I forever will think of this book as "Wordy White Boy", rather than its given title, because no matter what else this book has going for it, that is wI forever will think of this book as "Wordy White Boy", rather than its given title, because no matter what else this book has going for it, that is what I have taken away from it. Clarke takes his main character on a journey from slacker to ...well, I'm not convinced that he ever actually arrived anywhere. There's lots of talk, both inner dialog and between characters, as Lemar Jr acknowledges his ordinariness and attempts to go beyond that (and I do mean LOTS of talk), but is there any resolution?
In all fairness, I must give Clarke credit for writing a truly wonderful description of women of a certain age: ....have reached an age where casual and formal cothes meet, and the common ground is glitter. I'm going to remember that one, and it's enough to move this one star book up to two stars....more
A collection of ten short stories that all show there's humor in the saddest situations, and tragedy in the best of times. My favorite is Essay #3: LeA collection of ten short stories that all show there's humor in the saddest situations, and tragedy in the best of times. My favorite is Essay #3: Leda and the Swan, a story written in the form of an English Lit assignment by a young woman in high school who has a more pressing need to work through her own problems than a Keats poem....more
This is not a whore-with-a-heart-of-gold story. In two years time, fourteen year old Mary Saunders goes from a life of poverty with her family to theThis is not a whore-with-a-heart-of-gold story. In two years time, fourteen year old Mary Saunders goes from a life of poverty with her family to the very grown up world of the Courts of Assize. There's a lot of messages to this story - what options were available to women in Mary's time period, how did class determine a person's future and even a look at the shades of gray that lay between servitude and slavery. But Donoghue puts her characters before her statement, so that you've read the whole book before you realized you've just been schooled in women's emancipation, 1748 style. Once you've read this story, you'll never be able to say that kids are forced to grow up too fast in our time. (Side note for anyone who likes stories that pay a lot of attention to clothing of the period, Mary's life is defined not only by what she wears,first as a school girl, then a prostitute, then as a servant, but also the clothing of others, and Donoghue doesn't skimp on descriptions.)...more
This is definitely my favorite Dresden Files book, so far. This is due, in a major part, because my absolute favorite background character, Thomas RaiThis is definitely my favorite Dresden Files book, so far. This is due, in a major part, because my absolute favorite background character, Thomas Raith, moves very much to the forefront in this plot. But there's also a lot more going on than a good story in this book. Characters seem to be a little more fleshed out; a huge amount of canon for Harry's world is established, and there's back story for everyone. In some ways, this reads as a first book in a series, the one that not only sets the foundation for what's to come, but shows every sign of having been worked and refined by a first time author. Those are both very good surprises in a mid-series book! The plot this time may be a little more complicated than it needs to be (when your main character has to spell everything out in a long dialog with someone who's worked by his side for many years, you may have a few more twists than necessary), but the speed at which the story plays out allows the reader to just go along for the ride and enjoy the slow bits as breathing space.
My only regret about this book is that with Thomas having this moment in the sun, he'll probably never be featured this much in another Dresden Files book. Ahhh, for a Thomas Raith spin off series...... ;-)...more
A seventeen year old boy deals with the death of the brothers he idolized, a father that refuses to mourn, and the misplaced love of people all aroundA seventeen year old boy deals with the death of the brothers he idolized, a father that refuses to mourn, and the misplaced love of people all around him. In almost all of Purdy's books that I've read, his protagonists beg for sympathy. This is one of the rare times I felt like they deserved it....more
27 short stories in all. My favorite was the title piece, a dark story about a brother who's not cut out to be the caretaker of his sickly younger bro27 short stories in all. My favorite was the title piece, a dark story about a brother who's not cut out to be the caretaker of his sickly younger brother. By the time you realize how the story has to end, you can't look away. There's also a bittersweet story about an young boy and his grandfather, Home By Dark, written so well it was like being right there on the front porch with the characters....more
Maisel has a pretty cool job, coaching and teaching people to coach writers, painters, actors and other creative types. He's written a lot of books abMaisel has a pretty cool job, coaching and teaching people to coach writers, painters, actors and other creative types. He's written a lot of books about what stops us from creating, how to get deep down to the part of us that doesn't judge our work before we ever set pen to paper, and most importantly, that creation is Work. It's not magic, it's not a "either you have it or you don't" ability, and it's not easy. Coaching the Artist Within covers all the roadblocks, self made and external, that we allow to get in our way so that we don't have to do the work. I've got several of Maisel's other books, but this is the one that speaks to me when I need a kick in the butt....more
It's been years since I read any of Stabenow's Kate Shugak books, and I honestly couldn't remember why I had stopped. I love a book with a strong sensIt's been years since I read any of Stabenow's Kate Shugak books, and I honestly couldn't remember why I had stopped. I love a book with a strong sense of place and Stabenow knows how to transport her readers in the Alaska bush. Something else that she does remarkably well is to bring a first time reader up to speed on characters and past story lines without boring the series reader. I felt like I had never stepped away from Kate, conservation vs. tourism, the rights of indigenous peoples vs. the needs of the larger populations, extended family complications and a darn good murder mystery. It's all in this book, and this time there's the addition of some contemporary politics as well: the conservation party in power in Washington is reaching out its long arm, threatening to get rid of the well liked and too green park ranger that Kate and everyone else has grown comfortable with. Kate's love/sex life gets some more attention as well, being told by several characters what most readers must be thinking: you can't keep two guys on a string forever, do something! The suspects in the murder have interesting back stories, and previous supporting characters get well earned attention.
So, why did I stop reading this series? Somewhere along the line, each of her books hit a "not that there's anything wrong with that, but" point. Perhaps that's how it is in Alaska, the people defend their right to be left alone, to live their lives the way they want, but deep down, you're only allowed to be different to a certain degree. Without giving away too much of a plot twist, I'll only say that the presence of a same sex couple doesn't mean what you think it means. And a "strictly heterosexual dog"? Really??...more
A fast, light read that devotes the bulk of the pages to the day before Vesuvius erupted, but the bulk of the action is in the few pages that tell whaA fast, light read that devotes the bulk of the pages to the day before Vesuvius erupted, but the bulk of the action is in the few pages that tell what happens after the volcano goes off. The historical information is interesting enough, but I never really cared about any of these people because they never were made flesh - they exist to tell the story, not be the story. Even real person Pliny the Elder suffers, as he only seems to be in the story to give it a touch more realism, not to have an affect on the people he comes in contact with. I also had a problem with the dialog. Sometimes it is anachronistic, sometimes there's too much of it, and way too often, it's dull....more
I finished reading this book five days ago, and I am still thinking about what happened after the book ended. I've started and finished other books siI finished reading this book five days ago, and I am still thinking about what happened after the book ended. I've started and finished other books since then, and as I've read them, I've wondered how the characters of this book would have fit in to other stories. I wonder how the characters of these new books would have interacted with the Bloodworth family. How would they have fit in that tough little corner of south western Tennessee? William Gay is such a good story teller that his people and places will stay with you for a long, long time.
The jacket flap of this book will lead you to believe that this is a story of a father returning and the three sons that he never connected with during the hit and miss years he did live at home. It's not that story. This is the story of the grandson, Fleming, a young man who can not catch a break. Fleming dreams of being a writer (perhaps a bit of autobiographical writing for Gay?), and most of the story is told through his eyes. He is an observer, a kid who prefers to live on the edge and observe what goes on around him. Eventually, through the absence of his own father, the return of the grandfather he never met, and the ongoing presence an amazing (and never extraneous) supporting characters, Fleming decides to go "out among them". The story weaves and turns, characters are introduced and then dropped, but in the end, everything is brought back together believably. There are very sad parts to the whole story (even the creepy prologue isn't there just for atmosphere). Depending on your opinion of Fleming's reaction to all that has happened to him and his family, the ending is either sad or a window opening. Either way you look at it, the story will stay with you....more
There's a quote from the Minneapolis Star Tribune's review of this collection of short stories on the fly leaf: "Writers like Flannery O'Connor or WilThere's a quote from the Minneapolis Star Tribune's review of this collection of short stories on the fly leaf: "Writers like Flannery O'Connor or William Faulkner would welcome Gay as their peer for getting characters to entangled in the roots of a family tree.". That is a dead on description and praise for the stories Gay tells. Not one of these stories is an easy passage, not for the characters and not for the readers. Even in the few where it seems that everyone has the best intentions something gets twisted, something inside a character breaks, and damage is done. As dark fiction goes, every story in this book is a good one, and I don't know that I could pick a favorite. Standing Near Peaceful Waters has a surprise ending that belies its down to earth plot; Good Til Now and Sugarbaby show that Gay has spent as much time watching people as he has spent observing the hills of Tennessee; and Closure and Roadkill on Life's Highway does such a good job of developing a sympathetic main character you'll still like him after he has his moment of darkness. If you like Southern Gothic or dark fiction, I'd strongly recommend this collection....more
Every writer occasionally needs someone to give them the reality check that the only way to get something written is to actually do some writing. DeMaEvery writer occasionally needs someone to give them the reality check that the only way to get something written is to actually do some writing. DeMarco-Barrett's book is that along with a bunch of helpful ideas on where to find the time to write, how you might want to organize that time as well as your thoughts, and how not to feel quite so guilty about taking the time. I think the "busy woman's portion of the title might be a bit out dated, though, because I know lots of men who are just as involved in the mundane aspects of business and family and don't think they have the time to answer the call of their muse.
The book works off of one premise: that everyone has 15 minutes here and there through out their day that could be used for writing. It expounds on how to add those 15 minute gaps into bigger chunks of time by cutting the internet cord, turning off the television (although I don't think she's aware that television can be a window as well as a wall), and changing your surroundings. There are writing exercises at the end of each chapter that make use of the skill set she's introduced, and again, there's a repetitive thread, this time it's freewriting.
So, why the high stars if the book is shallow on new ideas and excercises? Because the one idea that she hammers home again and again, the only person stopping you from writing is yourself, is one of the truest trueisms ever stated about self-expression....more
-Written by the man who brought us "Schindler's List", this is slightly lighter fare. The book takes place in very early colonial Australia, as fascin-Written by the man who brought us "Schindler's List", this is slightly lighter fare. The book takes place in very early colonial Australia, as fascinating place as I've ever read about. One of the men in charge of the prison colony has been given the unlikely (but true) order to stage Anton Checkhov's "The Seagull", using prisoners as his actors. Every single character in this story is worthy of having a book to themselves. (You don't have to be familiar with "The Seagull" to enjoy this work, as the characters explain the whole plot, but it helps to have some knowledge of the tone of Checkhov's works.)...more