You know when you're in college, and you stop by some guys' dorm room, and they're playing video games, and you're bored and possibly a little desperaYou know when you're in college, and you stop by some guys' dorm room, and they're playing video games, and you're bored and possibly a little desperate for male attention, so you sit down and start watching and they don't even take their eyes away from the game; they just keep playing that video game and you keep watching and watching and hours go by and nothing happens? That's what reading this book is like....more
This is a fascinating memoir, and it's amazing that Feldman lived this life and wrote about it at such a young age. I'd be interested in reading a folThis is a fascinating memoir, and it's amazing that Feldman lived this life and wrote about it at such a young age. I'd be interested in reading a follow-up memoir in ten more years....more
**spoiler alert** This is one of those books that sent me scrambling for answers after I finished it. It turns out there are a lot of interesting inte**spoiler alert** This is one of those books that sent me scrambling for answers after I finished it. It turns out there are a lot of interesting interpretations of the ending, none of which are entirely convincing or supported by textual evidence. What makes The Sense of an Ending a Man Booker prize winner is the master prose stylings of Julian Barnes, musing on universal themes of time and aging and the reliability of memory. It reminded me of Philip Roth's Everyman, which is about the same exact thing. Both books also feature obvious metaphors/motifs like clocks and ocean waves on the shore and winding rivers and song lyrics with the word "time" in them.
So what to make of the twists and turns in this book? At the beginning of the story, Anthony finds out that an ex-girlfriend's mother has left him 500 pounds and his dead school friend's diary. Anthony is like, "Hm, that's odd." Why the mother--whom he had met just once forty years previously--left him this money and diary is never resolved. Some readers have decided that Anthony's relationship with the mother must have been larger than what he remembers or reports to us, the readers. He keeps saying that memory isn't reliable and that we choose the details to include in the stories of our lives--so it makes sense that we're supposed to fill in some blanks in the story. There is some "lost time" in the memory of meeting Veronica's mother that might leave room for an affair and would explain why the mother would remember Anthony in her will forty years later. But . . . I feel like if we're supposed to draw these conclusions, there needs to be more on the page to support them.
Then there's Veronica. Forty years ago, they dated for a year. Then they broke up and Veronica started seeing Tony's friend Adrian. Tony wrote a rude letter in which he told Adrian to meet Veronica's mother if he wanted to know why Veronica is so messed up. When confronted with his own letter years later, Tony is shocked at how mean it is. Ah, memory! So unreliable!
Forty years after their relationship, Veronica keeps telling Tony, "You just don't get it." She seems to be annoyed that he doesn't get it, and she seems to want him to get it. So it turns out that Adrian (supposedly prompted by Tony's ridiculous letter) met Veronica's mom, had an affair with her, and got her pregnant. And then Adrian committed suicide. How could Tony have figured all that out? Why would he "get" that? Again, this unanswered question is what leaves readers wondering if there was more to the past events than Tony is reporting.
If there isn't some alternative history of events, it doesn't add up. It's frustrating not knowing why the mother left the money and diary and why Veronica is so determined to have Tony "get it." Tony seems to think he had "responsibility" and caused "great unrest" in everyone's lives. But why reach such an egocentric conclusion? Does he (and Veronica) really believe that his angry, immature letter caused an affair, a birth, a divorce, a suicide, etc.?
Now, despite what might seem like my critical review, I did like this book. I enjoy Barnes' writing, and I enjoyed exploring all the questions presented by the novel, even if I wasn't satisfied by the conclusions drawn by the narrator....more
I liked this book better than most of the reviewers here did. Just because it's about rich sex-starved moms and celebrities doesn't mean it's devoid oI liked this book better than most of the reviewers here did. Just because it's about rich sex-starved moms and celebrities doesn't mean it's devoid of literary value. But if you want a book along the same lines that does it even better, try Cheryl Mendelson's Morningside Heights....more
When some friends and I were talking about this book, I was convinced that Tao Lin was a genius and declared that I would give Shoplifting from AmericWhen some friends and I were talking about this book, I was convinced that Tao Lin was a genius and declared that I would give Shoplifting from American Apparel five stars. Of course, I was somewhat drunk at the time. I still like it for the debate it generated. Words that flew around during our conversation: "He's critiquing himself from his own posture." "Latent content." "Ironic mimasis." "Marxist analysis." "Seinfeld of the iPhone generation." It all made a lot of sense at the time....more
I don't necessarily need to relate to--or like--characters to enjoy a book. I was surprised, then, to find myself relating to Sera and Ben in LeavingI don't necessarily need to relate to--or like--characters to enjoy a book. I was surprised, then, to find myself relating to Sera and Ben in Leaving Las Vegas--and I am neither a prostitute nor an alcoholic. Reading their story, I felt like I understood them, and I empathized with them. This is a huge feat on the part of the author, and I'm still not sure how he managed to pull it off.
O'Brien seems like he would fit in well with the literary brat pack of the 1980s, and Jay McInerney (Bright Lights, Big City) even provides a blurb on the back of the book. Like McInerney, O'Brien manages to find the humanity and emotion in bleak situations and hopeless characters. O'Brien's style isn't completely polished, as if he was still experimenting, still developing his voice. I wish he'd lived past the age of 33. He could have been great....more
I started reading The Call of the Wild out loud to my seven-year-old, but we gave up about halfway through. The language was a bit too complicated forI started reading The Call of the Wild out loud to my seven-year-old, but we gave up about halfway through. The language was a bit too complicated for her to follow. Also, we had a hard time getting involved in the story, since it's all from a dog's point of view. We're not exactly dog people. I guess I was hoping the book would function as our therapist and warm us up to the creatures, really help us understand and love them.
This did not happen. The book went on the shelf.
A few months later, I decided to finish the book on my own. Things start getting really exciting up in Alaska. I began recounting Buck's adventures and hardships to my daughter, and she was captivated.
Jack London sold 10,000 copies of this book within the first twenty-four hours of its release. He also made hardened cynophobes care about the greatest, fiercest dog in the wild. Now that's an accomplishment. ...more
The various European covers for this book are hilarious. I am not sure why this book has been translated into several languages. Perhaps it is somethiThe various European covers for this book are hilarious. I am not sure why this book has been translated into several languages. Perhaps it is something of an international young adult gay classic. It's hokey and written at a middle-grade level. Still, there is something kind of endearing about it....more
I would give this 2.5 stars, which I'll generously round up to 3. I was intrigued by the premise--a future dystopian retelling of The Scarlet Letter.I would give this 2.5 stars, which I'll generously round up to 3. I was intrigued by the premise--a future dystopian retelling of The Scarlet Letter. But, like many reviewers, I felt like the opportunity to realize the potential of this idea was wasted on When She Woke. The protagonist's many realizations and revelations didn't ring true, and the romance between her and the man who impregnated her (not a big surprise if you read The Scarlet Letter) is not convincing or affecting. While the narrative is, for the most part, fast-paced, it got weighed down by the theology 101 musings sprinkled throughout....more