Tag Archives: Janelle Bailey

The Monday Book: OLD IN ART SCHOOL by Nell Irvin Painter

Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over by Nell Irvin Painter is reviewed by Janelle Bailey this week. It’s not her fault it falls on a Tuesday.

Having now read this book through once in its entirety but read to read it and not stopped to do all of the research I considered doing or could have while reading–looking up the name and art of every artist mentioned with whom I was not familiar but not wishing to stop reading every time that urge hit–I am strongly considering reading it all a second time very soon, checking into all of those details, now that I know Painter’s “story” or its general “flow” and premise in essence and have the sense of all of that. 

For now and in hindsight I wish to learn, through research and deeper analysis, more about the numerous references she makes…but I might first read at least one of her historical works as well. Maybe her biography of Sojourner Truth. Maybe <i>The History of White People.</i> Maybe something else.

I am curious to see how Painter addresses race–specifically her own–in her historical works, given her aim to incorporate that and more of her own experiences in her art. I am not certain how to feel about all she says and does not say here, for at times she definitely seems to be saying–please pardon me if I have it wrong–that it is socioeconomics more than race that fuel or do not one’s success or failure–but then in other breaths conveys experiences of having been mistreated or questioned solely for the color of her skin. It’s a little confusing to me at times, but it sounds like she has lived a life of privilege in many ways.

Ultimately I am awed by Painter’s actual process: she retired from Princeton after a very successful career in education and publishing written works, and then at 64? 67? (I have seen both, and she really does not like to be asked about her age) pursued first a BFA and then also a MFA, and aimed at beginning a new career.

She talks much about and processes that being and/or becoming “An Artist” is different from being and/or becoming “an artist,” and she certainly addresses how the younger folks who are expected to be in college and/or graduate school, by their ages, when she is in college and/or graduate school with them face a number of aspects of their lives much differently from how she does. And while she aims, it sounds like, to point out these differences just as “differences” and not one perspective or approach having greater value and/or merit than the other…she does, indeed, sound critical, especially since she feels labeled and judged and separated for being the age she actually is at the point in time of the book’s action.

I ultimately enjoyed this book much…and enjoyed discussing it with not one but two book clubs this summer.

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Filed under book reviews, crafting, Life reflections

The Monday Book: THE ROSIE RESULT by Graeme Simsion

This week’s Monday book is The Rosie Result, a novel by Australian author Graeme Simsion (the third in a series focused on an autistic man named Don Tillman). It is reviewed by JANELLE BAILEY. Bailey is an educator out of Wisconsin; she was one of the Little Bookstore’s shopsitters and in the summer reads AP English tests for college applicants. Take it away, Janelle!

I have really, through all three books, come to enjoy Don Tillman as a character, along with his wife Rosie…and the others, really, who are part of their story, round or flat, static or dynamic. This particular “episode” is focused more narrowly on Don and Rosie’s son, Hudson, and his challenges at school and in friendships and in life…and especially facing the question of whether, like his dad, he may be on the autism spectrum…in ways.

And I also enjoy Simsion’s writing and the issues he addresses in his books. Not only does one laugh out loud at Don and his very narrow, literal thinking, how hard he has to work to expand his perspectives, but one also appreciates his work ethic and how smart he is and how willing to take on subject matter to learn or “projects” to pursue, for his perseverance always leads things–ultimately, at least–up a valuable course.

In this third book he not only takes on autism and its potential influence in their lives but also homeopathic practices and anti-vaxx perspectives and what impact this can have on a child when parents are insistent…resistant…and expecially when that child has some serious medical issues. 

When I attempt to see, concisely, Simsion’s success in writing, I think it is again here that he gives a voice, through his characters, to those who might not otherwise get to speak but have important things to address. In part because of who and how Don is, he can bring it all to light in ways that others, “with filters applied,” might not. Whether it is he and his wife speaking to their son’s principal and teachers about very relevant concerns with their son’s classroom issues or addressing their son’s wish to have his friend, the daughter of the anti-vaxxing homeopath, seen by a medical doctor for her condition, there is simply a lot of believable truth to these situations and valuable, thoughtful response opportunity and empathy building on the part of the reader.

I truly enjoy and appreciate Simsion’s smart and thought-filled, valuable writing and story.

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Filed under book reviews, humor, Life reflections