A moving account of the relationship between Christina, a writer, and Rudy, a composer, and the aftermath of his death. The story felt more like a novA moving account of the relationship between Christina, a writer, and Rudy, a composer, and the aftermath of his death. The story felt more like a novella or even a short story--at only 100 pages we see glimpses more like brushstrokes of their lives together and their social circle--so I didn't feel particularly attached to either one of them nor was I rooting for them. But the grief as Godwin depicts is very real anyway. Use of cats to symbolize cycles of life and homelife ritual a bit cliche, and the illustrations didn't feel necessary to me. Maybe more dialogue between the couple either real time or remembered, would have given the story more dimension....more
"This Too Shall Pass" was a mixed bag, and overall pretty strange. On the one hand, I liked the impressionistic quality of the narrative, and we defin"This Too Shall Pass" was a mixed bag, and overall pretty strange. On the one hand, I liked the impressionistic quality of the narrative, and we definitely feel the narrator Blanca's grief over the death of her mother, as she seems to float around men and friends in something of a trancelike state. But a book can be stylized and still have substance. Not here. Not enough happens to make this feel like a book, and Busquets only gives the reader glimpses of the men in Blanca's life-- but not enough so that we care about her or them, past, present, or future. Same with overdone flashbacks of her mother. If the author is trying to ask: "can sex help heal grief?" she and readers should have more fun finding out. Lack of plot after the trip to Cadaques doesn't help either --a party where everyone is stoned...a meal...a visit with an old lover...that's it? I expected a lot more to happen at the house. At barely over 150 pages, this work unfortunately feels like an outline. Did the editors really think this was finished?...more
Just finished this in one sitting, my first experience with this author. Mixed feelings, but in the end I have to agree with the reviewers who calledJust finished this in one sitting, my first experience with this author. Mixed feelings, but in the end I have to agree with the reviewers who called for more detail and more story. There is a lot of energy spent in the first half of the book describing the mother visiting the daughter in the hospital and many conversations between the two about gossip, celebrities, failed marriages, affairs--but I'm not sure what we're supposed to glean from this. Despite numerous exclamations: "Mommy, I love you!" --in the end, we don't know or really care, nor do we understand why the mother is so aloof and cold. Eventually, the distance Lucy Barton feels toward her mother appears to replicate to her husband, her siblings, and her father, making her entire family a lost cause, but again, no one seems to be worth caring about.
I'm guessing that Strout perhaps is trying to make a statement about modern American women as helpers and healers, always trying to make up for others' shortcomings--but she doesn't dig deep enough to bring this point home.
Other strange incidences puzzled me. Snakes in trucks? Being locked in a truck as a child? And the father...an abuser with a kind side? Brother sleeping next to pigs?! I was totally lost with these underdeveloped scenes and references.
I liked that the author created context-- first with the 80's and AIDS epidemic, and later with 9/11, but it felt like too little too late, and almost felt like another book entirely. The inclusion of another fictional writer's influence, Sarah Payne, (think "Pain") is also interesting, but the irony is not lost on me that the author failed, in this case, to take Sarah's advice to heart for the sake of this book. Payne told Lucy Barton to "be ruthless" in her writing. But Strout didn't do it here....more
Very mixed on this book. Danler can clearly "write," and knows her way around party scenes, subway cars, and greater Williamsburg cityscapes. But as oVery mixed on this book. Danler can clearly "write," and knows her way around party scenes, subway cars, and greater Williamsburg cityscapes. But as others have commented, not much of a plot or internal monologue here, and the food descriptions are not particularly lavish or frequent, given the hype. Danler captures well the rhythm of the restaurant and the banter of its main characters, who pop up to set the mood much like a modern day Greek chorus. But the dialogue is so quick, I had to reread sections of it to figure out who said what--for not much payoff. Disgusting insects, drug taking, the fragile ecosystem of the already passé downtown restaurant, and somewhat vulgar sexual encounters are vividly rendered, but the reader has the sense the author is going for shock value over literary, and gives up too easily on the latter.
The characters most central to the plot, Jake the bartender and server Simone, seem more odd then interesting, and I didn't care much about them. I was also confused. Simone took care of Jake early on as his mother had died, and so they were inevitably intertwined...? Lovers but mostly friends? Friends but not lovers? Going to Paris together because...? Wait...what?
While Tess was at times compelling as a wandering New Yorker trying to find her way in this generation's "Bright Lights/Sex in the Big City," in the end she made me miss Carrie Bradshaw all the more, whose naiveté, narcissism, and blond ambition added up to a smarter and more appealing package then is offered here....more
In this creative approach to writing about the "men of influence" in her life, Parker proves herself in this first effort to be a witty and sophisticaIn this creative approach to writing about the "men of influence" in her life, Parker proves herself in this first effort to be a witty and sophisticated storyteller, who cuts to the chase in what appears to be a rather effortless narrative/memoir. I read that she wrote this while in the hospital over a four-month period, and so was surprised at the control she has over the detail and story arcs, as if she'd written it on vacation.
Despite a few repetitious passages (...I wrote a poem for him...) a borderline cliche that pops up a few times, there is good literary bandwidth here, with reflections on influencers ranging from the author's doctor, to her father, to a grandfather she never met, to an irate New York City cabdriver, to an acting class movement instructor, to a 9/11 firefighter. Narratives like "Dear Gorgeous" are vaguely reminiscent of Pam Houston's dry and yet abandoned meditations on attraction in "Cowboys Are My Weakness." There are also several laugh out loud moments, including her stint at an organic market in the 80's, throwing cheese up in the air to see if an overhead ceiling fan would convert it to shreds. Settings range from New York to LA "on steroids," and serve as perfect vehicles for Parker's recollections.
While the "Dear, You," literary device is certainly something we've seen in contemporary literature before, (I'm thinking "Dear American Airlines" by Jonathan Miles, among others), Parker raises the literary stakes with her own unique voice and style.
I had the pleasure of taking yoga with Ms. Parker in New York in the 90's, and I'm pleased to say everything she learned about flow and sequencing is well represented in this work. Read it in one sitting. ...more
I was not crazy about this book. While the writing was good, much if it felt forced, and I didn't feel particularly moved by any of it. Felt more likeI was not crazy about this book. While the writing was good, much if it felt forced, and I didn't feel particularly moved by any of it. Felt more like I was in a writing workshop and reading something overly crafted to impress. ...more