4.5 stars. Florence King is definitely a complicated person. She seems to embrace personality traits that were generically considered "unfeminine" dur4.5 stars. Florence King is definitely a complicated person. She seems to embrace personality traits that were generically considered "unfeminine" during the era when she came of age- she is headstrong and stubborn, brazenly difficult, and tenaciously intelligent. What makes King's memoir really exceptional, though, is the way her disassociation from her Southern socialization does not lead to a full-scale renunciation of her family. There's no impulsive rejection of them, even though she doesn't want to emulate them or live up to their expectations. I like that she could find a way to be her own person without framing her autonomy as part of a violent rejection. Her family actually seems to grow along with her, in some ways, making space for her live without compromise.
King's sense of humor is just short of vicious, but she uses it to underscore observations which warrant a bitter barb. I love her deconstruction of Southern gender politics and the cognitive dissonance which seems to proliferate in the region. Also, her description of why she decided to leave academia struck a chord with me. I don't always agree with her, but she's a force to be reckoned with. :)...more
After a stressful week, reading Hyperbole and a Half was cathartic for me. I've heard the phrase "I laughed until I cried" bandied about casually, butAfter a stressful week, reading Hyperbole and a Half was cathartic for me. I've heard the phrase "I laughed until I cried" bandied about casually, but I actually laughed until I cried at least three times while reading this book. ...more
I really enjoyed Amy Falls Down for several reasons. First of all, I like that it deliberately frustrates the weird binary that seems to dominate mostI really enjoyed Amy Falls Down for several reasons. First of all, I like that it deliberately frustrates the weird binary that seems to dominate most contemporary adult fiction. At least to me, it feels like recent fiction falls into one of two categories: fast-paced quick reads (thrillers, fluffy romances, etc.) or slow, ponderous tomes that people read to prove how smart and sophisticated they are. I don't see many novels that are mid-paced, intelligent, unpretentious, and interesting. For some reason, it's a rare combination...and one that Amy Falls Down exemplifies. The cover may look quirky and twee, but this book has some very powerful statements about writers, readers, grief, and coming into one's own. Which leads me to the other main reason I loved this novel: it's a coming of age story that involves a protagonist who is past middle-age!!! She's not in her 20s or 30s, or even going through the mid-life crisis reinvention thing. She's experiencing self-actualization past her "prime." And that's wonderful! People don't stop changing or developing, and sometimes it takes a while to discover one's purpose/source of confidence, etc. I don't know when we started accepting and perpetuating the notion that you figure out who you "really" are in your early adulthood, but it's a rubbish notion. I admire Jincy Willett for subtly deviating from so many prevalent expectations about contemporary fiction and individual development....more
Most of the essays in The Potty Mouth at the Table felt uninspired. Foodies can be irritating, but that doesn't mean I want to read three whiny essaysMost of the essays in The Potty Mouth at the Table felt uninspired. Foodies can be irritating, but that doesn't mean I want to read three whiny essays about them! Aside from a few chuckles, I felt unmoved. And then the last essay, "Rewinding," happened. The tone is much darker than Notaro's usual fare, which may partially account for why I enjoyed it so much. Mostly, though, I was impressed by Notaro's nuanced discussion of her dear friend's brain tumor. There's plenty of melancholy and fear, but also an understanding of how humor helped Notaro and her friends navigate desperately uncertain times. I hope "Rewinding" is indicative of the type of writing Notaro will undertake in the future....more
4.5 stars. Every once in a while I read a book that seems perfectly suited to my tastes and style. Lamb is one of those rare volumes. I felt like it w4.5 stars. Every once in a while I read a book that seems perfectly suited to my tastes and style. Lamb is one of those rare volumes. I felt like it was written for people (like me) who received religious education in some Christian sect, but are now disenchanted with organized religion and the irrational Hive Mind that it seems to perpetuate. Lamb incorporates a LOT of Biblical references, but the tone is so playful, and the narrative so conversational, that it's actually fun to read. It's also important to note that the humor is not really sacrilegious or offensive. Now, it's difficult to offend me when it comes to religion. However, I think even a slightly more orthodox reader would recognize that Moore is not making fun of Jesus or the idea of a messiah. If someone picked this up thinking it was "inspirational fiction," there'd be trouble, but an actively religious person with a sense of humor would probably enjoy Lamb.
Both the execution and the central concept of Lamb really appealed to me. The whole idea of writing a fictitious gospel to explore Christ's youth and the origins of his philosophy is, well, inspired (haha!). There were plenty of Monty Python-esque moments, which kept the novel from pomposity or boorishness. I also enjoyed the Mary Magdalene character (Maggie). Mainstream Christian representations of her are often either dismissive or pejorative. It was great to see her associated with intelligence and resilience for a change....more
It's difficult to evaluate this collection as a whole. There were pieces that had me laughing up a storm. Others I didn't really "get." So...an unevenIt's difficult to evaluate this collection as a whole. There were pieces that had me laughing up a storm. Others I didn't really "get." So...an uneven collection, but not a waste of time. I guess that about sums it up....more