Blue Shoe (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. Januar 2002
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Lamott makes the reader see the world in a different way and feel more at peace with where we happen to be. She expands and expounds, with humor, tenderness, and love, on the smallest incidents and finds new meaning in them. She finds lessons everywhere and deals with life with bold honesty and down-to-earth spirituality. For example: "When God is going to do something wonderful, it starts with something hard, and when God is going to do something exquisite, She starts with an impossibility."
"Blue Shoe" gives us several years in 37-year-old Mattie Ryder's disorderly life, a life that is typical of those about whom Lamott writes. Once again, the setting is on the coast of Marin County, where the author herself lives. Mattie is newly divorced at the beginning, coping with all the traumas associated with still wanting her unfaithful ex-husband, moving back to her childhood home, and trying to keep body and soul together. During these years, Mattie finds new loves, deals with her mother's increasing confusion, and raises her young son and daughter with love and laughter. All the oddball characters, also typical of Lamott, somehow gracefully fit into this story and help Mattie cope, along with a strong reliance on God.
The little blue shoe is the catalyst which leads Mattie and her brother to find out more than they really want to know about their family, whose past has been glossed over by their mother. The tangled skeins of their parents marriage are slowly revealed. Mattie carries the blue shoe as a kind of good- luck charm, which gives her comfort as some difficult truths come to light.
Mattie seems to float along rather than confronting her problems head on, yet somehow, for her, this approach works and keeps her from sinking into depression as she accepts life as it is rather than fighting it. Mattie says "It was not facing what life dealt that made you crazy, but rather trying to set life straight where it was unstraightenable." This is a re-phrasing of the AA prayer with which the author is very familiar, I am sure. She has never hidden her addictions nor her continuing recovery. I think that this is a lesson that would allow many of us to be less stressed - trying to change what cannot be changed is a sure way to create stress in one's life!
Lamott's writing shines and her spiritual reflection is given full rein when she writes about Mattie's everyday worries: caring for an aging mother; attempting to get a young daughter to stop biting her nails; getting rid of the rats in the walls of her house; dealing with her son's temper.
This lovely book moves slowly through Mattie's post-divorce years and follows her gradual emotional recovery, impeded somewhat by her search for the truth about her family. During this time, many people inhabit her life, and Lamott shows us that family does not just consist of those with whom we have a blood relation, but also includes those whom we love and need on a daily basis.
The main character, Mattie, is obviously struggling. She's a mess, in fact, sleeping with her ex-husband, even after he marries and has a child with the new wife, in addition to having the hots for a married man. I'm no prude, but there was nothing redeeming about Mattie to make me want to keep reading about this behavior, page after page, or think she might pull herself out of the pit. I finally gave up hoping that she might redeem herself. The other people around her offer little to like also: a son who is overly-emotional and bullies his sister, a daughter who bites so much at her wrist she creates and repeatedly reopens wounds, a mother who is emotionally available to everyone but Mattie and her brother,and the memory of a father who was obviously a cheater. Add to that an extended dying scene for a dog and constant problems with the house Mattie lives in...I'm getting depressed writing about it. The only fabulous character, Angela, is mentioned only a few times. She's a rich, robust character. Too bad Ms. Lamott focused on the whiny, messy ones instead.
I never developed any gut understanding of Mattie's psyche. The revelations about her father could have been devastating and supposedly Mattie was devastated some of the time, but it just didn't come through. I couldn't feel what Mattie was feeling.
Seems to me, Mattie had a charmed life. Yes, her father was a [...] in a way and watching your mother deteriorate is a bummer. But she's got a house for free, she's surrounded by really good friends who stick by her, he has jobs that she likes and are apparently enough to pay the bills, she's got a good relationship with her ex and even his new wife, she's got good kids who she loves, her mother finds a devoted friend who apparently has no flaws at all, has a great relationship with her brother and sister-in-law, the man she falls in love with loves her back, etc etc. The relationships between characters seemed so perfect most of the time, even the fights were tidy. So why so much angst? What's the point of the story? Did she grow by the end of the book? Didn't seem like it to me.
I wish I could have liked this book more.
Several reviewers, smarter than I, quit (while they were ahead) before finishing it and, oh, how I wish that I had!
The main characters grates like chalk across the board, in their lack of substance, vacuous self-centeredness, and purposeless lives. In the lead, is Mattie. A milk toast of a woman living a gray life as a victim. Her divorce is boring, her affairs are dull, her parenting weak bordering on bad. There are no lessons learned or insights found in the draining excuse of an existence Ms. Lamott created for her. Peel me a grape...and please do yourself a favor and pass this one up.