I was somewhat indifferent to The Catcher in the Rye the first time I read it, but I loved Franny and Zooey and Nine Stories, so I figured I'd give th...moreI was somewhat indifferent to The Catcher in the Rye the first time I read it, but I loved Franny and Zooey and Nine Stories, so I figured I'd give this a shot. I'm eager to finally get a chance to read it. ----------------------------------------------------------
9/30/11: The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird are two classics that I read in high school and LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVED [despite what I say above about Catcher -- I really felt like I was somehow represented in the story, even though I maybe didn't think it was The Great Classic], so I bought them, read them a couple of years later, and liked. Just liked, not LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVED. And then hadn't read since then (which has now changed for TKaM, which I re-read this year and really liked again/still). Since I only liked them the second time, and haven't touched them since, I've often wondered if maybe I only LOOOOOOOOOOOOVED them because I originally read them when I fancied myself a Deep Teenager. I was Smart, and Profound, and ... In-Touch, and Oh, You Can't Understand Me, I Have So Many Deep Thoughts And I Understand SO Much, and I was Misunderstood, and Woe Is Me, Nobody Gets What's Going On In My Head, Woe!. *eye roll*
Somewhere between my Senior year in high school and a couple of years after graduation, I read Franny and Zooey and Nine Stories. Like the two aforementioned books, I really really liked them and was Touched by F&Z. But when I re-read F&Z some years later, I just liked it. Was the downgrade because I kind of already knew what was going to happen, so the plot wasn't as fresh to me? Or was it because I was no longer the Deep And Profound Teen I'd been earlier? I wasn't sure. ...
But now I've read Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction--and I'm definitely *not* a Deep and Profound and Sensitive Youth anymore--and I loved it. These two stories continue on with the Glass family (from F&Z and Nine Stories), focusing mainly on oldest brother Seymour.
I breezed through this book -- the writing and stories are so captivating and they suck you in. It's beautiful writing, and sharp characters, and "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" is a really great, quirky story. So yes, I must have adored Franny and Zooey and Nine Stories so much because they're really great writing, not (only) because I was a Tragic And Misunderstood Youth Who Just Wanted A Place In The World. *eye roll* So I think I can now consider myself truly enamored by J.D. Salinger.(less)
I have to say, I was quite surprised by this book. I didn't think I'd really like it that much. I figured they would be alright stories, nothing wonde...moreI have to say, I was quite surprised by this book. I didn't think I'd really like it that much. I figured they would be alright stories, nothing wonderful. Perhaps a little too touchy-feely for my liking in stories.
However, that completely wasn't the case. The stories were mostly all wonderful, and even the ones that weren't wonderful were still really good. All of them had touching, shocking little twists, but nothing so chicklit-y that it couldn't be appreciated.
The stories are haunting, with similar themes of loss, regret, and overcoming loss. Plus, there's an underlying theme of water that ties together many of the stories.
Orringer is definitely a temptress, often ending the story right at the moment of impact (like the mother screaming when she sees what the kids are doing to her son. Oh, my God! What happened next??), or when you're wondering if the character will ever right herself.
This is definitely a collection of stories I would want to come back to again.(less)
1/5/13 A few chapters in, and so far I'm loving the tone -- it sounds like you're really listening to Henry James' thoughts, given the style of his wri...more1/5/13 A few chapters in, and so far I'm loving the tone -- it sounds like you're really listening to Henry James' thoughts, given the style of his writing.
I'm also finding this to be sort of like a game -- James meets someone, describes them, and I think to myself, "Ooh! I wonder if that's going to be the inspiration for so-and-so in such-and-such story." It's also making me want to go find all of his books and short stories that I don't already own.
The book is historical fiction about Henry James. It's really well-written: right off the bat, it *sounded like* James. I loved that!
As I read, I kept trying to place characters in James' life with characters in his book. He'd meet someone new, and I'd think, "Ooh, I wonder if that's the inspiration for Ms. So-and-So in such-and-such story."
The only bad thing is that reading this made me want to go back and re-read all of my Henry James stories, and buy all the short stories I'm missing. But no! I cannot! I must keep with my reading plan! No new books! No straying back to re-reads.(less)
*sigh* I dunno. Anne Tyler and I just don't get along that well. I mean, she's nice and all, and it's not a horrible way to spend time, but ... she's...more*sigh* I dunno. Anne Tyler and I just don't get along that well. I mean, she's nice and all, and it's not a horrible way to spend time, but ... she's just not my favorite writer. Her writing and stories are fine, just not great for me. But then I read reviews of her books, and the reviewers just LOVE her works, so I read that one, thinking maybe this one will be better than the others I've read, but no, it's still just okay, like the rest. I think her books are ones that I wouldn't mind reading in the future, but won't be DYING to read.
This book was fine to read, although the mother just absolutely pissed me off at the beginning (well, for the first 1/2 or 2/3 of the book, actually). The family of characters are complex (a crazy and evil mother who screams at her children and wishes they were dead; an "I'm the victim" eldest son; a happy-go-lucky, can-do-no-wrong second son who is hated by his older brother; a daughter who ends up just trying to be logical and a hard worker; the daughter-in-law who is nearly a daughter-in-law twice; and a likable grandson who just tries to make it through the craziness), and make up a complicated family. For the first 1/2-2/3 of the book, I absolutely hated the mother, and really only liked the second son (Ezra) and the daughter (Jenny). The next-to-last chapter, though, I felt more pity for the mother, and in the final chapter, I began to like the oldest son (Cody), even though he lost some points with me when he lost a little of his chutzpah (And I know that some people would say that he softened for a good reason, but me, I just think he let the bad guy walk over him again. Boooo.).(less)