A series of short stories loosely linked by the character of Olive Kitteridge. While Olive is extremely unpleasant and lacks self-awareness, many of tA series of short stories loosely linked by the character of Olive Kitteridge. While Olive is extremely unpleasant and lacks self-awareness, many of the other characters are extremely compelling. ...more
While this isn't the type of book I would have picked up on my own, I did enjoy it. Both of the narrators are excellent, and they bring something to tWhile this isn't the type of book I would have picked up on my own, I did enjoy it. Both of the narrators are excellent, and they bring something to the novel that I wouldn't have gotten if I had read it in print.
This the tale of three life-long friends whose gathering place is Earl's All-You-Can-Eat dinner in a small southern Indiana town. The narrative switching between past and present as well as between first person from Odette's point of view and third person omniscient. Odette begins the novel with a visit from the ghost of her pot smoking mother. Odette's mother and her friend, the ghost of former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, then regularly haunt Odette. Her mother provides zany profanity-laced commentary to the ongoing events that none of the living could get away with saying aloud. The absolute best is Mrs. Jackson's response to Clarice's husband Richmond's explanation that he just can't help cheating on his wife. Even I couldn't help laughing aloud. "Mama though the addiction theory sounded like an excuse. She'd never had patience for what she called 'the navel-gazing of philanderers.' Mama slapped the side of Richmond's head with the bong she'd been sharing with Mrs. Roosevelt -- he didn't feel it -- and said, 'Shut the hell up. You're not addicted. You're just a horndog, you stupid sonofab*tch. Odette, tell him he's a dog and that he should just do the decent thing and carry a Victoria's Secret catalog into the bathroom and take care of business when the mood strikes like every other God-fearing married man in America. Tell him, Odette." (pages 269 -- 270).
I am of two minds on the supernatural and over-the-top wacky events. On one hand, they keep the story from being too serious, but on the other hand they detract from the seriousness of the events. Personally, I would have preferred a more serious story. I think a wife finally fed up with a chronically unfaithful husband and woman who spent the last 30 years drowning her regrets about ending an interethnic relationship with the man she loved in favor a socially acceptable marriage to a man whom she respected but didn't love and her grief about the death of her child in alcohol is more than enough for drama and a great story. The sitcom-style silliness unrelated to the major plot points is too much of a distraction and seems to belong to a different story. I also think the ending is a bit of a cheat, but that I can overlook because it would have marred the happy ending....more
Being a Germanic Slav, I was afraid this book would be too culturally obscure for me to appreciate, but I was delighted to be wrong. The universal expBeing a Germanic Slav, I was afraid this book would be too culturally obscure for me to appreciate, but I was delighted to be wrong. The universal experience of women makes it incredibly easy to sympathize and empathize with them. The Buddha in the Attic follows a group of Japanese women from the time they sail to the United States as mail order brides to their deportation along with their families to internment camps following the outbreak of World War II.
The story is told in first person plural, which creates the effect of being able to see all the threads at the same time as the entire tapestry. While this device does often leave the reader wanting more of a particular story, it keeps the lives of the women depicted inclusionary to average female reader. The Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans being rounded up at the end of the narrative and deported with a single suitcase per person is heartbreaking in its echoes to the Nazi deportation of the Jews, but the horror is mitigated by the readers' knowledge that they aren't being sent to their unexpected deaths.
Through a series of vignettes, The House on Mango Street tells the story of a young Latino-American girl's coming of age in a poor Chicago neighborhoo Through a series of vignettes, The House on Mango Street tells the story of a young Latino-American girl's coming of age in a poor Chicago neighborhood. The prose of each chapter borders on free verse poetry, and like poetry it provides a feeling, a glimpse, but rarely full flesh and blood picture, leaving the reader wondering, imagining, and wishing for more. ...more
This is a different take on the standard pet memoir, and anyone who's every loved an animal can probably relate to it. It is very sweet and filled witThis is a different take on the standard pet memoir, and anyone who's every loved an animal can probably relate to it. It is very sweet and filled with interesting owl tidbits -- sweet but not deep, an enjoyable light read. ...more
With this brief memoir, Ruth Reichl bestows the degree of forgiveness upon her mother that is only possible after death. Rifling through her mother'sWith this brief memoir, Ruth Reichl bestows the degree of forgiveness upon her mother that is only possible after death. Rifling through her mother's letters and scribbled notes, she softens her recollections of her mother, and her mother's many failures and disregard for the needs of her children and family are reinterpretted as attempts to teach her daughter not to be life her.
The author reflects upon her life with her mother, a woman whose crushing bitterness at not being allowed to become a doctor (because her parents feared it would make her unmarriageable) colored over a century of her unhappy life. Her resentment of all things domestic and refusal to grasp the reality of her situation hurt her daughter, son, and second husband deeply. But her daughter defends her with a deep sympathy and without bitterness.
Her mother spent decades fixated on the life she wanted rather than chosing to participate in the life she had much to the detriment of those closest to her, and then in hindsight, Ruth strips her mother of any responsibility for her negligent and hurtful behaviour by pleading that she was deeply disappointed woman. In the end, that's a lame excuse. But overall, this is an intriguing family story. ...more