I kind of have a girl crush on Claire Dederer now, when just the other day I was thinking we wouldn’t be friends in real life. A couple of chapters can do that to you. Now that I know more about her childhood and her many insecurities, I think she’s pretty terrific. I won’t go into details, but if you like memoirs about imperfect people (and I mean that with the utmost respect), this might be the book for you.
I am pretty impressed with her willingness to jump into yoga philosophy and am especially relieved that she feels conflicted about it: I don’t want to be inauthentic or pretentious either, and I certainly do not want to disrespect someone else’s religion. I hear and read some Christians referring to yoga as “satanic,” which is ridiculous and incorrect, of course; at the opposite end of the spectrum, I hear people dismissing chakras and such as a whole lot of New Age mumbo jumbo – I do not want to be either of those people. In my yoga history, I have participated in chanting that sounds an awful lot like a prayer. I have sat in the same room with photos of Krishna and Genesh, done my yoga and tried my best not to be disrespectful of an ancient religion that is not mine.
She talks about another book, one I was not familiar with, which gives more details about yoga, The Hatha Yoga Pradipika – this must be where my illustrated yoga book got the information about how to eat.* I didn’t tell you about this yesterday, but my book says that yogis should also do routine cleansings beyond the type achieved with a neti pot. In one, you take a very long length of cotton cloth and swallow one end. You keep swallowing until there is only one end of cloth sticking out of your mouth. If I remember correctly, it’s supposed to help you clean out mucous, but don’t quote me on this. Claire Dederer briefly mentions the procedure in this part of the book – I read through chapter 14 – but she doesn’t admit to trying it out. I have not at any time in my life been THAT dedicated a yogini – particularly given my history with choking, I don’t think type of thing is for me. If any of you have tried it though, please share. (Really, PLEASE share.)
So Claire Dederer doesn’t give tips on how to break into the book reviewing business, but she does mention her process for reading for review. It reminded me just a little of my own (all five of them – hah! – and thank you, friends for reading them because I wrote the heck out of them, that’s for sure).
She and I did not have similar childhoods – hers wasn’t boring (neither was mine), but was a little bit sad because her grownups made some odd choices. One thing we had in common was that we both loved to read. Her description of Little Women took me back to my own love of that book – I identified with Jo too, and I used to read her dialogue out loud or at least under my breath.
By this point in the book she has two kids, and both spent extended time in the NICU when they were born. I was so bothered by the story of her son that I immediately wanted to share it with someone. I grabbed my daughter and gave her squeezes (“Mommy! I’m reading!” – though she did hug me back.) Then I quietly handed the book to GB and told him what to read. He winced too, and then I felt a little bad about subjecting him to that sad story (their little son lives, but their experience was enough for them to decide not to have any more babies).
*I love the convenience of Amazon and how I can find a book in two seconds flat. (Sorry Borders, Waldenbooks, Crown Books and other wonderful old stomping grounds, and RIP). I didn’t order the yoga book. Yet. Too many choices for a quick-click book purchase. (This is not a commercial. I have links on this blog, but mostly I just use Amazon all the time. I haven’t gotten any checks from them yet because my readership is pretty small. Thanks to every one of you though – you really do mean the world to me).
Scroll down for other posts about Poser:
Part 1: Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses, by Claire Dederer
Part 2: Lonely Books
Part 3: Imperfect People are Just My Type
Part 4: Smashed Cupcakes and Date Night
Part 5: Running Away From Home
Part 6: Yoga Teachers, Feminism, and Big Words