When I requested to read this book for review, I didn't realize it was The Bloggess' book. I had heard of The Bloggess and that she had a funny book,When I requested to read this book for review, I didn't realize it was The Bloggess' book. I had heard of The Bloggess and that she had a funny book, and I'd even read one of her more popular posts (about Beyonce the metal chicken), but I didn't know what the book was called or that this was it. I just read the description of a funny, witty, gritty memoir and thought getting paid by BlogHer to read and review it would be cool.
Let me tell you, if the only post of Jenny/The Bloggess that you've ever read is the one about Beyonce (or, I'm guessing, any one post independent of any context), you're missing out, because that shit makes SO much more sense now that I've read Let's Pretend This Never Happened. And if you're offended by my use of the word shit, you can leave now, because this book is NOT for you.
I'm going to admit, I don't tend to follow the über popular bloggers (or even most of my friends who blog, because I suck at remembering to read blogs), and when I started reading Let's Pretend This Never Happened, I kind of expected it to be over-hyped. The dedication page seemed to have some depth to it, but then as I began to read, I thought, "great, the most meaningful part of this book is going to be the dedication page, and the rest is going to be contrived vulgar humor that isn't even that funny." And that was true for maybe five pages.
Reading about Jenny's childhood was a little traumatizing. I can't imagine how, having lived through it, she manages to be sane enough to blog, parent, and go on a book tour. SHE WALKED INSIDE A GUTTED DEER, Y'ALL.
Trauma aside, I can't even count how many times I laughed out loud reading this memoir. Jenny's humor is often crass, her language often vulgar, and her text often SHOUTY, but all of that just adds to her charm. Most importantly, you can hear the real person inside it all, the one who has lived through pain and love and grief and loss and friendship, and whom you suspect may have been saved only by that laughter.
At the very end of this memoir is a "reader's guide." When I got to that page, it turned out to be one that made me laugh out loud, because here was this very serious, academic set of "book club" questions about this book that was full of dead animals and hard drugs and the word fuck. Jenny doesn't seem to take herself too seriously, but by god, the book clubs will! Take themselves seriously, I mean. I think it's impossible to read this book and then take Jenny Lawson too seriously.
It's also impossible to read it and not love and adore her and wish that she were your BFF. Now excuse me while I go stalk her blog....more
A Good American is a fictional memoir of the Meisenheimer family, from the 1880s through the present day. That sounds like a lot of ground to cover inA Good American is a fictional memoir of the Meisenheimer family, from the 1880s through the present day. That sounds like a lot of ground to cover in a 400-page novel, and indeed, it is. But what starts as a slow dance through the early years of Frederick and Jette's life together builds an uneven tempo, and we quick-step through some generations while gliding sashaying gently through others.
Music is a key element to the story, and it's fun to follow its through generations, beginning with Frederick's display of adoration through opera and aria, moving through the seduction of jazz and ragtime, and culminating in family barbershop quartets. Strangely (or not so strangely), as the story moves to the present, we stop hearing much about modern music. *grin*
Keeping with this musical theme, I must say that author Alex George has a penchant for the use of a literary secondary dominant. Dale McGowan describes this musical device (here, ctrl+F "not a coincidence" or just read the whole thing) as "a kind of momentary harmonic trapdoor into another key," and explains that "the result is an unfulfilled yearning." That all is to say that almost every chapter break and transition break within a chapter ends in a cliffhangery statement that encourages you to keep reading. It's a good and relevant device (yearning for home is also a theme of this tale), if a bit overused here.
Frederick and Jette start their affair in their home country of Germany, much to the chagrin of Jette's parents. To escape their disapproval, the couple decides, as so many did in their day, to cross an ocean and try to build a life in the land of shining hope and supposed opportunity - America. While they originally plan for New York, they find themselves instead heading to New Orleans ("Well, they're both new," muses Jette.) and setting in motion a multigenerational smalltown life for their family, with all the quintessential angst and adoration that brings.
Though most of the book's cover blurbs describe the book as alternately hilarious and heartbreaking, I found it to be more often the latter than the former. A Good American begins as a hopeful tale of romance, escape, and new life, and while those themes continue, as the book goes on, it seems the characters are buried in tragedy after tragedy, in an endless march of death. I know - you expect death in a story that encompasses four (or was it five?) generations, but I'm not talking about your typical old-age death (though, of course, there are many of those). There are an inordinate number of characters we readers are drawn to and made to adore, who, as soon as we begin to love them, are ripped from the story in a gruesome death. Consider yourself forewarned.
But like life, this book is worth the heartache. Though it's a fictional memoir, I found myself constantly imagining the narrator sitting in a room piled with history, his grandmother's diary beside him, love letters between she and his grandfather in a pile on the desk, photos strewn across a bulletin board pinned above. The narration is clear and true, and I'd love to read it again as an audiobook.
In all, I thorougly enjoyed A Good American, and while there were a lulls, I frequently found myself picking up my book instead of my laptop, eager to return to the hopeful history of the Meisenheimers, their joy at this country with which I have become disenchanted, and the tangled web of love and sorrow weaved through their lives.
This is a compensated review by the BlogHer Book Club, but all opinions expressed are my own....more
"Our job in life is not so much to find ourselves as it is to create ourselves." ~My Life Map
The same is true of this book. You don't read it, but you"Our job in life is not so much to find ourselves as it is to create ourselves." ~My Life Map
The same is true of this book. You don't read it, but you create it, and with it yourself, and your life.
"My Life Map" divides your life into manageable chunks - subjects (family, work, play), ten-year map, whole-life map, and more - and each section contains excellent quotes and prompts to help you consider your life - as you have lived it, as you are living it, and as you may live it in the future. There are even spare copies of each map in the back of the book and online so that you don't have to feel tied down by your map, your plan. Instead, you can dream and explore and create, and then change your mind a million times, if you so desire.
I didn't DO this entire book before reviewing it; I felt it deserved more consideration than the few weeks it was in my possession. I did read through and consider how I might respond to each prompt, each example, each beautiful quote, and each suggestion. And I can tell you - I am excited to map my life.
I'm the sort of person who loves to make plans and to document my life - New Year's Resolutions, 101 things in 101 days, Project 365, my blog, and so forth. But I tend not to follow through. Either my plans falter a few months in, or life gets busy, or my priorities change. But "My Life Map" understands. "You will not be a failure if what you write in this book does not come true," it says. And I breathed a sigh of relief upon reading it. I imagine revisiting old versions of my life maps will be like opening a time capsule to the things that seemed important to me when I created them.
When all is said and done, if you complete the Whole Life Map (which is the entire point, really), you will have a one-page overview of your past, present and future, split into chapters you've named for their main idea, divided into life sections, and progressing with purpose, even if it is retrospective. You'll have found a Mission and Vision for your life, made yourself goals to help you live up to your own standards. You'll have a clear view of the path behind you and a clear idea of what to do to carve out the path ahead. I can't wait.
This is a compensated review for the BlogHer Book Club but all opinions expressed are my own....more
Three-and-a-half stars might be more appropriate, but it wasn't an option. ;)
Since Fifty Shades of Grey began the mainstream pseudo-kink craze, I've kThree-and-a-half stars might be more appropriate, but it wasn't an option. ;)
Since Fifty Shades of Grey began the mainstream pseudo-kink craze, I've kind of shied away from it all. I disliked the concept of "mommy porn," the way non-vanilla sex was stigmatized, and what can I say, I'm a little bit of a hipster when it comes to staying off the beaten path.
But when the opportunity to review Diary of a Submissive, an ostensibly true story, and clearly a response to Fifty, landed in my inbox, I couldn't resist. In many ways, I was not disappointed. In other ways, I was let down.
Far and away the most refreshing thing about Diary of a Submissive is the author's ability to, well, write. She's a journalist by trade, and I laughed in delight when I read, "I decided quickly that committing crimes against grammar was a hard limit for me."
The other big positive to Diary, as compared not only to Fifty, but also to the seeming opinion of the mainstream world, is that the pseudonymous Morgan quickly dispels the myth hat only people with some sort of trauma in their pasts could be interested in kinky sex. She describes her simple life that is very much like yours and mine - except that she's a self-described masochist who gets off on physical pain and humiliation, when they're meted out by someone whose judgement she trusts, who has her best interests at heart.
The big letdown of Diary was the quick and dirty finish. In what seems like the midst of the story, suddenly it's over, and you're left unsure what even just happened. I guess real life doesn't have tidy endings.
EDIT: I've read on Sophie's twitter and interviews that there is a sequel coming soon. Hopefully that will relieve my angst at the ending.
This is a compensated review commissioned by the BlogHer Book Club. All opinions expressed are my own. ...more
Theodora's mother never wanted her to enter the entertainment world, but after her father was brutally murdered, there was little choice if the family was to survive. And like her mother Hypatia, Theodora is nothing if not a survivor. Her talent for dance is only average, but her penchant for comedy launches Theodora into a spotlight career (view spoiler)[ that takes her from brother back rooms to faraway lands, on a religious pilgrimage, and home again to become the Empress of the entire Byzantine Empire. (hide spoiler)]
Duffy's fictional tale, which undoubtedly takes many liberties with the deeper aspects of Theodora's life, touches on many aspects of the sixth century, from politics to religion (which were deeply intertwined), and the acceptable roles of women.
Though Theodora's exploits fascinated me (I loved the bit where she takes up spinning - I myself have started recently to spin!), I was particularly touched by Duffy's commentary on the nature of relationships, from family and friends to God and spouse. These are skillfully woven and absolutely believable - not least because they touch a chord of recognition in me at some of my own experiences.
At 300+ pages, Theodora is definitely worth every minute.
This is a compensated review for the BlogHer book club, but the opinions expressed are solely my own.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
It is rare for me not to finish a book. Even when reading books I don't like, I will usually push through just to find out what happens and say I've rIt is rare for me not to finish a book. Even when reading books I don't like, I will usually push through just to find out what happens and say I've read it. But if I hadn't been obligated to finish this book, I'd have put Sapphire's The Kid down after 50 pages and never looked back.
"What Happened To Goodbye" showed up in my mailbox during my second week of recovery from giving birth to a surrogate baby, and was a welcome distract"What Happened To Goodbye" showed up in my mailbox during my second week of recovery from giving birth to a surrogate baby, and was a welcome distraction from the loud call of my messy house. Sarah Dessen's world pulled me in, and encouraged me to sit down and take it easy during my postpartum period with seventeen-year-old Mclean Sweet and her friends.