"Last night had been like groping about in a fog and expecting to bump into a low stone wall, and instead banging her nose smack against an Egyptian p"Last night had been like groping about in a fog and expecting to bump into a low stone wall, and instead banging her nose smack against an Egyptian pyramid. ... Briefly, a while other life had opened up before her, and the fact that she declined to avail herself of it could not eradicate the image."
I cannot say enough about this book.
This past year was a surreal one in my life. I left a ten-year relationship and landed, unexpectedly and quickly, in a new and passionate relationship just a few months later.
Because the new love of my life is in another city and has a small child, the whole fabric of my life is changing very quickly.
This turn of events left me with a strong sense of alternate realities – my life if I stayed would be utterly different than my life will be now. With any abrupt and complete change like this, a strange feeling evolves of being haunted by yourself – a different self – a self you could have been.
Lionel Shriver’s novel explores the dual lives of Irina McGovern – in one she leaves her partner of ten years for another man, in the other she stays and remains faithful.
I knew it was fiction, but I couldn’t escape the feeling that one life would turn out to be real and the other one fake. Shriver never did make one life feel true and the other false, but she succeeds in showing that while neither life is perfect – both are far from it in many ways – there was a right choice and a wrong one (and it might not be what you think at first!).
My friend Jeanne recommended this book to me because it speaks so much to the importance of sex in a relationship and Shriver, indeed, writes really articulately and beautifully about sex, passion and intimacy. She’s also wonderfully specific about the ways we deceive ourselves and negotiate our lives so that sometimes our choices feel inevitable when really they are, in fact, choices and other times we feel we ought to be able to change something that is, in fact, intractable. Her portrayal of Irina in a failing relationship trying to turn things around rang so true that I think I saved about $9,990.01 in therapist bills by purchasing this book on kindle.
I loved The Thief – to me a perfect novel in so many ways – perfect for any age, too. And I really enjoyed Discovery of Witches – a pure rush of pleasure – but I think the Post-Birthday World was so perfect for me in the place I was in this year that I am declaring it my favorite read of 2011. ...more
One of my favorite books of all time! She was so resourceful, and I loved how she re-used one kind of thing as something else - it was the kind of thiOne of my favorite books of all time! She was so resourceful, and I loved how she re-used one kind of thing as something else - it was the kind of thing that excited me to see a familiar object with a new use....more
It's not a bad story, but it's clearly for someone who is scraping the bottom of the Jane Austen barrel, hoping for one more fix. I clearly need to moIt's not a bad story, but it's clearly for someone who is scraping the bottom of the Jane Austen barrel, hoping for one more fix. I clearly need to move on and try to find her reincarnation - this person must exist - like the Dalai Lama, Jane Austen must be reborn in each generation.
Lady Susan is a manipulative woman in search of a fortune - read: gold-digga. Her daughter is the heroine of the story, but the story suffers from the heroine being off-stage for the better part of the novel.
Once the heroine appears, it's over quite quickly, and with the signature Jane Austen pull-back-to-a-long-shot-just-when-your-reader-wants-you-to-go-in-for-the-close-up ending.
All that resulted from me reading this was that I felt unfulfilled and went and reread Mansfield Park, Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility back-to-back in three nights of sleeplessness. I kind of skimmed for the good parts...I was behaving like an addict.
I welcome any suggestions - who should I read when I crave Jane Austen?...more
Really intimate first person novel about a woman whose husband suddenly stops being snarky and facetious and becomes really sincere and loving. BasicaReally intimate first person novel about a woman whose husband suddenly stops being snarky and facetious and becomes really sincere and loving. Basically I completely sympathized with her feeling that this person, while arguably much NICER than her husband, was basically NOT her husband any more, and was also pretty annoying.
It's a great humorous approach to the same kind of material about morality that Jonathan Franzen explores in Freedom. Only, you know, funny and enjoyable rather than...Great American Novel. This is Hornby in a nutshell - he gets inside his characters heads, he creates wholly believable absurdity, and he gets under your skin while doing it.
I read this in a day. Here is how this day went: I was staying at my family's summer house with my mother and niece and nephews. I woke up late, came downstairs and made a cup of coffee. My mother had taken the whole gang to a pancake breakfast so I sat on the deck and sipped my coffee while working on a crossword puzzle. When my mother returned, she brought me pancakes and a copy of how to be good from the church bazaar. I declared that I saw no reason to leave my deck chair for the rest of the day. Eventually I did get up for the bathroom and a change of clothes (pajamas are rather hot on a summer day) but I essentially stuck to my pledge. Engaging in sloth while reading about how our human weakness makes us, well, human was a lovely way to spend a vacation day and I recommend it highly.
I suppose I could have liked this book more except I really wanted her to fall back in love with her husband and she just didn't. Things got better but...it was a little too real, I guess you could say. I can't fault the book for that, really, but I do favor an escapist book when I'm on vacation....more
I read this when I was probably 12 or 13 - just found it on the bookshelf. Here's what I remember:
It was gripping - a man goes back in time to medievaI read this when I was probably 12 or 13 - just found it on the bookshelf. Here's what I remember:
It was gripping - a man goes back in time to medieval times and at first it's just really frightening - how did he get here - what will happen to him? Will he get back? It has that nightmare quality that time travel really probably would often have but never does in books or movies.
Then it got funny as he cleverly devised ways to make himself seem like a magician using modern scientific knowledge.
Then I remember it ending in a somewhat disturbing, sad way - but I'm not clear what happened. My general sense is that the feelings he went through at the end were a little more complex than anything a 13-year-old could relate to.
I tore through it though. Mark Twain can really write, you forget that amidst all the controversy surrounding Huck Finn....more
I bought this because my nephew has shown an inclination towards graphic novels. But then I happened to be waiting for a plane to arrive so I startedI bought this because my nephew has shown an inclination towards graphic novels. But then I happened to be waiting for a plane to arrive so I started to read. What unfolded was an unusual but true story of an unhappy childhood, vividly depicted in the imaginative drawings and spartan words of the man who survived it. Think of it as David Sedaris with drawing taking the place of the dry, biting wit - it's the means to escape from the pain of childhood that becomes the genius of the adult. You marvel at how something so admirable can come from such suffering - like a tree twisted tree that clings to a cliff it's tortured - and beautiful.
I know that at this point in history it's patronizing to talk about graphic novels as if they needed special validation to be worthy of serious attention - they are at least as worthy of attention as any other form of novel. But graphic non-fiction is still a bit cutting edge and I feel the need to add my vote - it's wonderful.
A compelling autobiography that can be read in one sitting. Intense, complex, nuanced and beautiful. It's proof of the power of this genre.
I put it down and felt that I had been on the journey of his life with him, and I wanted to read more non-fiction like this.
If any old picture is worth a thousand words, some of Small's are worth ten times that....more
This is one of those books that has a great one-line tag line - "plane full of beauty queens crashes on a desert island" - I mean, can you beat that?This is one of those books that has a great one-line tag line - "plane full of beauty queens crashes on a desert island" - I mean, can you beat that? That might seem like a rhetorical question, but it's not. The correct answer is: "Not until the pirates arrive".
Libba Bray has such an unbelievable imagination. She riffs on modern politics and pop culture like your snarkiest friend. She punctuates the narrative with questionnaires completed by the beauty queens themselves, scripts for over-the-top parodic commercials and footnotes with hilarious asides. She populates the island with all kinds of surprises, but she also plants all kinds of surprises within the ranks of the beauty queens.
At times I might have wished I could pick ONE beauty queen and follow her single story in greater depth but, then, what would I have had to give up? I refuse to choose.
In conclusion, this is a great, funny satirical and heart-felt look at what it means to be a girl in America today. Are we products, pets or propaganda? The answer is no, far from it, we are fierce. (And also often pretty but because we feel like it not because you make us.)
Side note: some of the frankest and most useful advice about sex, love and dating in this book...why aren't more books for girls so relevant?
Side side note: Will someone please get a copy of this book to Tina Fey so she can make it into an awesome movie or TV series, please? Quick, before Ryan Murphy sees it!...more
First, I saw the promo for the movie, which looked good. Then I missed the movie in the theaters, like I do most movies I mean to see...(I don't get oFirst, I saw the promo for the movie, which looked good. Then I missed the movie in the theaters, like I do most movies I mean to see...(I don't get out that often). Then I realized it came from a novel, so I read the sample of the book and put off buying it because I was super-busy at the time and didn't think I should be reading for pleasure (most of the time I shouldn't be, but if I stop...what is the point?)
Then, I saw Mr. Vizzini speak at the LA Times Festival of Books - and he's funny and also self-assured and humble at the same time - the best thing I can say - and I mean this as a high compliment - is that he is comfortable with his own awkwardness - it's his, he owns it, and it suits him, makes him unique. He seems like the kind of person who just genuinely relates to teens because he carries that teenage self within him still (something that's kind of difficult for adults to do, mostly because it's painful). Listening to him speak, I admired him.
So then I bought the book ;)
I debated the five stars - this book worked for me on a lot of levels but I don't think it's possible to get completely absorbed into a book about depression when you aren't, yourself, depressed. One criteria I have for judging books, though - did this book CHANGE me? Well I don't know for sure - but I already feel that the vocabulary he created - tentacles, anchors, the shift, the cycling - will stick with me. He has a knack for dialogue, (he emphasized the importance of dialogue in prose writing when he spoke at the festival) - and he also has the knack for coining terms through metaphors which I love.
It's essentially the story of a depressed kid trying to get well and learning about himself and how he can cope and exist in the world as the person he is. But because it touches on so many of the things that trip us up in life as kids and as adults - lust, drugs, ambition, stress, the love of a family that supports you but also burdens you with their expectations and hopes for you, the need to believe in your future success - it's really for everyone.
I feel like buying ten copies and handing them out. I might do it....more
I really loved the House of Many Ways, and I want to give it five stars, but I keep thinking about Howl's Moving Castle and how it just had that extraI really loved the House of Many Ways, and I want to give it five stars, but I keep thinking about Howl's Moving Castle and how it just had that extra something special - was it that there was more of Calcifer? Was it romance? Was it that the country was at war? Something just gave HMC a little edge on HoMW.
Nevertheless I LOVE LOVE LOVE the mix of whimsy, tons of imagination, humor and remarkably fresh and yet somehow familiar characters...are kobolds so easy to understand because they are kind of Oompa-Loompa-esque? Is the hideous Lubbock something I've seen in an episode of Dr. Who? Was Waif the stray dog once in a Disney movie opposite a cocker spaniel named Lady? Something about the characters draws on tropes so that they make instant sense and yet sets them apart so they are completely original.
You couldn't have read Diana Wynne Jones before she wrote it, because she tunes her narrative in a way that harmonizes with the images and stories of our generation. And yet it seems utterly timeless - the way the mother wants her daughter to be respectable but her father slyly undermines this effort...the way the castle is enchanted so the roof looks gold, but everyone knows it isn't really gold - it's so inherently modern and yet so perfectly compatible with fairytale.
I am so sad that she has died when I just began to know here - I am so happy that she has left behind a big pile of books that I am just beginning to make my way through....more
Three sisters starting a new school in a new town discover they each have a secret power - which they learn to use to save themselves and each other.Three sisters starting a new school in a new town discover they each have a secret power - which they learn to use to save themselves and each other. Sounds like a lot of fun and I like they they don't have to become international badasses. No, they can just survive and take care of each other. Everyday heroes....more
I'm totally intrigued! Three kids get on a plane together to go from their mom's place to their dad's and end up - not in Colorado - but in another woI'm totally intrigued! Three kids get on a plane together to go from their mom's place to their dad's and end up - not in Colorado - but in another world. That's it - I'm sold!...more
I saw Gayle Forman speak at the YA stage and she gave the audience sunblock! If I Stay sounds like a literally and figuratively haunting book about aI saw Gayle Forman speak at the YA stage and she gave the audience sunblock! If I Stay sounds like a literally and figuratively haunting book about a girl who is having an out-of-body experience while trying to decide whether or not she wants to stay in this world. I really liked Elsewhere, about a girl who dies young and grapples with the difficulty of letting her life go so soon, so I'm really interested in If I Stay. I think so many teenagers flirt with suicide as a way of checking what they want out of life and why they are enduring the suffering they are enduring (I don't mean that teens can't be serious about suicide, many are serious, but many more toy with the idea quite casually, as I did) and I think this is an interesting way of exploring the why and how of persevering without getting stuck in the cliches of a suicide story....more
This sounds awesome! I love hearing author's describe the spark for their book. If you are trying to write a query letter, you should use that as a teThis sounds awesome! I love hearing author's describe the spark for their book. If you are trying to write a query letter, you should use that as a technique. His spark - he wanted to write about cool, clever, powerful wizards - like in Harry Potter, only evil. And the hero? A slave, a trickster, a genie. Another tidbit from when he spoke today? He wrote the sarcastic, mischievous character of Bart and put a lot of himself into him - only to have his mother read the book and compare him to an uptight, prissy character called Nicholas. The perils of the writing life....more
Awesome! House of Mirth retold in modern day Newport Beach? Can it end more happily? I hope so.
Saw her read, very close adaptation of the original witAwesome! House of Mirth retold in modern day Newport Beach? Can it end more happily? I hope so.
Saw her read, very close adaptation of the original with thoughtful updates and an equally compelling heroine. It was the GoodReads pick of the night, and I'm impressed with those of you who picked it....more
Very offbeat idea, introduced by Ira Glass, OF COURSE ;) (I meant that with love - sometimes I think Ira Glass has found every good offbeat story in tVery offbeat idea, introduced by Ira Glass, OF COURSE ;) (I meant that with love - sometimes I think Ira Glass has found every good offbeat story in the country).
A man collects all possible maps of his neighborhood. The book is like a loveletter to maps and the neighborhood they depict. Kind of like an artist painting one muse in a hundred styles.
I saw Denis read tonight and he joked about reading maps out loud and then read a moving passage about how maps capture a single moment in the life of something...poetic and poignant. ...more
I saw MWT speak at the LA Times Book Festival and she said her inspiration to write this book was the idea of a group of travelers, one of whom was unI saw MWT speak at the LA Times Book Festival and she said her inspiration to write this book was the idea of a group of travelers, one of whom was underestimated not just by the rest of the group, but by the reader. She says she writes all her books not as a mystery that can be solved by a clever reader, but as a story with many layers which reveals a second way of seeing the whole story (a back-formation) at the end, when you are presented with new information. The Sixth Sense is a good example of a story like that.
I would like to read this!
I read it! I loved it!
She's a great storyteller.* Right from the beginning you're pulled into the narrator's world. The characters are wonderfully clear. The Magus is clever, knowledgeable and ruthless. The soldier is taciturn, practical and stern. The younger and the older apprentice begin as just young boy and younger boy and then begin to differentiate themselves as the story moves along.
The main character, Gen, has a blend of youthfulness and experience that, together, are compelling - Gen can read people, and he can get into places and out of places quickly, and he can find things. But he speaks like a commoner, and he is quickly put in his place if he tries to answer when the Magus quizzes the apprentices. He can't ride a horse to save his life and he is slight and weakened from time in prison. A master thief - it is a contradiction - to be a master at something that is considered demeaning to do means your skill is also your downfall.
Turner creates a whole mythology, though, where the thief is a kind of trickster god, like Loki, that is revered for the role he plays in the universe, helping to balance things. Robin Hood wishes he'd had Turner to write his story - he'd have been not just a hero, but a deity.
I'm really looking forward to reading more of her books, but I think I want to let this one sink in a little, first. It's shame when I rush all the way through something and hardly get to savor it.
The reversal of fortune is delightful and I want to let it reverberate a little in my heart before I get another dose. Are all stories about a reversal of fortune?
*I've been trying to put down in words what this means or how this works...a good writer can convey their vision with words, communicate ideas, put the subtle shade of a color or the nuance of a casual conversation into print. But a good writer can be conveying a great deal without giving it meaning. What a good storyteller does is convey with great assurance and economy the information necessary to build meaning. The Bible is a good example of storytelling skill - in two pages it tells the remarkably compelling story of God, Adam, Eve and the serpent. A good storyteller can tell you the ending of the story - I'm going to tell you how I got this scar - and then tell it. You know the ending - and immediately after it starts you know the beginning - but you want to hear the story even more because you know only someone with a good story gives away the ending....more