Such a warm, funny, well-researched, and thoughtful (as the author puts it) appreciation of the best of 19th and 20th Century children's literature. ISuch a warm, funny, well-researched, and thoughtful (as the author puts it) appreciation of the best of 19th and 20th Century children's literature. I was equally entertained and delighted by Handy's biographical sketches, criticism, and analysis. It helps that his taste is impeccable. (Handy's critique of Philip Pullman is much harsher than mine would be, but I can't say he's wrong.) I'm an adult (technically) who buys children's books for a living, so for me there's the added bonus of this book being a wonderful celebration of the things that make my job worthwhile, and of the perennial favorites it still gives me a rush of pleasure to put into eager new hands....more
David Sedaris is so authentically David Sedaris. This first collection of his diaries reveal him as everything you'd expect, and want, him to be, andDavid Sedaris is so authentically David Sedaris. This first collection of his diaries reveal him as everything you'd expect, and want, him to be, and reading it only made me love him more. The feeling of being in the backseat (or perched on the handlebars of his bike, perhaps) as he struggles through his early years is both incredibly reassuring and, of course, hilarious. There is so much fantastic observational humor in this: Sedaris spends loads of time just sitting in various IHOPs and writing down what people say and do. His eye (ear?) for detail is superb. And his own wonderful personality shines through at every turn.
Most mind-blowing moment (which I am spoiler-tagging only because I got so much pleasure out of being surprised by it, not because I actually think you can spoil history/reality): (view spoiler)[Sedaris, as he himself points out in the introduction, very casually mentions the first time he meets his long-time partner/love of his life Hugh, noting that he's "handsome and gay" but really being more focused on the $20 he's making helping another friend move a ladder. (Of course.) Then, just TWO DAYS LATER, he applies for the Macy's elf gig that the time-traveling reader knows would soon truly launch his career with "The Santaland Diaries." Holy cow. Everything about this guy's life changed (for the better) over the course of three days in October 1990, and at the time he had no idea. This gives me a lot of feelings that I can't adequately describe, but which there is probably some German word for. (hide spoiler)]...more
With this type of book, so much of it hangs on whether you buy the voice or not. I didn't. Nicki/Charlotte didn't seem like a real person to me -- cerWith this type of book, so much of it hangs on whether you buy the voice or not. I didn't. Nicki/Charlotte didn't seem like a real person to me -- certainly not a product of a traumatic childhood and dozens of foster homes, and not like a 13-year-old girl, either. The other teenagers didn't seem like teenagers and the mobsters resembled only the most cartoonish of mobsters.
A passage that stuck out to me: Charlotte and her friend are at the mall, and three Mean Girls emerge from a Delia*s to torment them. "I'm totally blogging about this later!" crows the Lead Mean Girl about the encounter.
Okay. The last physical Delia*s retail store closed in 2015 (and the brand stopped being cool around 1999 if I am being GENEROUS). Also, Modern Teens do not talk about "blogging." That's a total anachronism; she would probably snapchat that shit. The irony is that Burt has an earlier passage making fun of another adult character's attempt at teen lingo -- and then there's this.
This is not in any way an ill-intentioned or mean-spirited book, but I did not buy the world or the characters for one minute, and frankly I was bored....more
Read in one sitting (with a short food break, because there is a lot of food in this book and it made me hungry. I had scallion pancakes, thanks for aRead in one sitting (with a short food break, because there is a lot of food in this book and it made me hungry. I had scallion pancakes, thanks for asking). Fantastic, hilarious, authentic voice. The choice to do the dialogue in script format is a brilliant example of form = content in a book about reality TV. And if reality TV really contained as many complicated, engaging characters as this book -- well, I would watch more of it. (I really only do cooking shows. I like food, you guys.)...more
The art is gorgeous; the writing is...not. But this book's real failing comes down to character -- to emotion. It's a long book and a lot happens in iThe art is gorgeous; the writing is...not. But this book's real failing comes down to character -- to emotion. It's a long book and a lot happens in it, but the reader is never given much of a reason to care. By which I mean, often it's not entirely clear what the characters are actually trying to accomplish in a given sequence; they're just doing a bunch of vaguely steampunky stuff? And even when the objective is obvious -- RESCUE DAD -- there's no emotional weight to the prose. Baltazar's pictures really are worth thousands of his words: there's more feeling packed into the simplest image than in all the text in this book....more
And good god, that Tokyo chapter. TOKYO IS UGLY COMPARED TO PARIS AND THEY EAT GROSS FOOD YOU GUYS. It's 35 pages of the worst white girl whining. How is this still considered acceptable (publishable) travel writing/cultural commentary/anything? Elkin claims you can't walk in Tokyo -- which, since I tragically have not been (making me especially fond of the passages where Elkin bemoaned her boyfriend's company paying for her to fly and live there), I can't actually dispute, but having read a ton of wonderful, wandering Murakami novels -- and even the white guy travelogues of, say, Will Ferguson -- I view with extreme skepticism. Also, "the men slurp their noodles." Elkin doesn't put the adjective Japanese in there, but it is more than just implied; it's a given. Ew.
Two stars because the chapter on Agnès Varda was a small oasis of excellence -- the only section of the book that seemed truly in the spirit of flânerie: probably more a credit to Varda than to the author....more
Effective horror is incredibly difficult to write. How do you sustain the suspense, let the terror build? Jac Jemc can't seem to with The Grip of It.Effective horror is incredibly difficult to write. How do you sustain the suspense, let the terror build? Jac Jemc can't seem to with The Grip of It. This is a classic haunted house story, with some decent ideas -- (view spoiler)[I liked the mold (hide spoiler)] -- but I feel like the author runs out of steam a third of the way in. Some explanations or narrative excuses -- why would you stay in a house that is so obviously destroying your psyche?! -- arrive at least 50 pages too late, while others -- in particular, why would you be tempted to buy a house with stained walls, creepy crawlspaces, and an omnipresent humming sound in the first place? -- arrive never. The dual POVs become more and more crazed as the book progresses, but not in a bone-chilling Shirley Jackson way; the madness never struck me as convincing (nor could I frequently tell the voices of each half of the married couple apart). Finally, rather than provide any sort of explanation, Jemc delivers about forty, vaguely, sort of. Take your pick!!!
No, thank you; this book had already lost its hold on me 150 pages back....more
Despite the title/cover, this is in no way an angry or cynical book. It's a love song to New York and to the author's family and to their family businDespite the title/cover, this is in no way an angry or cynical book. It's a love song to New York and to the author's family and to their family business. And it's the type of memoir that you want to live in: that time, that place, those people. ...more
Pretentious and muddled prose mixed with an outdated and outlandish take on the crime. (view spoiler)[There was an unseen, unknown intruder there to mPretentious and muddled prose mixed with an outdated and outlandish take on the crime. (view spoiler)[There was an unseen, unknown intruder there to murder Mr. and Mrs. Borden, but before he could, Lizzie BEAT HIM TO IT. (hide spoiler)] This is especially annoying as it's a fascinating case, about which an excellent, psychologically penetrating novel could absolutely be written. This is very much not it.
This book has more pages of bonus materials than it does pages of story -- but that story is really fun. I really hope Hill and Rodriguez do more preqThis book has more pages of bonus materials than it does pages of story -- but that story is really fun. I really hope Hill and Rodriguez do more prequel, or "Golden Age," comics. I definitely want to find out more about this earlier iteration of the Locke family....more
Another adult novel disguised/mis-marketed as YA. The owner of my store likes to theorize that certain books get put in YA because they're not "good eAnother adult novel disguised/mis-marketed as YA. The owner of my store likes to theorize that certain books get put in YA because they're not "good enough" to be adult; in general, I couldn't disagree with this more (and actually think it's a fairly offensive assumption on her part), but in this case...maybe. It reminds me of Another Brooklyn, except nowhere near as good....more