Love love love. Part of Ellroy's LA Quartet (which includes LA Confidential). Great noir/neo-noir. Based on a real murder in 1940s LA, an aspiring staLove love love. Part of Ellroy's LA Quartet (which includes LA Confidential). Great noir/neo-noir. Based on a real murder in 1940s LA, an aspiring starlet tortured, murdered, cut in half, drained of blood, and left in a vacant lot with a mouth sliced ear to ear. So, as you can guess, not the happiest book. Gets even more troubling when you through in police corruption, lots of dirty sex, incest, and all the rest of it. The whole "verging on mysogynism, but women are the only really interesting characters" thing too. Good in the way Chinatown is good, and equally labrythine. Also reminds me of some of my favorite authors, like Steinbeck and O'Neill - that are hard to read if you don't let go of some cynicism. Which doesn't make sense considering the subject, but still FEELS true. What makes the book especially fantastic is that the murdered near-whore is the only one who really comes off clean. It was a good ride. Fun and perfect for my mood. Only four stars because I wonder if I would hate it on second reading or in a different state of mind. ...more
I finished reading the series because I couldn't stand knowing that otherwise I would hear from someone what happened. I hate that! Anyhow, to me thisI finished reading the series because I couldn't stand knowing that otherwise I would hear from someone what happened. I hate that! Anyhow, to me this book felt very much as if it was written with a film version in mind...lots of big action scenes, all the big characters mentioned. OK. ...more
An adopted black high school senior in very white central Washington brings together a crew of outcasts for a swim team. Good considering the rather hAn adopted black high school senior in very white central Washington brings together a crew of outcasts for a swim team. Good considering the rather ho-hum premise. The main character is believable and a strong narrator, the plot is interesting and well-paced. Good for a reluctant teen reader, especially one with an interest in sports. Some language, not too bad. An interesting look at racism, sports obsession, and what makes a family. Also good in that the adoption thing is presented more as a fact than some big center of controversy and despair...Oh, but did I mention that I can't figure out the cover. Why is there randomly a white jock running on the book about a black protagonist? Weird. ...more
One of my favorite books of 2007 (as in read in 2007, not published). A great romping family saga, complete with hermaphroditism, immigration to AmeriOne of my favorite books of 2007 (as in read in 2007, not published). A great romping family saga, complete with hermaphroditism, immigration to America, Detroit race riots, the Nation of Islam. Having read Virgin Suicides in no way prepared me for this novel. Fun and good and all those other happy things. ...more
Sisters confined by overbearing mother find small ways to rebel before finding one big one. The thing I liked most about this novel was the narrator -Sisters confined by overbearing mother find small ways to rebel before finding one big one. The thing I liked most about this novel was the narrator - a neighborhood boy in love with the sisters (as are all the boys in the neighborhood). His lovesick adulation of lives from afar seemed much more real to me than the girls themselves. By the author of Middlesex, made into an annoying film by Sofia Coppolla and starring Kirsten Dunst (one of the veal calves - no tan, no muscle tone, no life). Perhaps one of those cases where my dislike of the movie infiltrated my opinion of the book? Another reason to read the book first......more
This gets three stars more because I was interested in learning about the contest culture of the 50s and 60s than because of the writing itself. I nevThis gets three stars more because I was interested in learning about the contest culture of the 50s and 60s than because of the writing itself. I never knew that the kind of word contests depicted in the book existed, and I also thought it was fun to read some of the ad slang of the time. I have always liked how ads in the 50s and 60s used words. A sort of golden age in advertising. And WAY kitsch.
However, I think it is difficult when reading this memoir not to be angry at everyone for putting up with the father's alcoholic rages and general unprovoked idiocy. Although I know it was a different era, and I realize that a mom with ten kids might be hard-pressed to leave a husband who brings in even a bit of cash, I still felt frustrated that the author never even touched on how they could stand living with the guy, or how such a smart woman never blew a fuse and killed him to collect insurance. Also, not that well-written, the only real highlights were reproductions of the contest entries written by the author's mom.
Overall, I wished mom had written the memoir herself....more
I loved this memoir. If you are sick of dysfunctional crybabies, even funny ones (think Augusten Burroughs and Running with Scissors or A Child CalledI loved this memoir. If you are sick of dysfunctional crybabies, even funny ones (think Augusten Burroughs and Running with Scissors or A Child Called It or.....) this is the perfect antidote. A perfectly normal childhood. But well-written, well-observed, and laugh out loud at times. I liked reading about someone who wasn't a genius, wasn't particularly precocious, didn't live in an ideal town, but did live in a good one. A pleasant read for a summer afternoon. I read some vegetarian's review and they hated it. But seriously, the animal stuff is totally hysterical. I literaaly laughed out loud repeatedly. ...more
Besides this whole hulabaloo: http://www.vanityfair.com/fame/featur... I also just found the author a bit too much like the poor man's David Sedaris. IBesides this whole hulabaloo: http://www.vanityfair.com/fame/featur... I also just found the author a bit too much like the poor man's David Sedaris. I have a hard time really believing either of them are always telling the truth (or even nearly) but David Sedaris is better at not telling the truth, and funnier too. In any case, I was just so over the whole grotesqueness on top of grotesqueness of the thing by the end of it, and I have a pretty high tolerance for lack of hygeine and ugly sex generally. Seriously, even if you did have such a crappy childhood, why would you approach it as a reason to brag? Have the decency to turn your dysfunctionality into barely disguised autobiography that at least has the pretension of being art. Like every other unhappy-kid-turned-author ever born. Ever heard of Tennessee Williams? Now that's how you take your own depressing family life and turn it into something worth reading - repeatedly. I am so done with memoirs. What is this thing where nobody writes novels because real life is more compelling? If real life were generally more compelling than reality television wouldn't need editing. So shut up already. ...more
I really like John le Carre's spy stuff, he is so dense, and the cold war stuff is fascinating. But this is soooooo much more. I seriously wanted to dI really like John le Carre's spy stuff, he is so dense, and the cold war stuff is fascinating. But this is soooooo much more. I seriously wanted to die after reading this book. It is depressing in the way that homelessness and drowned puppies are depressing, or those shadow outlines of normal people disintegrated by the bomb in Hiroshima. The setting is Africa, the action is a husband trying to solve the murder of his beautiful and beloved activist wife, and a pharmaceutical company shows up on the scene. Need I say more? The main character feels incredibly distant at first, the way le Carre's characters often are, but that just makes the final heartbreak so much more breathtaking. It is a love story set against awful things and between two people who didn't know each other.
I haven't seen the film yet, I am still too depressed by the thought of the novel. But, I do have to quote from the Village Voice review, because I think it is one of the most hysterical things I have ever read, and makes almost no sense unless you live in New York with other pretentious dicks:
"For an English-language movie with recognizable stars, its measure of social maturity can be startling, but it's also a bristling demonstration of the formal difficulty of liberal narrative, and of ambitious third-world tourist-cinema. When does the rapturous filming of, and gazing upon, poverty become capitalization, and class shame become entertainment?"
I especially love how the term "tourist-cinema" is used as if it is a phrase constantly bandied around on the streets. Like, "hey, wanna go see that new tourist-cinema with J Lo?" I am literally peeing myself. This critic needs to stop bitching about the difficulty of liberal narrative and get a real job. I think criticism can and should be a real job, but not the way this guy does it. Must be a lack of social maturity. ...more
Take a real literary hoax from 1940s Australia and mix with Frankenstein...this is what you get. If you are a genius. Lately I am going through a bitTake a real literary hoax from 1940s Australia and mix with Frankenstein...this is what you get. If you are a genius. Lately I am going through a bit of an Australian/New Zealand reading craze. I had never heard of Peter Carey. Now I am a wreck who can't stop thinking about how much I would like to french this guy. I loved the strangeness of it...which seemed very Nabokov to me. I love authors who can take ridiculous set ups and make them so real you dream about nothing else while you're reading the story. The villains seriously gave me cold sweats, and Chubb is so flawed but so pitiful. But most of all, I just adore narrator Sarah. She seems so boring and in love with post-modern crap and unlovable. My least favorite type of character. But then she drops all, and really falls in love with something, the way the best people do. Oh, I could go on for hours. Also, did I mention, this is the book that really does the whole Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now thing best for me. It seems to be one of those books people either hate or love. I am fully on the side of passionate abandon with this one. ...more
This is another of the books I have read this year that almost had me drinking drano. A really interesting examination of a very unhappy immigration sThis is another of the books I have read this year that almost had me drinking drano. A really interesting examination of a very unhappy immigration story mixed with that of a smart, working-class American woman who is trapped by circumstances. The great thing about this book is that I didn't end up hating either of them. The sense of place is so strong in this novel that just thinking about it, I feel like I am driving the highways in California trying to work out an intractable problem. The most horrible part of this book is that you see the trainwreck coming from so many hundreds of pages away, but I really don't think it could've ended happily. This book is so good it really makes me think that people from America and the Middle East may literally never be able to understand each other. This is also why I am only giving the book four stars. ...more
Won the Booker last year. And, in theory, I liked this book - the hypocrisy of an MP and his crazy wealthy family in the era of Thatcher and AIDS. ButWon the Booker last year. And, in theory, I liked this book - the hypocrisy of an MP and his crazy wealthy family in the era of Thatcher and AIDS. But, I just couldn't quite get myself to stop thinking that I was reading Literature and get into the book and the people. The character's gayness, and his flings, were interesting enough. But overall, I just really couldn't like anybody (OK, except the main character's first boyfriend, but his five minutes did not make the rest of the novel). It wasn't so much that I don't like a certain level of moral ambiguity in my characters, I just felt everyone was too much a type (a philandering conservative politician, the golden son of rich parents who goes to seed and doesn't accomplish zip, the neurotic daughter who despises the family but can't escape, the wife who seems classy and unaware of her husband's doings...but is actually the power, the outsider watching envying their everything who is exiled at the end). Some good bits, and I can see others liking it, so I didn't want to die at the end. Still, not my thing. ...more