This is the story of what Holden Caulfield would have been like if he hadn't been kicked out out of school, and had gone to public school in Californi...moreThis is the story of what Holden Caulfield would have been like if he hadn't been kicked out out of school, and had gone to public school in California. Despite his protestations about how much he doesn't get the whole Catcher in the Rye thing, Tom is made very much in Holden's image. Tom has a few things going for him over Holden, though. He is willing to interact with some parts of society, and gives more people than just his younger sister the benefit of the doubt, all of which make him a much more tolerable narrator. The other big difference between this book and Catcher is that in this book there's an actual plot. Said plot ranges all over the place, and includes excessive foreshadowing, but at least it's there.(less)
I can't quite explain why I liked this book. Most of it takes place in the minds of the main characters. One has a very non-ironic journal of profound...moreI can't quite explain why I liked this book. Most of it takes place in the minds of the main characters. One has a very non-ironic journal of profound thoughts to keep her (and us) in tune with her philosophical musings. Both characters, one a teenage girl and one a middle-aged concierge are eager to keep their intellectualism to themselves, while silently smirking at the people around them who aren't to know what goes on in the secret provinces of their thoughts. And yet, all of this is done with little evidence of conceit or pretension, which I found very refreshing.
The interior life of the mind is interrupted for both characters when a new tenant takes up residence in the building. He is able to discern the intellectualism lurking in both characters and begins to draw them both out. All of this is fine, but I was left asking myself how he was able to do this so effortlessly, and why he cared so much in the first place. Some of his story would not have been misplaced.
Other than this one slight misstep, I really enjoyed this book. The two characters are both delightful in their own way, and it was a pleasure to get a glimpse into their thoughts.(less)
This is the longest 300-page book I have ever read. I found it ridiculously pretentious in ways I can't even describe, and overly conceited. If Sam Pu...moreThis is the longest 300-page book I have ever read. I found it ridiculously pretentious in ways I can't even describe, and overly conceited. If Sam Pulsifer said " I could have said" or "I should have said" I was going to jump into the book and put him in jail myself just for being an idiot. This is an entire book based on the idea that the main character is, in his own words, a "bumbler," and certainly one of the most unsympathetic characters I've come across.(less)
I almost had to fight with Buzbee in the first chapter of this book. He describes bookstores as places to go to browse (no objection yet), even to sit...moreI almost had to fight with Buzbee in the first chapter of this book. He describes bookstores as places to go to browse (no objection yet), even to sit down and read (no particular objection here either), and to look for particular pieces of information. Wait! Here I object: isn't that what the library is for? Of course, I have my biases (being a librarian) and he has his (being a bookseller).
Having moved on from the first chapter, I was glad I did. I found this a delightful book. It truly is both a history and a memoir. More than that, it is both a personal memoir, and a memoir of bookselling as a profession. He tells his own story alongside that of the history of bookselling, and makes both very interesting.
He includes one statistic that I find distressing, though. He tells us that at an average of one book a week (roughly my own pace, depending on the book, and the week) from the age of 5 to the age of 80, a person will read 3,900 books or a little over one-tenth of one percent of the books currently in print. Far too few, if you ask me.(less)
The first two-thirds of this book were pretty good. We start with young Peter describing his childhood visits to his grandparents in Switzerland. His...moreThe first two-thirds of this book were pretty good. We start with young Peter describing his childhood visits to his grandparents in Switzerland. His grandparents edit a series of light novels, one of which is the story of Carl, a German soldier, and his struggle to return home from the Russian front after WWII. Unfortunately, Peter has only the manuscript of the book, and the ending is missing. What happens when Carl returns home and finds his wife with another man and two small daughters? Does he stay and fight for his wife, or does he turn and leave? Peter is unable to find the book on his grandparent's shelves and forgets about it until he finds the manuscript again as an adult. Then he begins the quest to find the book so as to learn its ending.
The story of Peter's search for the book and it's author is quite interesting. Unfortunately, about two-thirds of the way through, Peter makes a startling discovery about his father, who he had thought died in WWII. The rest of the book is about Peter's search for the truth about his father, not just what happened to him but why he disappeared. This story is much less compelling, and even bizarre in places. Schlink tenuously connects this search to Peter's interest in the Carl story, but neither the connection nor the individual stories are resolved.(less)
Aaron Lansky tells us about a lot more than just his efforts (and those of his many, many supporters) to rescue Yiddish books. He interweaves his stor...moreAaron Lansky tells us about a lot more than just his efforts (and those of his many, many supporters) to rescue Yiddish books. He interweaves his stories with a history of Yiddish language, culture, and literature. Although these brief history lessons are not nearly as entertaining as his anecdotes of traveling around the globe (although mostly to New York) to collect the books, put together they make for an engaging, even enlightening read.(less)
This is a book of finely drawn and distinct characters. I think it must be easy when writing a book about 5 women to have them all be similar in some...more This is a book of finely drawn and distinct characters. I think it must be easy when writing a book about 5 women to have them all be similar in some ways, but the Wednesday Sisters (as they call themselves) each have their own identity. Each has their own struggles and fears and joys. Through Clayton's vivid writing, we get to share all of these as each character shares them with the group and gains strength from the sharing.
An excellent book of the power of women's friendships, this is also a story of how these women, young mothers at the end of the 1960s, each react differently to the women's liberation movement and other cultural upheavals of that time.
The story is told through the eyes of one of the women, looking back from 35 years later. Her tone is nostalgic for that era (in a very progressive way), but at the same time there is repeated foreshadowing of events to come, both in the lives of the Wednesday Sisters and in the world around them. Aside from this slightly troubling dichotomy of tone, this is an enjoyable book.(less)