Although this beautiful story is told from the perspective of three women, the characterizations of the auxilliary players are as clear-cut as the cen...moreAlthough this beautiful story is told from the perspective of three women, the characterizations of the auxilliary players are as clear-cut as the central protagonists. The author has chosen Jackson Mississippi in the early '60's and writes with a sure hand despite the fact that it is her parents' generation and not hers that is presented. The afterward is particularly valuable in order to glean a complete picture of Kathryn Stockett's motivations for writing the book, and for the deep compassion with which she has written it. I must add that although I grew up in Delaware, far north of Mississippi, I shared a similar experience with a caretaker; and a day doesn't go by that I don't remember Nettie with love and longing. (less)
I felt cheated by this book. Initially I was intrigued by the story of a couple who having lost their young son tragically attempt a new beginning in...moreI felt cheated by this book. Initially I was intrigued by the story of a couple who having lost their young son tragically attempt a new beginning in India. The interracial conflicts and labor issues promised something above the ordinary, but the story was stalled by two flashback sections, one depicting how the couple met and the other, the death of their son. The "romantic" portion was not original, relegating the couple to stereotypes, and the son's death and aftermath should have been placed at the beginning of the book, allowing a freer flow of narrative. Disappointed.(less)
Recently in San Francisco I attended a reading by Abraham Verghese, who has written my favorite book of the year: CUTTING FOR STONE. I'd gotten it fro...moreRecently in San Francisco I attended a reading by Abraham Verghese, who has written my favorite book of the year: CUTTING FOR STONE. I'd gotten it from the library, and after @150 pages was so in love with it that when I heard he was going to be at the store, I returned the library copy (there's a huge line waiting for it), and bought a copy just to have the pleasure of his signature. We actually had a little chat after the reading, while he happened by on his way to his car. He asked why I'd chosen his book in the first place, and I didn't have the answer, which occurred to me (like esprit d'escalier) until after he'd left: it's not the initial choosing of a book, but the journey the author takes you on that is important.
I think that Tom Wolfe's I AM CHARLOTTE SIMMONS was the book that changed my life, because when I was about 50 pages in, I realized I couldn't and therefore wouldn't finish that book despite having purchased it in hard cover. Life is too short, and besides, it doesn't honor an author if you are resenting him with every page just to reach the end. So, I actually don't finish some of the books I open. There aren't enough days left in my life to squander on books I'm not enjoying.
All that being said, I wish I'd thought of that when talking with this soft spoken, gentle man, and had been able to relay to him that the journey he was taking me on was so wonderful, I didn't care if I ever reached the destination. It is a vibrant, living story peopled with individuals to care about, sensual writing with more than a dash of humor and a frisson of suspense.
What I did have the chance to tell him was this: I was furious with an imbicile in the audience who, if you can actually believe this, whined "Why did you have to make it so long?" I told Dr. Verghese that it reminded me of that scene in Amadeus, when the emperor complains "there are too many notes," and Mozart, puzzled, says "It has just the right amount of notes." (less)
For an experienced reader it is a true joy to discover a writer with such an extraordinary spark of originality. Each of these stories burn by with a...moreFor an experienced reader it is a true joy to discover a writer with such an extraordinary spark of originality. Each of these stories burn by with a fever of excitement. The language is uniformly contemporary (even in the title story concerning Viking marauders), with such images as: "They broke their hearts on schedule always in the same indigo half hour of the morning" and "A connoisseur of the chance encounter he would have strived to speak the language of cockatoos if one touched down beside him." In particular, the story "On the Show" has an entire wealt of material that could easily be expanded into an engrossing novel length work. I do not remember any book of short stories exciting me as much since reading Tim Gautreaux's Same Places, Same Things, over ten years ago. (less)
There are so many pleasures to be found in this skillfully crafted book. Whether it is the characters' names, their hidden perceptions, the setup, or...moreThere are so many pleasures to be found in this skillfully crafted book. Whether it is the characters' names, their hidden perceptions, the setup, or the interior monologue of the catalyctic Amber, the only story told in first person. Initially, the four "Smarts" are so wrapped up in their individual dramas, that they barely intersect. Many issues of the day are addressed, some of which don't become apparent until after the book has been closed. The reader keeps returning to passages, wondering how this or that was missed the first time around, but realizing that until the entire picture has been presented, it would be impossible to isolate a revelation. To say more would ruin new readers' experience of taking this journey for themselves. It provided more fun than I've had in a long time with a book.(less)
This novel by the Academy Award winning scriptor of Godsford Park is one of my favorite types of books -- an English novel of manners, a little suspen...moreThis novel by the Academy Award winning scriptor of Godsford Park is one of my favorite types of books -- an English novel of manners, a little suspense, this is a portrait of Britain at the end of one era and the start of the next. As in the Jim Jarmish film Broken Flowers, a man's search for a child he fathered 40 years ago by revisiting the possible mothers sets the plot in motion. The purported parentage is only the device however, and each maternal possibility represents another aspect of British upper class. Godsford Park distilled the end of the Edwardian Era. Past Imperfect, as the unnamed narrator points out, takes place in the late 1960's, at a type when society was, like Janus. looking both ways. The plot is unflagging, the characters, memorable. Highly recommend.(less)
Josie gets her groove back, but Christensen loses hers. This novel is surprisingly slight given the skill and wit that were evident in The Great Man,...moreJosie gets her groove back, but Christensen loses hers. This novel is surprisingly slight given the skill and wit that were evident in The Great Man, one of my favorite novels of the past two years. It may have been in the author's mind to reach a more chick-lit audience, but as has been pointed out in other reviews, this trio of self absorbed women does not generate much literary heat or interest. The men, too, seem pale and cliched. Wish I had liked it more.(less)