Mostly read, anyway. I'm probably not going to finish this one. I'm fascinated by the Warrens (and my husband grew up in the same CT neighborhood wher...moreMostly read, anyway. I'm probably not going to finish this one. I'm fascinated by the Warrens (and my husband grew up in the same CT neighborhood where they lived!) but this wasn't a very compelling read for some reason. And Ed Warren does like to pontificate, sheesh.(less)
Meh. I wanted to like this book (which makes fun of Seattle & the Seattle-types who live there) much more than I did. There were a few lines that...moreMeh. I wanted to like this book (which makes fun of Seattle & the Seattle-types who live there) much more than I did. There were a few lines that made me laugh out loud, such as: "Chihulys are the pigeons of Seattle. They're everywhere, and even if they don't get in your way, you can't help but build up a kind of antipathy toward them." And there was a page-long rant about the ridiculousness of 5-way intersections, as well as this gem about the weather: "What you've heard about the rain: it's all true. So you'd think it would become part of the fabric, especially among the lifers. But every time it rains, and you have to interact with someone, here's what they'll say, 'Can you believe the weather?' And you want to say, 'Actually, I can believe the weather. What I can't believe is that I'm actually having a conversation about the weather." But most of the depictions of Seattle-ites and their foibles hit a little too close to home, maybe, and reminded me exactly of what I often find so irritating about living in this city, so I spent most of my time reading in a low-grade rage.
The story/mystery was interesting enough for me to read through to the end, but all in all, none of the characters grew past 2-dimensional stereotypes (which might have been the point, given that it was satire, but I would have appreciated a little depth in at least the main characters) and I found all of them to be pretty childish and unbearable. And the writing, while perfectly adequate, wasn't particularly impressive. I found the email/epistolary structure distracting, and was relieved when it switched to straight-up narrative for the last quarter or so of the book.(less)
4 stars for concepts and 2 stars for execution yields an overall 3-star rating for this book. My department offers a class based on this book for UW s...more4 stars for concepts and 2 stars for execution yields an overall 3-star rating for this book. My department offers a class based on this book for UW staff and I recently attended a session. It was very interesting - the pessimism self-assessment confirmed some things that I thought I knew about myself but also gave me a new perspective on some things. (Spoiler alert: I am "very pessimistic". Shocking, I know!) What surprised me most is that I'm not as pessimistic about bad events as I thought I was, but instead I am extremely pessimistic about good events. I tend to think good things are temporary, and brought about only by luck/chance rather than my own efforts or talent.
I was looking forward to reading the book for more insight into the different aspects/causes of pessimism, but it quickly became tiresome. The book was originally published in 1990, so a lot of the research (especially about depression) feels familiar (or, worse, dated) and Seligman's writing style is not very clear or compelling. My attention kept wandering. I only read about 1/3 in before deciding to stop, so take my review with a grain of salt. Maybe the chapters on how to become more optimistic are really fantastic but, alas, I never reached them.(less)
A collection that considers (and re-considers) the annunciation, from the perspective of various characters in different settings, and musing on vario...moreA collection that considers (and re-considers) the annunciation, from the perspective of various characters in different settings, and musing on various implications for the speaker/poet (another Mary!) and the feminine in general. There are some lovely turns of phrase in here. It is actually all a bit too lovely, in that I felt like it was overly "luminous" or "lush", as if one should only read these poems aloud with a hushed & breathy voice. I did end up enjoying the collection overall, but would perhaps have appreciated a little more variety in tone.(less)
Entertaining enough, although perhaps a little heavy on the white middle-class suburban angst. You know: ruminations on marriage; how having children...moreEntertaining enough, although perhaps a little heavy on the white middle-class suburban angst. You know: ruminations on marriage; how having children changes your life; how your life doesn't always pan out the way you'd pictured it in college; mid-life crises expressed through kind of banal sexual fetishes & adultery, etc. I'd say this is a just-the-right-amount-of-trashy summer read that aspires to be more literary than it ends up being. To wit, there are a healthy amount of Madame Bovary allusions, and moments where the characters are supposed to come across as thoughtful or philosophical but actually come across as solipsistic, whiny, & immature. (Which, granted, is perhaps the point of the book.) There is also a child molester thrown into the mix as the perfect scapegoat boogeyman.
I guess this book was made into a movie in 2007 and was nominated for several Academy Awards. Go figure.(less)
I enjoyed this memoir, although I had imagined that I'd enjoy it more than I did. This is the story of a writer who (through a friend) finagles a job...moreI enjoyed this memoir, although I had imagined that I'd enjoy it more than I did. This is the story of a writer who (through a friend) finagles a job in Paris. The book chronicles the experiences of the author (and his wife) as they move to Paris and live there for one year. The author starts off feeling madly in love with the romantic idea(l) of Paris, then experiences a lot of bureaucracy, casual racism/sexism and general non-political correctness, tragic hipness & tight pants, & a little bit of disenchantment, but then re-falls in love with the real Paris.
Maybe I'm still in my honeymoon stage with this city, and didn't necessarily want to know about how ridiculously difficult living in Paris would actually be. Also, this guy was a little bit of a jerk because he worked all day at a fancy advertising agency, drank cocktails in bistros with his colleagues after work, jetted off to London to film commercials for Louis Vuitton, and wrote his first novel in what was left of his spare time, all while leaving his wife (who doesn't speak French very well) on her own much of the time, in an apartment surrounded on all sides by noisy construction.(less)
Initially, I thought my review of this book would be vaguely complimentary with maybe a hint of snottiness about how the writing isn't particularly li...moreInitially, I thought my review of this book would be vaguely complimentary with maybe a hint of snottiness about how the writing isn't particularly literary. But in the end, I really enjoyed this book. It was sort of like reading "A Moveable Feast" from the "other side". Plus, Paris! There are lots of lovely descriptions of Paris, of drinking to excess in Paris cafes, of Paris museums and gardens with gravel paths, and characters like Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein (all of whom, including the character of Ernest Hemingway himself, I pictured in my mind as they appeared in the movie "Midnight in Paris".) I stayed up past my bedtime last night to finish it and, wouldn't you know it, I cried like a little girl.(less)
I'm lying a little by marking this book as "read", because I'm only halfway or maybe two-thirds of the way through it. However, I have honestly gone a...moreI'm lying a little by marking this book as "read", because I'm only halfway or maybe two-thirds of the way through it. However, I have honestly gone as far as I'm going to go. I really, really wanted to like this book. I love sonnets! (I write sonnets!) But I think I'm too much of a traditionalist to fully appreciate this collection, in that I like my sonnets to rhyme (or at least have some kind of consistent musicality) and have at least the skeleton of an argument or narrative to hang their hats on. This is not to say that the sonnets in this book do not have any musicality or narrative. I suspect my lack of appreciation for their experimental pleasures is due to my failing as a reader. I have not been in a very focused, poetry-honed frame of mind lately and so maybe it's a matter of unfortunate timing. I will admit that the more I read these poems, the more they taught me how to read them. I think they are well-crafted poems overall, and the 2-star rating is totally based on personal taste. A different reader might really enjoy this collection.(less)
**spoiler alert** I am conflicted about this book, which is set (at the start, at least) at a prestigious, "Iowa-esque" writing program where the stud...more**spoiler alert** I am conflicted about this book, which is set (at the start, at least) at a prestigious, "Iowa-esque" writing program where the students worship their poetry professor and vie for her approval/attention. It's all very dishy: there are students & teachers behaving badly, prizes bestowed despite (or because of?) conflicts of interest, friendships & romances forged and broken and, at the bottom of it all, the urgently asked question: "But is it poetry?"
I'll admit that I loved the gossipy, snarky poetry students, with all of their insecurities, back-biting, and petty jealousies. It all felt very true, albeit in a very exaggerated way. The novel is constructed as a morality play with attendant "black vs. white" alignments: a true artist suffers in poverty and obscurity, while a successful poet sells out, acts immorally, and (in the end) does not really write "real" poems. Ambitions that are actually met feel hollow, while ambitions that are unsuccessfully pursued over a lifetime are noble and beautiful.
By the end of the book I was tired of all the characters and their various self-absorptions and egotisms. (Admittedly, this also feels very "true" as far as po biz is concerned.) I guess the bottom line is that I didn't feel emotionally invested in any of the characters or in what eventually happened to them. I also didn't believe that the characters would, years and years after the fact, still care so deeply about what happened in their writing program.
Still, I'm giving the book 3 stars because it was a fast, fun read. I'd recommend it (just for kicks) to anyone who has attended a graduate-level creative writing program. Much of it will feel familiar, in a soap-opera kind of way. (less)