I didn't hate this book, but it was not so great. I hate that the author made what was potentially a fascinating topic-- pentecostal snake handlers--i...moreI didn't hate this book, but it was not so great. I hate that the author made what was potentially a fascinating topic-- pentecostal snake handlers--into just caricatures. And just all the things he was trying to put together --the snakewoman gets "saved" from religion by science and education; the lover is an anthropologist who for whatever reason (backstory??) has a bunch of stuff about the Mbuti pygmies (mainly the uber-titillating (does someone have a fetish??) physical logistics of a 6' Anglo man having intercourse with a 3' pygmy woman) but of course has to do an anthropological study on the pentecostals; and the other chick is an author so she has to be making everything into books--was all too contrived for me.
I did find it interesting that there is actually a scripture (in Mark somewhere) that says that people should be able to handle snakes and not get bitten and drink poison and not die. So these people did that. They were following the scriptures. The topic of people literally following every word of their scriptures could be developed into a great story populated by true characters. This did not even come close to exploring this. Not one of the religious people was portrayed in any way besides ignorant freak. And while that may be, they might also, if they were human, have been a few other things worth exploring, as well. (less)
How an author could make me care about--love, even--a guy like Clete is pretty cool. I mean, I don't love all of his behaviors, but I love him as a pe...moreHow an author could make me care about--love, even--a guy like Clete is pretty cool. I mean, I don't love all of his behaviors, but I love him as a person. Even though he's not a person. Just a guy in a book.
And I don't know how the book ended. I mean, I don't know what happened at the end. I hope that it did not really end the way I think it did. I really really hope not.
Sprawling? Magnificent? Epic? Amazing? This book BLEW ME AWAY. I am stunned that I'd never heard of it before. Of course everyone's heard of One Flew...moreSprawling? Magnificent? Epic? Amazing? This book BLEW ME AWAY. I am stunned that I'd never heard of it before. Of course everyone's heard of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but I had never heard of this until I saw some book about making the movie or something in a coffee shop in Florence (OR, where it's set, not Italy!) I feel cheated that I came to this book so late in life.
I know that part of my adoration of this book is its western Oregon setting, but I am certain that everyone (who can tolerate 700 pages wherein the perspective changes every line or paragraph with no warning whatsoever except the brilliant difference in voices) would LOVE this book.
This book is pretty much about everything. It has rain, loggers, cigarettes, unions, motorcycles, pioneers, brothers, sons, daughters, preachers, husbands, cousins, friends, betrayal, love, education, mental illness, rivers, rain, birds, mothers, forests, oceans, bars, conspiracies, small towns, dogs, wild cats, home, holiday, loyalty, longing, native Americans, rain, botany, winning, losing, death, revenge, letter writing, photo albums, fathers, greyhound buses, suicide, and rain.
Pretty much everything. Sisters, not so much. But most everything else. (less)
I think anyone would enjoy this book. It's long, somewhat confusing with all the jillions of kids, but once you figure out who the main ones are you h...moreI think anyone would enjoy this book. It's long, somewhat confusing with all the jillions of kids, but once you figure out who the main ones are you have to "know," it's not confusing. The prot. was hard to love, but I did feel for him, and he grew on me as the story progressed. I definitely grew to love Rusty. I think Udall did a good job not just making a caricature of the polygamists. I definitely saw them as human beings, not just as a bunch of weirdos or something, so I appreciated that. (less)
I love Anne Tyler, and once again she has done what she does best: she tells the truth as she builds some of the most realistic characters ever. In he...moreI love Anne Tyler, and once again she has done what she does best: she tells the truth as she builds some of the most realistic characters ever. In her world--her Baltimore :)--marriage is made up of complex beings with complex feelings for each other, some of them negative (gasp!).
However, I think she does a better job with the disenchanted middle-aged mother/wife figure than she does with some of her men. And this isn't because I "relate" better, per se--I was first blown away by Breathing Lessons when I was 22 or so years old--not middle aged, mother, wife, nor even disenchanted yet.
Her men, as in this book, seem a little too idiosyncratic. I enjoyed Aaron, but I didn't love him and found it hard to sympathize with him. Although it was key to aspects of the plot and certainly to his character, I didn't feel it was necessary to make him crippled: it seemed tacked on, like a gimmick (what part of what character isn't? I dunno.) And the whole magical realism thing (or whatever she was doing by inserting a ghost into the story) was okay, but not where she shines most for me: realistically describing real humans. Some of the moments I most enjoyed in this book were her descriptions of the toddler girl at the end. I am in awe of her ability to show exactly what a toddler looks/sounds/acts like. I just thought, "Her grandkid must be in the next room and Tyler is watching and reporting everything, it's so TRUE."
So even though she tells the truth, the things that bugged me about the story--Aaron being crippled and seeing the ghost of his wife (even if that didn't really happen, we'll never know)--are integral parts to this story. So for me, only three stars.
So there it is, the one book that even the aliterate like.
This is a great book. The writing is excellent, the story is great (and mostly plausible)....moreSo there it is, the one book that even the aliterate like.
This is a great book. The writing is excellent, the story is great (and mostly plausible). So why don't aliterate kids like other books that are well written with great stories? The personal connection, as in this character was someone they could relate to, that this type of survival is something that links into some common fantasy? Many of the kids I'm referring to are native Idahoans who have experienced the wilderness to some degree--do urban kids love this book, also?
I would have thought that a book that the non-readers accept would be ...somehow not very good. Perhaps no depth, no meat, nothing to bite into. But for being a kid's book, this has surprising depth. So kids don't want crap. They want good writing. I guess maybe the problem is that they still read on a 6th grade level, so when they're offered a good book that is on grade level, they can't read it independently, can't get into the flow, can't immerse themselves in the story because they have to stop and figure out what words mean, figure out what's going on, etc. (less)