. Goldberg is a good writer, and uses several unique literary devices that add to the story: marginalia consisting of retrospective comments by dead characters, chapter appendices of real newspaper articles of the time, and odd little snippets of dialog among minor characters, chronicling action that takes place off stage. Another subplot unfolds the history of QD Soda, which started out as Wickett's Remedy, a patent medicine created by Lydia's late husband and his thieving business partner, and which Lydia tries to regain her interest in throughout her life. It all sounds more complex than it is. This book is a fast and enjoyable read.

(Book 28, 2006)


Anonymous said...

Beck, My great grandfather, your great-great grandfather , was the only doctor for three counties in rural Illinois during the flu epidemic in 1918. The other docs were in Europe. He did not lose one patient under his care. True story.

Becky Holmes said...

Laine, aren't you a generation off? Your grandfather, my great-grandfather.

Anonymous said...

I am sure you have heard the song "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club but have you ever given much thought to its meaning? While on Earth, you are living in a world of reincarnation which is governed by the law of karma. Karma begins to propel you as Soul on a personal journey through the universe. Karma ends when you have reached enlightenment and fully realise that this physical reality and the Universe itself is just an illusion. When you reach a state of knowingness that there is but One all pervading essence and that essence or consciousness is You!
So what is Karma and how does it work? While in the illusion you have a soul. This soul lives past, present, and future lives. To grow in love, joy, and awareness, you reincarnate into a series of physical bodies to experience different existences. This road leads to the experiences of being both sexes, all races, religions, and ethnic types throughout many lifetimes.
Karma in its simplicist terms can be described by the biblical statement "as you sow, so also shall you reap". Karma is the principle of cause and effect, action and reaction, total cosmic justice and personal responsibility. It brings 'good' experiences as well as 'bad' - a debt must be repaid and a blessing rewarded.

A more indepth esoteric look at karma gives us the following distinctions: Sanchita Karma: the accumulated result of all your actions from all your past lifetimes. This is your total cosmic debt. Every moment of every day either you are adding to it or you are reducing this cosmic debt. Prarabdha Karma: the portion of your "sanchita" karma being worked on in the present life. If you work down your agreed upon debt in this lifetime, then more past debts surface to be worked on. Agami Karma: the portion of actions in the present life that add to your "sanchita" karma. If you fail to work off your debt, then more debts are added to "sanchita" karma and are sent to future lives. Kriyamana Karma: daily, instant karma created in this life that is worked off immediately. These are debts that are created and worked off - ie. you do wrong, you get caught and you spend time in jail.
As a soul, you experience a constant cycle of births and deaths with a series of bodies for the purpose of experiencing this illusionary world gaining spiritual insights into your own true nature until the totality of all experiences show you Who you really are - the I AM! Until you have learned, you will find that pretending that the rules of karma do not exist or trying to escape the consequences of your actions is futile.
Although it may often "feel" like punishment, the purpose of karma is to teach not to punish. Often the way we learn is to endure the same type of suffering that we have inflicted on others and also rexperience circumstances until we learn to change our thinking and attitudes.

We are all here to learn lessons as spiritual beings in human form. These lessons are designed to help us grow into greater levels of love, joy, and awareness. They teach us our true nature of love. Where we do not choose love, show forgiveness, teach tolerance, or display compassion, karma intervenes to put us back on the path of these lessons. Quite simply, the only way to achieve a state of karmic balance is to be love.
Before you incarnated into your present personality, you agreed to put yourself in the path of all that is you need to learn. Once you got here, you agreed to forget this. Karma is impersonal and has the same effect for everyone. It is completely fair in its workings and it is predictable - "do onto others as you would have them do unto you" is a way to ensure peace and tranquillity in your own life as well as the lives of those you come into contact with. The law of karma is predictable - "as you sow, so shall you reap" what is done to you is the net result of what you have done to others!
Karma gives you the opportunity at every moment to become a better person than you are and to open up to the realization that you are the master of your own fate.

The goal of karma is to give you all the experiences that you need to evolve into greater levels of love, joy, awareness, and responsibility. Karma teaches that you are totally responsible for the circumstances of your life. They keep you on the straight and narrow until you have mastered your vehicle and can ride freely on your own. Once you understand that you are the master of your own circumstances and that everything you experience is a direct result of your past actions due to your thinking and emotional responses you can overcome its seeming negative effects by creating only 'good' karma.
Karma forces us to look beyond ourselves (oneness) so that we can see ourselves as we truly are Whole, Complete, at One with everything. Once we truly understand ourselves, we can see our divinity and our unity with all life.
Karma drives us to service. Love means service. Once you accept total responsibility for your life, you see yourself as a soul in service to God. Once you do, you become a fully realized being, allowing God to experience the illusion through you.
Belief in karma and an understanding of its workings will lead you to a life of bliss. Only your own deeds can hinder you. Until the time comes when we release ourselves from our own self-imposed shackles of limitation and fully understand who and what we are we will live under the mantle of karma. So until that day why not create some wonderful experiences for ourselves by "doing onto others, as we would have them do unto us". hypnosis

Post a Comment