Invisible Monsters

When your BFF ends up reading two or three books a week, one ends up with stacks and stacks of books in his/her family room, bedroom, bathroom, etc.  In an attempt to work through my own spillage of generously donated books, I picked the top book on the pile, Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters.  The cover was intriguing, an ambigram, and this is the same author of the Fight Club, so I thought it would be a good read.  I had no idea what I was in for . . .

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In the opening scene, I am introduced to Evie whose blond/brown hair has been burned off, and all the clothing that remains on her body are the wire hoops from her wedding dress.  Visual imagery at its best.  What ensues is a complex, often vulgar and absolutely dysfunctional, tale of a brother, sister, her boyfriend, and her best friend.

Now this BFF Sarah mentioned above has introduced me to many a book I would never have picked up on my own, but loved at first read such as the Merry Gentry series by Laurell K. Hamilton (I love me some Frost).  When I asked her her thoughts on Invisible Monsters, she replied she had abandoned the read after a few chapters.  Ugh!  I wish I had known . . .  For me, though, I am unable to let a read go until completion.  I must see it through to the end as I always tell my students because you can learn from books you both like and dislike, and you never know how it’s going to end until it ends.

After wincing through several portions of Invisible Monsters and learning from others, Palahniuk definitely introduces his readers to cultures of people not necessarily readily known.  Likewise Palahniuk’s message about the emptiness of striving for idealized beauty and sacrificing all in the name of love came through loud and clear after a continuous roller coaster of plot twists.  A definite thriller of a ride which I now need some time from which to recover.

 

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Sweat and the Sweat Lodge

FREE.  As the end of summer fast approaches, we like to try and squeeze in summer activities we figured we would have already participated in by now.  Today was our day to explore Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville, IL.

20140806_100327We (my six and eight-year-old squirts) began with the concrete stairs which lead to the top of Monks Mound, the largest Pre-Columbian earthwork in American north of Mexico.  With burning calves, I reached the top after my two boundless bundles of energy.   While they continued to explore the platform of the mound, I, with beads of sweat rolling down my back, rested on the bench strategically placed near the top of the stairs.  Although I had visions of multiple ups and downs, we all agreed one round on the stairs was enough for today, so we headed to the Interpretive Center across the street.

Since we visit this historic site at least once a year, the girls’ excitement increased as we walked closer to the heavy, ornate doors.  This time, though, the girls chose to investigate the exhibits before viewing the informative and award-winning fifteen-minute film, Cahokia:  City of the Sun.

Dioramas with plenty of buttons to push in order to light certain areas entertained and educated simultaneously.  In addition, an interactive table covered with Native American toys challenged their hand-eye coordination.  Not to forget, the drawers with pulls (a favorite of the girls) filled with artifacts allowed visitors to further expand their learning.  Finally, I believe we walked through the life-size village a minimum of five times (I sat out the sixth, seventh, and eighth times) which concludes with a replica of a Sweat Lodge.

20140806_102840 20140806_102952 20140806_103326 20140806_104750A further opportunity of a self-guided tour outside amongst the other mounds was available, but we opted out since Momma’s legs had turned to jelly due to our initial climb.  We will add this to the list for next time as well as a future exhibit coming April 2015.

20140806_104952P.S. For the fictional book lover who enjoys the setting of Cahokia Mounds, read the Merry Gentry series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  Ooh la la!