Great story, kind of addictive, but lost points for Goodkind's writing style in places, which would sometimes be god awful and making me twitch while...moreGreat story, kind of addictive, but lost points for Goodkind's writing style in places, which would sometimes be god awful and making me twitch while reading. (less)
This book caught my eye on the bookstore shelf, and I'll be honest: after flipping through and reading the back, I was interested but not enough to bo...moreThis book caught my eye on the bookstore shelf, and I'll be honest: after flipping through and reading the back, I was interested but not enough to bother. Then I got to the part on the jacket where the novel is compared to early Duras, and...being an absolute Duras fangirl, I couldn't resist. I bought it.
Kitchen was good, a great idea for a story, and I really do love what the author was attempting to do with the simple prose. Often I find that much more effective and emotionally resonant than the flowery sentences of other writers. However, her writing seemed to fall a little short, so sparse and quick-moving as to feel almost rushed. I suspect this isn't the author's fault but a problem with the translation. I have no doubt the true beauty of Yoshimoto's writing was lost. In minimalist story-telling, every last word matters, and changing even one causes the entire section to fall apart. I hate to fault an author for a translation wasn't her responsibility, but in this case, I can't help but have it affect the rating.
That being said, the themes in Kitchen, while dark and heavy, are delicately handled, evocative without being overwrought. Very nicely done, alone making the book worth reading.
Overall a good book, not one I'm likely to remember much of in a year. Potentially amazing in the original language, but in no way deserving, at least in this edition, the comparison to early Duras.(less)
Miller presents a solid theory with some difficult truths, but at time the narrowness of her idea turns into a sort of tunnel vision with sweeping gen...moreMiller presents a solid theory with some difficult truths, but at time the narrowness of her idea turns into a sort of tunnel vision with sweeping generalizations that are far too much. She gets carried away with herself and disregards other influences, other options. I always bristle at any theory that attempts to explain everything with a single reason or cause, especially in the complicated matters of psychology or human emotion. Regardless, the clarity of her presentation makes this an easy read, and Miller's ideas have a great foundation, doubtless a benefit to many, many people.
(There were, however, times when I felt an equally apt title would have been, "Yes, you really are fucked up, no matter what you think, and it's all mommy's fault!" I'm fairly certain that my parents' toilet training techniques contribued nothing to why I'm a hot mess. In fact, I'd be willing to bet their success in that endeavor has significantly aided me in my quest to be anything other than a filthy hermit. Just sayin'. That part made me choke on my tea.)
Two quotes from the book that I really liked:
"The true opposite of depression is neither gaiety nor absence of pain, but vitality--the freedom to experience spontaneous feelings." [p. 61:]
"...I can understand my suicidal ideas better now, especially those I had in my youth...because in a way I had always been living a life that wasn't mine, that I didn't want, and that I was ready to throw away." [p. 62:](less)
On one level, this is a frivolous, entertaining story about a couple, their marital difficulties, and the little heathen they call their son (the "ble...moreOn one level, this is a frivolous, entertaining story about a couple, their marital difficulties, and the little heathen they call their son (the "blessing" of the title). On a deeper level, Mitford skillfully tells of culture clash, love, and family dysfunction, using her own situation (and clear-eyed self awareness) to poignant effect. The humor is more subtle than that of Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, some has faded due to time, but The Blessing is still laugh out loud funny in parts and giggle-worthy throughout most of the pages. Finally, I hold up Sigi, the little brat, as yet another reason why I am never having children. Thank you, Nancy, for reinforcing that wise decision.(less)
**spoiler alert** Stalking Irish Madness is a good read, one that at times is incredibly gripping, but it falls short of the excellence it could have...more**spoiler alert** Stalking Irish Madness is a good read, one that at times is incredibly gripping, but it falls short of the excellence it could have achieved. The family history is deftly handled, emotional without being draining, keeping the first third of the book tightly focused and moving at a brisk pace. At that point, I couldn't put it down. The shadow cast over this family by schizophrenia is tangible, and Tracey beautifully presents the dread and ultimate heartbreak as two of his sisters, one after the other, succumb to the disease.
Unfortunately, as soon as the book shifts and he reaches Ireland, the narrative slows to a crawl because there isn't any narrative. Lip service is paid to a search for family and bloodlines, but it's not a longing for home or his own family, really, more of a scientific search for mitochondrial DNA (mentioned several times in the second half), which allows the earlier warmth and energy to slip away. With no clear idea of what he's looking for, Tracey loses sight of the thread, partially beause he has no idea what he wants to find or what he can reasonably expect to find by roaming the Irish countryside. The writing wanders around in circles along with the writer, and the book suffers for it.
Of note, it's really nice to read a travel memoir of Ireland that doesn't center on drinking. (Although, I'll be honest, I love those, too.)
While in Ireland, mixed in amongst various meetings and exchanges taken from his experiences, Tracey lays out bits and pieces of Irish history, good additions that support his process without dragging down the story. Perhaps a bit vague, but for a history buff like me, that's a relief. The general outline of the famine is good to have with a work like this; no one needs fifty pages detailing it. Tracey never seemed to feel the need to prove out intelligent he is, and I very much appreciated that. Tracey also presents an interesting link between schizophrenia and Ireland--or more specifically, Ireland's extreme and heartbreaking nineteenth century history. I actually wish he had gone into more depth on this aspect.
In addition to the history, there is a fair amount of Irish fairy lore included in the text, including an explanation of the term "away with the fairies." I adored that, especially as his presentation was light without being derisive or New Age-y. Fantastic.
Unfortunately, the author doesn't seem to have the knack for describing those little moments during travel, the personal and the meetings, the interaction with the local residents and environment, that make travel memoirs so intriguing. More often than not, when Tracey presented his encounters, they felt repetitive and my eyes glazed over. There didn't seem to be a point to telling us about many of these moments, they fell flat, and it's entirely possible that Tracey didn't know the point, either. Fewer of these and more focus on the family he left behind, not just throw away comments bemoaning the fates of his sisters, would have been nice.
When Tracey returns to Boston and his sisters, he again picks up the narrative from the beginning, the one that got lost while he was in Ireland. There is a return to the warmth and focus that was there in the beginning, which is excellent but a little too late. I wish he could have held onto that throughout his travels; the book would have held together much better and the resolution would have been much more satisfying. I liked this part very much, I just wish Tracey would have been more comfortable with it in order to give us more.
When I finished, I wasn't quite sure what this was supposed to be, which left me feeling a little uneasy. Tracey attempts to transcend genre with a book that is part memoir, part family history, part mental health study, part history lesson, and part travelogue, an excellent idea that unfortunately gets bogged down by all the things it wants to be but doesn't quite manage. Tracey is a capable writer, with a deft (if a bit purple) hand, and I think the connecting narrative thread got lost in the midst of a project that turned out to be overly ambitious.(less)
Waugh has the dry, underhanded wit that I adore, the sly sort of humor that can be easily missed by the distracted or the terminally stupid. And as mo...moreWaugh has the dry, underhanded wit that I adore, the sly sort of humor that can be easily missed by the distracted or the terminally stupid. And as morbid as it may be, the scene surrounding the preparations for the Loved One's final arrangements had me laughing out loud through the duration, a perfect lampooning of the industry. Brilliant!(less)
The most spot-on description of depression I have ever read, refraining from overindulgent whining while simultaneously managing to avoid feeling clin...moreThe most spot-on description of depression I have ever read, refraining from overindulgent whining while simultaneously managing to avoid feeling clinical. Brilliantly done, honest and straight forward, Styron nails it. There is an elegance to the writing that adds a layer of heartbreak, allowing something so simple and sparse to have an intense affect on the reader. In less than 100 pages, Styron did what Wurtzel failed to do in 300+.(less)
An excellent read, but if you're expecting a straight narrative regarding the earliest known plague epidemic, look elsewhere. Rosen weaves in history...moreAn excellent read, but if you're expecting a straight narrative regarding the earliest known plague epidemic, look elsewhere. Rosen weaves in history from many different aspects: architecture, mathematics, burgeoning medical science, biographic summaries of many of Justinian's contemporaries, art, philosophy, religion, wars, etc. This is more of a wide-ranging look at the gradual move from antiquity to the medieval period, with the plague casting a shadow over the entirety. Meanders a bit, especially near the end where I feel Rosen got bogged down in his own narrative, but definitely an interesting read as long as one isn't expecting plague and nothing but the plague.(less)
An interesting, original approach to biography that wasn't nearly the heavy read I was expecting. Unfortunately, the author makes a lot of jumps from...moreAn interesting, original approach to biography that wasn't nearly the heavy read I was expecting. Unfortunately, the author makes a lot of jumps from the material to what may have motivated Wilde, and it seems that this is more a biography of the author's romantic idea of Wilde, rather than the man himself. Nevertheless, an easy, entertaining read that's simultaneously intriguing for Wilde fans.(less)
Brilliant, in-depth narrative that is at times very difficult to read. There were times I actually had to put this down and walk away, a sure sign of...moreBrilliant, in-depth narrative that is at times very difficult to read. There were times I actually had to put this down and walk away, a sure sign of a book with impact. Buford takes the edge off the violence with a dry, well-timed sense of humor. Highly recommended, even for Americans unfamiliar with the history of English football culture.(less)
Let's be honest: I'm not a foodie, I can't tell one seasoning from another, and I can't cook to save my life. (Seriously. Without the microwave and my...moreLet's be honest: I'm not a foodie, I can't tell one seasoning from another, and I can't cook to save my life. (Seriously. Without the microwave and my basic pasta-boiling skills, I would starve.) Yet even I recognize this book is a (almost) definitive guide to nothing but the author's own culinary likes and dislikes...which is fine by me. Included are some really intriguing (and relatively simple) recipes that I've marked to try when I'm feeling particularly daring (or like burning the house down), and it was perfect for what I bought it for in the first place. I'm guessing if you're a foodie or at all advanced in the eating/cooking arts, you will want to look elsewhere. But if you're a kitchen idiot like me? This book is just fine.
Also? Pretty, pretty food porn...er, I mean, pictures!(less)
A great introduction to the French "occupation" of Egypt, I just wish Burleigh had gone more in depth. In the end the sum feels very shallow, like she...moreA great introduction to the French "occupation" of Egypt, I just wish Burleigh had gone more in depth. In the end the sum feels very shallow, like she just barely scraped the surface. My interest was very much captured; wish there was more.(less)
This is less a story and more of a drawn out attempt to explain/justify every criticism regarding her mythology and general downhill spiral in the fir...moreThis is less a story and more of a drawn out attempt to explain/justify every criticism regarding her mythology and general downhill spiral in the first four books. Could have been interesting; unfortunately it wasn't. (It was, however, leagues better than Breaking Dawn, so there's that, I guess.)
Also, someone please inform Ms. Meyer that novellas do not have to be written in one long, unbroken stream of thought. If this was an attempt to illustrate the never-ceasing consciousness of a vampire, then it was an epic fail. Breaks are allowed to delineate scenes or for the passage of time, and especially when the writing is subpar, it is only polite to give the reader a break every now and then. Geez.(less)