Nearly all of the stories in this collection have something in common: they're about a woman close to or just past the end of a relationship, usuallyNearly all of the stories in this collection have something in common: they're about a woman close to or just past the end of a relationship, usually who had cheated or been cheated on, and usually who has a drinking and/or drug problem. Nelson never fails at creating likable but flawed characters, and her prose is as beautiful as ever, but this is familiar territory for her work. I don't feel like these stories break any new ground. There's a lot of internal conflict and not much outward action. Characters realize their problems but don't usually make any effort to change. By the end I just wanted to buy them all an ice cream cake and those cards that sing when you open them to try to convince them that things will get better...hopefully. ...more
This was a 2.5 book for me. I felt pretty duped by this one and almost quit reading it in the first 50 pages. Be warned that two-thirds of the book isThis was a 2.5 book for me. I felt pretty duped by this one and almost quit reading it in the first 50 pages. Be warned that two-thirds of the book is fiction, a pair of novellas in which Waters imagines the best and worst possible scenarios for his hitchhiking expedition from Baltimore to San Francisco. The final third of the book is Waters' actual trip, during which his assistants back in Baltimore are monitoring his every move and making sure he never really gets stranded anywhere. He meets some interesting characters along the way, but he spends too much time standing around waiting and drinking Evian.
I was disappointed that the book didn't play around with form more and blur the real rides with the fictional ones. It would have been a better use of all the time he spends waiting for rides (and those kinds of times are when the mind wanders the most). The structure was boring and safe--unfortunately, not all that different from Waters' trip. This struck me as a book that never would have been published if it didn't have a famous name attached to it. ...more
**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed this book and read it in an afternoon. I do think some of the main problems the characters faced sort of disappeare**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed this book and read it in an afternoon. I do think some of the main problems the characters faced sort of disappeared in the last 100 pages or so and that everything wrapped up too neatly to be realistic. I think without meaning to Rowell might be sending the wrong message about mental health issues--that they always just go away if you focus on family bonds and relationships. Had the pacing of the first half of the novel been a bit quicker, there would have been more room in the second half to reach some more realistic stopping points for Cath, Wren, and their dad. ...more
This was seriously one of the worst books I've ever read. The concept of twelve steps to "recovery" was potentially interesting, but nearly all of theThis was seriously one of the worst books I've ever read. The concept of twelve steps to "recovery" was potentially interesting, but nearly all of the chapters were so poorly crafted that they couldn't live up to the concept. Some chapters read more like essays/rants by Franco himself, written in short sentences, with no discernible narrative arc or sense of direction. I think in these sections he was trying to poke fun at his own fame, but the way he does it makes both Franco as character and Franco as writer come across as (for lack of a better term) a douchebag.
The other chapters are first-person narratives by people who aspire to be actors in one way or another. Some are more engaging than others, but none are dynamically developed enough to stand on their own. The fact that all the stories are left dangling is probably meant to leave readers wondering what becomes of all these characters (here's a clue: probably not too much), but really it comes across as Franco writing himself into corners he doesn't know how to get himself out of. He takes the easy way out every time.
Franco's no doubt a smart, ambitious guy. But just because he can do all these different creative things doesn't mean he should. All the graduate degrees in the world aren't going to make him a good writer. I doubt this would have made it out of the slush pile had it not been for his name.
I borrowed this for free from the Kindle Owner's Lending Library, so at least I didn't pay for it....more
I used this textbook for an Introduction to Creative Writing class. While I think nobody explains elements of craft better than Janet Burroway, overalI used this textbook for an Introduction to Creative Writing class. While I think nobody explains elements of craft better than Janet Burroway, overall I was pretty disappointed with this textbook. The organization wasn't useful for a class that covers each genre separately, and I found myself having to supplement the readings with a lot of handouts. Students complained that the craft discussions in most chapters dragged on for too long, and honestly in some places I agreed with them. I won't be using this book again. ...more
I've lost an afternoon in worse ways than I did reading this book, but I have a feeling I'll never think about these characters ever again once I takeI've lost an afternoon in worse ways than I did reading this book, but I have a feeling I'll never think about these characters ever again once I take it back to the library. Line by line, the writing is smooth and technically precise, as I've come to expect from Antonya Nelson, but, as other reviewers have mentioned, the narrative distance is so far away that all of the characters come across as sad and cold and sort of doomed to never break out of the patterns we see them in. Nelson used to be one of my favorite writers; I thought Living To Tell was a great novel, and I liked a few of her earlier books, too. But as I've gotten older and have read a lot more contemporary fiction, I find that I'm growing really tired of her lack of range. I wish she'd challenge herself to write something that doesn't involve any of the following: Kansas, an alcoholic, a dysfunctional family, a relationship involving adultery, Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico.
That said, the last few paragraphs were really wonderful. Sadly, I don't think the book earned an ending that good, though. ...more