I originally read Perks during my soph. year of college. I had just gotten my wisdom teeth removed, so there were powerful sedatives in my system. InI originally read Perks during my soph. year of college. I had just gotten my wisdom teeth removed, so there were powerful sedatives in my system. In other words, I'm glad I took the time to re-read this little gem. Due to Chbosky's writing, a lot of the details managed to penetrate my impaired brain the first time. I'd glossed over some fairly major themes, though.
I'm curious to see how the movie adaptation turns out. ...more
I was very impressed by this book. Initially, I was worried that the text's focus on personal narrative would corrupt Demick's methodology, or perhapsI was very impressed by this book. Initially, I was worried that the text's focus on personal narrative would corrupt Demick's methodology, or perhaps overshadow a more sociological/historical perspective on North Korea. However, my fears were unnecessary. Demick gracefully integrated her well-researched coverage of North Korea's present situation and history with the accounts of people who possess experiential knowledge of the events. I really respect Demick for allowing her case studies to reveal certain things about NK's human rights violations and ideological dysfunction. Rather than assuming a didactic or judgmental stance towards NK, Demick constructs a nuanced portrait of this unique and troubling nation based the memories and stories of six people whose lives express more than a litany of theories, statistics, and dates ever could....more
I don't want to gush, but this was one of the most engaging books I've read this year (so far). I can understand why some people might not enjoy LetheI don't want to gush, but this was one of the most engaging books I've read this year (so far). I can understand why some people might not enjoy Lethem's stylistic choices (dystopian noir), but I found it very easy to get caught up in this vision of futuristic Oakland. The noir aspects were also very well done. Usually, I can anticipate what's going to happen when I read mystery fiction. There are exceptions, of course, but a lot of works that are considered part of the genre tend to follow a template. In Gun, with Occasional Music, on the other hand, the ending was genuinely surprising! I thought I had it figured out, and then the novel hit me with a sucker punch. The conclusion makes sense, though. It doesn't feel like Lethem was trying to be surreal just for the sake of unsettling the reader. Anyway, I don't want to include any spoilers, so I'll keep this review on the vague side. Needless to say, I really enjoyed reading this book, and will probably re-read it at some point. Also, I feel I should mention that this book came out in 1994! It is almost 20 years old! I can't imagine how cool it would have been to read it when it first came out. Sometimes, dystopias don't age well. They can go from prophecy to stylized observation.
Soooo....I am embarrassed about all the flippant and dismissive things I said about A Visit from the Goon Squad after it won the Pulitzer. I had readSoooo....I am embarrassed about all the flippant and dismissive things I said about A Visit from the Goon Squad after it won the Pulitzer. I had read about 20 pages, thought it was kinda fluffy and bland, and pretty much wrote it off. If I could chastise my past self for being such a super snob, I would.
While the first few pages might not scream LITERARY MASTERPIECE, Jennifer Egan accomplishes some truly incredible things in A Visit from the Goon Squad. The inter-connected narratives add layers and depth. Each time you finish another section, you've gotten some new insight or perspective on other characters previously introduced and time's unnerving insistence of whisking us away from potential and possibility. Throughout the novel, Egan plays with time. We are repeatedly told the fate of a character at unexpected moments. There's a blunt, forceful quality to these revelations. It comes as a shock when you realize you've already been told what will happen to person X 200 pages before you're properly introduced to the character.
One of my favorite sections is the chapter on La Doll/Dolly. There has been some discussion over whether this is a novel or a collection of inter-related short stories. I think La Doll's chapter is the one that could be a stand-alone story. It is enhanced by its relationship to the other sections, but is so good in its own right.
I find it interesting that two of my favorite books from this year have blurred the distinction between novel/short story collection. The other, What the Family Needed, also follows intersecting characters. Egan seems more engaged with the threads and entanglements that link her characters together - Whereas Mr. Amsterdam deals with a contained group of characters commonly referred to as "family."
Anyway, I am soooo glad I read A Visit from the Goon Squad. I hope to read more of Egan's work in the near future....more