I've never read a book by Anne Tyler, and I feel like I may have been missing out ... She's truly a great writer -- witty, funny, succinct, descriptivI've never read a book by Anne Tyler, and I feel like I may have been missing out ... She's truly a great writer -- witty, funny, succinct, descriptive without over doing it, and thoughtful -- so I will be seeking out other books by her.
That being said, this book was definitely a modernized "Taming of the Shrew" and I couldn't stop picturing the people in "10 Things I Hate About You," with the exception of Kate. I don't love "Taming..." as the whole thing about a woman being "tamed" by the right man really pisses me off, and this book pushed all of those misogyny-buttons. I wanted redemption, and perhaps a move away from the typical 'She's been TAMED! And now we find her acceptable for society! Hooray!' But you will not find that perspective in this book, alas. I mean I GET that men are socialized differently, and emotions are less acceptable for display, etc, but that doesn't mean women have to take up the slack and somehow sacrifice themselves just because men can be asshats. Nope.
Anyway, I digress -- the book was well written, witty, humorous, and Kate is awesome! "Taming of the Shrew" is not awesome, however, and this book tows that very plotline. ...more
I loved this book. The descriptions were beautiful, the storytelling lovely, strange, and alluring, and the characters fleshed out and honest. I foundI loved this book. The descriptions were beautiful, the storytelling lovely, strange, and alluring, and the characters fleshed out and honest. I found Amanda abrupt, frank, and quite hilarious. The story of George and Kumiko was like something Murakami would write, and the addition of Amanda/Rachel's plot line like some of Helen Oyeyemi's best works. I loved the folktales and is it weird to say that I kept picturing the volcanos love story from the Pixar short film on the Inside Out dvd? Bravo!
Some excerpts that struck a chord:
p. 131: "'The purpose of a volcano is to die, my lady,' says the volcano, 'but as angrily as possible.' 'You do not seem angry,' she says. 'You smile. You jest. You speak from desire, from flirtation. I have seen it the world over.' 'I speak from joy, my lady. Angry joy.' 'Is such a thing possible?' 'It is that which creates us all. It is that which fires the magma of the world. It is that which drives the volcano to sing.'"
p. 132: "She returns. She is older, wiser. The world is older, too, though surprisingly not that much wiser. ... 'You have not died like all the others and become a mountain.' 'I have not, my lady. There was no future in it.' He raises his whip, a long chain of glowing white heat, and lashes his great and terrible horses. They whinny in agony and trample farms and bridges and civilizations under their hooves, his innumerable, ravenous armies flowing like burning rivers in their wake."
P. 227: "He tore out one final (that word again) page of dense Jamesian prose and tried to read it to see if inspiration could be found. 'She saw him in truth less easily beguiled, saw him wander in the closed dusky rooms from place to place or else for long periods recline on deep sofas and stare before him through the smoke of ceaseless cigarettes.' Yep, that seemed to fit pretty well with the little George thought he knew of Henry James. He was sure it must be brilliant, but it didn't half read like an artistic representation of writing, rather than writing itself. A painting of a page. A cutting without cuts."
P. 227: " It was as if he'd wilfully [sic] decided to sacrifice [ital.] everything [ital.] just to spite Kumiko, a spite she would, he hoped, remain forever unaware of, so it did nothing but slice at his own heart, as spite only ever did. ... He hadn't even been [ital.] angry [ital.] with her, not really. He'd just felt . . . [ital.] lost [ital.]. Alone. Unaccompanied even when she was right there with him."
P. 270: "But he [ital.] had [ital.] demanded. He had been stupidly, stupidly greedy for knowledge of her. And he had found out. He knew her. But wasn't that what love really was, though? Knowledge? Yes. And then again, no."...more
Meh. Sure, the retelling of "The Island of Dr. Moreau" is interesting -- creepy & disturbing like the actual story is meant to be -- but this YA aMeh. Sure, the retelling of "The Island of Dr. Moreau" is interesting -- creepy & disturbing like the actual story is meant to be -- but this YA amalgamation of H.G. Wells' awesome creepiness and ridiculous teenage romance was a bit much for me. I recognize that it sits comfortably within the popular realm of romantic, gothic, victorian YA books, and I guess these just aren't the books for me. I mean, an island of "creatures" created by your insane surgeon father, and you just keep getting all hot and bothered about two "men" (boys) named Montgomery and Edward. And you can't decide between them (typical). Just kind of ruins the story's mood when somehow the strange experiments to do with animal vivisection bring memories of your childhood and warm fuzzy feelings about the servant-boy who you've always loved. ...more
Beautiful descriptions, lyrical prose -- but not really a plot-filled book. It read more like a kind of poem that doesn't know it's a poem, or that deBeautiful descriptions, lyrical prose -- but not really a plot-filled book. It read more like a kind of poem that doesn't know it's a poem, or that detests labels so prefers to just be. That being said, some lush descriptions, some noted below:
p. 13 "I cannot tell if it is me curled on the damp earth. The gray spider perched on her dusty wall seems equally myself. I apologize, it is what happens when the loneliness is built up and frescoed in costly paints. Solitude becomes populated with a legion of selves, each laid on each like stacked frames of films, like pig's ears in the noontime market, or the floors of a pagoda that once was red. The original is lost, just one of a thousand thousand silvern copies, scattered upwind."
p. 42 "She is embodied and unbodied, the Saturnine silver of me that haunts the corners of my elbows, eyelids, and sits fecund in her smoke-lodge creating universes from pine needles."
p. 68 "I am bombarded by photons with cruel masses, with high cheekbones and stiletto heels."
p. 113 "It [a book] is full of dark, nameless things decaying into each other, dissolving in acid, jostling for position. Kingfishers dive into the water and become women; women dive into the earth and become books."...more
Catherynne Valente, what can I say? Amazing! I just love her folklore-infused story lines mixed with Russian history and wonderfully vivid descriptionCatherynne Valente, what can I say? Amazing! I just love her folklore-infused story lines mixed with Russian history and wonderfully vivid descriptions. It's like she has expertly woven the story of a Russian girl in the 1930s with the magical realm of Russian folklore and stories told to children to scare them into behaving, etc. She has such mastery of folklore, that she even incorporates motifs and repetitions in phrasing as if she is writing a new Russian tale. I look forward to future books this author produces, because she seems to become more expert and comfortable in her writing with every book she writes. ...more
This was really an enjoyable read. It's a collection of fairy tale re-tellings with a feminist or queer twist that wasn't preachy or over-the-top. TheThis was really an enjoyable read. It's a collection of fairy tale re-tellings with a feminist or queer twist that wasn't preachy or over-the-top. The writing in this book is also really wonderful. I tried reading Donoghue's "The Sealed Letter" and got bogged down in the Victorian-speak. But this book was quick, easy, and quite lovely. Way to go, book!...more
Here's the summary from the back of the book (different from the description w/ Goodreads):
"It's been called the greatest novel ever written. Now, TolHere's the summary from the back of the book (different from the description w/ Goodreads):
"It's been called the greatest novel ever written. Now, Tolstoy's timeless saga of love and betrayal is transported to an awesomer version of 19th-century Russia. It is a world humming with high-powered groznium engines: where debutantes dance the 3D waltz in midair, mechanical wolves charge into battle alongside brave young soldiers, and robots -- miraculous, beloved robots! -- are the faithful companions of everyone who's anyone. Restless to forge her own destiny in this fantastic modern life, the bold noblewoman Anna and her enigmatic Android Karenina abandon a loveless marriage to seize passion with the daring, handsome Count Vronsky. But when their scandalous affair gets mixed up with dangerous futuristic villainy, the ensuing chaos threatens to rip apart their lives, their families, and -- just maybe -- all of planet Earth."...more