The people in this book are all kinds of fucked up. Take this exchange between a mother and her teenage son:
She cleared her throat and suddenly barked...moreThe people in this book are all kinds of fucked up. Take this exchange between a mother and her teenage son:
She cleared her throat and suddenly barked out, 'Are you going to take drugs?' He looked at her reflection in the mirror. She looked small, a little afraid. Slowly, he nodded. 'What kind?' 'Weed, I guess.' 'What else?' He shrugged. 'Stuff.' 'What stuff?' 'Speed. Maybe an E.' 'Oh, baby.' She began to reach out to him then abruptly withdrew her hand. 'I guess you're all grown up.' He eyed her refection warily. Was she pissed off with him? She stood up and kissed him quickly on the cheek. 'Just be careful.' She stopped at the door. 'I heard on the radio there's going to be sniffer dogs. Better put the gear up your arse.'
Good advice there, mom. Way to be looking out for your little dingo baby.
Many people have complained about the explicit language and sex scenes. The truck driving sailor in me couldn't care less; there wasn't a single word printed in this book (other than the Australian slang, which flew right over my head) that I haven't said once, twice, a million times before. However, my critical reader side isn't as forgiving. Have you ever overheard a group of teenagers loudly "conversing" in public and every other word out of their mouth is 'fuck' and it's so obvious that they think it makes them look cool but in reality they just look like asshats?* That's what this book reminded me of. I wasn't offended in the slightest, just bored by it. Once I've read the word 'c*nt' in a book for the 20th time, I'm pretty desensitized.
The characters are all morons/assholes/douche bags/suckers, but that was ok. I like flawed characters. I also like totally messed up story lines and unhappy endings, so I should have been more into this. Too uneven I guess, with sections that were very compelling and others that I forced myself not to skim through (too much). Regardless, it took me a week and a half to get through this and that is way too long.
*Upon typing this sentence I realized that I've become my mother.(less)
I am one of only 10 or so people - worldwide, it seems - who thought The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sucked. I'm ok with that. The world would be a bo...moreI am one of only 10 or so people - worldwide, it seems - who thought The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sucked. I'm ok with that. The world would be a boringplaceifwealllikedthesameblah blah blah. But it did make me wonder, am I somehow missing the chromosome that is responsible for enjoyment of Scandinavian and Nordic crime fiction? Because people love this book. I entered the Good Reads giveaway for a copy of Hypothermia with the intent of answering that question. Plus, the description sounded pretty cool.
Guess what? Arnaldur came through! This book is actually the 8th in a series, but I didn't feel out of the loop by having not read the previous books (some of which I don't think are translated to english yet). The central mystery of this story is interesting: the victim is a suicide. Inspector Erlendur embarks on an unofficial investigation in the hopes of understanding just what drove this woman to such an end. Erlendur himself has a back story that's just as compelling, if not more.
I used to read a lot of crime fiction when I was younger. Not the hardboiled variety, more the CSI/Law & Order kind. I attribute that to the dream I had of one day becoming a criminal profiler for the FBI (until I realized I was to chickenshit to become a cop). John E. Douglas is still one of my personal heroes. My aspirations have since turned to medicine - primarily pathology - but it all boils down to the same interests. I like the puzzle. The helping people part is cool and all, and a really great bonus, but the assembling of clues and seemingly random bits of information into one coherent story is what really pumps my nads.
Arnaldur does this well in Hypothermia. Even when I knew where all of the puzzle pieces would go - and I fully believe it was not due to my stellar deductive reasoning, but because it was Arnaldur's intention all along - I was still just as interested in seeing them fall into place. I think what I liked most, though, was the atmosphere Arnuldur evoked. If I had synesthesia, I would probably describe this book as gray.
I began to gravitate away from genre fiction years ago*, but books like this remind me of how moronic it is to disregard entire classes of books rather than judge them individually on their own merit. Arnaldur has not only induced me to read more of his work, but he has also managed to renew my desire to read some of the other similar books on my shelves: Faceless Killers, Echoes from the Dead, The Unit, to name a few. So yeah, regarding Stieg Larsson? I guess I'm just weird like that.
*Embarrassing confession. I remember the moment this gravitation began. I was at the library in 1999, looking for a Patricia Cornwell book (shut up) when, due to the alphabetical vicinity, I came across Douglas Coupland's Girlfriend in a Coma. The rest is history.(less)
I probably shouldn't be surprised that this book was so over the top; the description itself says it all. I guess I was just under the (mistaken) assu...moreI probably shouldn't be surprised that this book was so over the top; the description itself says it all. I guess I was just under the (mistaken) assumption that Gruen would manage to pull it off somehow. I loved reading about the Great Apes and am interested in pursuing some nonfiction on the subject, but the rest of the story was ridiculous.(less)
Favorites: The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains - Neil Gaiman The Stars Are Falling - Joe R. Lansdale Weights and Measures - Jodi Picoult (surprise...moreFavorites: The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains - Neil Gaiman The Stars Are Falling - Joe R. Lansdale Weights and Measures - Jodi Picoult (surprise!) Catch and Release - Lawrence Block Polka Dots and Moonbeams - Jeffrey Ford Land of the Lost - Stewart O'Nan Unwell - Carolyn Parkhurst Let the Past Begin - Jonathan Carroll The Therapist - Jefferey Deaver The Cult of the Nose - Al Sarrantonio(less)
My least favorite of the three, but absorbing nonetheless. I listened to the audiobook, which I highly recommend. The Irish accent and delivery of the...moreMy least favorite of the three, but absorbing nonetheless. I listened to the audiobook, which I highly recommend. The Irish accent and delivery of the lines, especially the dialogue, added a level of authenticity that I would have been unable to replicate in my head had I been reading the print version. (less)
There's nothing like the contemplation of the universe for making one feel simultaneously awe struck and incredibly insignificant.
Kind of random, but...moreThere's nothing like the contemplation of the universe for making one feel simultaneously awe struck and incredibly insignificant.
Kind of random, but I loved Hawking's frequent use of the exclamation mark. For example::
"However, when an antiparticle and a particle meet, they annihilate each other. So if you meet your antiself, don't shake hands - you would both vanish in a great flash of light!" and "The supermassive black hole has a star orbiting it at about 2 percent the speed of light, faster than the average speed of an electron orbiting the nucleus in an atom!"
His pure excitement regarding the subject matter and specific points being made is almost palpable. I wanted to yell "Preach it, Mr. Hawking! Science is awesome!"
I also learned, much to my surprise, that the world apparently doesn't revolve around me.
I don't think Shriver meant to describe her own book with the following passage, but she did:
"Remember how sometimes, in the middle, a movie seems to...moreI don't think Shriver meant to describe her own book with the following passage, but she did:
"Remember how sometimes, in the middle, a movie seems to drag? I get restless, and take a leak, or go for popcorn. But sometimes, the last part, it heats up, and then right before the credits one of us starts to cry - well , then you forget about the crummy middle, don't you? YOu don't care about the fact that it started slow, or had some plot twist along the way that didn't scan. Because it moved you, because it finally pulled together, you think, when you walk out, that it was a good movie, and you're glad you went."
Except I'm not particularly glad I went or, in this case, read. It wasn't terrible but it definitely wasn't great either. Most of the characters were so damn unlikeable that it was hard to muster up any sympathy for them. Even worse, though, were the multiple page long rantings about government, healthcare, evil insurance companies, etc. etc. etc. I'm well aware that those issues form the basis of Shriver's novel; however, the rabidness of the delivery was off putting and their sheer verbosity caused my eyes to glaze over and start skimming - probably not the effect Shriver intended. That said, I'm probably not Shriver's intended audience either.
Regardless, I'm reserving full judgement until after I've read The Post-Birthday World and We Need to Talk About Kevin, both of which I have on my bookshelves at home. She's a very talented writer and I'm hoping that this is just a case of the subject matter and the reader not clicking. (less)
I love happy endings as much as the next girl. Sunshine, rainbows, fluffy white kittens... what's not to like? There is something satisfying in closin...moreI love happy endings as much as the next girl. Sunshine, rainbows, fluffy white kittens... what's not to like? There is something satisfying in closing a book with a contented sigh, assured that everything has turned out just as it should. The good guys win, justice is served, love is requited, and they all live happily ever after.
I have a secret though. I love unhappy endings more. Well, maybe love isn't the right word. It's not like I enjoy reading about people suffering or dying miserable and alone. It's just that, for me, those stories pack more of an emotional punch. They affect me in a way that no fairy tale ever can. Tragedy, despair, unrealized dreams, missed opportunities, bad things happening to good people - these are the stories that get under my skin and inside my head, the stories I find myself thinking about hours and even days later.
Throw Like A Girl: Stories isn't as extreme in it's bleakness as anything by Flannery O'Connor (whom I love), but rest assured that there are no rainbows or kitties to be found anywhere. Instead you get glimpses into the lives of everyday people, warts and all, behaving as they do when they don't think anyone is watching. We all know that's not always pretty. But it's real, and I loved it.
Favorite stories: The Brat, The Five Senses, It Would Not Make Me Tremble to See Ten Thousand Fall, The Family Barcus, Throw Like a Girl(less)