Official Review: Playing Life by Ear by Doris Markland

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SamSim
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Latest Review: Playing Life by Ear by Doris Markland
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Official Review: Playing Life by Ear by Doris Markland

Post by SamSim » 27 Apr 2019, 09:06

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Playing Life by Ear" by Doris Markland.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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It's frequently repeated that "it's not the years in your life that matter; it's the life in your years." At the age of 89, Doris Markland has accumulated a wealth of both. Life - the celebration and appreciation of it - permeates every page of her poignant, reflective collection titled Playing Life By Ear: Notes From Eighty-Nine Years of Living, Learning, Laughing, Loving, and Believing. A lifelong writer, Doris has culled 9 decades of whimsy, wisdom, and witticism; gathering the choicest pieces and expertly weaving them into this patchwork "autobiography," although that term doesn't do this book justice.

As is hinted at in the subtitle, Playing Life By Ear is divided by theme into five sections: living, learning, laughing, loving, and believing. Under each heading, the reader will discover a surprising mix of personal anecdotes, both free-verse and rhyming poetry, and occasional life-inspired fiction. Markland's joy and humor, often deliciously snarky, are the two gilded threads that tie all these pieces together. The result is a very relevant memoir that is far greater than the sum of its parts.

Markland draws heavily from her roles as a child of the depression, daughter, farmwife, mother, sister, friend, and senior citizen. Nearly every entry on the table of contents gave me a fresh appreciation for everyday events, such as coffee breaks ("The Round Table"), assembling a puzzle ("And That Leaves Blue"), surfing the web ("Connecting"), or even ironing ("The Palmer Method"). Her unique voice is so effective - and affecting - that even her prose absorbed me in a way that I've only previously enjoyed with fiction or poetry; narrowing my focus to the point where I forgot my surroundings and was carried off by the flow of the text. Having written for Hallmark and composed taglines for household goods, an experience she elaborates on in the story "Twenty-Five Words or Less," Doris is adept at packing meaning and poetic imagery into each line. An excellent illustration of this is found in a piece called "Rain on My Parade, Please":
"Straight down at first, the drops become silvery streams, slanting now in sheets that strike and powerwash the driveway, then turn tame and curl in rivers down the street, taking flaky autumn leaves and any last hints of summer."
Markland's sense of humor shines in selections such as her limerick titled "He-Mail (or E-Male)":
"It's clear you don't
Know me from Adam.
Your mail for a sir
Reached a madam.
The products you're selling
Are rather repelling,
And I couldn't use
If I had 'em."
Doris doesn't pull her punches, openly reflecting on subjects we often prefer to avoid, such as aging and death. Sometimes her tone is pensive, as seen in "Darling, I Am Growing" and "Revolving Door." Frequently, she is hilarious, an expert in the use of irony, and I delighted in poems like "The Granny Nest," "Dermatheology," stories like "When Grandma Said the F-F-Forbidden Word," and her many entries that have graced the pages of the Saturday Evening Post. As a parent, I was highly moved by the poems "Come to Mother" and "DeKarmalizing." As a Christian, I was encouraged by pieces like "Meditation" and "Lifting the Old Rugged Cross." "Precipice" and "Lovers of 1943" left me breathless. I even found myself simultaneously laughing and crying when I read "No Albatross in Heaven."

Doris Markland's work resurrected in me a vital childhood belief that we seem to suppress as adults: Commonplace does not equal unfulfilling, predictable does not equal uninspiring, and we do not have to dig to find the beauty in everyday life. I heartily wish I could give this memoir 4 stars, but there were enough minor, punctuation-related errors to cost it a perfect score. Since I'm only permitted whole-star ratings, I award it 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend Markland's book to every reader, as there's something here for everyone, and I urge you: Do not underestimate this semi-retired, puzzle-loving, octagenarian grandmother. She is living proof that Playing Life by Ear does not preclude you from mastering your art.

******
Playing Life by Ear
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Samantha Simoneau

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Post by DogoMulla » 01 May 2019, 00:51

Well, this particular grandmother sounds interesting. Plus, 89 years is no small thing by today's standards. According to your highly-detailed and well-done review, Playing Life by Ear is surely a must read!

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Post by Kibetious » 01 May 2019, 05:57

This sounds both informative and captivating too. Given my liking for poetry, I would want to read this. Thanks a lot for the review.
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Post by ElizaBeth Adams » 01 May 2019, 06:08

Wow! Your eloquent review has sold me. This book appears to be worth the time investment to read. I'm glad this precious lady chose to share her personal story. Thanks for your thoughts.

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Post by angiejack456 » 01 May 2019, 09:23

Your review was a wonderful endorsement of this book! Looks like an amazing read.

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Latest Review: Playing Life by Ear by Doris Markland
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Post by SamSim » 01 May 2019, 09:31

DogoMulla wrote:
01 May 2019, 00:51
Well, this particular grandmother sounds interesting. Plus, 89 years is no small thing by today's standards. According to your highly-detailed and well-done review, Playing Life by Ear is surely a must read!
I actually plan to purchase a hard copy of this book to have it on my shelves ... I liked it that much. Thank you for your kind comments!
Samantha Simoneau

“But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value."
~John Adams :greetings-clapyellow:

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Post by SamSim » 01 May 2019, 09:32

Kibetious wrote:
01 May 2019, 05:57
This sounds both informative and captivating too. Given my liking for poetry, I would want to read this. Thanks a lot for the review.
Oh, yes, I enjoyed all of the poetry, and there was more of it present than I had initially expected. Thank you for reading and replying!
Samantha Simoneau

“But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value."
~John Adams :greetings-clapyellow:

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Post by SamSim » 01 May 2019, 09:34

ElizaBeth Adams wrote:
01 May 2019, 06:08
Wow! Your eloquent review has sold me. This book appears to be worth the time investment to read. I'm glad this precious lady chose to share her personal story. Thanks for your thoughts.
Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I'm also very pleased that Markland chose to write her book.
Samantha Simoneau

“But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value."
~John Adams :greetings-clapyellow:

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Post by SamSim » 01 May 2019, 09:35

angiejack456 wrote:
01 May 2019, 09:23
Your review was a wonderful endorsement of this book! Looks like an amazing read.
I definitely love this one. Thank you for reading and commenting!
Samantha Simoneau

“But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value."
~John Adams :greetings-clapyellow:

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Post by kdstrack » 01 May 2019, 13:09

This is quite a wide range of topics reflecting her rich life. The names of the poems attract the attention. Thank you for the verses you included in the review. Your compelling descriptions makes this look like an inspirational book. Thanks so much.

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Post by SamSim » 02 May 2019, 14:36

kdstrack wrote:
01 May 2019, 13:09
This is quite a wide range of topics reflecting her rich life. The names of the poems attract the attention. Thank you for the verses you included in the review. Your compelling descriptions makes this look like an inspirational book. Thanks so much.
I'm so glad you enjoyed my review. If you read the book, I hope you love it as much as I do. Thanks!
Samantha Simoneau

“But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value."
~John Adams :greetings-clapyellow:

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Post by Rachel Lea » 03 May 2019, 07:07

This sounds like such a charming, touching, and delightful book, and your review of it is so well-written and eloquent. I loved the little snippets of Markland's poems that you included, especially her "He-Mail (or E-Male)" limerick. Made me chuckle! Playing Life By Ear is definitely a book that I will be checking out. Thanks so much for your review!
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Post by Prisallen » 03 May 2019, 12:03

The author sounds like a wonderful person that would be a joy to get to know. I love the way the book sounds - poignant, inspiring, funny, etc. Thank you for a very inciteful review!

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Post by EvaDar » 06 May 2019, 19:59

Oh, I have to check out this book. She sounds delightful, and a good writer, too. I'm glad you included some of her writing in your review. It really captured her personality. I loved your review.
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Post by SamSim » 10 May 2019, 18:52

Rachel Lea wrote:
03 May 2019, 07:07
This sounds like such a charming, touching, and delightful book, and your review of it is so well-written and eloquent. I loved the little snippets of Markland's poems that you included, especially her "He-Mail (or E-Male)" limerick. Made me chuckle! Playing Life By Ear is definitely a book that I will be checking out. Thanks so much for your review!
I'm so glad you enjoyed my review! I only hope you love the book as much as I did. It is truly worth actual physical space in my home library. Thank you for reading and commenting!
Samantha Simoneau

“But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value."
~John Adams :greetings-clapyellow:

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