Tonic: these 4 audiobooks

Last month I got through washing 90 rounds of baby bottles, 32 loads of laundry, and other misc housework without losing my mind, with these audiobooks in my ear.

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Walk Through Walls: A Memoir by Marina Abramovic, read by herself with her exotic accent, imperfect English, hypnotically.

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, read by Diana Quick.

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha, read by 4 women including the author.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig read by Carey Mulligan.

Random bits from each snapped together on a mini string reverberating Sylvia Plath, my regrets, and my artistic practice.

“This was like taking a shower in the middle of the room with everyone watching.”

This passage from If I Had Your Face was not alluding to Marina Abramovic’s works at all. But because I had just read about her performance “A House with the Ocean View” my mind quickly went there. During this performance Abramovic spent 24/7 in a loft, sleeping, using the bathroom, and taking showers, normalizing human bodily acts by doing them completely publicly. She talks about peeing while a visitor was making full eye contact with her. She talks about how taking a shower was the only time she felt she had some kind of privacy. The Abramovic method with all of its context unloaded itself onto the world of single millennial women, one of them, an artist, getting through life in Korea.

“…and he shuts up like a clam.”

Another bit from Frances Cha’s book transported me instantly to The Bell Jar, in which Sylvia Plath’s use of a similar expression had stood out for me so much so that I had read it over and over again.

“…the very sight of those dense, black, barbed-wired letters made my mind shut like a clam.”

Going into the next book, I was not expecting to be greeted by Sylvia Plath. It seemed she wanted to assert herself, let it be known that wondering about unlived lives was a valid musing. Midnight Library’s cinematic ride took me towards a therapeutic ending I was rooting for. I had recently promised my husband to work on my “small regrets.” I don’t regret (out loud) big things like a wedding, or not taking a job, but small things like not putting my sunglasses away to prevent them from getting scratched, or forgetting to buy parsley at Whole Foods. I had decided to remove “I wish I had” from vocabulary because the way I say things will wire the way my son thinks.

So I lingered upon:

“Never underestimate the big importance of small things.”

which kept taking me back to Arundhati Roy’s:

“God of loss. God of small things.”

in which fate manifested a lot more subtly, and loomingly.

“So everybody dies. The fisherman, his wife, her lover, and a shark who has no part in the story, but dies anyway. The sea claims them all.”

Humbling. Hell of a serendipitous reading session.

Artist. Environmentalist. Immigrant. Mother. Investigating the links between environmental health and mental health.

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