Sparrow’s review of The Glass Castle > Likes and Comments

680 likes · Like
Comments (showing 1-50 of 115) (115 new)    post a comment »

message 1: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Thank you! Review inspired by Elizabeth. Or, review inspired by Elizabeth's review of To the Lighthouse.

My brother and one of my sisters are really good at playing the "what's real?" game. It's so weird how family narratives are shaped by completely untrustworthy stories. In my family, some of the stories that are totally untrue have been really influential on how we all think of ourselves.

There was this one day when my dad was talking about how he was an extra in the movie Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, and this is something he talks about all the time. But the thing is that the movie was made in, like 1937 or something. I mean, he's old, but he's not that old. He would have been 4 years old. So, my mom and my brother and I looked up the date, and proved it to him that it was not physically possible for him to have been a police officer in DC in 1937 and get hired as an extra for Mr. Smith. So, he was like, "Hmmm. Well, that's surprising. It must have been something else." Then, a couple of weeks later, he started telling the story again. It's pretty awesome.


message 2: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Elizabeth wrote: "You know, I was just trying not to look like a moron."

Me too - because if we call other people morons, it shows that we're not. It's statistically proven. Like calling shotgun.

I don't know what it is, but there's something similar with all of those books. I've read books by men that do it too. I think it's egocentric writing. Like, the total inability to acknowledge that other people feel differently than you and might have valid, and opposing, points of view. Or maybe it's that the writers don't have enough self-awareness to really know what their points of view are, so the books are just saturated in this vague sense of outrage that the writer's not even aware of.

Or, my other thought is that they're not writing to tell a story that they think other people might be interested in. They're writing to get fans by exploiting their own histories. That's my most cynical guess. I seriously think about this a lot. Did you ever read the book The Color of Water? It made me so angry in just the way all of those manipulative psychiatrist-couch stories do. I just want writers to know what they want to tell me before they try to do it. Is that too much to ask?

Okay, rant over. Oh, but one more thing. The thing about Bastard that made me so angry was that it was built up to me as though it would break down all my prejudices against "white trash" people and show their humanity. There was no humanity in that book. I wanted to wash my brain from everything in it.


message 3: by Buck (new)

Buck But every family has its own folklore, doesn’t it? Even when none of the members have a particularly "loose relationship with the truth."
Their stories end up getting stretched and massaged to suit the mythopoetic needs of the family. I think it was one of Freud’s theories that we don’t have any stories of our childhood, per se; at best, we have stories loosely about our childhood. All of which tends to call the whole genre of autobiography into question (and I’m a big fan of autobiography).

Anyway, forget Woolf and Rilke, those poseurs. You’re no slouch in the wisdom department yourself, young lady. Except when it comes to exercise equipment. And school work. Aren’t you supposed to be studying?


message 4: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Elizabeth wrote: "They don't challenge you to think differently; you're either open to the information at the beginning or you're not."

I think that might be part of the point of them - they reaffirm some kind of weird, creepy narrative about women being super-spiritual in this vague-platitude way (that Oprah/triumph of the spirit thing. Ugh). I think that's the other thing that bugs me. I'm okay if a writer doesn't have the answers to whatever questions they're asking, but saying that going camping with your girlfriends is the answer is just SO LAME.

Or, the alternative Bastard tactic where the solution is to write a book that paints everyone around you as Satan's minions. I mean, I get that people suck, but that book's like a how-to in suckiness. DIY suck. Actually, to be fair, the thing I really hate about that book is the creepy albino frenemy who gets caught on fire. Brrrr.

Buck wrote: "But every family has its own folklore, doesn’t it?"

I think so. I think that's what's so wonderful about the oral history in families. And, even though my dad was not an extra in Mr. Smith and we are not actually related to Buddy Holly, the stories are still part of our family. I wasn't meaning to say that it's actually possible to figure out what a factual family history is, or even that people should try, I just think that sitting around with siblings and remembering different stories and the same stories differently is what makes family legend (and is also really fun).

Buck wrote: "Anyway, forget Woolf and Rilke, those poseurs. You’re no slouch in the wisdom department yourself, young lady. Except when it comes to exercise equipment. And school work. Aren’t you supposed to be studying?"

1. Blasphemy! (and make no mistake, I saw you recant your Woolf prejudice. I know you've joined the side of good.)

2. Awww. The calling other people morons thing worked!

3. Please don't make me study. The UCC is making my brain leak out of my ears. But I did find an awesome music video of Bon Jovi Livin' on a Prayer, and that was a really cathartic experience. (Because I am halfway there and livin' on a prayer, if that wasn't obvious.) Is there anything else I can do other than study? Probably not.


message 5: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Hair band heaven! Did you stand up and rock with Bon Jovi using a pencil mike? That should fulfill the exercise requirement.


message 6: by Sparrow (last edited May 10, 2010 05:05PM) (new)

Sparrow Eh! wrote: "Hair band heaven! Did you stand up and rock with Bon Jovi using a pencil mike? That should fulfill the exercise requirement."

Um, are you watching me? Weird! Goodreads panopticon strikes again! Then I sat down and made a pandora station of it. It's really beautiful. It's playing "One Way or Another" and just finished "Bohemian Rhapsody." I need to get out some roller skates if this awesomeness continues.

Re the exercise equipment: I recently got an elliptical machine and I haven't fallen off of it ONCE. So there.

Okay, don't tell Elizabeth I'm on here procrastinating still. I really am partly studying.


message 7: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Elizabeth wrote: "Pandora is totally allowed when studying. Are you going to share that station? :-)"

I'm not technologically advanced enough for this type of business. How did my pandora even get connected to my facebook? Did I authorize this? One more facebook plot. It's just the "Livin' on a Prayer" station. That's the best I can do at this point in my internet learnin'.


message 8: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Oh yes, fb has done this hamhanded thing to try to pull their web of influence together. I think it's the future, but forced. Also, did fb buy gr? Why is the feed starting to look like the blue one?


message 9: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Eh! wrote: "Oh yes, fb has done this hamhanded thing to try to pull their web of influence together. I think it's the future, but forced. Also, did fb buy gr? Why is the feed starting to look like the blue ..."

Is it? People can status update now without updating a page number in a book, I noticed. Freaky.


message 10: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow HOLY WOW!!! That is a good addition. But the cross-posting is going to be insane. I figured the FB thing was some kind of privacy setting, but I'm too lazy to change it.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Yay! I'm too tired to make a smart post, so I'll just say bravo, and that I loved the way you talk about the ways families tell stories to each other about the stories they tell each other. I spent a weekend in a very small space with my family, and we told stories to and about each other, which was as real as the events that transpired - cooking, walking, camping, whatever - if not more so. Yay!


message 12: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Yay! You are back! That sounds like a wonderful time. And don't you think it will be so interesting to hear your kids tell stories about you when they're older? It's such an incredible experience to see kids grow up and tell their own stories. I know it makes me crotchety to say that, but whatever.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I wonder what they're going to say. I had this great conversation with the boy this weekend - he started asking me what the word "bitter" meant - he'd just read the term "bitter herbs" on the back of some thing. I was flailing with the whole tongue-taste thing - I think I used coffee as a descriptor, even though he doesn't drink coffee, being 6 - the convo ended with him saying, "Bitter is like you, Mum." I laughed until I almost choked. Poor boy!


message 14: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Oh, that is so amazing!! Boy's a genius. So funny!


message 15: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow (later, it stuck me that this sounds as though I think you're bitter. I didn't want to even acknowledge that could be the case because it's such an absurd idea, but then I remembered that it's best to be clear when things are written. You are the least bitter person ever. But the boy's still a genius because I'm sure the way you described "bitter" was amazing.)


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Meredith wrote: "(later, it stuck me that this sounds as though I think you're bitter. I didn't want to even acknowledge that could be the case because it's such an absurd idea, but then I remembered that it's bes..."

Ha haha! No, not at all. I realized after your post that I almost never use the word "bitter" online, but I use it all the time at home, usually in reference to some darn thing the kinder have concocted or enacted. As in: "This toilet paper spiderweb you made is very creative, but this makes me seriously bitter and I want you to clean it up." So when he asked me about bitter herbs, he must have been confused as to how the herbs could be grumpy and unhappy with the Lego destruction, or whatnot. :)


message 17: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow That's pretty much exactly what I was picturing. I almost went back and edited the post to say "you're the least bitter person ever, except when you're really bitter," but I've been editing all my posts to oblivion lately, and I can't handle it. I think it's misplaced finals OCD - as with my need to define my comment. Eeeks.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

I think it's misplaced finals OCD - as with my need to define my comment. Eeeks.

Eeeks! How is that going? Do you take classes in the summer? Or working instead? Or internin'? Or parasailing? go-go dancing? napping? So many possibilities!


message 19: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Two more left. Done Friday. My brain is pretty much full. When summer first starts we have a contest for who gets to be in the law reviews next year, which I really want to do, and that lasts for a couple of weeks. I also plan to have some major movie marathons during that time and maybe read some books that are good and not about construction defects or waste disposal. Oh, and watch X-Files on Netflix instant streaming because I really only watched a couple of episodes when it was originally out.

Anyway, for the rest of the summer, I get to be an RA for one of my favorite professors. A group of us are going to help re-write and edit parts of this book, which I'm actually really excited about doing. And I'm going to take a class. And more movie marathons. Did I mention movie marathons?


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

MOVIE MARATHONS FTW. Also X-Files ftw. And writing books ftw. Sounds like a good summer plan, all around. :)


message 21: by Miriam (new)

Miriam A group of us are going to help re-write and edit parts of this book,

Cool! One of my friends did that for a Con Law prof and it was an insane amount of work, but very educational.


message 22: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow I think this will be like that, too. None of us who will be taking it have taken mediation or dispute resolution classes, so the idea is to make us learn the topic through editing the book. I really like the other people who are doing it, too, so that will be good.


message 23: by Diane (new)

Diane Great review - everything I thought and more. I have had Half-Broke Horses for a while now but am half afraid to read it because I'm sure it won't be as good.


message 24: by Sparrow (last edited Aug 22, 2010 09:08PM) (new)

Sparrow Thanks, Diane! I loved Half Broke Horses, too. I meant to review that one, also, but I haven't gotten around to it. The opening story is off the hook. Really, the whole thing is completely incredible. I think Walls is maybe the best historian I've ever read. Sorry, Howard Zinn. I just learn better with the micro-histories.


message 25: by Diane (new)

Diane Thanks for the encouragement. We are going out West in a couple weeks. I have the audio book of GC cause I want husband to hear it (he doesn't read much). Then, maybe I will start Half Broke Horses while I'm in the West.


message 26: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow That sounds like a fun trip! I hope the audio is good. It's always sad when they ruin a great book. It seems like this one would translate well to audio, though. It has that oral history quality. Definitely give Half Broke Horses a try. And I hope you have a great time out here in my neck of the woods!


message 27: by j (new)

j hey, what happened to the text of your review? i read it before but just read the book and wanted to go back to it...


message 28: by Sparrow (last edited Oct 10, 2010 05:44PM) (new)

Sparrow Hey, Joel. Sorry I took it down. There was some controversy, and it resulted in a clarification (on this thread) that if we make personal attacks in our reviews, they can be removed from goodreads without notification. I'm maybe being kind of dramatic about it, but that makes me very uncomfortable, so I took down the reviews I could think of where I made personal attacks. There was some indication in the controversy that one of the reasons for deleting the reviews was goodreads' liability for our statements on here. In the Glass Castle review, I made a comment about my dad that might count as a personal attack, and he has a history of litigiousness (probably more of that kind of history than the other people I made personal attacks on), so I thought it would make more sense for goodreads to be concerned about liability from this review if they're concerned with it at all. I'll send it to you in a private message, though, if you want. Patrick said it's okay to make personal attacks in private messages. I'm totally saying that with a snarky voice, but I also figure I'm not above following the rules, right? Let me know if you want it and I'll just copy it to a PM.


message 29: by Buck (new)

Buck God, you’re stubborn. I say this more out of admiration than annoyance, but you know it’s true.

Couldn’t you reinstate the reviews without the offending material, and then add a little note saying “censored in compliance with Goodreads standards”? Wouldn’t that make more of a statement?

How did the slumber party go? I’m trying hard not to sound too eager, but you’ll have to dish the dirt sooner or later. Hate to admit it, but all things considered, I’d rather be in Portland.


message 30: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Ditto.

On my list of things to do before I die is watching Buck engage in a pillow fight.


message 31: by Sparrow (last edited Oct 10, 2010 11:47PM) (new)

Sparrow Miriam wrote: "Ditto.

On my list of things to do before I die is watching Buck engage in a pillow fight."


Ceridwen thought that, awww, Buck would like to know that we were talking about him "during our underwear." We've decided to call you Buck "Harumph Monocle" Mulligan, also. We'd rather you were here, too, especially both of you. Everyone is wonderful. All of the United States wants to watch Buck engage in a pillow fight. There is a chance it will finally bring peace to our borders.

Yes, I'm especially stubborn. Being stubborn is fun. But, also, it's just not fun to try to tailor my reviews to figure out what Patrick will like. I definitely write reviews with people in mind, but not that dude. I mean, I swear I'm not being coy about the review thing. And I don't really have a statement to make. I'm totally fine with people reading the reviews, but I'd like to have people read them with as little involvement from Patrick as possible.


message 32: by Buck (new)

Buck “Harumph monocle”? Boy, those gin and tonics must have been going down easy. Or wait, you don’t like gin, do you? Daquiris, then, or whatever girls drink “during their underwear”.

Miriam’s bucket list is almost as lame as mine. I just want to go skydiving with Morgan Freeman.

You know, I read that feedback thread and, as much as I understand your position, that Patrick guy doesn’t sound very Big-Brotherly to me. He seems like a decent guy in a tough spot. But I guess that’s what they said about the Gestapo. //looks thoughtful, adjusts monocle, takes a pinch of snuff//


message 33: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow That would rock if you skydove with Morgan Freeman.

Yeah, no. I totally agree that it's a tough spot to be in. That's why I'm saying that I'm not taking the stuff down to make a statement about it, or something. And they can delete whatever they want. I don't think there's really an effective way of making a statement against a policy, anyway. I'm bummed about the policy and a lot of my reviews go against it, I think, but I'm fine backing off. I'm mad myself, and I'm not comfortable putting reviews up where the one thing it's not okay to talk about is stalking, but I don't mean to say other people should feel like that, or that Patrick is the Gestapo, or something.


message 34: by Cassy (new)

Cassy I met Jeannette Walls last week. And the whole event I kept thinking "I wish Meredith was here". I realize this sounds (a) like bragging and (b) creepy. Neither are my intention. It's just that your review of "Glass Castle" is so beautiful and poignant that it stuck with me for a long time. I hope you review "Half Broke Horses" one day!


message 35: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow OH MY GOD. I would have freaked out! You are so glad I wasn't there. I was saying this somewhere else, but whenever I meet an author I love there's always some banana peel for me to slip on, or cream pie to plant my face in, or something. It's very distressing. This wasn't so much the case when I met Caris because he's so crotchety that it puts you at ease. Otherwise, though, I am not very elegant at meeting authors I love.

Oh, I do need to review Half Broke Horses! But, there are so many ahead of it. :( And I don't know what I will say. I super love that book, though.


message 36: by Cassy (last edited Jan 30, 2011 12:36PM) (new)

Cassy Ekk. I say awkward/embarrassing things when I meet authors. (Assuming that I gather the courage to say anything in the first place.)You have maybe a minute alone with them to say something meaningful. I normally waste it. “I really enjoyed your book…” Yawn.


message 37: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Exactly! I say the dumbest stuff. Still, it would have been amazing to meet her. Where were you? What was she doing?


message 38: by Cassy (last edited Jan 30, 2011 02:12PM) (new)

Cassy She did an event at an independent bookstore in Houston, the Blue Willow. Her publisher is starting a new website for book clubs and she is the first feature author. So, they sent her out to promote "Half Broke Horses" again. She came to Houston last year for some charity event, but tickets were something like $500! Too much! Last week's event was free :)


message 39: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Ouch, yeah. $500 is way too expensive for me. I wonder when she'll come out with a new book?!

That sounds like so much fun, though, Cassy! I'm definitely jealous.


message 40: by Regine (new)

Regine I had absolutely no intention of picking up this book until I read your review. To my "tbr" list it goes.

Great review! And I really loved this part ," I am such a fan of women, and so I take it personally when we look like morons."


message 41: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Yay! Good! Read it!


message 42: by Laurie (new)

Laurie Heumann Higbee This is a great review. Very well written. I'd read a book if you wrote one!


message 43: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Thank you!


message 44: by Ted (new)

Ted Thank you, I love this work even though my childhood was much less eventful. Your comments brought to mind a terrific short piece I read in Glimmertrain online by a terrific new-ish writer, Justin Torres, called "B*llsh*t" (not sure how prude the comment gods are here). Haven't read his novel yet, but his short stories are terrific. Thanks again.


message 45: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Thanks, Ted. The comment gods here are not prudish. No worries. That's interesting about Justin Torres, I hadn't heard of him before.


message 46: by Terra (new)

Terra Joyce I too took a History of Women in the U.S. course in university just recently and fell in love with the stories of our past. Great review!


message 47: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Thanks! I was just thinking about how women need to tell their stories more often. Those classes are so fun!


message 48: by Terra (new)

Terra Joyce I am definitely hooked on women's stories right now, it is so hard to pick a good one. I was checking out Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings but I'm not quite sold just yet...Any recommendations? I just read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant and loved it for the way women's relationships were so beautifully represented. Before that, The Birthing Room which was wonderful. For some reason I am reading Middlesex because I never finished it and I can't find another that I want to love again! ;)


message 49: by Sparrow (new)

Sparrow Hmmm. Well, the other one by Jeannette Walls is AMAZING, too. Half Broke Horses, about her grandmother. I was not totally in love with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, but I am not against it, either. In terms of other nonfiction, Mia Farrow's autobiography is really wonderful.

Hmmm. Otherwise my fiction suggestions would be:

On the more heartwarming, less badass side, I Capture the Castle has lovely sisters. Favorite.

Gaudy Night is another favorite book about women. It is technically a mystery, and I don't normally love mysteries, but the women and the story are both so wonderful.

Oh, I actually have a shelf for this, I just remembered: my girls rule shelf.


message 50: by Terra (new)

Terra Joyce I read half broke horses and enjoyed it very much. Gaudy Night has intrigued me! thanks so much. Im enjoying this site already,just signed up today :)


« previous 1 3
back to top