NYRB, you have never failed me. This was a book group pick, and, though it was an NYRB, I didn't think I was in the mood for this. Turns out, this was...moreNYRB, you have never failed me. This was a book group pick, and, though it was an NYRB, I didn't think I was in the mood for this. Turns out, this was exactly the book I needed. Hard sci-fi, yet surprisingly accessible, with a blow-you-away premise. There are a couple of issues I'm still troubling over, but I think that's a sign of a good read -- I want to figure it out, I'm engaged enough to keep puzzling with it, long after the last page. Priest's writing reminds me a lot of George R. Stewart, both in tone and how they use their main character as the tool for which the reader learns the rules of the world. And both authors keep you thinking. Love that. I'll be adding a few more Priest titles to my tbr list. (less)
The woman had a terrible fight with her husband. There was arguing, some screaming, some tears, and a few soft things were thrown. Tha...more The Love Letter
The woman had a terrible fight with her husband. There was arguing, some screaming, some tears, and a few soft things were thrown. That night she packed a bag with some clothing, a credit card, and she stood at the door and said, “I'm leaving for a while. I'll be at my mom's house. I have to think. I don't know when I'll come back.”
The husband sunk his head into his shoulders. He was sad, but he didn't argue anymore. He touched the doorknob as she left. He watched her go.
Two days went by. She moved into the extra bedroom in her mother's ranch house in the country. She made her bed every morning with very straight corners. She kept her clothing folded in the bag. She bought nothing with the credit card. Her mother made very few comments about this new arrangement.
On the third day a letter arrived. It was from her husband. It said, “My dear, you can't understand how much I miss you. The house is so empty. Please, let's talk. Help me understand. I love you, Ben”
She read the letter, folded it carefully, tucked it in the empty top drawer of the dresser. She closed the drawer.
On the fifth day a small package arrived. It came from amazon.com. Diamond earrings. Expensive. The packing list was enclosed, charged to her credit card. She slid the earrings back into the amazon box, and placed them in the top drawer. She closed the drawer.
On the seventh day another letter arrived. It was thick. The typed letter said, “My dXar, I am lost without you. I doX't XvXX kXow who I am. ComX Xack to mX, aXd lXt us start agaiX. LovX, XXX” Something else was in the envelope; she looked inside. They were the keys from his keyboard, letter N, letter B, letter E.
On the ninth day another package arrived. It came from Barnes & Noble. It was a book called Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day. It had a red 20% off sticker on the cover. She opened it and began to read.
Inside was a story about an octopus who returned to the sea. There was a story about a father who realized he could fly. One was about a man who was seduced by a hat. And one was about a duck who fell in love with a stone. She read all the stories. When she was done, she placed the book in her bag, on top of her folded clothes. She lay on top of her tightly-made bed for a long time and stared at the ceiling. She stared and stared for hours and hours, maybe days; who knows, it was a very long time. Then she got up and wrote her husband a letter. A love letter. She used only the words that had the letters N, B, and E. The letter said, “ Ben Ben Ben Ben Ben Ben Ben Ben Ben Ben Ben Ben Ben Ben Ben”
On the eleventh day her husband received the letter. He looked at the return address; it was from a long time ago. He opened it in the foyer, not even sitting down first. He read every single word.
Even before he was done, he heard a key in the lock. As he stood there the door opened. She stood in the doorway, holding her bag.
Two obstacles overcome to get this book read -- my love/hate relationship with Drew Barrymore with this crappy photo on the cover, and the clunky, sen...moreTwo obstacles overcome to get this book read -- my love/hate relationship with Drew Barrymore with this crappy photo on the cover, and the clunky, sentimental title. After that, this book is a nice, quick read, with some important things to say about the experience of women in the last half of the 20th century. First off, our book group will be watching the movie together in the next week or so, and I'm braced for a Barrymore performance. I can't watch her without thinking "you spoiled E.T. child star, what gives you the nerve...", but then again she rocked it with Grey Gardens, so she's proved she has talent; it's just a certain brand of talent that sometimes gives me the I'm-sometimes-embarrassed-for-you willies. As for the book itself, there's great potential for good discussion in a women's book group, even for women born since the 60's. Some of the issues the author illuminates are still part of the American female experience, just in different costumes. What distanced me somewhat is the author's graceless relationship with her son. Even if you have your child too young, it seems to me impossible to be a naturally intelligent, thoughtful person and not give your child real love. You can be flaky, irresponsible, even negligent at times, but the innate love that cements a mother-son bond just wasn't to be found, and I'm having a difficult time understanding that. Of course there are mothers who don't love their sons, or don't show it, but it's not often a mother admits it, and then dedicates her book to him. It's a perspective on motherhood that just makes me very uncomfortable. And it reminds me that my own trials of motherhood gave meaning to my life, and maybe that makes me lucky. (less)
Richard Dreyfuss is a near-god to me, so I have this soft spot for this story, watching the movie in my head as I read the words. But god, the words!...moreRichard Dreyfuss is a near-god to me, so I have this soft spot for this story, watching the movie in my head as I read the words. But god, the words! Benchley's writing feels like witnessing a severe case of OCD -- touch, touch, touch here, then here, now again, three times, now we can forward the plot. Like this: "He detached the harpoon dart from the shaft, snapped the twine that held the shaft to a cleat, hopped down from the transom, and ran forward. When he reached the bow, he bent down and tied the twine to a forward cleat, unlashed a barrel, and slipped its dart onto the shaft." Repeat and repeat and repeat until some man has to die to relieve the insufferable tedium of this business with the shafts and cleats. And I guess I can't comment on this book without somehow working in the oh-my-god-sharks-aren't-enough-we-need-some-serious-sexo-sexy-sex here in the middle of all these people getting eaten (touch touch touch). Of course we don't get to witness the actual sex, but we do get to hear all about the scented powder under her arms, in her shoes, in her bra touch touch touch. We get to witness the most impossible luncheon conversation about sexual fantasies between two near strangers touch touch touch. All this affair stuff is wrapped up tidily at the end, except that guy, but the story doesn't need him anymore, anyway. Touch touch...(less)
I'm so sorry, Mr. Franzen, for turning my back on you ten years ago with that whole Oprah debacle. I now understand your frustrations with finding you...moreI'm so sorry, Mr. Franzen, for turning my back on you ten years ago with that whole Oprah debacle. I now understand your frustrations with finding your audience, and even though Oprah is great exposure, she would also cut you off from so many male readers, lesbian readers, anyone who has a father, a mother, a sibling, a child, all of whom should read this book. Also, anyone currently writing a novel should be studying this book for Franzen's brilliant plot construction and character development. And as for theme -- this straightforward story about one particular family addresses the little questions as effortlessly as the awesomely huge ones, such as what is life for, and what if our expectations don't match the results, and what is fixable, and what can we just appreciate for what it is? This is a hugely satisfying read.(less)
**spoiler alert** A light, enjoyable read. Puts a spotlight on the world of celebrity and the journalists who feed off them. It's not a world I pay mu...more**spoiler alert** A light, enjoyable read. Puts a spotlight on the world of celebrity and the journalists who feed off them. It's not a world I pay much attention to, but fun to dip into now and then, remind yourself that glamour is all about spin, and not to waste too much time on it. Young claims to have learned that lesson, and his creds since then seem to mildly prove it. I did just a moment of research just to satisfy myself, and here's what I learned: Alex de Silva is, of course, not his rising star pal's real name. Unfortunately, this pseudonym was a poor choice, as it is the name of a once successful Hollywood choreographer from Brazil, glamorized on the tv show So You Think You Can Dance. He's since been charged on several counts of rape (2003-2009) and it looks like that career is over... Apparently, his pal's real name is Sacha Gervasi, and the two haven't spoken since the book was published. That Welsh dog grooming bit turned into the film The Big Tease. The un-named supermodel is allegedly Veronica Webb, and he's since fathered a child with ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell in 2006. As for Toby, looks like that romantic bit with Caroline was the real deal. They're still married and have four children. He is a comfy food critic and appears as a judge on Top Chef. Feel like maybe my career in the gossip rags has just begun!(less)
With a plot as unpredictable and fantastical as Alice In Wonderland, and sometimes just as unyielding to definitive interpretation, I wasn't invested...moreWith a plot as unpredictable and fantastical as Alice In Wonderland, and sometimes just as unyielding to definitive interpretation, I wasn't invested in the story until I met the Fairy with Sky-Blue Hair. She adds an evocative dimension -- mother/sister/lover, death/life, obedience/adventure-seeker -- that gives Pinocchio a more justified motivation, in my mind. Without her, the book seems almost communist in its study hard, work hard, revere your elders and memorize these aphorisms to succeed in life diatribe. She adds a sense of humanism and sensitivity to the story and to Pinocchio's character. I watched Benini's film version just after reading this, and was very impressed with the film's integrity towards Collodi's story. Some people are disturbed by the varying perspective -- Pinocchio as adult-sized puppet playing a child, then suddenly toy-sized in his scene with Fire Eater, and his school friends all played by young men. It didn't disturb me at all, perhaps because I don't feel Pinocchio has to be a physical child, because his growth is all mental. At first he's new to the world (as a child) and naive and curious. Then he's victim to peer pressure, his own sense of integrity is challenged, and he finally learns to make mature decisions for himself that he can follow through with. These are the steps toward maturity, not necessarily chronological age, and some grown adults never make the full journey. Disney's Pinocchio is fine, but tells a very different, safer story.(less)
I love it when a children's author has discovered a way to continually wink-wink at his older readers who may "get" his allusions to larger themes and...moreI love it when a children's author has discovered a way to continually wink-wink at his older readers who may "get" his allusions to larger themes and stories, and, at the same time, keep his younger readers so thoroughly engaged in a driving plot, that the themes and allusions become a new mythology of their own. This book is action-packed, clever, and meaningful. Plot-twists make sense, and characters make believable decisions. It's somehow not implausible that Mount Olympus can be found atop the Empire State Building. And some scenes are truly brilliant, such as the unassuming attraction of the Lotus Casino. My 10-year-old read the entire series in only a few weeks. He loved the adventure, and along the way, he picked up more Greek mythology than a college course could have taught him. He's searched out more Greek myth titles from the library and book store, and is even self-guiding through a workbook of Greek vocabulary. Seriously, he's giving himself homework -- vocabulary homework! We're looking forward to the movie, and I guess I'll have to search the Underworld of his room and find his copy of Sea of Monsters.(less)
I'm impressed with Anderson's ability to poke fun at the trials of adolescence without ever condescending to that age group. It's interesting to note...moreI'm impressed with Anderson's ability to poke fun at the trials of adolescence without ever condescending to that age group. It's interesting to note the other reviews here -- high school age kids seem not so impressed, while adult readers are raving. Is distance necessary to appreciate her pokes? I've witnessed a lot lesser reasons for highschool peers to ostracize each other. And while we hope that Melinda finally finds a way to speak, we understand why she doesn't. I enjoyed Anderson's tree imagery, especially in light of her discussion of English class symbolism and analysis. I loved the tone of this novel, and I'm always glad to see popular fiction struggling with real issues facing real girls -- no vampires, but certainly a real monster.(less)
A classic, of course. And if you think you've heard the story a million times before, that the independent man must fight against the machine, and tha...moreA classic, of course. And if you think you've heard the story a million times before, that the independent man must fight against the machine, and that the machine may win the battle, but we can't stop fighting the war, if that sounds familiar, well...it's familiar because Kesey said it first and said it best. (less)
The best way to read this would be all at once, no interruptions, no breaks to remind you of your mundane existence outside your reading world. Tryon'...moreThe best way to read this would be all at once, no interruptions, no breaks to remind you of your mundane existence outside your reading world. Tryon's prose style wants to take you out with it's tide, float you along, and then slowly allow you to realize your ankles are wet, then your knees, and you'd better start bailing, 'cause you're going down. The devil's in the details, so pay attention. (less)
The first section of this book is deceptive in its simple, happily harmonious narrative of a family living in mid-century rural Missouri. There are su...moreThe first section of this book is deceptive in its simple, happily harmonious narrative of a family living in mid-century rural Missouri. There are suggestions of family struggle and conflict, but the tone centers on the family's values concerning God and hard work. It is only as you stride deeper into each character's narrative that the personal and private conflicts of self-worth, loyalty and guilt come to light, creating real, multi-dimensional characters that resonate even for a contemporary reader. This is a wise book, providing much food for thought. Also, as an adopted native of Kansas City, I really enjoyed the references to the old train station, Liberty Memorial, and the Muehlebach Hotel.(less)