All My Puny Sorrows

All My Puny Sorrows

Miriam Toews / Jun 01, 2020

All My Puny Sorrows Elf and Yoli are two smart loving sisters Elf is a world renowned pianist glamorous wealthy happily married she wants to die Yoli is divorced broke sleeping with the wrong men she desperately wa

  • Title: All My Puny Sorrows
  • Author: Miriam Toews
  • ISBN: 9780571305285
  • Page: 349
  • Format: Paperback
  • Elf and Yoli are two smart, loving sisters.Elf is a world renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married she wants to die.Yoli is divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive.When Elf s latest suicide attempt leaves her hospitalised weeks before her highly anticipated world tour, Yoli is forced to confront the iElf and Yoli are two smart, loving sisters.Elf is a world renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married she wants to die.Yoli is divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive.When Elf s latest suicide attempt leaves her hospitalised weeks before her highly anticipated world tour, Yoli is forced to confront the impossible question of whether it is better to let a loved one go.

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    About "Miriam Toews"

      • Miriam Toews

        Miriam Toews is a Canadian writer of Mennonite descent She grew up in Steinbach, Manitoba and has lived in Montreal and London, before settling in Winnipeg, Manitoba.Toews studied at the University of Manitoba and the University of King s College in Halifax, and has also worked as a freelance newspaper and radio journalist Her non fiction book Swing Low A Life was a memoir of her father, a victim of lifelong depression Her 2004 novel A Complicated Kindness was her breakthrough work, spending over a year on the Canadian bestseller lists and winning the Governor General s Award for English Fiction The novel, about a teenage girl who longs to escape her small Russian Mennonite town and hang out with Lou Reed in the slums of New York City, was also nominated for the Giller Prize and was the winning title in the 2006 edition of Canada Reads.A series of letters she wrote in 2000 to the father of her son were published on the website openletters and were profiled on the radio show This American Life in an episode about missing parents.In 2007 she made her screen debut in the Mexican film Luz silenciosa directed by Carlos Reygadas, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival.In Sept 2008, Knopf Canada published her novel The Flying Troutmans , about a 28 year old woman from Manitoba who takes her 15 year old nephew and 11 year old niece on a road trip to California after their mentally ill mother has been hospitalized.The book, Irma Voth, was released in April 2011 Her latest book, All My Puny Sorrows, was published in April 2014.For information see Miriam Toews 1964 Biography Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, SidelightsThe following is an interesting article written by Miriam Toews lithub how pacifism can le


    1. The story of Brittany Maynard, the terminally ill woman in Oregon who committed suicide earlier this month after making her intention public, forces us to consider — or repress — wrenching questions about how life ends. As that discussion continues in homes, legislatures and places of worship, please make room for “All My Puny Sorrows,” by Canadian writer Miriam Toews.I’ve been in love with Toews since 2004, when she published “A Complicated Kindness,” a wincingly funny story about [...]

    2. "Where does the violence go, if not directly back into our blood and bones?" I'm not sure what to write about this book. It's equally ironic, sad and humorous. I listened to the audible version of this book, and could really feel the conversational style of the writing. My only regret is the timing.I knew this was going to be a sad story. I had read this was semi-autobiographical, and touched on themes about Toews's religious upbringing as a Mennonite, as well as the tragic relationships she had [...]

    3. During a tearful eulogy at a funeral service, a toddler boy wobbles up to the altar and begins to eat his great-grandmother’s ashes from the memorial urn. This scene is so emblematic of this luminous, adorable, wrenching book. Miriam Toews balances perfectly between giggles and sorrow—keeping the reader off-kilter yet never once losing control of her narrative. All My Puny Sorrows is a tragedy that uses humor to convey a deep sense of humanity. That a novel with suicide as a theme can be ric [...]

    4. I loved this book hard. All My Puny Sorrows is both incredibly moving and a page turner, because despite so much talk of death, there is so much LIFE in this book. So much painful, magnificent life, and so much love. The book has a pulse, which strengthens and weakens with perfect pacing so you get a little time to breathe before the next plunge into the characters' dilemmas. One of my favourite parts of the book is when the narrator (Yolandi) moves from resignation to anger – flailing, explos [...]

    5. This was a wonderfully written book. Yet, as well as it was written, it was also a heavy read I had to put down frequently and take a step back from. It's a story about 2 sisters who love each other dearly, Elfrieda and Yoli. And as much as that love runs through the novel, it's not strong enough to defy the feelings of depression and darkness one sister feels, to the point of trying to commit suicide several times. It's Yoli's story and her struggle with guilt for not being able to pull her sis [...]

    6. The bonds of sisterhood and the struggles of depression and suicide are fully explored in this brilliant story. Yolanda and Elfrida are sisters, originally living in a Mennonite community in the east end. Depression runs in their family, something both Elf and her father suffer from. It is a novel about love, loss, and living told with wry and ironic humor. Yolanda is a wonderfully flawed and self-deprecating character, trying to keep her sister alive, while managing or not managing her own life [...]

    7. A laughing moment Yoli says to her sister Elf that she's a terrible wife she tells her sister she cheated on her husband and is just a whore. Elf Being who 'she' is, says "Haven't I taught you anything"? "there is no such thing as a whore".I smiled reading this!Toews writing is' richness. (deeply satisfying as a reader to be in the care of this author) A very sad story. told with tenderness and spunky stylearting from the first page( the family's house is driving away), to th [...]

    8. This novel dares you not to love it. It’s so awfully horribly unremittingly sad yet open-hearted and quirky and forlorn and it wags its tail furiously, all the time. This novel is all about suicide, to be or not to be. In this case, the genius concert pianist sister has opted for NOT TO BE and the narrator is trying to put the case for TO BE. And it’s kind of not a novel either, it’s a the high-end literary version of the misery memoir, like Ugly by Constance Briscoe (her mother sued over [...]

    9. So if you're thinking a book called All My Puny Sorrows is going to be a bit of a downer, you're definitely right, but the talent of Miriam Toews is definitely something to behold despite the harrowing nature of the book.Elf (Elfrieda) and Yoli (Yolandi) are sisters and best friends. Growing up in a Mennonite community outside of Winnipeg, they were tremendously close as they united against the way the community's elders treated women and tried to marginalize Elf's talent playing the piano. They [...]

    10. If someone you loved wanted you to help them die to avoid unavoidable pain, would you? If you knew they would find a way to do it no matter what, and that way would be painful, and terrifying, and they would be all alone, would you? If they asked you directly, more than once; if it was the one, single thing they wanted from you and it was within your power to give, would you?Does the fact that the unavoidable pain is psychological not physical in origin change your mind? These are the questions [...]

    11. well i finished it. this is who i think should read this book: peter and emilie. i'll recommend it to them with the GR recommendation tool. also julie, because reading miriam toews helps you write. yesterday i wrote this book had tremendous levity and it does! it really does! but fuck man fuck fuck fuck it's all the sads and all the heartbreaks packed into one little book made out of levity. i can relate exactly none at all to the main themes of the book, i.e. 1. sisterhood and 2. worrying about [...]

    12. Beautifully told. This is a heartfelt, touching story. Every page tells a loving story of a wonderful relationship between two close, loving sisters. Their love for each other shines through always. They each wanted only what was best for the other. The agonizing decision comes when deciding what "the best" means and how to define it in a meaningful, caring, understanding way. Miriam Toews has such grace and stamina. Her love and sorrow for her sister is always present and never once does she fo [...]

    13. For me this book was amazing. Usually books of fiction fall short for me, and so when I run across one that is superb I want to give it the acclaim I think it deserves. It was a roller-coaster ride. Very, very sad and then when I couldn’t stand another second the author had me laughing. The humor is ironic. We laugh and cry at today's world. The humor focuses upon our whole contemporary lifestyle. We have made such medical advances and yet our medical institutions fail us. Why? It has to be us [...]

    14. Christ, this is a hard book to read. At once profoundly moving and deeply painful, but still witty, ironic and extremely funny in places. The narrator, Yoli (Yolanda) sees herself as a middle-aged fuckup who desperately needs her older sister Elf (Elfrieda) -- an internationally-famous concert pianist with what seems like a perfect life -- as her life preserver. But that’s the irony: Yoli is the survivor, a tough, sardonic and caring woman with a rather chaotic life but not a fuckup at all; fo [...]

    15. Miriam has become a friend, so I will have to file this under an appreciation rather than an impartial review, but I admired her work long before I met her. She has an inimitable voice that is wise and funny and always unflinching. I’ve seen her described as the ‘queen of voice’ but I think the ‘queen of heart’ is more accurate. In spite of terrible loss in her own family, she has a furious and abiding love of life that is apparent in every word she writes.This is a book I would have l [...]

    16. “She wanted to die and I wanted her to live and we were enemies who loved each other.” This is a powerful autobiographical novel about sisters and suicide. Hard to believe, but Toews even injects humor quite successfully, mostly through Yoli and Elf’s mother and aunt – another great pair of sisters. I enjoyed the peek into the Canadian Mennonite community, and was glad to extend my meager knowledge of Canadian authors in general. This was certainly a cathartic labor of love for the autho [...]

    17. She wanted to die and I wanted to live and we were enemies who loved each other.I can't remember when last I read a book that made me feel so sad. Even though the author is very witty and there are many funny scenes, the hopelessness and helplessness of the situation really got to me. Imagine someone you loved, your sister/child/parent, persistently tried to commit suicide and even asks for your assistance with this.I must admit I've always thought that suicide is something that you wanted to do [...]

    18. As a novel, this is a beautiful, readable, mesmerizing book. As a balm for anyone who has ever lost a friend or loved one to suicide, it is a miracle. The always loving, skillful, funny Toews does something remarkable: she makes it possible to understand how someone can suffer so deeply, despite the absence of physical wounds, that they will even say goodbye to people who they know love them deeply and ceaselessly in order to end their pain. At the end, the questions I was left with were astonis [...]

    19. This book was so dreadful, it's hard to know where to begin. I think, not wanting to waste any more time on this book than I already have, I will be very brief here. I was shocked to find that the book is based on experiences the author has actually had. When I first began reading it, I thought the author must really be stretching and writing about things she had no personal experience of, because of the startling lack of insight and authenticity in the characters' emotional responses. I think t [...]

    20. “Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” ― Henry Wadsworth LongfellowThis is the best book I've read all year. The mastery of heart ripping is ripe in this. As someone who suffers from Depression it was interesting to read. The author really lets you see both sides of depression so well. On one hand I was on the families side and furious at Elf for being so damn selfish. Then by the next chapter I would be in Elf' [...]

    21. I have read a lot of positive reviews and comments about Miriam Toews’ novels but until now have not read any of them. I now understand why so many people are impressed by her writing. I can’t put my finger on only one or two specific reasons that make her writing special. In All My Puny Sorrows I felt that it was a unique blend of many things that makes her writing exceptional.The fact that Toews has a wide following both within her home country of Canada and around the world demonstrates h [...]

    22. "I’ve been in love with Toews since 2004, when she published “A Complicated Kindness,” a wincingly funny story about a 16-year-old girl trapped in a small Mennonite town. Her next book, “The Flying Troutmans,” drove us through comedy and pathos on a strange family road trip. And now comes this unbearably sad, improbably witty novel inspired by the suicides of her father and only sister. This is the story of a little group — “a tainted family, deranged” — that revolves around a [...]

    23. Miriam Toews, wow, what rock was I hiding under? She took me by the hand and held me tight through this amazing tale of love and grief. I laughed and cried my eyes out.

    24. This book snuck up on me. About halfway through, the emotions felt too real, so I went poking around in the author's life. I hadn't read anything by Miriam Toews before, but apparently her earlier novels are well known in Canada, set in the Russian-immigrant Mennonite communities. This one is about a woman in her 40s, Yolandi, and her older sister who really wants to take her own life. This novel was written after the author's sister killed herself. In their Mennonite community, suicide is a fre [...]

    25. I always fall hard for the novels Miriam Toews writes and the characters she creates. A best selling author in Canada, most of her books involve individualistically inclined or exiled Mennonites balancing their traditional upbringing with the modern world in distinctive stories of personal struggle and family connection. The details about Mennonite culture and its fringes give the stories added interest and a strong sense of place, but it’s the characters that really set her novels apart.In Al [...]

    26. miriam toews is one of my most favourite writers, and this new novel is fantastic. FANTASTIC! while we are in familiar territory - a mennonite family not quite doing the mennonite thing 'right', according to their small mennonite town; two sisters who want out/better; parents who are present but elsewhere sometimes - toews is just such a great storyteller. her characters are so real, and funny, quirky, and flawed. her story is full of life and full of heartbreak. the messy and the difficult can [...]

    27. Raised in a Mennonite household haunted by remembers of religious persecution in Russia, Elfrieda and Yolandi are expected to conform to particular expectations for their life and live in a community where people gossip and whisper about the nonconformists. Elfrieda, known as Elf to her family, is a progeny at the piano offering her an opportunity to escape from the insular community and her sister, known as Yoli, an example of someone who is able to leave and live a glamorous, wealthy, and happ [...]

    28. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I fell in love with this book. This is the story of two sisters, Elfrieda & Yolandi. They both live in Canada. Elfrieda is a world-renowned concert pianist, has a loving husband, Nicholas, and lives in a beautiful and luxurious estate, she has fans all over the world, most of which fall in love with her on sight. They're willing to go to Great Lengths and distances to listen to her and watch her perform. Unfortunately, she was also suicidal, constantly [...]

    29. SUICIDE! There I said it. That forbidden action cloaks this novel with an ominous foreboding that lets the reader know that this book is probably not going to have a happy conclusion. It is the story of the relationship of two sisters, one a self-described "fuck-up" and the other with a well ordered and accomplished life. If life decisions were rational, the sister with the messed up life is the one who has reason to commit suicide. But instead she is the one who spends all her energy trying to [...]

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