Picked this up because I wanted to read a Nick Hornby that I hadn't already seen as a movie (About A Boy, High Fidelity, Fever Pitch). This one has aPicked this up because I wanted to read a Nick Hornby that I hadn't already seen as a movie (About A Boy, High Fidelity, Fever Pitch). This one has a great premise: four people meet atop a building known for being the Golden Gate Bridge of London suicides. Rather than take turns committing suicide, or going over all together, they start talking and decide to postpone the deed a bit...what ensues is a long trip down - away from suicide, back into the mess of life. It's told in four perspectives - alternating - this is a tricky bit to pull off - four narrators without missing a beat - but Hornby manages deftly. Still this leaves something to be desired - there is not one deep emotional connection - you love and hate all the characters.
This is a really good choice for someone who is recovering from a suicide attempt, because it is basically all about suicide. It is, therefore, about why life is difficult and why being yourself sometimes hampers your attempts to be loved and accepted and, well, hired at jobs. It's a great deconstruction of the meaning of existence and Is It All Worth It.
The great revelation, which I love, is that people who are suicidal don't hate life. They love life, and they have somehow found themselves locked out of it, and that makes them despair. Actually, there are a lot of revelations, some funny moments, a lot of truths about life and good characters.
What there isn't here is a nice clean story arc like in Fever Pitch.
Don't commit suicide before reading this book....more
Is it weird that I want to read the book about snark by a guy I thought I liked for being snarky? I mean, maybe he isn't exactly snarky - if I know whIs it weird that I want to read the book about snark by a guy I thought I liked for being snarky? I mean, maybe he isn't exactly snarky - if I know what he means, I think he means snark as in humorous in a snide way that pokes fun and implies a critique but doesn't really reveal the agenda or anything about the snarker except that they are cooler than the thing they are snarking. David Denby DOES always have a POV and an argument behind his critique. But - the fun of it is how he rips a piece of work that someone poured their heart into to shreds with clever turns of phrase - and that is similar to snark, if still distinguishable from it.
So...I guess you would say - I can snark Pat Robertson all too easily, but am I snarking him because he is square and out of touch with the world or because I stand in staunch opposition to his politics? Unless you know me already, you don't really get an argument from snark, you get attitude.
I find snarkiness thrilling for that reason, I think - it's free of consequences, like internet porn - but also like internet porn - it's only fun in small doses. Then it starts to seem shallow, nasty, or uninventive.
I think snark thrives on Facebook (and I perpetrate it there, or I imagine that I do, maybe I'm too square to pull it off) because it's safe. 300 of your closest friends may know your politics precisely or not at all, but they can snicker at your snarky comment and you have risked nothing.
Facebook allows diligent kids and adults to follow trend-leaders closely, disguising themselves as trendsetters, and snark lets them push back the riff-raff who are hopeless uncool. But what happens when snark grows up?
Snark is a close cousin to sarcasm, which my dad likes to remind me, means "tearing of the flesh"....more
I've read this a couple of times during the summer, there's a dog-eared copy at the house I spent all my summers at as a kid. I love the nostalgia andI've read this a couple of times during the summer, there's a dog-eared copy at the house I spent all my summers at as a kid. I love the nostalgia and the coming-of-age jokes and I read it before I got the jokes and after, which makes it a part of my own coming of age, I suppose.
This was made into a movie, I think, but I always think of it as so similar to Stealing Home (not the plot but the central love story of a boy and an older girl who seems so impossibly beautiful and experienced she makes his youth all the more pronounced. Hmm. As a young lesbian I'm not sure WHY I would relate to that story.
Also has a whiff of things like Stand By Me and Dirty Dancing and the Wonder Years - all those eighties movies and TV shows that spoke to my generation about what we were going through while letting our parents reminisce about what they had gone through in a different time.
This is off topic but I feel like somehow people understood adolescents better in the eighties. There was a lot that spoke to my generation when we were thirteen. I look at some of the movies aimed at teenagers now and I worry that none of it is coming of age stories like Goonies and Gremlins and ET and Stand By Me and Karate Kid and all those movies I had which made teenagers the heroes who saved their families - not as superspies or superheroes and not because they were just being themselves and the guy liked them after all (though that happened, too), but because they were called on a quest.
I suppose I'm just waxing nostalgic - that era also brought us Heathers.
Will probably read again. I don't think it's the greatest book, someone pointed out it's too sentimental, which is true, and lots of things date it and are offensive now, but it captures a moment - in life and in history - like a flower squashed between pages of a dictionary....more
I love Amy Tan's books, but they are among those that I find hardest to retain, maybe it is because there are so many characters and plots that weaveI love Amy Tan's books, but they are among those that I find hardest to retain, maybe it is because there are so many characters and plots that weave so perfectly together but then fade into each other as you pull back and memory gets less distinct....more
Read this in college at a time when I was trying to stay friends with someone who was listening to Rush Limbaugh and talking to me about it. It was reRead this in college at a time when I was trying to stay friends with someone who was listening to Rush Limbaugh and talking to me about it. It was really hard to have a conversation like that. When I sampled his radio program to see what I could say in answer to it, I noticed that Limbaugh would state some pretty obscure facts and to refute his arguments you would have to chase around figuring out if he made it up or just took it out of context or if he had a point - which like anyone, he sometimes does have - just not as big a point as he manages to make out of it. I needed the internet to refute his arguments, but it was just getting borned (Netscape 2.0 came out this year, I believe) and so I had to read Al Franken instead.
The problem was, Al made it clear to me that I just couldn't have a conversation about these things with someone who wanted to listen to Rush. To want to listen to Rush was to want to see the world in a certain way that I didn't choose to see the world. I don't think everyone should pull themselves up by their bootstraps or that the government is inherently evil, and I doubt I ever will.
To want to read Al Franken was to want to laugh at the absurdity of someone presenting such an ideology as the only true way to look at things, instead of as an ideology.
It was a funny book and it did well because, as I later learned, liberals don't just like to listen to themselves talk about how right they are (RIP AirAmerica), they like to be satirical, or ironic, or wry - or at least examine things rationally, maybe concede a point or two, lose the debate as far as the audience is concerned, and feel enlightened.
Conservatives tend to like to win. They like being told by their polemicists to tell them that they are absolutely right and the other guy is unequivocally wrong, weak and stupid (thus, the title is not really meant as an insult, it's meant to be ironic, and appeal to liberals). Liberals like to believe that they are taking an open-minded and intelligent position that will be respected, even if you disagree. In this way I believe we really are like French people, as the conservatives like to insinuate.
So of course at the time Al Franken was just a comedian from Saturday Night Live and now he is a United States Senator. A rare but interesting case of someone who stops heckling the players and jumps onto the field and scores a home run....more
The thing about Ellen is, she's really funny in a lightly self-deprecating way. She mocks herself for foibles like a fondness for kittens and an inabiThe thing about Ellen is, she's really funny in a lightly self-deprecating way. She mocks herself for foibles like a fondness for kittens and an inability to manage gadgets. She doesn't go too deep or ask you to - but she does kind of give you that everybody's human so give yourself a break kind of glow.
I breezed right through this, chuckling all the way, and I'm glad Ellen is out there, being a gay person whose persona is not all about being gay. She's like the Bill Cosby of gays.
If Cosby said - my humor doesn't have to be in your face or angry or crass just because I'm black, and if definitely doesn't have to be about being black. Ellen said - my humor doesn't have to be in your face or sexual or crass just because I'm gay, and it doesn't have to be about being gay. I love both of them and I'm glad at the same time that they exist as part of a spectrum that includes Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock on the one hand and Margaret Cho, Rosie O'Donnell, and Eddie Izzard (yes I know he's not gay, he's a straight tranny but he's one of us, isn't he?) on the other....more
This is a big, big book and haven't nearly read it all. It's full of fascinating details that you can just read bits and pieces and be chatting aboutThis is a big, big book and haven't nearly read it all. It's full of fascinating details that you can just read bits and pieces and be chatting about them for life, like I am. Sometimes you don't have to finish a book for it to change things for you. The vision of New York as it was in 1890-1940 changed forever how I see the struggle for gay rights.
I used to view it as springing suddenly into existence in the 60s on the larger tide of the Civil Rights movement. Stonewall marked a key turning point to more open activism, and then the AIDS crisis in the eighties pushed the movement further and further until we were so out and proud and here and queer that Pride no longer needed to be political and became just one more big circuit party.
But I digress - basically before 1960 EVERYONE had been closeted since ancient Greece, right? So not right.
This book opened my eyes to the fact that gay people had lived quite openly in New York, among other places, before 1960, and their presence was known and enjoyed by the wider world, if not in the same way as it is today, at least in a way that would have shocked people in the 1950s. I mean, tourists went to New York to attend drag balls that would put Hamburger Mary's Bingo Night to shame. So instead of 1940-1960 being just an extension of an eternity of secrecy, it was actually a period of backlash and reinvigorated homophobia.
This is why, when people tell me not to worry, history is on my side, gay marriage will eventually be legal because we just keep getting more and more progressive all the time, I snap at them. Because you just don't know when the tide will turn, and without settled law to protect you, we could end up in paddywagons and concentration camps again, just like before.
Try to remember that during the circuit party we call Pride....more
**spoiler alert** I really was not supposed to be reading this book, but I got my mom's recycled copy for Christmas and I picked it up on Monday and c**spoiler alert** I really was not supposed to be reading this book, but I got my mom's recycled copy for Christmas and I picked it up on Monday and couldn't put it down.
It's epistolary and about book-lovers and brits so think 84, Charing Cross Road fictionalized into something cuter and interwoven with All Creatures Great and Small or something like that with quaint stories about the country folk.
My only real problem - aside from a slight excess of cute overall - was that I wanted the main character to end up with a different guy than she was in love with and I was a little crushed when she didn't.
Otherwise it was amusing, it made me cry, it was an interesting and vivid way to present some stories about the experiences of the occupied Channel Islands during World War II, it made me wish I was a braver person (because I bet I would have been cowardly if I lived under Nazi occupation), and I liked the narrator's voice - she and her friends were very witty and wry and I love a wry, witty brit.
It also made me want to read Charles Lamb. ...more
I found it really disturbing when I made a choice that resulted in my death the first time through. I mean, even at age 11 I knew that in real life yoI found it really disturbing when I made a choice that resulted in my death the first time through. I mean, even at age 11 I knew that in real life you can sometimes make a choice that results in your own death, but it had never happened to me before, and I preferred not to think about it.
It kind of haunted me even after I went back and made a different choice, because I understood that if this had been real life, I would be dead. Somehow, the Choose Your Own Adventure books disrupted the protective promise of the novel which is this: no matter what happens in the book, it can't hurt you, you're going to be okay.
Because of this truth, I let novels take me into some scary places, and in this way, novels sheperded me through some pretty traumatic experiences unscathed, which educated me about some truths which thankfully I didn't have to experience - like losing a family member, or being lost in the wilderness, or living in Russia under Lenin (actually, I don't feel this way about Animal Farm, though, since it was based on real life and that sh*t is disturbing).
In a way, this series proves that interactive activities are not always better for learning. Unless you mean learning about scuba diving, because I will always remember not to surface too soon without decompressing. If you do, you die.
I picked this up while browsing YA literature, looking for something contemporary and not paranormal (harder than you'd imagine). I have been readingI picked this up while browsing YA literature, looking for something contemporary and not paranormal (harder than you'd imagine). I have been reading it off and on for a while now, hasn't really sunk hooks into me the way Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature did - or at least not yet!...more
"Robert and I were having lunch...at a new Chinese restaurant. GRAND OPENING flags adorned the awning, and it seemed possible that the Jade Garden wou"Robert and I were having lunch...at a new Chinese restaurant. GRAND OPENING flags adorned the awning, and it seemed possible that the Jade Garden would close with those very flags waving good-bye: My mixed vegetables in brown sauce looked like a diorama of a swamp; Robert's lobster sauce reminded him of a placenta."
And many more great descriptions where that came from.
Melissa Bank doesn't just turn a phrase, she wraps it around her little finger and twirls it like a barbershop pole.
If I ever meet her, and I hope I do get to meet her, I will say. "I love you, I love the Wonder Spot, I want you to write me a novel." And I hope she will understand it as it is meant - the literary fan equivalent of "I want to have your baby."
There is something about being reintroduced to her characters in the last third of the novel that is like falling in love with someone who has forgotten your name. I respect that she writes short stories, not novels, but someday I hope she respects me enough to have more than a one night stand with me.
I also disagree that this is chick lit - even chick lit for smart chicks as Cheryl has dubbed it, this is lit. Chick lit lets you fall in love with a single love story, whereas Bank gives you a 12-course meal of them.
Lest this review leave you in any doubt, let me restate it clearly: In conclusion, this book is awesome....more
At one point in this book (which was recommended to me by my financial advisor), Robert T. Kiyosaki makes the point that he never claims to be the besAt one point in this book (which was recommended to me by my financial advisor), Robert T. Kiyosaki makes the point that he never claims to be the best-writing author, just the best-selling author. He is in sales, and he is good at it. He has some decent points.
1. If you want to be rich, education is not the surest path to take.
2. Work to learn, don't work to earn: i.e. - take a job, no matter what the salary, that will teach you what you need to learn to become good at what will make you rich - his example was working for Xerox which had a reputation for having a great sales team.
3. You have to love something to care about it enough to pay attention to it enough to know enough to make money selling it. That is to say, you can't become a real estate mogul if real estate bores you to tears...or at least that's probably not the best course to take. If you love art, maybe it's better to become an art dealer.
4. The house you live in isn't an asset. An asset is only something that earns you money. This is a good thing to remember because many many people, myself included, only ever invest in their own live-in piece of real estate.
It's so poorly written I found it hard to read, but I got his point. His friend's dad was rich and taught him how to get rich, his own dad was virtuous, but poor, and taught him the wrong strategies for getting rich. It's a bit hard, though, that he makes his own poor dad out to be such a loser because he's not rich, only educated (his dad is, or was, a teacher who I hope didn't live to read this). I get that this is the focus of this book - getting rich - but there is actually more to life than that...though you would never guess that reading this very one-dimensional book.
The book makes a good point, though, that a lot of our focus on working hard and saving is misguided as a strategy for financial success. For financial growth, you need to move beyond working and saving in a conservative way to investing, and I agree with that...in theory. In practice it's scarier and harder than he makes it seem....more