I spent my first 14 years (1979-1994) in Lorain and--as the place I've lived the longest--it will always feel the most like home. I don't remember muc...moreI spent my first 14 years (1979-1994) in Lorain and--as the place I've lived the longest--it will always feel the most like home. I don't remember much about the first time I read The Bluest Eye, but I remember having a hard time imagining the Lorain that Morrison portrays. The book takes place five years before my mother was born and it's also difficult for me to imagine her in this Lorain too. According to my memory of this book, it was difficult to read because it was about a retarded [black] girl with blue eyes that gets raped. As I'm listening to the audio version I'm finding that my memory of the book isn’t all that accurate; however, the ending has come back to me.
And I must have read it possibly pre Google maps but definitely pre street view because I couldn’t exactly place the location at the time. The actual story takes place mostly on Broadway between 21st and 35th streets (http://tinyurl.com/77dtbhq). Now with Google Maps and street view I have a better frame of reference even if my Lorain doesn’t look like 1940’s Lorain. The heart of this story took place 3.5 miles from my childhood home, 1.2 miles from the Lorain Public Library, 1.5 miles from the illustrious Twin Wells trailer park where my grandmother lived (and also where my parents lived when they met), and in the backyard of the hospital where I was born (which apparently is no longer a hospital).
If I really stretch to remember my childhood, I will find some buried memories that I would like to forget. In that hidden collection are occasional racist undertones in the words used by the neighborhood kids even though I don't ever remember thinking of these words in terms of race or looking at another individual of another race from neighborhood as anything other than a person like me, and I'm sure the other children would agree with this. However, I remember being called honky and calling others honky before I could grasp its racial implications (I still didn’t know what it meant other than the equivalent of cracker and had to Google its origins). I remember kids calling the weird old white guy across the street from my family N----- Lover because he had a thing for black prostitutes (at least we all thought they were prostitutes). Many of the white girls that called him this went on to develop a thing for black guys at some point in their adolescence, and we all had friends in the neighborhood of different races.
I also remember the terrible Oreo Big Stuff incident. This is a nickname we coined for a fat mixed girl we decided we didn't like. (Remember the terrible song courtesy of Nabisco? We used to sing it at her.) This is the memory I'm most ashamed of even though the racial part was not my personal intended dig. For me it was about her being fat which isn’t much better, and I'm sure the name hurt her very much for everything the name suggests. I’m ashamed because I’m pretty sure I’m the one that either coined the name or started singing the song. I’m also ashamed because I cannot even remember this girl’s actual name. As the runt of the neighborhood litter, it felt good to be the one that wasn't being bullied or teased at the time. Though I meant nothing racist by the nickname, Morrison's picture of Lorain in 1941 suddenly seems a little easier to see because, really, how is this any different from the antagonizing black boys who chanted at Pecola, “Black e mo Black e mo ya daddy sleeps nekked.” Except that I really don’t know what “black e mo” means.
Here’s a quote I stole from Wikipedia (http://tinyurl.com/bd9khu) that demonstrates how our Lorain’s weren’t all that different. It’s the “we called each other names but we didn't think it was serious” that really hits home for me. She says, “I felt compelled to write this mostly because in the 1960s, black male authors published powerful, aggressive, revolutionary fiction or nonfiction, and they had positive racially uplifting redirect with them that were stimulating and I thought they would skip over something and thought no one would remember that it wasn't always beautiful, how hurtful racism is. I wrote The Bluest Eye because someone would actually be apologetic about the fact that their skin was so dark and how when I was a kid, we called each other names but we didn't think it was serious, that you could take it in, so the book was about taking it in, before we all decide that we are all beautiful, and have always been beautiful; I wanted to speak on the behalf of those who didn't catch that right away. I was deeply concerned about the feelings of being ugly.” Isn’t this true of most any kid in America? Because at some point we all call each other mean-spirited names, but maybe I’m just trying to defend my memories of meanness.
While researching (Googling) Lorain, I came across these awesome definitions of Lorain in Urban Dictionary http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.... Now considered the rust belt, Lorain had a few powerhouse industries in its steel mill, the shipyards, and the Ford plants. I found a cool assessment of Lorain in 1941 from the Lorain Public Library’s website: http://www.lorain.lib.oh.us/content.a.... I spend the summer after my high school graduation at the Lorain Ford plant right before it ceased making the Thunderbird. I hated every minute I spent there. I also had the pleasure of holding two other factory jobs in Lorain County that I loathed, but these types of jobs are harder to come by.
I have another racially charged memory of walking around Tower City in Cleveland by myself while I was at Cleveland State University. I was walking toward two black girls in their teens when one said, “Why are there so many white people in here? White people. White people. WHITE PEOPLE!” And the third white people was yelled directly in my face. It was somewhat traumatic to be hit with an aggressive comment like that, but I was in my early 20s. I can’t imagine what it was like for the girl we called Oreo Big Stuff. Even though my intent wasn’t racism, I’m sure that was how she interpreted it, and I’m responsible for my involvement in how that incident made her feel and shaped her life.(less)
It's been a weird week so far, and this book taught me something. Well, not really taught me but reminded me.
After getting zero hours of sleep Monday...moreIt's been a weird week so far, and this book taught me something. Well, not really taught me but reminded me.
After getting zero hours of sleep Monday night due to a constant annoying pain in my legs, I wandered into a mediocre Orthopedic doctor's office for a 7:45am visit. I came to said mediocre doctor's office for answers, and I got them as well as a shot in my butt for two of my itises (actually my trochanteric bursa, but who's keeping track?)
So, I already knew all of my prior hip surgeries had failed. I still have FAI and torn cartilage bilaterally, but now I have the gift of arthritis. I wanted to know how bad it was. The Dr. opened up my x-rays from Valentine's Day said I was a 3 out of 10 and could expect to have my hips replaced somewhere in my 40s. A minimum of 7 more years dealing with this? WTF! But in my expert opinion things will go south in 5.
So what does this have to do with Girl, Stolen? If a fictitious blind girl can manage to escape a fictitious kidnapping, then I guess I'll be fine with my limitations, too. I will just have to make some critical changes in the coming months and years.
When all of this happened (for the third time) in January, I felt like I was, yet again, being robbed of my full potential in my prime years. Now, I don't think that's what's happened exactly. My potential has just changed and I have to adapt to that change. But don't expect me to walk around like I'm sprouting roses from all of my orifices. I'm in pain, people, so I do reserve the right to be irritable and crabby.(less)
In the first disc, I became extremely uncomfortable. Then I realized there was nothing else I had on schedule to listen to in the car, so I kept with...moreIn the first disc, I became extremely uncomfortable. Then I realized there was nothing else I had on schedule to listen to in the car, so I kept with it.
I'm almost done with this title, and I have two serious issues:
1. The psychiatrist session format really ruined it for me. When Annie starts each session and talks directly to the psychiatrist, it feels forced and amateurish. Also, she takes on a completely different personality when addressing her shrink. She says things that seem out of character when compared to the way and things she says to everyone else. Sure she might feel more comfortable talking to the psychiatrist, but that won't make her a completely different person.
2. And this is where the spoiler starts. The twist in this story is extremely far fetched....
So Annie's mother, who is established as a terrible mother, is the mastermind behind a pretty classic kidnapping story? I mean, she actually finds an actual kidnapper type guy to "kidnap" her daughter for a week and he keeps her to do kidnapperish things to her until Annie kills him the first time she tries? Highly unlikely that these two gems of humanity would ever cross paths...even if he was discovered in a prison.
Bonus annoyance and spoiler: she has sex with the head detective on her case? Yeah right.
John Green makes me feel like he is a supernova and I am a mere speck of dust.
With the exception of Paper Towns (that one annoyed me somewhat) I've fo...moreJohn Green makes me feel like he is a supernova and I am a mere speck of dust.
With the exception of Paper Towns (that one annoyed me somewhat) I've found his books to be brilliant. For the rest of my life, I will view time as a slut and see tragedies like cancer (but not necessarily people) as grenades. The way I see it, Hazel, too, was affected by the cancer grenade, but I know what Green means.
I realize that this really isn't a review of the book. So if you happen to read this review and haven't read the book, just go and read the book.(less)
**spoiler alert** I lived in NYC (Astoria, Queens to be exact) in 2003/2004. During that time, a coworker who lived in Williamsburg confided in me tha...more**spoiler alert** I lived in NYC (Astoria, Queens to be exact) in 2003/2004. During that time, a coworker who lived in Williamsburg confided in me that she had bedbugs in her railroad style apartment. An apartment that I visited, and internally I freaked the eff out. Suffice to say—as someone who gets a little paranoid and Google happy—I know a thing or two about bedbugs. But enough about me.
This is a book about bedbugs. This is not a book about bedbugs. Oh wait it is. Oh wait, I have no idea what this book was really about. What I mean is, I don't know what was "real" or imagined toward the end of the book, and I don't believe that my confusion was the intended by the writer. Or maybe it was. I believe it was because this was a story that needed heavy editing and revising. Overall, the feeling I get from Bedbugs is that it was a loosely thrown together in a plot that unravels in the end and there were a lot of unnecessary frayed threads poking out all over the place. This is a problem for a book that is only 256 pages. I felt like it was written by a wannabe writer. If I read a book that reminds me of my own creative writing endeavors, I know it's bad because I was a crap writer, which is why I gave it up. Sure, I'd love to give some concrete examples from the book, but that would require me to spend more time inside of it, and I feel like I've devoted enough of my life inside its pages.
Maybe my level of dislike for this book is shaped on my faulty assumption that I was going to read a book about a classic bedbug infestation and be absolutely horrified by the possible reality of this happening to me. This was not the case. Instead, this was a book about crazy people and/or people who were not likeable and nothing about the story felt like it could be related to my reality.
The characters are not easy to like. Except for maybe the kid. She was OK. The nanny was selfish and lazy. If I had a child and could afford a nanny and she was like this, she would have had a short tenure watching my child. And why did they have a nanny? It seems like Susan didn't do anything that required one. All of the things she did while the nanny was around, could have been done without her being around.
The wife, Susan, was kind of selfish, too--quitting her job to paint and never painting. She wasn't very happy and really wasn't very productive. Readers like to see a character do something to change their flaws and by change, I don't mean go crazy. She did none of this. She did stuff, but the stuff wasn't interesting.
The husband, Alex, was OK, but was neither likeable or unlikeable. He was just there occupying the space of the pages, but overall he was a pretty good guy. Irritable, which is understandable due to his financial stress, but good overall. Then the author tries make us question his good-guyness with a few little mentions from Susan about some hidden threatening, menacing part of him she was afraid of. Well, it just wasn't there, but nice try. Overall, he was practically a mannequin who was good with his kid.
The handy man was a creep, and the landlord, Andrea, was weird and crazy. Enough said about those two for now.
Then there's the whole issue of them being tight on money, yet getting a bigger, more expensive apartment and paying for a nanny that wasn't necessary. I think that if you're going to quit your job to paint and then not paint while your husband struggles to make a business succeed, you should probably not be worried about expensive beds and new apartments and nannies.
Here are some more random things I disliked: If there were actual bedbugs in this book, the husband and daughter would have had bites. If this was a book about badbugs, then that is just annoying and the title should have been Badbugs. People would would have still thought it was about bedbugs and it would have done nothing to spoil the introduction of badbugs plot turn.
There were times that I thought I was picking up on huge clues or foreshadowing of what was to come, but these pricks of my mind turned out to be nothing or kind of poorly done. I expected something more to be said about this expensive bed that Susan kind of selfishly convinced her husband to splurge on. I expected the infestation to possibly start from it, but it was just something mentioned and then abandoned. I thought the painting would hold actual significance, and I guess there was some parallel to what happened to it and what actually happened in the book, but I expected more. I expected it to be revealed who was changing the painting, but it was probably Susan with all of the Ambien and wine she gobbled up. This was just crap.
Oh, and this whole thing about the mother who let the baby carriage roll off the roof of a building killing her kids? It served no solid purpose. It had no necessity to the plot, yet it kept being thrown back into the book. I feel like the author thought it was some very cool element that she would weave into the plot and then AHA! bring mention it again in the end. It wasn't woven at all. It was thrown in there here and there awkwardly.
I take issue with the sudden turning on the nanny. Sure, it was after Susan read about the badbugs and it was obvious she had issues with her, but it seemed so unnatural, especially the things she said/conclusions she jumped to and the way she let the nanny kind of walk all over her. Of course, this is probably an attempt to establish that she's crazy, but it did not fit the character or progression of the events taking place in a way that was natural.
What happened with the cat urine smell anyway? That cannot be explained away by the dying girl trying to "ping" for help in the basement because cat urine and human urine do not smell alike.
Also, it seemed odd that Susan killed the handyman. If there were more clues to him "knowing too much" or some other motivation for the sudden hammer to the head (perhaps by some dialogue between Susan and Andrea). He didn't deserve it either. He was OK. Weird, but OK.(less)
I was very into the first quarter of this book and love the style and humor that Russell puts into the book, but I didn't like the direction the book...moreI was very into the first quarter of this book and love the style and humor that Russell puts into the book, but I didn't like the direction the book took. I loved Ava, Ossie, Kiwi, and Chief. This may be the first time I read a book where I adored the characters but didn't care for the story.(less)
It really bothered me. I think I was in disc 8 of 13 when I realized that absolutely nothing substantial...moreWhat was so special about this book? Not much.
It really bothered me. I think I was in disc 8 of 13 when I realized that absolutely nothing substantial was going to happen in this book, but I was already pretty committed so I really hoped that I was going to be wrong.
I didn't care for Madeleine. I didn't care for Leonard either, though I found his bouts of mania interesting. Mitchell intrigued me partly because I like underdogs, partly because I like hearing about travels, and partly because of the Franny/Jesus prayer connection.
It's obvious that a lot of thought and intelligence was put into this book, but the plot blew. I guess I rarely like books that have a lot of mundaneness in them.