I didn't know the story about the Corrections, the slight to Oprah or the National Book Award business. Maybe I was asleep that year or reading somethI didn't know the story about the Corrections, the slight to Oprah or the National Book Award business. Maybe I was asleep that year or reading something long by Charles Dickens. I did finally read the novel though when my husband, Dr. Midwestern Literature bought home a copy. Wow, I remember thinking as I finished. Wow. I read the first chapter of Freedom in the New Yorker last year and I talked about it, recommended it, got into a huge discussion with Jeff about the characters. We, sadly, look a little like Walter and Patty Bergland. I'm full of misplaced East Coast entitlement. Jeff is a nice but easily road raged intellectual from Minnesota. We live in a pretty Victorian house in a suburban place with our two pretty kids--yup, a boy and I girl. I knew when I bought my copy of Freedom at Borders instead of the Indy bookstore I should have shopped at, I was risking seeing my own insanity, my own dull smallness in an unflattering mirror. Toward the end of the novel, I hated the whole story. Seriously. What a downer all the self-interest and human foible coming between two people who needed each other. I kept thinking screw you Mr. Downer Franzen. Then this evening, I finished the book and OK, I sort of managed to enjoy two happy endings, the one Jeff and I experienced being together despite the fragility of our world, and the one Franzen forged for the Berglands, who do finally, figure a few basic things about each other out. Freedom is worth the pain and suffering. That's all I'm saying....more
I've been searching for a book like Subway Girl, one that has the emotional impact of a great teen novel but which also feels artful and true and compI've been searching for a book like Subway Girl, one that has the emotional impact of a great teen novel but which also feels artful and true and complex. ...more
The book I wanted to compare Little Bee too most as I read it was The Help. I had the same nagging sense at points in both novels that one race was stThe book I wanted to compare Little Bee too most as I read it was The Help. I had the same nagging sense at points in both novels that one race was stealing stories from another and slightly rewriting history to reassign heroic roles. Little Bee is more beautifully crafted than The Help, which works for, and against it. It made me take it more seriously. I loved Batman and his childish attachments and I really responded to the harrowing scene on the beach. (I didn't sleep the night I read it).The ending of Little Bee left me less frustrated than the ending of The Help because the author didn't slap an easy resolution onto a complicated story, and because the actions of the Westerner were not necessarily the ones that saved the day. But Little Bee is a victim, and Sarah does assume the role of older sister. Is this how we should be looking at Africa? Isn't this slightly insulting? ?There are many, many African activists whose stories are just beginning to be told. I'm not sure how I should end this review. Let's just say, I am thinking about it all and that is reason enough to recommend that other people read and discuss Little Bee....more
For whatever reason, despite what happens in the first chapter, I read most of The Virgin Suicides in the bathtub. The tub has always been the place IFor whatever reason, despite what happens in the first chapter, I read most of The Virgin Suicides in the bathtub. The tub has always been the place I've gone to feel sorry for myself, dwell on my frustrations, think my darkest thoughts. If I were to off myself, I'd likely do it in the tub just like Cecelia (tries) in the opening pages, but only if I didn't have a book as good to read as this one to distract me. The Virgin Suicides, in my opinion, is not so much a novel as it is an extended meditative poem on the beauty, fullness,and drama of adolescence. The Lisbon girls are a mystery to the neighborhood who watches them cope with their loss. They are a mystery to themselves. AS they begin to stew in their own juices, page after page of suffering, I waited for Eugenides to fulminate against the romance of self-torture, to unleash the bottled anger that the drives his writing. Bath waters turns tepid if you soak in them too long. Childhood is a stage of life to move on from and wistfully say goodbye to. The Virgin Suicides ends on a sobering note, the anti-climax and new beginning of adulthood. ...more
I think I might have read True Grit when I was about 14. I know I saw the John Wayne version of the movie a few times and enjoyed the Coen brother remI think I might have read True Grit when I was about 14. I know I saw the John Wayne version of the movie a few times and enjoyed the Coen brother remake just recently. All the subsequent chatter made me think I should read it again. I bought myself a new copy just before the Wall Street Journal published an article accusing the publishing industry of fueling contemporary YA lit with too much darkness. They included the usual sidebar of books they did approve, and weirdly, True Grit made the cut.
I have no real problem with the choice--it's an amazing novel. I think a lot of teens would love it.
But for the record--True Grit is exceedingly violent and dark, much darker than the disapproved Hunger Games series. Mattie Ross may see herself as a good Presbyterian but she thirsts to revenge the murder of her father. Along the way, she wins the respect/admiration of two men twice her age (this plot line is a classic a love triangle). She sees a man take a half hour to suffocate at the end of a rope, another man lose his fingers to a bowie knife, and a boy of 14 die in a shootout. She pulls her trigger twice, eventually mortally wounding her man, but nearly falls to her own death in a snake pit. Would the Coen brothers have remade a movie that didn't include these juicy details?
So why did the Wall Street Journal sanctify True Grit but reject Hunger Games? My theory is that the WSJ objects to overt verses repressed sexual tension in the two novels. True Grit is rife with inappropriate yearnings, but Portis artfully buries this content in euphemisms of his historical period. Katniss, on the other hand, more straightforwardly yearns, even as she wages her battles.
The general queasiness about the nature of girls and their sexual natures goes deeper than the WSJ, but pointing this out is always a challenge. t makes a relatively feminine article like myself sound too pushy. ...more
I haven't scrolled through many other Goodreads reviews of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, but I have a feeling at least some startI haven't scrolled through many other Goodreads reviews of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, but I have a feeling at least some start with the line "my son/daughter is autistic and . . ." Though we have plenty of other topics to discuss with my son's Asperger's therapist during our $100 plus an hour sessions, I sometimes veer into books because they can be good resources for empathy and discussion.
Her description of Curious Incident, before I read it, suggested that she loved it, but thought it was a pretty clinical study, relying on professional stereotypes rather than insider knowledge of autism/Aspergers. She thought the parents of autistic children probably had a much better idea (than Mark Haddon) of what autism was really like. She was preparing me to dislike what I read, letting me know it was OK if I did.
Christopher, the main character in Curious Incident, fixates on colors, fears being touched by other human beings, and excels in math.These are the stereotypes of ASD, but many kids with ASD don't posses any of these traits--thus the controversy. Haddon devotes a number of details for how uncomfortably odd Christopher is, how people see him from the outside, how he causes strife and struggle within his family and is unwanted by most of the adults who have to cope with him. When you look at your kid, believe me, you don't want to see him/her in this light. You don't want to admit that without your protection and guidance, your child might suffer greatly, or that you have days where you wish you could chuck it and run off with the neighbor's husband.
Christopher isn't my son. My son, though autistic, has a very different personality and set of sensory issues. Christopher is though, me, during a great percentage of the novel. Haddon's fictional slight of hand, strong first person voice, and honest perspective, sucked me so far into Christopher's world view I began to feel what he felt, see what he saw, want what he wanted. This was good for me.
Christopher can't lie. Neither should we when we build the channels of communication we need to get along together as a family. Those of us who live close to children with ASD (all of us) should learn to know autistic people for who they are, not for who we want them to be. Curious Incident was a rigorous read because it told so much truth, but an important one in my human re-education. To know, after all, is to love. I wish to share this book with as many people as possible. ...more