I always really enjoy T.C. Boyle who writes about "eccentric" topics, usually inspired by actual events/history. (I have read The Road to Wellville, R...moreI always really enjoy T.C. Boyle who writes about "eccentric" topics, usually inspired by actual events/history. (I have read The Road to Wellville, Riven Rock, and The Inner Circle, and there always seem to be naked people lying about here and there doing things that are often described in gratifying detail - not that there's anything wrong with that.) This book is about a Hippie/counter-culture compound in the late 1960s in California. The real one was in Colorado, and appears to have had more of a focus on art and artists than the Drop City Boyle writes about, which is about "living off the land," "free sex," and the submission of self to nature and the group. Well, you can probably imagine how interesting this gets, when all the predictable events and conflicts occur. The comparison point is another group of "naturalists" who reside, not in sunny California, but in the far reaches of Alaska. (I find the courtship rituals of this group quite interesting, BTW.) Anyway, I won't give anything away about how these two groups fit together, but I will say that I found the demonstration of how different views of nature, love, sex, and ethics can clash, even among people who all agree that the just want to live a "more simple" life.
I really liked it, and I recommend it, especially if you are looking for something a bit "different." BTW, I would say that about all his books. (less)
This book was great! The writing is truly amazing. It is a story about twins growing up in India and is written largely from their point-of-view. Anyo...moreThis book was great! The writing is truly amazing. It is a story about twins growing up in India and is written largely from their point-of-view. Anyone interested in books written from a child's point-of-view should give this one a look. Roy twists language so that it sounds like it would to the mind of a small child (ie. "The Bar Nowl" for the "The Barn Owl"). She interweaves minor images and events (those that seem minor to us, but might make a large impression on child) with those of her serious topics - caste, communism, colonialism, and violence in India throughout the story.
She does jump around in time quit a bit, so you may have to pay close attention.
If you liked A Fine Balance, The White Tiger, or The Inheritance of Loss, you won't want to miss this one. It is the 1997 winner of the Booker Prize. (less)
I feel a bit unsophisticated when I don't like books that have received as much literary acclaim as this one. But, I have to say that I didn't like th...moreI feel a bit unsophisticated when I don't like books that have received as much literary acclaim as this one. But, I have to say that I didn't like this one at all. I suppose the writing is very good, but I didn't really notice, because I was so busy trying to get to the end. "Boring" is a particularly unsophisticated word to use to describe literature, but I'm going to have to go with that one. The reviewers say that you are supposed to like this story because it is such a good modern adaption of Hamlet. It isn't particularly subtle, though. The names of characters are derivatives of Shakespeare's characters' names and the plot follows almost exactly. For me, it's a bit too close. Too close to be using dogs and Wisconsin as the parallels - seems a bit contrived. Other reasons I probably didn't enjoy this book are the fact that I dislike dogs (sorry animal lovers, I don't actually kick dogs, but I don't like them either) and I don't care for the supernatural in my fiction. I prefer plots about people with human problems and the limited human skills to deal with them. So, I guess that makes me unsophisticated and unimaginative. I think I'm going to take my wounded ego and return to Philippa Gregory for a bit . . .
If you are reading this book and haven't yet read Ali's Brick Lane, put this book down and get it! Brick Lane is so superior, that it almost makes In...moreIf you are reading this book and haven't yet read Ali's Brick Lane, put this book down and get it! Brick Lane is so superior, that it almost makes In the Kitchen seem like a bad book. Not that it is a bad book, and it does have similar themes, but it is written from a different, and, in my opinion, less convincing, point of view. Both deal with immigration and identity, one from the immigrants point of view, the other from the British point of view.
Brick Lane deals with the internal struggles of immigrants to maintain identity and community as 'outsiders' in Britain. (It is particularly good at showing the impact of gender among immigrants of particular cultures.) In the Kitchen deals with an employer's growing unease with the injustices (many illegal and some violent) suffered by his immigrant employees and others he comes in contact with in the service industry. He struggles with his own identity, a history of depression in his family, and what it means to be "British."
The themes in In the Kitchen were not particularly obvious in the beginning and it took about half way through to develop an interest in the people and plot, but the further I got the harder time I had putting it down. It is good, and worth a read of you are interested in the subjects. But, it has been done better, particularly by this author.(less)
The author is a well-known graphic designer who has produced some of the most recognized and unusual book jackets in contemporary fiction (i.e. Jurass...moreThe author is a well-known graphic designer who has produced some of the most recognized and unusual book jackets in contemporary fiction (i.e. Jurassic Park). His work is said to transform a book from a medium for written words to a thing in itself, an 'object of art, as well as literature.'
In his own book, Kidd continues to blur the line between art and words. The Cheese Monkeys follows an art student through the first year of state university. Anyone who has endured a freshman year at any college will identify and laugh out loud at his encounters with students, faculty, and bureaucracy. It is deep and funny. Some say it is an argument for a certain philosophical interpretation of graphic art. (Message over Form?) Of course, that discussion is both over my head, and beyond any field of study I ever endured. I just think it is a fantastic, fascinating look into academia, art, and the off-beat people usually found in both.
Many reviewers don't care for the spiraling, out-of-control ending. I actually think it might be central to the book. Anyone who has pulled an 'all-nighter' (or two) may identify with swirl of real, and perhaps imagined, events leading to the crash ending. The build-up of tensions throughout the book are not unlike the high-intensity days and weeks of cramming and sleepless nights before the end of the term - sometimes ending well, sometimes not, but almost always filled with self-induced melodrama, angst, and a feeling that things will never be 'normal' again. (Or maybe I just spent too long in school ;)) I know after reading this book, I will never look at commercial art or advertising images the same way ever again!(less)
I enjoyed this book about the journey of a group of young Mexican (mostly) women across the U.S. border. The passages about traveling through Mexico f...moreI enjoyed this book about the journey of a group of young Mexican (mostly) women across the U.S. border. The passages about traveling through Mexico from country-side to city and attempting to cross the border are interesting reading. I learned a good bit about the obstacles facing anyone on this precarious journey.
The story itself is based on the idealistic and naive visions of these young women. Their 'mission' to find and bring home the men that have left their village for the U.S. is romantic and endearing, but not terribly believable. This is forgivable, however, since, for most Mexican immigrants, the visions that bring them across the border may not be much less exaggerated than those of these characters. In short order, we find out that the dream and the reality are quite a bit different. Despite challenges, the group makes the best of their situation and finds ways to overcome their obstacles and prosper in some, if not all, of the ways they intended. An ending, we can imagine, not much different than most immigrants.
This is a good and interesting book. Not great, but definitely worth the read. I do wonder about the authenticity of some of the characters (Do rural Mexican teenagers know the dangers of diabetes?) and find some of the scenes over-simplified (One small U.S. town is so accommodating they allow illegal immigrants to abandon broken-down vehicles and set up the library as the catch-all social services center, with free rides and cookies). But, if you can suspend a bit of disbelief, it is a very enjoyable read.(less)
This book adds another dimension to the stories of the FLDS told by others (Brent Jeffs, Elissa Wall, Carolyn Jessop), that being the complicity of lo...moreThis book adds another dimension to the stories of the FLDS told by others (Brent Jeffs, Elissa Wall, Carolyn Jessop), that being the complicity of local and state governments and law enforcement in widespread FLDS crimes and abuses, particularly those perpetrated against children. Whether through fear, ignorance, legal constraints, laziness or outright corruption, state authorities in Utah and Arizona, particularly CPS and juvenile courts, continually turned a blind eye to the physical and emotional abuse of minors in the community. This book shows how children fleeing from these abuses were betrayed or returned to their homes over and over again.
The author shares both her experience with abuse as a child, as well as her crusade to force authorities to take this abuse seriously as an adult. (While not a focus of the book, it certainly makes the reader grateful that the FLDS chose Texas as it's next Zion - a state that turned out to be not nearly as afraid to take on the FLDS power structure, enforce sex abuse laws, and protect children.) Even if you've read all the others, this is one not to miss! Great book and great heroine.(less)
Unfortunately, I really didn't like this book. I did finish it, mainly because I'm trying to make progress on a 25 book challenge, and I really though...moreUnfortunately, I really didn't like this book. I did finish it, mainly because I'm trying to make progress on a 25 book challenge, and I really thought it would get better. By the time I realized it wasn't, I was half-way through and didn't want to waste the time I had already spent.
For me, the mushy love scenes and super-hero antics were cliche and annoying. I love historical fiction, but even the historical detail was not sufficient to hold my interest. I'm sorry I didn't like it, particularly because this is a favorite of the NBC and I like many of the books recommended there. (I don't want to be thrown out :)) I'm on to some shorter (and hopefully more enjoyable) books to increase my book count for the year!(less)
The 19th Wife fictionalizes the life of Ann Eliza Young, wife of Brigham Young, and creates a modern murder mystery based in a modern-day polygamist e...moreThe 19th Wife fictionalizes the life of Ann Eliza Young, wife of Brigham Young, and creates a modern murder mystery based in a modern-day polygamist enclave. Polygamy is explored from many perspectives, historical, academic, religious, and from the viewpoints of its many participants, husbands, wives, leaders, politicians, supporters, critics, and not least, children.
Very good, but real life is better! The Wall and Jessop autobiographies are even more absorbing than this fictionalized account of polygamy. (less)
Update on the life of Carolyn Jessop, woman who was raised and lived in the polygamous FLDS for over 30 years. Her first book, Escape, was fantastic....moreUpdate on the life of Carolyn Jessop, woman who was raised and lived in the polygamous FLDS for over 30 years. Her first book, Escape, was fantastic. This book talks about her role in the FLDS Texas raid and her fight for child support from her former husband, head of the FLDS ranch. Definitely read Escape first.(less)
I especially recommend this book on audio. The voices add a great deal of personality (especially Woolsey and More) and help the reader keep track of...moreI especially recommend this book on audio. The voices add a great deal of personality (especially Woolsey and More) and help the reader keep track of the characters (only half of them are named Thomas :)).
The subject matter isn't quite as interesting as that of Boyle's other books. Of course it's hard to beat Kellogg, Kinsey, and McCormick. Frank Lloyd...moreThe subject matter isn't quite as interesting as that of Boyle's other books. Of course it's hard to beat Kellogg, Kinsey, and McCormick. Frank Lloyd Wright just doesn't do it.(less)