As much as I love Chris Cleave's other work, I think this was just not the right place or time for me to read this book. Could not manage to get startAs much as I love Chris Cleave's other work, I think this was just not the right place or time for me to read this book. Could not manage to get started. Hopefully I will try again at a later date....more
So many things to like about this book! First of all, it absolutely has an Eleanor & Park vibe. The characters are self-conscious, awkward, precocSo many things to like about this book! First of all, it absolutely has an Eleanor & Park vibe. The characters are self-conscious, awkward, precocious and all-around likable while being "infuriating teenagers" at the exact same time. I also love that this novel addresses race issues head-on without being didactic or even overly predictable. And I love how fast-paced it is. Or, rather, I love how fast-paced it is all the way up until about three-quarters through . . .
. . . when everything starts becoming predictable and a little too melodramatic. I will go along with the whole "love at first sight" idea, and Parker's insistence on "fate," and the fact that both characters act completely crazy over this less-than-24-hour relationship. However, without spoiling the ending, things just got so ridiculously angsty and "coincidental" that I found myself no longer itching to find out "what would happen." I had gone through 328 of 344 pages in two days, and suddenly I couldn't be bothered to read the last 16 pages. I still haven't read them. I just went on to a new book.
Maybe I need to go back and read those last 16 pages. Maybe they'd make me want to reinstate the last two stars of this review. But crashing down from the "high" of reading addiction is simply too much of a disappointment. Eleanor & Park fans, this one is definitely for you. But don't expect a repeat performance. I don't think there will be another novel quite like that in a long, long time.
Disclaimer: I am a runner. If you are not a runner, I'm honestly not sure that you will enjoy this book, because as a novel, it has a number of shortcDisclaimer: I am a runner. If you are not a runner, I'm honestly not sure that you will enjoy this book, because as a novel, it has a number of shortcomings. You know the ending from the start. The plot lags in a number of spots, and the rise to the climax is agonizingly slow. And I personally never fell in love with any of the characters, no matter how much I could or could not relate to them.
I have never read anything that captures the experience of a competitive runner more accurately than some of the passages in this book. I have never read anything that makes me want to get out there and train like this book does. I have never read a book that I know, with absolute certainty, that I will read again and again at different points in my life for very specific reasons. Once a Runner is all of these things. It's like having a friend who "really gets it" when you talk about your love/hate relationship with the sport of running. It's the only chance you'll ever have to climb inside the head of another runner and truly know that they feel just as shitty and just as elated as you've felt.
For these reasons, I loved the book. And I will read it again. And again. And again....more
Well I wrote a whole, well-thought-out review, and then Goodreads failed to save it. . . .
In summary I think this is comparable to Murakami's lesser wWell I wrote a whole, well-thought-out review, and then Goodreads failed to save it. . . .
In summary I think this is comparable to Murakami's lesser work. Ethereal, mysterious writing, but the mystery eventually goes too far as to be incomprehensible, and I ultimately fail to care enough about any of the characters to make the book compelling. Also, while I like the POV changes (which happen with each third of the book), the second and third narrators repeat too much of what happened in the first third of the book, and I also understand their motivations (and character arcs) even less. Thus, the narrative slowed down as the book moved forward, and I, as a reader, got bored.
Ultimately, I don't recommend this book unless you are an extraordinarily patient reader. Or if you automatically like award-winning books--then go for it....more
Let me begin by saying that I only picked this book up at the store because of the name on the cover: David Sedaris. I like a lot of his writing, so ILet me begin by saying that I only picked this book up at the store because of the name on the cover: David Sedaris. I like a lot of his writing, so I figured I might like what he likes, as well. The trouble is, I don't love most short story collections. So I knew this would be a challenge.
Did Sedaris' collection pass?
Well, I enjoyed his introduction. I also enjoyed the way the stories connected by sometimes obvious, sometimes tenuous threads. Oftentimes I struggle to understand why stories belong to a given collection, but reading this was like solving a fun puzzle. So as an editor, I have to give Sedaris props: he must read a lot of short stories in order to pull out and select a collection that coheres in such a smooth way.
However, as happens with many short story collections, I didn't love most of the stories. There were a few that did both impress and entertain me, such as "The Girl with the Blackened Eye" by Joyce Carol Oates (an author I already know and love), and "In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried" by Amy Hempel, but for the most part I made my way through the book without being "swept away."...more
This book does something unique: it makes you root both for the protagonists and against them at the same time. On one hand, you are rooting for WavyThis book does something unique: it makes you root both for the protagonists and against them at the same time. On one hand, you are rooting for Wavy and Kellen to end up together--after all, this is a love story. Even the most curmudgeonly reader wants, on some level, to see a happy ending. But then, the moment you realize that you're rooting for them, you're instantly horrified, because you understand that what you allegedly want to happen is for an 8-year-old and a 21-year-old (or however old they grow up to be, eventually) to have a successful romantic relationship. To put it mildly, it's a little too Lolita for comfort.
I liked this book. I liked the world Greenwood created: the dusty Midwest, full of women wearing too much makeup and not enough clothes, the men covered with tattoos and smelling like gasoline and cigarettes. The narrative compelled me from the outset: the tough little girl who wouldn’t speak, who desperately needed a caretaker, and who defied expectations. And I appreciated the nuances of the surrounding characters. However, I didn’t love the impromptu narrative shift to characters other than Wavy and Kellen; it struck me as lazy authorship not to be able to convey what these other characters thought or felt without diving straight into their heads. The jump between first and third person also threw me from time to time—something you definitely don’t want to do to a reader who is as engrossed in the story as I was.
Up until the “all is lost” moment, I was 99.9% sold on this book. I thought for sure I’d give it 5 stars. But then it started feeling like Greenwood was trying to jam in “everything but the kitchen sink,” and in spite of everything that was happening, I could already see how the story would end. I knew how I would end the story, but I also could tell, without reading ahead, how Greenwood was going to wrap things up. And frankly, I think tying things up so neatly was a missed opportunity. This was a complex issue he was exploring, with a lot of internal and external factors at play. To give it such a straightforward resolution did the characters and the readers—and the story, really—a disservice.
Endings are hard. I’d be interested to know how many endings Greenwood wrote for this book before settling on the one that’s in there. But, ultimately, I think he chose wrong. Hopefully he’ll do better with whatever he writes next—which I most certainly will read. ...more