Here is a short list that should tell you everything I think about this book:
1. I got it at BEA.
2. I carried it around during like the wettest two weHere is a short list that should tell you everything I think about this book:
1. I got it at BEA.
2. I carried it around during like the wettest two weeks ever, even in a derecho, and it is pretty well destroyed.
3. I finished it at the park, lying in the last sun rays of the day.
4. I will be gifting it to my mom next time I see her.
So there you have it, right?
Okay, let me break it down.
1. means that A Guide for the Perplexed is going to be pushed hard by Norton, and also that it's made for mass consumption. These are not things I love.
2. means that, although it's not super long, it took me about twice as long to read as normal, indicating that I was not very compelled by it. In fact, the book has three braided plots, and one of them was awfully compelling, but every time it got to a cliff-hanger, I had to wade through the next installments of the other two plots, and by time I got back to it I was unfocused at best.
3. means that although I always walk my dog around 6, I wanted to be done with this book and have it out of my bag so bad that I left him waiting until close to 7. (Sorry, puppy.)
4. means that it is very Jewish, character-driven, viscerally scenery'd, well described, and ultimately over-emotional and a little hokey. These are things my mom loves....more
From Flavorpill, primary online arbiter of my literary tastes: This hectic, swirling novel is a perfect fit for the frenzy of summer, cobbled togetherFrom Flavorpill, primary online arbiter of my literary tastes: This hectic, swirling novel is a perfect fit for the frenzy of summer, cobbled together from stories of a cabdriver in fictional Carnival city. Like any carnival worth its salt, lunatics, drunks, wild children, and sharp voices abound....more
Oh look, Flavorpill once again tells me to jump, and I say "Into which book?"
Here's what they think: In Wecker’s gorgeous, blue-paged book, fantasy anOh look, Flavorpill once again tells me to jump, and I say "Into which book?"
Here's what they think: In Wecker’s gorgeous, blue-paged book, fantasy and historical fiction run smoothly against each other to tell the story of some pretty unusual immigrants — a Polish golem and a Syrian jinni — trying to make it in turn-of-the-century New York. Philosophical, strange, and seriously engrossing.
Blue pages? Turn-of-the-century New York? Golems and jinnies?? Give. Me....more
I really, really wish I'd read this book a few months ago, when it came out, when I was really excited about it. BecaThis is all Donna Tartt's fault.
I really, really wish I'd read this book a few months ago, when it came out, when I was really excited about it. Because it was pretty good! Really! I mean if it had just been a regular part of my reading life, I would have liked it fine. But—and I knew this before I was twenty pages in—Adelle Waldman is NO Donna Tartt. I'm actually afraid that anything I read for the next several months is going to wilt in comparison to even the vaguest whiff of The Goldfinch.
This book's titular Nathaniel P. is a semi-successful writer who is my age (30ish), living in my part of the world (Brooklyn), at this very moment in time. As advertised, the book is sort of a catalogue of his dating life for a year or so (although honestly it's mostly the story of him dating one girl, with a lot of backstory about a few other girls he dated previously, and then a sort of rushed gloss about the girl he dates next). I mean but the point is that it's the kind of thing I really should like. It's set in my reality, it's full of clever characters and just dense with interior monologue, there's no trickery but it's still a smart read.
The whole book just feels so mechanical and planned. You can see all the writerly seams, barely concealed. You can feel Adelle thinking: "In this scene I need their emotional tenor to shift, so here's how they'll get from Point A to Point B, here's the conversation they'll have, here's the subtext that will be revealed, and here's the menial task they'll be doing with their hands meanwhile." It's not a book that you can lose yourself in, not for a moment, because the author is holding everything so tightly, working it so intently. There's so much telling rather than showing, and it keeps the reader always at a very sharp remove.
And then too, it's all so agonizingly self-conscious. This is of course partly because the narrator is so absurdly deep inside his own head, but also partly, I would bet, because the author is too. It's easy to guess which anecdotes were probably taken from her life, which small bits of banter she heard or said and then built a scene around, putting the snippets snugly in the mouths of her characters. At times the plotting feels a bit like a checklist: what books and magazines the characters read and discuss, what kind of people they hang out with (gay friend, foreign friend), where they go for a drink (hipster café in low-income, newly gentrified area, semi-sexy urban dive bar), how they talk (with exaggeratedly liberal repartee, daring one another to be offended by their off-color wit).
And but yet it does, on the whole, feel very real: the shifting alliances, the droll conversations that suddenly, with the benefit of too much interior monologue, take on vast chasms of subtext, the body language that augments and counterpoints simple acts.
I do respect what she did, I just didn't enjoy it.
Is it banal to mention that the characters are on the whole unlikeable? I heard recently that that's something only vapid women say: Oh, I didn't like the characters so I couldn't like the book. But what are you supposed to do? They are all, especially Nathaniel P., pretty awful—not evil, but ordinarily obnoxious and self-obsessed and neurotic and shallow and cloyingly desperate for attention—so even when they feel real, it's real with a headache, with a patina of "Why exactly am spending my time with these people?" I mean, I don't hang out with people I don't like, so why would I be excited to spend my 200+ pages of my reading life with them?
Sigh. On to the next book that isn't The Goldfinch and is bound to let me down....more
Apparently what happened here is this fella (a comedy writer, dontcha know) went to a bunch of those sites where they'll write your research paper forApparently what happened here is this fella (a comedy writer, dontcha know) went to a bunch of those sites where they'll write your research paper for you and said things like this:
My midterm thesis essay paper is an exploration of Alternate Endings To Great Works of Literature. All I need from you is to come up with some Alternate endings to some Great works of literature … Provide a new ending to Catcher In The Rye where Holden Caulfield turns into a crawfish and goes into some kind of retail business.
Says my smart bookfriend Jeremy: there is a quiet beauty and simplicity to sjón's writing, but his novel is hardly a disposable affair. the whisperingSays my smart bookfriend Jeremy: there is a quiet beauty and simplicity to sjón's writing, but his novel is hardly a disposable affair. the whispering muse's undulous, dual narratives are charming and seamlessly intertwined, while sjón winningly blends his twin influences of the contemporary and the classical.
Says Flavorpill: Strange and mythic, mysterious and masterful, it’s no wonder Björk is such a fan of this guy.
This is a fun memoir. It's really a series of vignettes of a life in food: grandma's pickles, a perfect croissant in Venice, Mom's chocolate-chip cookThis is a fun memoir. It's really a series of vignettes of a life in food: grandma's pickles, a perfect croissant in Venice, Mom's chocolate-chip cookies, seared halibut with Dad. Lucy was born & raised a foodie before there was even such a term. Her mom worked at the very first Dean & Deluca in NYC in the 70s, and was behind the cheese counter for most of her pregnancy. They then moved upstate and Lucy spent her adolescence in farms, farmers markets, and working as a waitress for her mom's fancy catering company. There's great scenes about the power of food, from eating crazy things in Japan to being served awful "lemonade chicken" by a well-meaning but clueless friend. Lucy gives equal weight to a super-high-end molecular gastronomy restaurant and a marinated lamb shank at a family BBQ. She even has a soft spot for junk food, from pocky to McDonald's fries.
The memoir is kind of light, with not too much emotional depth, but it's still really fun. And each chapter ends with a recipe, which is awesome awesome awesome. At our Jugs & Capes meeting today, two different ladies made Lucy's chocolate-chip cookies, and they were spectacular. I hope she does a whole graphic-novel cookbook next!...more
I'm just recycling my own reviews I guess, but I already described this book in my "want to read" review of this other one. I said how this is about aI'm just recycling my own reviews I guess, but I already described this book in my "want to read" review of this other one. I said how this is about a group of urban explorers in the UK sneaking into and photographing abandoned buildings and disused subway stations and giant under-construction skyscrapers, but written first as this guy's PhD thesis relating urban exploration to the modern and postmodern condition, and our relationships to space and time, and our ownership or lack thereof of our public places and our private place in the world. It's pretty great, even though it took me a million hours to copyedit, on top of my day job, and so ruined my life for a couple of weeks. It's kind of sad that I was stuck in my apartment night after night, reading about these really daring crazy trespass exploits.
Moral of the story: the life of a copyeditor is just not as glamorous as the life of an urban explorer. I know you're all shocked....more
The seminal urban-exploration text, apparently. Spawned the whole genre maybe? including this one, which I really want to read, and this one, which IThe seminal urban-exploration text, apparently. Spawned the whole genre maybe? including this one, which I really want to read, and this one, which I just proofread....more
There are two semi-related parts to this review. My thoughts on the book itself are first, and then about halfway down you'll find a screed about theThere are two semi-related parts to this review. My thoughts on the book itself are first, and then about halfway down you'll find a screed about the whimsical nature of discoverability that I wrote shortly after Great God Amazon announced their purchase of GR. So.
Part the 1st: My review of Hidden Cities If you read the second part below, you'll find that I know Moses Gates, at least glancingly. He seems like a really smart & interesting guy—he's an urban planner, NYC tour guide, and devotee of the underground (literally). So this book is his "urbex" memoir (that's what the kids call it; it means "urban exploration"), i.e., his account of prowling around subway tunnels, climbing bridges, busting into abandoned power stations, and doing all manner of other fascinating illegal shit in a dozen cities on several continents.
Cool, right? But look: writing a book like this is tough. You have to find a way to do more than brag and swing your dick around and talk about how fucking cool you are for breaking all the rules and doing so much death- and law-defying shit.
This is the second urbex memoir I've read recently, and the two authors handled this very differently. The other one (Explore Everything), which, I will admit here (I was paid to read it so didn't mention anything bad when I reviewed it), was not that great; he interspersed a serious amount of self-aggrandizement with very esoteric, abstruse philosophical musings about urban exploration vis-á-vis the modern and postmodern condition. Moses Gates does a better job: he augments his braggery with urban history and a lot of fascinating minutia about many of the places he's gone—Parisian catacombs, Russian sewers, Ukrainian drainage tunnels, NYC bridges, Tunisian rooftops, etc.
And look, of course it's super fucking impressive to hear about this kind of daring exploration—the secret graffiti murals, the different ways to pop a manhole cover open, how easy it is to sneak into Stonehenge at night, what happens when you get stopped by the cops in Paris on top of the Notre Dame cathedral, what it's like to have sex on top of the Williamsburg Bridge, what to do when you find a swastika carved into the wall of a buried bunker in the Ukraine, and on and on. He has interesting things to say about the artificiality of boundaries, the loss of public and uncontrolled space, how once you've taken your first step past the DO NOT ENTER sign, it's pretty tough to ever go back to blindly obeying the rules.
But ultimately, even when he tries to be self-deprecating, it all just kept coming back to dick swinging. There's just so much macho posturing, so much white male privilege. I know that not everything has to be political or replete with extensive social commentary, and I guess it wasn't within the scope of this book to discuss what would have happened if he'd been caught trespassing and was black, or a woman in a burqa. But it would have been nice to see a bit of acknowledgment that urban exploration is a fun game that only some people are really allowed to play.
Part the 2nd: Why Amazon is a goddamn moron I recently joked in another review about how I was going to go ahead and solve the whole "discoverability" question—who buys which books when and why—for Great God Amazon, so that they could then un-buy Goodreads and leave us all alone with what innocence we still retain. And with that book, the problem did seem solvable: I read a great review by a great writer on a great site, and so clearly I wanted the book. Easy-peasy.
But let me tell you about this one, my dear bookfriends (and also Amazon Overlords). This will maybe disprove my point (that discoverability is mappable) so thoroughly that it winds up reinforcing my other, implied point: Amazon should un-buy Goodreads. In this case it's because discoverability is so insanely convoluted that even if Amazon buys the whole goddamn English language, this shit will never be predictable with even an iota of accuracy.
So here's the story: I used to be a freelance editor, and then I got a job where my boss likes me to work roughly 93 1/2 hours a week, so I mostly stopped. But a handful of my old editing clients still check in sometimes, and I do want to keep that door open, so sometimes I say yes.
The last one I did was for Verso, and it was this book, which is about a group of urban explorers in the UK sneaking into and photographing abandoned buildings and disused subway stations and giant under-construction skyscrapers, written first as Bradley's PhD thesis relating urban exploration to the modern and postmodern condition, and our relationships to space and time, and our ownership or lack thereof of our public places and our private place in the world. It was pretty great.
Then I turned in the project and forgot all about it.
A few months later I got an email from this incredibly cool NY art person I know through my website about crazy underground Brooklyn. He's always doing wacky things like curating exhibits of GIFs from Geocities or microwaving light bulbs or traveling to places like Myanmar to take bonkers photos. And in the email he mentioned a project he'd done where he gave away a framed drawing of the word "concision" to the first person to write a 5,000-word essay on the subject of concision, and the person who won is a friend of his named Moses Gates, whom I remembered having been mentioned in the book about urban exploration in the UK.
And so I looked him up. And it turns out that he wrote this book. And now I want to read it.
And Big Brother Amazon? You would never ever ever ever have been able to guess that....more
From a review by Word Books: Domenica Ruta grew up under the authority of a drug-addled, somewhat psychotic mom, which makes her memoir dramatic enougFrom a review by Word Books: Domenica Ruta grew up under the authority of a drug-addled, somewhat psychotic mom, which makes her memoir dramatic enough to read like a scandalous novel -- but all the more gripping because it's true. Her portrayal is compassionate regarding her mother but also clear-eyed on the reckless behavior both observed and shared, the damaged characters who pass through their family orbit, and the dangers of a parent living on the edge.
before reading I would like to submit this as Exhibit A for the failure of traditional publishing to redress issues of sexism, not to mention shootingbefore reading I would like to submit this as Exhibit A for the failure of traditional publishing to redress issues of sexism, not to mention shooting itself in its stupid foot and being appallingly condescending to one of its strongest demographics.
I mean, first I'd like to read the book.
But I believe this paragraph from the author's incredible (and incredibly enraging) recent piece on the Nation should stand by itself to support my case:
It's 1999. I sell my first book to Random House, a memoir of my years as a war photographer, for twice my NBC salary. The book is sold on the basis of a proposal and a first chapter under the title Newswhore, which is the insult often lobbed at us both externally and from within our own ranks—a way of noting, with a combination of shame and black humor, the vulture-like nature of our livelihood, and a means of reclaiming, as I see it, the word "whore," since I want to write about sexual and gender politics as well. Random House changes the book's title to Shutterbabe, which a friend came up with. I beg for Shuttergirl instead, to reclaim at least "girl," as Lena Dunham would so expertly do years later. Anything besides a title with the word "babe" in it.
I'm told I have no say in the matter. The cover that the publisher designs has a naked cartoon torso against a pink background with a camera covering the genitalia. I tell them it's usually my eye behind the camera, not my vagina. When my publicist tries to pitch the book to NPR's Terry Gross, a producer tells him that Terry likes the "Shutter" part of the title but not the "babe" part.
It goes on. Please read the piece, it's a toxic horror and a trenchant howl against the fucking stupid male-philic literary establishment. I can't wait to get my hands on this book.
after reading Well, I did get my hands on it; I ordered it shortly after reading that article. Hooray for journalism! Hooray for old media!
Hooray for this book!
It's pretty fantastic—a fantastic memoir of a fantastic life. Deborah was a photojournalist in the '80s and '90s, covering war in Afghanistan, poachers in Africa, revolution in Moscow, heroin addicts in Zurich, more and more. So it's the story of a life lived fucking fast and frantic, this nimble, inquisitive, often fearless, tiny woman striding manically through the chaos and clamor of the world, clawing desperately to make her mark in it.
It goes into a lot of fascinating detail about photojournalism just before everything went digital. For example, do you know how you got your film out of a war-torn or third-world country back then? You went to the airport, found a kind-looking person who was flying to your home airport, thrust the film into their hands, and then scampered back to your hostel or embassy or bar to call someone from your photo agency and describe what the person looked like so they could meet them at the airport and get the film. Can you imagine that happening today? Just running up to someone in an airport and trying to get them to stuff something unfamiliar into their luggage? You'd all be sent to fucking Guantanamo.
But so in addition to industry minutia like camera speeds and photographer fashion and the petty rivalries within the journalism community, Deborah also talks a lot—unsurprisingly—about what it was like to be a woman, a small woman, in a big boys' club. From editors commenting loudly and often about the size of her tits, to fixers in foreign countries who won't take her to the story unless she fucks them, to being raped by men she trusts, this is, just like the article I linked above, a fucking toxic horror.
But then, it's also a love letter. In fact, each chapter is titled after the man she loved during that period in her life. Lots of men are horrible, or misogynistic, or just misguided, but Deborah also reminds us often that lots of men are kind and sexually giving and protective and trustworthy. In fact, the biggest twist of the book comes toward the end, when tiny Amazonian Deborah meets her husband-to-be, finally notices that the her biological clock is hammering louder than the bombs outside her window, and decides, wrenchingly but with absolute conviction, to say goodbye to all that and go home and make some babies.
I had a sort of knee-jerk negative reaction to that part, to be honest. I often, like so many "modern" women, think a career girl abandoning her own life to focus on being a stay-at-home mom is a betrayal of feminism. Of course, that's an incredibly stupid and dangerous idea. The whole point of feminism, to me anyway, is the freedom to do whatever the fuck you want, and if what you want is to be a mom, you goddamn should. And Deborah does, and she is so happy, and even though the book gets kind of corny once she starts describing her love for her incredible, amazing, perfect children, it's still a wickedly terrific read. ...more
What happened was that I read Hannah's review—which you all need to read right now, it's as invigoratingly strange and lovely a piece of writing as anWhat happened was that I read Hannah's review—which you all need to read right now, it's as invigoratingly strange and lovely a piece of writing as any I've seen on this site, so go ahead and click, I'll wait.
So I was all intensified, all ready to get either het UP or obSESSed or some other brilliant Hannah-ism!
But then I just... didn't. I mean, I made it a third of the way through the book, so I'd say I get it, I see what Julie's trying to do. And she's clever, but only sometimes. The voice is droll but also incredibly self-obsessed. Also: she's super shitty about trans people, and fat people, and even sometimes about gay people, whom she professes to adore above all, playing all those groups for cheap laughs ("like a fat kid asking for a Snickers with frosting on it" is the kind of analogy she makes, or "show me ___ and I'll show you a convincing tranny," which: oh god, that's awful).
And it's meant to be super scandalous for her to talk about loving blowjobs and horrfying her fellow tweens with phone-sex lines and sleeping with men who want to taste their own jizz, right? But that doesn't scandalize me at all, I'm way too jaded.
Another thing Hannah said in her brilliant review is that you have to already be in love with Julie Klausner to care about this book, so maybe that's the problem. I'd never heard of her at all, actually, so reading this just makes me think she's a fairly clever comedienne who is far too interested in hearing herself talk.
Maybe I'm just grumpy, or maybe it's just the wrong time for me to be reading this, and maybe I'll go back to it in a few months or whatever, but for now: nope. Done....more
If it takes me more than a week to read a book, that book is either super long or super un-compelling. People of Forever is just over 200 pgs, so sadlIf it takes me more than a week to read a book, that book is either super long or super un-compelling. People of Forever is just over 200 pgs, so sadly, this is the latter.
I grabbed this proof for $1 at the Strand on the strength of the title alone. The premise is unusual: teenage girls in bootcamp in Israel. And at first I was into it; it was pretty fascinating to see stories of teenagers doing teenagey things—getting and giving blowjobs, worrying about their zits, falling in love, feeling misunderstood—but behind the scrim of the world of army barracks, weapons training, international checkpoints, and military drills. The juxtaposition in some of the episodes is really sharp and great, like one girl sharpshooter who is punished for some indiscretion by having to teach a cute boy to shoot and winds up losing her virginity to him on the range where they've spent the week doing target practice.
But the episodic nature of the book ultimately made it feel really amateurish. I would bet a lot of money that most of this is autobiographical, and it suffers from the mistake of leaving in too much, as well as the lack of characterization that is often obvious when writing about someone known to the author; because you know what a person it like, you often forget to give the character based on that person enough personality to be recognizable to an audience who doesn't know the person. You know?
Also toward the end things really started to fall apart. There were some extremely disturbing episodes, like one involving (view spoiler)[ a days-long gang rape of three women (hide spoiler)] and another involving (view spoiler)[a woman taking a stranger hostage in her apartment, and then her fiance discovers it and... helps her beat him (hide spoiler)], which were not dealt with or denoument-ed at all, and then some really meandering sections, like a long long thing about (view spoiler)[one of the girls being so depressed that her father buys her a car and she drives them both into the ocean. Or something; it's not really clear. (hide spoiler)]
Anyway, I don't know. I say this all the goddamn time, but I think Shani really needed a good editor to shave off about a quarter of the book and help her find her arc and pacing with what was left. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I loooooved Tea of Ulaanbataar (this much), so despite how I tend to hate short stories, I was super psyched when Christopher himself offered to sendI loooooved Tea of Ulaanbataar (this much), so despite how I tend to hate short stories, I was super psyched when Christopher himself offered to send me this one. I really should have started it right away (he sent it a month or so ago), because these stories are incredibly evocative and intense—but also bleak and stark and somewhat hopeless, and it's April and finally becoming spring after the longest damn winter, and the city is so so bright and beautiful now and I just don't have it in me to dive down into this kind of dark despair.
I will definitely go back to these though, soon....more
Because I am an idiot (and because it was way cheaper), I bought this massive weapon of a book in a single volume, rather than the super-portable trilBecause I am an idiot (and because it was way cheaper), I bought this massive weapon of a book in a single volume, rather than the super-portable trilogy edition. It's been staring at me reproachfully for weeks, so I finally took a big Cutco knife to it and DIY'd it into two volumes. I haven't had to do that since I read Infinite Jest, but it was totally worth it.
Checking in after finishing tonight, it seems that I spent five full weeks with this book, which is longer than I've spent with anyone other than Pynchon and DFW, I think? So that's crazy, but also somewhat lovely, as those guys and this guy are all among my most favorites ever. Also I read three graphic novels interspersed with 1Q84, the last of which was Rasl, another book that moves creepily between worlds.
So let's just say I've had some strange dreams over the last week.
In any case, 1Q84. As with The Instructions, this book doesn't actually feel long, despite being 1200 freaking pages. It has such an easy flow, such a compelling pace (though slightly plodding in its meticulousness), that it just slid right along. I actually sort of feel like it wasn't long enough, as there are a couple of questions that I don't think ever got properly answered. I think I said this about Against the Day, but a book like this is a little bit like reading an entire life; just sitting on someone's shoulder as they go about their every day, so naturally it feels like you just want to keep following them, day after day, forever.
On to other things about this book. It's got all the Murakami building blocks that we have come to expect:
So that was comforting. In fact, comforting is really the main adjective I would use to describe this reading experience. Yes, I know, the book does contain murder, incest, rape, child neglect, religious fundamentalism, torture, and on and on. But yet, it's not gory, or explicit, or harsh. All these things are dealt with in the same slow, measured, matter-of-fact tone and pace as the more "normal" parts, and moreover, the harshness amounts to a very very small percentage of the book overall.
I'm dancing around doing any plot explication, but here are some of the other things to be found in this book: ghostwriting, smoking hash, mystical "little people," moon(s), cats and owls, a gun (along with a discussion of Chekhov, and whether a gun introduced into a story must eventually be fired), loneliness, despair, shadow selves, long train rides, cute nurses.
So I definitely don't mean to say that it's boring—just slow. Methodical. Placid. Calm.
Which I definitely don't mind! Although I suppose I have to admit that I don't think this is as good as Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and perhaps a lot of that has to do with how much more electrifying the latter is. It might even also have to do with how much shorter Wind-Up Bird is, and that is by no means a short book. I mean, while I wouldn't say 1Q84 ever exactly dragged, I do think he could have sliced out at least 200 pages just through a bit of stern editorial oversight.
I am known to be pretty fucking elitist and cranky, and for most authors, if I felt like a book could loose two hundred goddamn pages, I would probably never read that person again. But I don't know what it is about Murakami; to me reading him is like wrapping up in my favorite soft threadbare hoodie—it's just so damn comfortable, I forget to notice that there's a hole in the pocket, one of the seams is unraveling, and it's got a couple of pretty noticeable stains.
I don't know if that metaphor works or what. But I did love this book, just like I've loved every other book he's written, and will probably love everything else he ever does. ...more
Another amazing-sounding book rec'd by the awesome Emily Books.
Anna O. is a thirtyish New Yorker living in the squalid East Village of 1990. Dead friAnother amazing-sounding book rec'd by the awesome Emily Books.
Anna O. is a thirtyish New Yorker living in the squalid East Village of 1990. Dead friends and junkies on the sidewalk are a fact of life, and worsening political unrest is threatening to destroy the world as she knows it. Plus, she's always falling for the wrong women. She needs help, and she finds it -- or does she? -- in the person of Doc, a street-corner therapist who charges $10 and only sees each of his patients three times because "I get what I need out of it by the third session and you can too." Doc diagnoses Anna with empathy, but it seems like her problems might be more complicated. Such as: does she exist? Does Doc? Do you?...more
I bought this in London at the stunning little London Review of Books shop. Books really look different in the UK! It's so strange thinking of how marI bought this in London at the stunning little London Review of Books shop. Books really look different in the UK! It's so strange thinking of how marketing works; I pulled several books off the shelf whose covers made me think I would love them—only to realize that they were books I had hated or had already judged unworthy of my time. Weirdly though, this one is kind of terrible; it looks from the cover like it's going to be a thriller or something, which it most assuredly is not.
All of which I guess is to say that my tastes might be completely different if I lived in London? What an ontologically troubling thought. ...more
So look, Amazon bought Goodreads so they could turn us all into data and capture the elusive beast "discoverability" (a beast in large part created beSo look, Amazon bought Goodreads so they could turn us all into data and capture the elusive beast "discoverability" (a beast in large part created because all the goddamn bookstores were driven out of business by, um, Amazon). Which makes me kind of want to cloak and deny what brings me to a book, right? Just to at least make them work for it. But then for fuck's sake, I often leave little breadcrumb-reviews of how I heard of a particular book for myself, because I do not go out and buy every book I want the very second I want it (if only!), and I will want to remember, many moons hence when I am scrolling through this list, why I to-read-ed something or another. Meaning that refusing to leave myself these notes would be a classic case of cutting off nose to spite face. So no.
And honestly, it's not like the discoverability I will lead Great God Amazon to would be such a surprise—I am a product of my demographic, my location, my habits. Obviously I read what Vice tells me to, what Flavorwire tells me to, what the wonderful authors I love and friends I respect tell me to. Isn't everyone like this? Why did goddamn Amazon have to buy Goodreads, presumably signaling the death of its innocence, its neutrality, and its candor, just to fucking find that out?
Gah, it is so sad and stupid. Whatever.
So look, let me just come right out with it: Hey Amazon Overlords, guess what! I read about this book in Flavorwire (which I love), wherein Heidi Juliavatis (whom I love) is quoted as saying this (which I love):
Woke Up Lonely is the novel equivalent of a sonic boom — it builds, it explodes, it leaves your ears, mind, and soul ringing for days. Who else writes sentences like this, who else writes sound art prose that transports a heart-killing story of human frailty, susceptibility, loyalty, and isolation? No one.
What do you know? That's three... what's the opposite of a strike? Unstrike? Fine, that's three unstrikes for Fiona, which means I now very very badly want to read this book.
Got that, Amazon Overlords? Now can you please retract your Goodreads purchase since I've gone ahead and solved the problem for you?
For a semi-refutation of part of this review (the part about discoverability being mappable) but a reinforcement of the main thrust of it (argh, Amazon), check out what I wrote about Hidden Cities.
Oh, and about Woke Up Lonely itself? This is rather anticlimactic after all that, but it turns out I really didn't like the book at all. Heidi promised me "sound art prose," and this book features nothing of the kind. It features instead a sprawling plot, too many unevenly developed and unlikable characters, some sort of wacky hijinks, international intrigue, heartstring-tugging, and a host of other things that are not what I expected and not what I particularly enjoy. Pretty disappointing....more
From Flavorpill: Confessional journalists have people like Mary MacLane to thank for their blunt style of autobiographical writing. The 19-year-old giFrom Flavorpill: Confessional journalists have people like Mary MacLane to thank for their blunt style of autobiographical writing. The 19-year-old girl from Butte, Montana shocked everyone after publishing I Await the Devil’s Coming in 1902 — she was a self-proclaimed genius that lusted after the Devil, wrote about her desire for other women, and became a best-selling sensation practically overnight.