I tend to avoid best-sellers. Mediocre books by mediocre authors who sell millions of copies to mediocre readers; books that benefit from the Great PuI tend to avoid best-sellers. Mediocre books by mediocre authors who sell millions of copies to mediocre readers; books that benefit from the Great Publishing Machine, getting mass print runs, great press and publicity, all designed to sell even more copies. Flynn's novel certainly benefited from great publicity, and it wasn't completely undeserved.
I'd ignored this best-selling book like so many before it. Then the movie came out with terrific buzz and while I have yet to see it, a friend commented after viewing the film, that she would never get married again. I thought that was a deeply felt opinion and decided I would read 'Gone Girl'.
It is a good read, a few notches above mediocrity. The writing is crisp and I was impressed with Flynn's ability to give distinct voices to both the husband and the wife. The deception unfolds delectably and everything feels TV-cop-show perfect, until midway in and the first turn is revealed and from that point, the reader is in for a wickedly written romp.
I might have given 'Gone Girl' a higher rating, had the characters surrounding the husband and wife been as fleshed out, but most of them bounce in and out of scenes as needed to propel parts of the story, be it the husband's or the wife's. And there is the niggling feeling as the book ends that it is all just a bit too perfectly conceived, or rather contrived. In this world of CSI: Miami and NCIS and Criminal Minds, the very idea that this story would happen so perfectly, so completely without error, is a bit unbelievable.
That doesn't mean it isn't an enjoyable diversion as a book....more
'Let this be a lesson to you', the narrator's daughter cries near the end of this book (billed as a 'true life novel') and I felt the daughter's pain.'Let this be a lesson to you', the narrator's daughter cries near the end of this book (billed as a 'true life novel') and I felt the daughter's pain. It seemed the author, Jeannette Walls, wanted to dish out life lessons at the hands of her tough Arizona grandmother like scoops of beans from a cook fire.
The book reads fast, but that's because the writing is simplistic, one-dimensional and passionless. The only reason I could envision the Arizona and New Mexico landscapes was because I've been to both states. Walls might as well have glanced through a couple of National Geographic magazines to get her feel for the land.
Beyond the narrator, the author's grandmother, and later on her daughter Rosemary (Walls' mother), the remaining characters, including a husband and son are given very short shrift. Any other characters seem pulled from Central Casting; rangy cowboys, Christian do-gooders, hard-line sheriffs and ragtag school children.
I suppose Walls' intent was for the reader to admire the spunk and fight of her grandmother, fascinated that one woman could have lived such a life of adventure and I'm sure some readers would find her a sort of pioneering hero. While the relentless recounting of her wild life in the West would certainly quantify as astounding, I had very little empathy or insight into the character herself. She seemed nothing more than a laundry list of her experiences.
Using the label 'true life novel', Walls has given herself a lot of leeway, relying on the stories she was told by her mother about her grandmother. It is important to remember that label 'true life novel' as you read this incredible account that Walls' mother was a raging alcoholic (as depicted in Walls' best-selling memoir 'The Glass Castle'). And the reader should remember that 'novel' is a label most applied to fiction....more
This was a recommendation given by one of the editors at Carolina Wren Press and it did not disappoint. Many of the poems touched on experiences thatThis was a recommendation given by one of the editors at Carolina Wren Press and it did not disappoint. Many of the poems touched on experiences that I have shared as a gay man: random, nameless sex, HIV, desperate love. Wilson adds more layers to that experience with his Deep South upbringing, his mixed race blood, his physical obstacles. He is most effective when he keeps his anger out of the poem, although that anger is certainly understood. He is experimental in his word choices and even his poetic forms, the very things that make contemporary poetry so exciting to read....more
I'm not sure what I just read. This is only my second foray into Gaiman's world; the first was 'The Graveyard Book', which I loved. Not so much this sI'm not sure what I just read. This is only my second foray into Gaiman's world; the first was 'The Graveyard Book', which I loved. Not so much this slim novel.
It's an odd story of childhood and magic and things we know and don't know, and as I read along, I was reminded of a similar book by one of my favorite authors (you might consider me a fanboy), Thomas Tryon and his novel 'Night Of The Moonbow'. Tryon's story of magic and night and mysterious adults is odd as well, but considerably better written. I felt Gaiman's story was underwritten. Perhaps that was intended, making the novel more suitable for young adults, but 'The Graveyard Book', which won the Newbery Prize for Children's Literature is not written down for children and is easily enjoyed by adults.
I have not given up on Gaiman as an author; 'American Gods' remains on my radar. However, this little tale will be forgotten within hours of finishing the final paragraph....more
My second collection of poems by Plumly and it only rose to the occasion about half the time.
Plumly's style is simple with wonderful imagery and he ofMy second collection of poems by Plumly and it only rose to the occasion about half the time.
Plumly's style is simple with wonderful imagery and he often digs deep into his heart, the heart of a man.
This collection is clearly Plumly's contemplations on the final years of a man's life, much of the poetry explores old age, failing bodies, what is to come. These were pure Plumly and often left me thinking about my own graying years.
My problem with this collection is the various 'prose poems' scattered throughout. I'm not a fan of prose poems, but I can admire the form when I think it is meeting the poem's need. Plumly's attempts are many paragraphs and none of them ever seemed to read poetically. They could have easily been just random thoughts jotted down for further expansion in some greater piece of writing....more
I looked forward to this book and its focus, one of the last leprosariums in the world. I hoped to learn about a hidden part of our human, and our Am I looked forward to this book and its focus, one of the last leprosariums in the world. I hoped to learn about a hidden part of our human, and our American past.
The memoir started out well enough, the colony shared space with mostly white-collar criminals. Neil White, the author, has been convicted and sentenced to a year in prison for check kiting.
His journalist background makes him want to learn more about Carville and its residence and he begins a half-hearted investigation. And there's where the premise devolved and became an exercise in the author's own pursuit of finding forgiveness and acceptance for his greed and misdoings.
Halfway into the memoir, the author becomes whiny, pitying. While he tries to demonstrate the wisdom and dignity of the diseased residents, he can't help but insert his own pathetic choices into the mix, as if the reader should equate his childhood forehead scars with the shunning and isolation experienced by the long-term residents of Carville.
One of the other prison inmates often refers to the author as 'the whitest man he knows.' It wouldn't be a stretch for me to consider him 'the boringest author I've read.'
Neil White had a golden opportunity to take his readers on a mysterious journey through the history of leprosy, and Carville, as well as those residents who were sent there to live out disfigured and lonely lives, but instead he chose to satisfy his own self-interests and write about himself. ...more
I'd been hoping for something purely escapist to read, something that didn't require much thought and this was the perfect solution to cleanse my braiI'd been hoping for something purely escapist to read, something that didn't require much thought and this was the perfect solution to cleanse my brain of the more intense reading I'd done of late.
It's a fast read, and completely absurdist. There are dogs, and I love dog stories. It has some funny moments, like watching a half-baked sitcom that manages to pull a small laugh once an episode.
The writing is abbreviated, too California, too Hollywood, I suppose, but I don't regret the indulgence. It reads much like a screenplay, not a stretch since the author's experience is in television writing and there are some broad jumps in scenes. That's not a bad thing necessarily. The last book I didn't read in part because the author deemed it vital the reader see every tedious action and hear every uttered syllable a character can make.
Read this is you need a sweet diversion on a rainy day, or you need something to kill time while ignoring the other passengers on your flight. ...more
I read the blurb on the book jacket the night we were given this bit of dreck for our next bookclub selection aIt's confirmed: I abhor genre fiction.
I read the blurb on the book jacket the night we were given this bit of dreck for our next bookclub selection and choked back a little bile, but decided to give it the college try.
I managed to suffer through 64 pages, more than half of those were peppered with flat dialogue that included every "Yes", "No", "Um" and "Er" the author felt the character might utter. I've attended enough writer's seminars and workshops to know dialogue is encouraged; that dialogue brings life to your story. This guy took that advice to heart and left no utterance unwritten.
By the time I got to the obnoxious Facebook posts, my eyes were glazing over and when that was followed by 'courtroom transcripts', I determined enough was enough and would not waste anymore of my precious reading time on something that reads like an off episode of 'CSI: Upscale Massachusetts'.
If I could give this ZERO STARS, I would. This would not even entertain me on a long flight, or a crowded bus ride through Mumbai.
I have too many good books waiting on my nightstand to dedicate more than another minute to this bloated and hackneyed story....more
I desperately wanted to like this book. It had been on my literary reading radar for years. Perhaps I waited too long.
I'm no stranger to reading seemiI desperately wanted to like this book. It had been on my literary reading radar for years. Perhaps I waited too long.
I'm no stranger to reading seemingly plot-less novels, or novels that delve deeply into a character's thoughts and motivations, but Salinger's classic demonstrated nothing more than a monotonous voice of a generation that is now well into their retirement years.
Each year, in high schools everywhere, teens are mandated to read 'Catcher in the Rye' and I suppose if you're 15 or 16 years old, Holden Caulfield might seem like the beloved anti-hero of your personal angst. When you're a man well into his 50's, Holden Caulfield is nothing more than a petulant, spoiled, rich kid with a limited vocabulary and in dire need of a swift kick in the ass.
As a writer, I did have a brief crush on Salinger's ability to capture the voice of a young man in 1951, but that voice became grating by the middle of the book. What Salinger managed with his character's voice, he lacked in providing fleshed out descriptions of the era.
I wonder too, if the book has aged well? While Holden Caulfield may retain his teen appeal, there are far too many instances where the book reveals it's age and belies contemporary reality. No where in our world, especially NYC, would a 16-year-old get into nightclubs and buy drinks, or get a motel room and all of it done with hardly enough funds to fill a gas tank these days.
I suppose this book has its place in the pantheon of English literature, but it will not find a space on my bookshelf. I can now claim to have read it. I will never claim to have liked it. Even a little....more
I read this in short order, finding the author's style clear and vibrant, particularly when she was telling the story of Dorothy. It was obvious the aI read this in short order, finding the author's style clear and vibrant, particularly when she was telling the story of Dorothy. It was obvious the author put in many hours of research on the Orphan Trains and life in the Midwest at the turn of the last century and those chapters were a joy to read and kept me interested.
The chapters in between the story of Dorothy, those of the contemporary Molly were wasted and could have been left out of the book, giving more room for the fascinating history lessons of the Orphan Train. The 'Molly' chapters were flat and preachy at times, offering up another moral story of 'the errant, foster-child, goth girl finds meaning in the company of an older woman whom she is forced to work for.'
As I've found with many books like this, fictional stories based on some historical episode, the author is caught up in the history (as is the reader), but then as the author attempts to bring some sort of closure to the story, in this case, Dorothy/Vivian's adult life, they rush through the decades to get us to the end of the book, decades in which neither the author nor the reader is really interested in.
I would have given this book a higher rating had the author remained focused on Dorothy's childhood story of survival rather than try to give her some hastily-conceived (and a tad unbelievable) adulthood, and not minimized it with dull chapters about Molly and her foster parents or her dreamy boyfriend....more
Oh, how I wanted to love this book. It has haunted me through most of my bookselling career as one of the books that seemed intriguing and garnered faOh, how I wanted to love this book. It has haunted me through most of my bookselling career as one of the books that seemed intriguing and garnered fans and rave reviews.
I can't say I hated it, but reading it became an act of masochism. I read two other books in between the time I finished this one, often to get a break from Hamilton's love of her own words. I will confess that the language throughout the book is sumptuous, detailed, and evocative. I will also confess this same language seemed to clutter the storyline, muddied the plot, and in the case of the main narrator, Alice, drew her as a tedious and mostly unlikeable character despite the horrifying predicament that befalls her.
Alice narrates the first section and the story starts shockingly and grippingly with an accidental drowning, but Alice's self-indulgent pity and pathetic depression were nearly enough to doom the book to the 'never finished' pile.
But I do not surrender so easily, and the second section of the book is narrated by her husband, Howard and proved more interesting. Hamilton maintained her bloated use of language and even Howard's narrative came dangerously close to landing in the donation bin.
Soon, I was more than halfway into the story and I persevered to the third and final section, once more narrated by Alice. Surprisingly, she did not grow more likeable, but I had to finish the book and I did, all the while wondering what all the fuss was about.
This is one of Oprah's books and probably only the second one I've read from her very popular series. Quite frankly, I have to wonder about Oprah's taste in books....more