Yet again I look up from my book to find that the night has swallowed up the sun. Or, perhaps my book has swallowed up me causing oblivion to all my surroundings.
The book I became glued to tonight was “Season of the Witch” by Gail Griffin. It was about a month ago that I visited my favorite bookstore in the world, a store in which a cat named Aztec roams the creaky wood floors following you around as you make your selections. Once upstairs in the shop, Kazoo Books, a book caught my eye called “The Events of October”. I picked it up, read it every spare second I had, and quickly sent the author an email upon completion professing my love for the piece of creative non fiction. Dr. Griffin responded to me and I promptly purchased the other two books she had penned which are books of essays. I feel connected to her due to the this communication and the fact that she is a professor at the college literally next door to my alma mater.
“Season of the Witch” was the first book of hers I received in the mail and thus the first I picked up. Starting off, the book deserved 5 stars. Not only did I love the experience of reading a book of literary essays but I enjoyed learning about her childhood in Michigan. Griffin speaks of how people often describe the “horizontally impoverished” nature of the Midwest yet people from Michigan understand the “immense presence” of the Great Lakes. I felt an intense connection to her love of Michigan and the journey made towards adulthood despite major differences in our upbringings. She states, “To leave a home after many years is an emigration as well” which I connected to because I left Michigan to find work in Chicago. The first part of the book was incredibly insightful and interesting.
I struggled a bit more with the second part of the book which dealt with race. My hometown was “challenged” in diversity and I grew up with people who, for the most part, were exactly like me. The past three years of life in Chicago have opened up my eyes as I befriended those from other cultures and had the opportunity to learn from those that were different from myself. I am grateful for this experience. Griffin discusses in the second section how she discusses multicultural literature as a professor at a school full of rich kids. I appreciated hearing her thoughts on race but disagreed with a lot of her points. To this day I am uncertain on if I am too ignorant on this topic, due to my lack of exposure, or if I simply disagree with her. I felt she was being a bit too PC at times and I questioned her experience with diversity. She lives in Kalamazoo, yes, but her college is quite homogeneous. I think the second section of the book is something I need to contemplate for a while and go back to re-read as it left me quite confused and wanting to sit down with her to seek clarification.
Finally, the book concluded with a section on gender, sexuality, and all the experiences that shape our lives. There was talk of abuse throughout that struck me. At one point, Dr. Griffin discusses the mind games and control that is often part of abuse. It takes a long time to gain back the self-confidence and self-love after dealing with difficult situations. This is a topic that I contemplate often and I walk away touched by her words.
All in all, I gave this book 4 stars on Good Reads. I enjoyed picking up a book reading one small piece at a time. Writing in the book allowed me to think and journal as I went along; I will continue to think long after I put it back on my shelf. Thus, my obsession with Gail Griffin continues and I have one remaining book to read before I shoot her an email begging and pleading for another piece of work from her!