This is one of those books where I just don't think I have the same sense of humor as the authors, but I can tell that certain readers would find it hThis is one of those books where I just don't think I have the same sense of humor as the authors, but I can tell that certain readers would find it hilarious. Basically, if you thought Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was hilarious, you'll probably like this book, too. It's just not really my cup of tea. Well written, though, to be sure!...more
If I were still in grade school, I might enjoy this book. I recall reading reading (and loving) Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Lois LensIf I were still in grade school, I might enjoy this book. I recall reading reading (and loving) Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Lois Lenski, and this book reminded me of that one. However, I got sick of hearing details I felt like I already knew--written in tiresome diary format, no less--and I wasn't so invested in the character that I couldn't be persuaded to put the book down and then forget to pick it up again.
This was not a bad book, by any means, just not one I think is very unique....more
I love Sedaris, and I think he's a brilliant comedic writer, but this book is not his best. There are some absolutely hysterical and spot-on pieces, sI love Sedaris, and I think he's a brilliant comedic writer, but this book is not his best. There are some absolutely hysterical and spot-on pieces, such as "Standing By," "#2 to Go," and "Mind the Gap." However, other chapters felt a bit misguided, rambling even, and I was horrified to read "Understanding Understanding Owls" and realize that I must have read that story before. I have terrible recall, so hopefully I didn't read it in another of his books, but I was still upset by my desire to skip that chapter when I have read his entire book Me Talk Pretty One Day may times over and laughed anew at each vignette.
Fans new to Sedaris, here is my advice: skip this book and go back and read Me Talk Pretty One Day or When Engulfed in Flames. Also, if you ever have the chance to hear him live, definitely grab that opportunity. Sedaris is a fantastic reader of his own work....more
Honestly, this book made me feel smart to be reading it. It started out on the very first page using vocabulary words I--a decidedly voracious reader-Honestly, this book made me feel smart to be reading it. It started out on the very first page using vocabulary words I--a decidedly voracious reader--didn't recognize, and persisted in this style until the end. However, being the persistent and somewhat proud English major I am, I returned the book to the library when it was due and then checked it out again.
Honestly, I have to say that I didn't like the primary narrator, Renée. She seemed stuck up, self-absorbed by her own refinement in spite of her lowly societal class as a concierge in an apartment building, and therefore pretty boring. What really kept me reading were the chapters by Paloma, the twelve-year-old genius who decides at the very beginning of the book to kill herself on her 13th birthday and then spends the rest of the book writing observations about the world that will convince her otherwise. Maybe it's because I could relate to her scorn of the world around her--I was a fairly mature twelve-year-old myself--but even when I did not agree with her condescension, I understood and respected it. The difference between Paloma and Renée is that Paloma's observations seemed fresh and genuine, while Renée's seemed tired and repetitive.
Nevertheless, I did become increasingly engaged as both characters began to interact with the new Japanese tenant, Ozu. And then, just as I finally felt as though I had overcome the stodgy vocabulary and was actually enjoying the narrative, the book comes to an abrupt and disappointing end! (I won't reveal it here, because if I had known how the book would end, I'd never have persisted past the first chapter. So I don't want to ruin anyone else's experience with an unwanted spoiler.)
If I had to do it over again, I probably wouldn't read this book. However, having successfully finished it, I feel as though I have finally read something scholarly for perhaps the first or second time since graduating from college, and I won't complain about that!...more
For a book that intends to show an aimless character wandering about a foreign place, attempting but failing to find direction, Netherland succeeds. AFor a book that intends to show an aimless character wandering about a foreign place, attempting but failing to find direction, Netherland succeeds. As an entertaining novel that deserves the reviews, "Suspenseful, artful, psychologically pitch-perfect, and a wonderful read," and "Brilliant.... A post–9/11 novel that takes us closer to understanding the emotional wreckage," I have to say that it fails. At no point in this novel was I gripped by the language of the prose, the depth of the character, or the desire to know "what happens next." For me, these are the essential qualities of an excellent novel, and O'Neill failed to demonstrate any of them....more