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Vermont, Maine and South of Broad!

I recently bought Chris Bohjalian’s novel, “The Double Bind (Vintage Contemporaries),” published in 2007, because I really liked the two other books of his I had read, “Midwives,” and “Skeleton at the Feast.” “The Double Bind” ostensibly refers to an outdated theory about the ‘cause’ of schizophrenia that was popular when I was a clinical student back in the early 1980s. Gregory Bateson postulated that children who were consistently put into a ‘double bind’ by being given contradictory messages by their parents – such as being told by their parent that they loved them whilst simultaneously being pushed away or abused – resulted in the child retreating to an unreal world as a coping mechanism. Schizophrenia is a theme in this unusual book, set in Vermont, but there is very little one can reveal about the plot without giving away too much.  Read More 
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Truth and Beauty and Books

This past month has been a continuation of high summer for us and we’ve had lots of visitors, good food, good company and good reading! I read three books well worth writing about; all have been in my library for a while and two I have read before but felt the urge to read again. That is the pleasure of a good library -- with actual books made of paper – browsing and finding books purchased years ago and not yet read or books read years ago and perhaps almost forgotten about, beckoning to be read again. I know it is possible to browse an e-reader, but I’ve yet to embrace such a radical shift. Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel
falls into the first category; I purchased it not long after it was published in 2005 but for some reason – too many other books intruding perhaps – I hadn’t read it in spite of wonderful reviews. The reviews were correct; it is a wonderful and unexpected book!  Read More 
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New Zealand's darkest day

Everyone will have seen the horrifying images of the destruction caused by the earthquake that hit our second biggest city, Christchurch, at lunchtime on Tuesday, February 22nd. NZ is a small country of just 4 million people, and there will be no-one in the country untouched by this. Today, 3 days later, 600 specialist search and rescue  Read More 
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Bravo Lisa Genova!

Lisa Genova’s new book “Left Neglected” about a multitasking superwoman and guilt-ridden mother, who was transformed in an unguarded instant into a ‘Left Neglect patient,’ is, in my opinion, even better than “Still Alice”. I know a lot about hemineglect; I did my PhD on it way back in the early 1980s when only a handful of researchers were studying it and publishing articles about it, and since then have published and written about it often, including cases in my books, and have supervised students in the area. (Today it is a very “popular” neuropsychological disorder to research.) So I was looking forward to reading a novel written in the “1st person” where the protagonist shares her experiences about living with left neglect.  Read More 
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More great reads!

In the last month I finished Solar; what a great, turn-about ending… Say no more, just read it! Then I picked up Anita Shreve’s new book, Rescue: A Novel, as a beach-read in between making sandcastles. I had heard a bad review of it – “unmemorable” was the catch phrase - but I enjoyed it as I do most of Shreve’s books when I am in the mood for them.  Read More 
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Happy New Year and weather events!

The silly season is over and our children and grandchildren have gone leaving in their wake two electric toothbrushes (left by two separate families…), one piece of jigsaw puzzle, a CD of Christmas songs for toddlers, and a lot of fish bait in our freezer. This I have re-wrapped in three plastic bags as the smell of fish bait, however solidly frozen, somehow permeates everything near it. I would love to throw it out but it will apparently be used to catch some big fish in due course. Our vegetable garden is 10 feet high and finding anything specific in it is a journey of discovery; it is in sore need of a few long hours of weeding. But the sea out there is blue and warm and the sand golden and hot, and a lazy day on the sheltered sandy beach across the rocks, lying in the shade of a huge pohutukawa tree reading, dozing, and occasionally venturing into the water to float and dream, or even catching a wave or two at the main surf beach is irresistible.  Read More 
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Writing - the best laid plans...

My writing plans for the holiday season did not quite happen; I think I have lost the skill of writing – or even editing -- with noise and children everywhere. I must have been able to do it once when I was the mother and not the grandmother, and couldn’t “give the children back!”  Read More 
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Welcome to my new blog!

Welcome to my new blog about life off-grid on Great Barrier Island! The intent is to post at least once a month…

For those of you who live in the Northern Hemisphere, our seasons are reversed here so it is early summer in NZ, and mainland city dwellers are going crazy with the stresses of Christmas coming up, on top of preparing for the long summer break. Basically NZ closes from about the 26th December until the end of January when everyone in the towns and cities pack their car – and sometimes their boat -- full of kids, wine, food, pets, surfboards, fishing rods, camping gear, hiking boots and a change of clothes, and head off for a beach or a river somewhere. Everyone already living on a beach or river pack up and go to a different beach or river.  Read More 
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Summer writing plans

Before Christmas I am determined to complete a good draft of a chapter for my book Trouble In Mind titled “The Singer or the Song?” about a young woman with temporal lobe epilepsy who had to make a very difficult decision – whether to risk losing her ability to learn new songs or even her ability to sing, by undergoing a neurosurgical operation that could cure her debilitating epileptic seizures.  Read More 
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Holiday reading

Holidays are a perfect time to read novels, although I read novels all year. I have just finished Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue, which I loved -- five-year-old Jack’s voice was masterful -- and Lionel Shriver’s So Much for That: A NovelRead More 
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