Reading this book I experienced the incredibly rare urge to recommend it to everyone I know before I had even finished it. I was that excited by whatReading this book I experienced the incredibly rare urge to recommend it to everyone I know before I had even finished it. I was that excited by what I had read thus far that I was confident it would remain consistent to the very ending, and it was. This book has a general appeal that many lack, and so I didn't hesitate to recommend it to everyone, and not just the more literary acquaintances of mine.
The narrator displays humor as well as a sorrow that is more heartbreaking by the childlike nature of his attempts to express it. The expressions used throughout the book give such a definitive and memorable character to its protagonist. When he is sad, he is in heavy boots. When he is happy, he feels like one hundred dollars. The book is filled with loose ends that are all neatly tied up eventually, which gives the reader more incentive to think about the book after completing it, and perhaps to read it a second time once everything is clear.
The central plot is the mission a nine-year-old boy undertakes after his father's death in the World Trade Center in an attempt to better understand his father and to cope with the tragedy. This work of fiction made the events of 9/11 more real to me than any news reports managed. Because of timing in which I read this--a few months after the death of my own father--the story was particularly poignant for me personally. Even so, I can't imagine anyone reading this book and being left unaffected....more
Skimming the reviews, I must say I agree with someone's comment that Klosterman is more of a blogger than a writer (at least if judged by this effort)Skimming the reviews, I must say I agree with someone's comment that Klosterman is more of a blogger than a writer (at least if judged by this effort), but for a collection of essays on pop culture, that doesn't seem to be a very crucial distinction. With Internet culture overflowing into the day-to-day life of most Americans, it shouldn't come as a shock to find it reflected in contemporary writing; besides, sometimes a decent blogger is preferable to a boring writer. That isn't to say that I wasn't at times bored with this book--please note that I've read it one and a half times because I abandoned it at first (after 60 pages) and didn't feel compelled to give it a second chance until a year later. Not all of these essays are likely to appeal to every person. My first attempt was thwarted by an essay in which Klosterman describes interviewing a Guns-N-Roses tribute band. The second time around I was very tempted to skim, rather than read, this as well as a couple of sports-oriented essays, but I resisted and persevered (although probably to no benefit).
Klosterman manages to amuse at times, given that A) you are aware of at least most of the pop culture references cited and B) you realize that, according to Klosterman's logic at least, there is a 50/50 chance that you won't agree with his opinions. I found myself not only disagreeing with some of his opinions, but feeling a slight superiority at times (only to the extent that I would sometimes realize I was unintentionally smirking). Still, I didn't allow (sometimes extreme) differences of opinion to elicit any emotion that might completely diminish the humor behind many of his observations. Music especially is a touchy subject for people, but whenever I was frustrated with Klosterman, I simply reminded myself that he is a writer for Spin--a magazine which I don't subscribe to [at all or:] for its music reviews.
The book starts off strong with "This Is Emo," an essay in which Klosterman blames John Cusack--or the character Lloyd Dobler to be more accurate--for his and everyone else's failed relationships. As someone who would rank Cusack fairly high up on my list of GIWB (Guys I Would Blow), I was amused--and what is more, the argument was not without merit. This is followed by an essay on The Sims, which was somewhat thoughtful, but less meaningful to me considering my own experience with The Sims was short-lived because I found the game boring. Next comes an essay on The Real World, which is even less relevant to my interests. I don't think I've watched a single episode in its entirety. That isn't to say that the essay isn't coherent without significant prior knowledge, but I mention it to illustrate the point that such varied, rather specific subjects of nostalgia are likely to be met with varying degrees of enthusiasm, depending upon the reader's prior knowledge and interest.
Some of the other topics include: Pamela Anderson (as compared to Marilyn Monroe), Left Behind (book series and film adaptation), Internet porn, Star Wars, Saved By the Bell, journalism, Memento, Vanilla Sky, serial killers, The Dixie Chicks, the 1980s rivalry between the Celtics and the Lakers.... I was born in 1986, so even if I cared about sports (and I don't), that last one wouldn't mean anything to me. Obviously there's a high chance certain subjects are already dated or will become so shortly.
Overall conclusion: probably overrated, yet a decent means of distraction (especially when you borrow a copy and bypass the financial investment of purchasing). Two might be a bit harsh of a rating, but enough people praise Klosterman's writing that I feel it kind of evens out....more
I watched the movie before I even realized it exists as a graphic novel. The two differ extremely. The movie took the main character Tom, a few aspectI watched the movie before I even realized it exists as a graphic novel. The two differ extremely. The movie took the main character Tom, a few aspects of plot, and moved in an entirely different direction. I'm glad for this, because it was more believable--I don't think it would've translated well into a film otherwise. For example, when someone reveals to his wife that he has murdered people and lied about his entire past for over a decade, I wouldn't expect her to accept it without the slightest feeling of betrayal as she did in the graphic novel. The movie shows a more realistic struggle within the family to cope with the contrast between the everyday family man and his violent past. As someone who watched the movie first, I was interested in Tom's prior life--the mystery of which is completely revealed in the graphic novel. However, the character's one time fling with violence in his past makes it a lot less realistic that he would be skilled enough to kill experienced mobsters as he does as an adult. In the film, his past is left vague, and it simply works better, and I won't even pretend that I didn't naturally find myself comparing the two throughout reading it. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy reading the graphic novel, but it doesn't have the same amount of depth as its movie counterpart. I don't think it would have held my interest as much without my pre-existing affinity for the movie-adapted character Tom....more
This collection of poetry was a quick read. Gottlieb's work is sometimes feminist--empowering even--with subjects as varied as rape, gay/lesbian, CindThis collection of poetry was a quick read. Gottlieb's work is sometimes feminist--empowering even--with subjects as varied as rape, gay/lesbian, Cinderella, Barbie, conjoined twins, suicide, race, and even love poems. Her style leans towards experimental, which sometimes works for me, and sometimes doesn't.
A few examples of her work:
"you never forget your first"
out of town boy junior high school party just 14 vodka drinks things i don't remember vodka drinks english beat she said will you remember
said i'll never forget you the next day in the hall at school you told me you were a state-hurdler you told everyone i was easy never saw you again
you left me a secret ripped stockings passed out bloody legs vomiting in a pink bathtub your name bruises
you hugged me in the hall you told everyone i was easy i'd rather be easy than raped
i came to with no clothes no clothes were thick enough wearing shame for underwear i shoved the bloody stockings into the bathroom trash
apologized to the host for messing up the bathroom and left you were already gone
i pushed at the bruises trying to remember your touch
once the hangover and internal injuries were healed i had nothing to remember my first time with except sex
i bruised my way through thousands of fucks snake charming men out of their pants looking for another rapist like you so i could do it again so i could do it better
found another one he led me by the hand into a dark room at a party i punched him in the throat and got away he wasn't you
the bruises you left bone-deep fossils of your desire it's better to be irresistible than raped
if you hadn't wanted me so badly you would have done it so gentle like candlelight i know it i know if you hadn't needed me so violently you could have waited until i wasn't passed out
you could have given me rose-sweet kisses i could have been your preteen penthouse playmate i would have said yes but you never asked and i couldn't speak
do you ever think of me the way i think of you was that your first time too you never forget your first rapist
it's been 15 years i never touched you when you hugged me in the hall at school you were with another girl did you like her better? never saw you again
come back so i can say yes this time do it again now that i know what to call what you did
this time i'll be ready i like it rough now and i'm done with romance i never met another man who loved me so much at first sight he had to hurt me to do it
"kissing with the lights on"
You told me you like my mouth. You want to kiss me.
My mouth is a wound and you want to kiss me.
But you're like that: You want to go leaping over cliffs-- you want to go drinking poison and then write pretty poems about it-- and all I want to do is fuck you.
You want flowers and sonnets and us to be together until the end of the world and I'd just like a blow job, I'd just like to be friends. that's what I'd really like. Something warm and snuggly like a friendship. and to fuck you.
The flowers are going to die and the cliffs are going to erode and we might as well go fuck since we're going to anyway. We'll fuck and fight and eat and drink and smoke and fuck and smoke and fuck and get married
And in six months from now we'll stop making the world stop to fuck each other
and one year from now I'll get fat and you'll go bald and I'll take prozac and you'll take viagra I'll get obsessed with my biological clock and my career and you'll get obsessed with your hairline and your career
and two years from now you'd rather watch reruns than fuck me and I'd rather be drinking than fuck you so we'll drink in separate bars and one night someone who likes my mouth will buy me a drink that drink will be attached to a hand there will be a human holding that drink the kind with ears
and I will tell whoever it is all about you and how we used to forget to eat when we were in bed for three days and your ears will be burning across town where you are telling whoever it is how I don't understand you
and two years from now, that girl with that drink she will nod that yes that I am nodding at you tonight that nod, that yes that means you're not coming home because just for a second the world has gone away because just for a second there's someone who understands you
and that night it will be her pretty mouth you want and that night I will pass out at home, alone with a bottle that reminds me of us because it'll be empty because it'll be gone I will pass out waiting for you to come home listening to country music--and I hate country music-- but I'll be feeling tragic it'll be the most romantic moment I've ever had and I'll be alone
and you'll be across town with that girl who right now is in high school and right now I just met you and right now I think you should take me home and fuck me because it only gets uglier from here we only get uglier from here so take me to the edge of that cliff you love and pour me a shot of your silky poison you can take this mouth this wound you want but you can't kiss and make it better.
"the personal is political"
It kills me, the way the world is.
I sat down to write about it, about how every 15 seconds a woman is battered in the United States about how a woman is raped every 1.3 minutes, about how 1 in 8 women develops breast cancer and what I wrote was I like you.
This is a problem. The world already has too many of those. I already have too many of those.
I sat down to write about how desire and hate killed Matthew Sheppard and when I write desire I think of you I like you my pen sprouts snuggly kittens and spring flowers and I hate myself for it
I like you so much I had to have therapy for it and I like you so much I fucked other people to get rid of it and the weekend you went to disneyland I tried to grow mouse ears I tried to be your e-ticket I tried to grow up to be your full-service hotel except I won't throw you out for using bad words like they do so if you say oh fuck me oh god oh take me I'll take you back to bed
I like you so much this isn't in my agenda; I like you so much but this should be a poem about breast cancer and I like you so much this should be a poem about genocide and I like you so much this should be a poem about ending capitalism smashing the state stating the obvious getting smashed to tell you I'll fuck capitalism and patriarchy and totalitarianism to get next to you I will deep throat my politics I will get more therapy that I won't need if you're near me because therapy and politics are all about making the world a little more perfect when I close the door and it's you and me the world is a little more perfect whenever you smile at me in a world that doesn't offer many smiles the world is a little more perfect the world is perfect whenever I'm with you....more
I liked Simon as a character the first time I read this, but now... not so much. I suppose all this empathyOriginally read: 10/16/08 Re-read: 12/25/11
I liked Simon as a character the first time I read this, but now... not so much. I suppose all this empathy and compassion shit has changed me some. Oh well. I still think the novel has one of the best ending lines ever....more
The Little Mermaid is a short, rather sad story of sacrificing for love. After saving a prince from drowning, the little mermaid falls in love so deepThe Little Mermaid is a short, rather sad story of sacrificing for love. After saving a prince from drowning, the little mermaid falls in love so deeply that she wishes to become human desperately enough to make a deal with the sea witch. She is told that if she fails to capture the prince's heart, then on the morning after he is married to another, she will turn into sea foam. Not only does she lose her voice to the sea witch in exchange for legs, but every step she makes is excruciatingly painful. She doesn't "lose" her voice so much as the sea witch cuts her tongue out. Anyone who has read even a few original classic fairy tales realizes that these stories aren't necessarily suitable for all children. The true morbid nature of the sugared, watered-down versions I was told as a child rather fascinates me as an adult.
Before reading this I was already aware that Disney had altered it extremely (which Disney has a tendency to do to the original stories in favor of happy endings). I had also watched an animated version of the story titled Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid, in which the little mermaid is a blond named Marina whose best friend is a dolphin named Fritz; while truer to the original story than its Disney counterpart (especially in regards to the ending) there are still large differences. In the original story, there is no lovable sidekick of any variety. The little mermaid herself is given no name. She does not disobey her father to go to the surface, but instead waits until she is deemed old enough. The original story is rather bare in comparison (yet well written), although it allows for a more hopeful ending--one in which the little mermaid has the possibility of gaining an eternal soul. ...more
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I let my mother read it first. She proclaimed it was blasphemy, but I wasn't discouraged by her opinion;I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I let my mother read it first. She proclaimed it was blasphemy, but I wasn't discouraged by her opinion; not only do we have extremely differing tastes, but, as an atheist, I find the word "blasphemy" more intriguing than offensive. To its credit, the book is a quick read--not much more than a hundred pages, and with simple writing.
The book consists of fictionalized tales regarding the life of Jesus. It mainly focuses on his youth and his later adventures with Saint Peter. As an atheist, any account of the life of Jesus is fictionalized, but for this review, "fictionalized" refers to an account that widely varies from the Bible, which many people (other than myself) believe to be true.
The stories portray Jesus as morose and unpredictable, often beyond comprehension, and able to find distraction from the knowledge of his inevitable fate by amusing himself with pranks most often at the expense of Saint Peter. I was amused by the novelty of it--a young teenage Jesus calling his teacher a "god damned fool" and telling his parents to go to Hell--but there isn't much substance beyond that. In one story, the sheriff and mayor of Texas threaten to hang Saint Peter "by his dong." In another, angst-ridden teenage Jesus sets fire to a factory and pushes a friend off a roof. There's a selfish cruelty in him that defies the views of him I faced growing up in the Bible belt. For example, he admits after the death of Peter's crippled daughter that the only reason he never healed her was to keep Peter by his side because otherwise, Peter would have returned to his family.
While there is a morbid pleasure in just the thought of Jesus as behaving human and having a sense of humor, the book leaves the motives behind his actions somewhat unexplained. Perhaps, this was intended--it's sort of presumptuous to expect to comprehend him, after all--but as a result, I never found myself relating to him as a character. The book is more shocking than revealing, which is a shame because there is a lot of potential in the book's concept....more
Despite the title of the collection, the family depicted in this collection of short stories doesn't seem all that insane to me (at least in comparisoDespite the title of the collection, the family depicted in this collection of short stories doesn't seem all that insane to me (at least in comparison to the insanity I know). The most "insane" tendency within the family is to be "stupid" when it comes to marriage.
All of the stories are very short--some not even two pages--and so it was a quick, enjoyable read. There were some aspects that I couldn't relate to very well because they seemed unique to the Armenian community or to the family in question, but it didn't take too much pleasure out of it as a whole considering how brief these parts were.
I'm tempted to attribute the stories I wasn't particularly fond of to the editor's poor choosing. For example, I was puzzled why the collection ended with a letter from the author which was obviously not intended to be published and which was quite out of place with the theme of the stories included.
The stories, for the most part, remained interesting to read, and some were quite humorous, such as "The Duel," in which a boy in need of someone to duel--but unable to think of anyone he might consider an enemy--asks his cousin to find out who he hates for him.
My favorite story was "Gaston," which was about a six-year-old visiting her father for two days. Upon finding a bug within a peach, the father changes his daughter's view of reality so that she goes from wanting to squash it to wanting a peach with a "person" of her own. Within a few moments on the phone, however, the girl's mother undoes the bond, and there remains a distance between father and daughter as he escorts her to the car waiting to take her back to her mother. Its simplicity made me sad.
I'm writing this review because I'm surprised there are none already posted. I picked this book out rather randomly at the library because I was drawnI'm writing this review because I'm surprised there are none already posted. I picked this book out rather randomly at the library because I was drawn to the cover design; I'm glad I did. I didn't immediately take to it because the narrator's reminiscing at the beginning can be a bit confusing--it lacks chronological order and mentions a lot of names without first explaining who the people are; however, once a proper narration began, the story held my attention--perhaps even more so because I already had pieces of the puzzle before it was revealed to me in the proper context.
The narrator, Chang, is one of Siamese twins, joined to his brother Eng by a bridge of flesh at their waists. The story takes place in three different countries. Early in life they are forced by circumstances and bad luck to leave to Paris, where they are exploited for the profits of others and deserted in extreme conditions of poverty; and later to America, where they eventually settle down as farmers in North Carolina. Although they find some peace, it is short-lived, because the Civil War breaks out and disrupts life. (I would mark this as containing spoilers, but I don't think it reveals much more than the book description does, and really it leaves out all of the specific misfortunes they endure.)
In short, if something can plausibly go wrong for the main characters, it does. There isn't really a moment without some conflict or foreshadowing of conflict. Because of the book beginning with the narrator as an adult more than just hinting at unhappiness and tragedy, even moments of bliss during the "flashback" are not without the reader's awareness that it will not last. If the brothers are not in conflict with the outside world, then they are suffering from an emotional rift between themselves, which is most evident and troublesome as Eng embraces Christianity and Chang does not.
Eng clings to Christianity, I believe (and it seems his brother believes so as well), because of the idea that we are all equal in the eyes of God. It is natural that someone who has been mostly treated as inferior by his fellow men that he would long desperately for equality. Still, the losses the two endure are more than enough to justify Chang's disbelief. It is a wonder that two people, who experience practically all of the same external factors, could differ so greatly in their chosen responses and beliefs. The conflict between the two (as well as other instances) displays their stubbornness, their tempers, and that they are very much human, not just cardboard-cut characters vying for the reader's pity.
It isn't by any means a feel-good story, but the subject matter is intriguing, and the writing is, at times, very beautiful. The author manages to take characters who just by their condition alone will incite the readers' curiosity, and fleshes them out so that there is more to them than that condition. They are dynamic, three-dimensional characters, with pride and shame, just like anyone else, who strive to make their own place in the world, all the while witnessing the fickle nature of the public--one minute being praised as creatures of God; the next, being ridiculed as a monstrosity. ...more