It's official. Nick Hornby's wonderful. In this book, four strangers meet on the roof of a building on New Year's Eve. Each plans to to commit suicideIt's official. Nick Hornby's wonderful. In this book, four strangers meet on the roof of a building on New Year's Eve. Each plans to to commit suicide. Over the next 300 pages, they don't fall in love, become millionaires, or even become best friends, but they do help each other find reasons to stay alive. You wouldn't think a novel about killing yourself could be heartwarming, funny, thoughtful, and rude, but this one is.
Four stars instead of five because Jess' character was too ridiculous and the math in Maureen's life did not work.
"(I don't understand how there isn't more pizza-related violence in our society. Just imagine: You're, like, the top whatever in Zimbabwe, brain surgeon or whatever, and then you have to come to England because the fascist regime wants to nail your ass to a tree, and you end up being patronised at three in the morning by some stoned motherfucker with the munchies . . . I mean, shouldn't you be legally entitled to break his fucking jaw?)" [p. 30]...more
In Drawing Blood, Molly Crabapple depicts the arc of her career development: from young student without sufficient finances to attend the art school oIn Drawing Blood, Molly Crabapple depicts the arc of her career development: from young student without sufficient finances to attend the art school of her choice, to impoverished artist trying to get the attention of those who could make her a star, to emerging adult awakening to events on the larger world stage. Throughout, she shares her political and artistic development, all through the lens of class and gender.
Crabapple is a fascinating person, mesmerizing artist, and capable writer. Why only three stars? For me, I think it's her worldview. She writes largely of her life as a young person in America in the 2000s, and yet she has enormously internalized a sense of women's worthlessness that is breathtaking and sad:
"We were young women, at a bad school, studying for a competitive, ill-paying industry. What did we have to interest people besides our looks?" [p.80]
Yes, she made money posing for artists and GWCs (guys with cameras) - far more than she could have made waiting tables or temping in one of NY's gazillion office towers. But she had so much more to offer than her nakedness and youth. Her art would have taken a different form had she not become involved in the world of sex workers, strippers, and burlesque, but how sad that she didn't think she had any other choices. Sad, because she writes of her own negative feelings and experiences with it. I would not be sad for her if she wrote about it as a sex-positive, exuberant, powerful part of her life. Again and again, she writes about being put down by the people she encountered in this part of her life.
I also found myself uncomfortable with her depictions of her relationships. Where is friendship and kindness? Where is her center? In friendship after friendship, Crabapple describes competition and jealousy. In her primary romantic relationship, which she characterizes as the love of her life, she (purposely or not) repeatedly depicts a power differential. Even after years together, she still refers to that art studio as "Fred's" (not hers or theirs). She "begs" Fred to help her arrange her Shell Game works so she can look at them in their entirety. Even when describing Fred's warmth in their shared adult bed, she writes "He'd grab me, pin me down, and push himself into me. Afterward, he fell back to sleep." Presumably, this is consensual and there is love and pleasure for them both. But Crabapple has a passive and powerless way of speaking about sex and her own body, and it stays with her through this whole book.
"I burst into tears - not fear, but of humiliation. No matter how far I'd strained against the rules for women, I was right back in my body, this fuckable, vulnerable shell.
I would never have the right to travel or take up space. At best, I'd be tolerated by someone who'd demand sex as payment the second we were alone." [p.47]
"When I thought of every proposition or threat that I got just walking down the street in my girl body, I decided I might as well get paid for the trouble." [p. 88]
"Any strawberry picker will tell you that hard work is a road to nowhere." [p.98]
"Most career breaks come this way. Talent is essential, but cash buys the opportunity for that talent to be discovered. To pretend otherwise is to spit in the face of every broke genius. I am good, but it was never just about being good. It was about getting noticed." [p.99]
". . . abortion was for stupid girls, teens who didn't know how babies were made, not clever girls like me. This passivity is baked into the grammar: "impregnated," "knocked up." Yet no matter how free or clever I believed myself, there I was. Knocked up." [p.110]
"I forced myself to comply. When the media reports that a suspect in custody was killed after resisting arrest, they never tell you how hard it is to assist passively with your own kidnapping. They never talk about the discipline it takes to submit." [p. 289]
"Occupy Wall Street taught some middle-class white people what poor people and people of color already know: the law is a hostile and arbitrary thing. Speak loudly, stand in the wrong place, and you can end up on the wrong side of it." [p.292]
This is a confessional book, but also showy. At some point, it began to feel like a put-on, like she was pretending to share the truth with readers but was really winking or snickering behind their backs. She writes for so long about 'not being good enough' - The same story over and over. Finally, with her experiences beginning with the Occupy Wall Street movement, Crabapple beings to show some maturity, perspective, and growth. I am eager to seek out her art and writings from that period.
Advertised as a work about a political artist, this book begins and ends with stories from her work interviewing and drawing at the Guantanamo Bay detention center. I wish that this section was longer and the other parts were truncated.
Also, the reproductions of her artworks were maddeningly small. A larger format book would have done her better justice....more
I don't know what I was expecting - but a contemporary novel involving a Jewish family prepping for Pesach! I wanted to read it.
This is a stereotype-rI don't know what I was expecting - but a contemporary novel involving a Jewish family prepping for Pesach! I wanted to read it.
This is a stereotype-ridden romance novel, lazily written. Spoiled rich boy who can't manage as an adult; social climbing mother who spurns the loving partner of one daughter solely b/c he's not of the tribe; handsome older doctor who only loves the nurse who's too busy for him; and on. Even with 15 minutes of my lunch break left, I went back to work rather than read more. If you know me, that says a lot . . .
Apologies to readers who love this book, and to Janowitz who surely put work into it. it's just not for me. I might soldier on, given the season. If later chapters win me over, I'll recant.
Toast points at the seder table? And the whole thing about the 4 questions - The youngest recites the 4 questions. So, it's not big deal that the big sister would prefer not to. This whole book feels like the 1950s, despite its contemporary setting. The timing is incongruent - The mother wouldn't have marched with MLK if she's about 50 now and has kids in their 20s. I know it's a heartwarming story about resolving family relationships. Enjoy it if it's for you. it's not for me....more
Very useful. The kid read it and discovered schools she might have have heard of that correspond with her interests and wishes for the next four yearsVery useful. The kid read it and discovered schools she might have have heard of that correspond with her interests and wishes for the next four years. I read it and learned some more about those places. Especially useful are the quotes from students at each school and the information on school culture and whether classes are taught by professors or TAs. Includes lists of SAT-optional colleges, colleges strong in particular majors, number of applicants & acceptance rates, and a guide to general costliness. An excellent tool for helping you decide where to visit....more
A surprising and affecting murder mystery. What happens to those among us whom we ignore, deride, discount? How does being treated as different and 'lA surprising and affecting murder mystery. What happens to those among us whom we ignore, deride, discount? How does being treated as different and 'less-than' alter a person's decisions and sense of self? Intentionally or not, Fukuda exposes the riskiness of relying on circumstantial evidence and provides a powerful argument against the death penalty....more
This book is utterly, completely adorable! What's not to love about a comic book that introduces readers to databases, catalogs, advanced search termsThis book is utterly, completely adorable! What's not to love about a comic book that introduces readers to databases, catalogs, advanced search terms, and proper citation? It's aimed at beginning undergraduates, and I hope it becomes assigned reading. The activities at the end of each chapter bring to life the concepts introduced and look tailor-made for a class exercise. (Also, though it's not a difficult read, it's a stretch to imagine kids reading this outside of a requirement.) Upson writes clearly and engagingly - Recommended for anyone in the library world looking for a concise and easy way to explain the uses of google and database searches to patrons. I would love to see all new library hires read something like this. The only drawback is, despite being a comic book, the pages are heavy with text and there is little white space. ...more