I'm having a difficult time writing any review of substance about Tampa for reasons that might be more worth considering than any subjective opinion I...moreI'm having a difficult time writing any review of substance about Tampa for reasons that might be more worth considering than any subjective opinion I might have about this book. It's timely, I think, in terms of myself as a reader, closely following The Psychopath Test and read alongside my viewing of the final few seasons of Dexter - and though of course the consumer of such plots might have a very different sort of relationship with Dexter Morgan than they might with Celeste Price, they follow a very similar trajectory in that the viewer at first may be repelled and then warmed up to an attraction to these characters before being submerged in cold, inky disgust (both with the characters, and with themselves).
It mainly interests me in terms of gender and social response. I've seen reviews positing Tampa as the feminist counterpart to Lolita, though I don't believe it was less intended this way than it was written to fill the gap in literature that is the female sexual predator.
I agree with many other reviewers in that the voice was an accomplishment - but for me, it felt rather pedestrian on the whole.
Let's be honest: if this book hadn't been for my book club, I might not have finished it. But that doesn't mean it wasn't good - more so, that the fir...moreLet's be honest: if this book hadn't been for my book club, I might not have finished it. But that doesn't mean it wasn't good - more so, that the first 100 - 150 pages were really hard to get into. The plot and story line seemed confused, and I couldn't quite understand why I was being made to care about so many seemingly insignificant characters - if Ursula Todd is the one being born again and again and again, why is her family important?
But then, once I had muddled through those pages, and learned quite a lot about her family by dint of repetition more than exposition, I was suddenly hooked. I have the cold that confined me home for the weekend to thank, because I went from page 137 to finished in less than 24 hours (and it's as 500 page book). (less)
"Hi horsies!" The girl is holding a cloth napkin full of peaches. She walks up to the first stall and holds out a pale yellow fruit.
Rutherford arches...more"Hi horsies!" The girl is holding a cloth napkin full of peaches. She walks up to the first stall and holds out a pale yellow fruit.
Rutherford arches his neck toward her outstretched hand. Freckles of light float across his patchy hindquarters. He licks the girl's palm according to a code that he's worked out: - - -, which means that he is Rutherford Birchard Hayes, the nineteenth president of the United States of America, and that she should alert the local officials.
"Ha-ha!" The girl laughs. "That tickles!"
Good, but it did not floor me in the same way that Swamplandia! did. I love what Russell does with words, I love her imaginative sense of humor, and I think she knows how to pack some real punches, but I truly think I do love a novel dose of Russell more than anything else. (less)
A simultaneously dark, funny and solemn story evolves from one of family secrets to one of self discovery in a memoir that is told in structurally bea...moreA simultaneously dark, funny and solemn story evolves from one of family secrets to one of self discovery in a memoir that is told in structurally beautiful layers. In rooting through her origins, Bechdel walks that line between dignity and horror in a way that gorgeously encapsulates so many of the feelings that many of us have in coming into our own - most especially when those beginnings are troubled ones. (less)
Nationwide there was, at first, a time of increased lawmaking. Things were generally banned. There was no trust anywhere, and nothing was acceptable....moreNationwide there was, at first, a time of increased lawmaking. Things were generally banned. There was no trust anywhere, and nothing was acceptable. A bill outlawing love was reportedly being drafted. There was a law that, by accident, outlawed itself. Anything there was had a law for or against it. People, having paid fines for whatever infraction, went home, more inspired than outraged, and wrote their own laws, striving for originality and footnotes. "Laissez-faire," they said stupidly. "Denouement." Other things were said. As more things were said, people became gradually wittier. "Anarchy, apathy, and--" they said. "The three A's.
- Tao Lin, "The Postmodern Hipster Reader"
Tao Lin is that guy I want to call out on his shit, and then ask him to be my friend. His voice will wear you out and piss you off - but then when you take a break from it, or read on, or both - you realize how that voice never ever wavers, and that there is this excruciating, exacting quality to it that is a little sharper than the wrapping suggests. His style smacks so much of the smug literary type - until you realize that it is those smug literary types that he is satirizing. Either way, it can only be up to you to decide whether it an enjoyable read does make - for me, though I'm curious about his novel, I'm classifying this one in the beach-hip-lit category.
If you think you're a psychopath and you're experiencing some anxiety about it, you're probably not a psychopath. If you think it's possible but have...moreIf you think you're a psychopath and you're experiencing some anxiety about it, you're probably not a psychopath. If you think it's possible but have no emotional reaction to the possibility, you might be a psychopath. If you're confused and slightly angered and curious about how arbitrary the definitions of mental illness seem to be, about the lack of clean or clear answer to the question of what to do about those people that may or may not pose a threat to others when it's really hard to tell? Join the club.
This is the second novel I've read recently that has touched on the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo over the Dominican Republic, an awful stretch of h...moreThis is the second novel I've read recently that has touched on the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo over the Dominican Republic, an awful stretch of history that lasted from 1930 - 1961.
I appreciated the switching of forms - we had diary entries, first and third person - to suit the sister the story followed at any given moment. At first it irritated me and struck me as gimmicky - eventually I came to understand the possibilities for rich character insight it lent, not to mention power of delivery.
Perhaps more than anything else, I appreciate the very real history behind this plot, and the author's note and postscript that describes Alvarez's fascination with the Mirabel sisters from a young age, as a child of a family that had narrowly escaped the Trujillo regime by immigrating to the States. The way she transformed these women and their courage into the stuff of legend is highly evocative of the impulses that drew me to stories (and writing them myself) when I was very young - and it was always strong, impressive women that inspired it.
A few years ago I had the chance to see Ms. Alvarez speak, and now I deeply regret that I missed my chance. (less)