I ate this book ravenously, despite my ongoing [fruitless] effort to go slowly, so I could linger with the delicious sentences. It was an utter delighI ate this book ravenously, despite my ongoing [fruitless] effort to go slowly, so I could linger with the delicious sentences. It was an utter delight, from beginning to end, and even though I know I missed so much of the subtlety because I know no Irish slang, it made me laugh and wince and flinch and feel the longing. I just finished it and am starting it again, right now.
I wish I could write a more sophisticated review, identify flaws and weaknesses, but I can't. I loved everything about this book and am pushing it on everyone I know....more
Every story in this collection is an utter delight of one form or another -- lonely, funny, touching, bottom-dropping-out, familiar. I nearly decidedEvery story in this collection is an utter delight of one form or another -- lonely, funny, touching, bottom-dropping-out, familiar. I nearly decided to stop highlighting sentences and passages that I loved because there were so many, but I couldn't stop. Moore has such a great way of dropping in a moment of hilarity at just the right moment, or of slipping in such a giant truth it makes you gasp. Her characters are honest and I was so surprised by how often they had a subversive kind of humor. I really love this book and am glad I finally read Lorrie Moore; I'd resisted for too long for the stupidest reason imaginable (she spells her name differently than I do....see?). Finally I quit being stupid, and I'm so glad I did. READ THESE STORIES!!
Some of my favorite bits:
Abby began to think that all the beauty and ugliness and turbulence one found scattered through nature, one could also find in people themselves, all collected there, all together in a single place. No matter what terror or loveliness the earth could produce—winds, seas—a person could produce the seam, lived with the same, lived with all that mixed-up nature swirling inside, every bit. There was nothing as complex in the world—no flower or stone—as a single hello from a human being.
Her mother was always searching for country music, songs with the words devil woman. She loved those.
In an attempt at extroversion, she had worn a tunic with large slices of watermelon depicted on the front. What had she been thinking of?
Through college she had been a feminist—basically: she shaved her legs, but just not often enough, she liked to say. He had never acquired the look of maturity anchored in sorrow that burnished so many men’s faces. His own sadness in life—a childhood of beatings, a dying mother—was like quicksand, and he had to stay away from it entirely. He permitted no unhappy memories spoken aloud. He stuck with the same mild cheerfulness he’d honed successfully as a boy.
Mack has moved so much in his life that every phone number he comes across seems to him to be one he’s had before. “I swear this used to be my number,” he says, putting the car into park and pointing at the guidebook: 923-7368. The built-in cadence of a phone number always hits him the same personal way: like something familiar but lost, something momentous yet insignificant.
“I would be a genius now,” Quilty has said three times already, “if only I’d memorized Shakespeare instead of Lulu.” “If only,” says Mack. Mack himself would be a genius now if only he had been born a completely different person. But what could you do? He’d read in a magazine once that geniuses were born only to women over thirty; his own mother had been twenty-nine. Damn! So fucking close!
Quilty grimaces. “I don’t like what comes after ‘dicker.’” “What is that?” Quilty sighs. “Dickest. I mean, really: it’s not a contest!”
In general, people were not road maps. People were not hieroglyphs or books. They were not stories.
A person was a collection of accidents. A person was an infinite pile of rocks with things growing underneath.
At all the funerals for love, love had its neat trick of making you mourn it so much, it reappeared. Popped right up from the casket.
Marriage, she felt, was a fine arrangement generally, except that one never got it generally. One got it very, very specifically.
The quarry was a spot that Terence had recommended as “a beautiful seclusion, a rodent Eden, a hillside of oaks above a running brook.” Such poetry: probably he’d gotten laid there once. Talk about your rodent Eden! In actuality, the place was a depressing little gravel gully, with a trickle of brown water running through it, a tiny crew of scrub oaks manning the nearby incline. It was the kind of place where the squirrel mafia would have dumped their offed squirrels. ...more
This book made me cry, it made me ache, it made me want to turn my eyes away, it made me long for someone like Papa, it made me think, and it has leftThis book made me cry, it made me ache, it made me want to turn my eyes away, it made me long for someone like Papa, it made me think, and it has left me haunted -- as the last words in the book say that Death is haunted by humans. We are haunting in our cruelty, in our need, in our humanity, in our hidden hearts, in our beauty, in our hideousness, in our longings.
Death narrates and sees the world and the sky in its own way -- the sky, in psychedelic colors, when someone dies -- but it's not his story. It's about Liesl and her Papa and Mama, and hidden-away Max, and lemon-haired Rudy, and an ugly, ugly world, and the power of not-leaving.
I'm still crying, half an hour after finishing the book, so this review is simply about the power and emotion of the story, the writing. Please read this book, it's nothing less than amazing....more
This was the first time I'd read anything by Tobias Wolff, although I've undoubtedly read some of his pieces in The New Yorker without really realizinThis was the first time I'd read anything by Tobias Wolff, although I've undoubtedly read some of his pieces in The New Yorker without really realizing they were by him. You know, you read The New Yorker, you read a lot of great stuff and then you go to next week's issue. That's a careless mistake I won't make again, I'll be on the lookout for anything he writes.
A friend suggested I read one of the stories in the collection, one about a brother and sister who were abused as children, and the sister always saved the brother. I enjoyed it, as much as all the rest, but that wasn't the signal story of the collection for me. The story that continues to haunt me, even more than all the others, is called "That Room." I read it three times and will probably continue to read it, over and over and over.
Wolff writes powerfully about the dispossessed, about the lost (whether they're lost because of violence against them, or because they're the violent ones), about those who suffer. He's my kind of writer, and I just regret that I haven't read him until now. That's a mistake I'll remedy! Get this book and turn immediately to "That Room." Then read all the rest....more
OK, so Renée, the concierge, is a 54-year-old woman and so am I, but that's not why I loved this book so much (although it made it more personal for mOK, so Renée, the concierge, is a 54-year-old woman and so am I, but that's not why I loved this book so much (although it made it more personal for me). I loved this book because of its emphasis on finding the beauty in the small moments, on thinking deeply about what life means, and on appreciating life. It's one of my favorite books and I recommend it to everyone. ...more
WHY did I wait so long to read Alice Munro? This was my first collection of her short stories and it was just amazing. I kept trying to figure out howWHY did I wait so long to read Alice Munro? This was my first collection of her short stories and it was just amazing. I kept trying to figure out how she did it; the stories didn't exactly have a plot and an arc, but I was in the story before I knew it and lost in the world she created. The stories were kind of dreamy while simultaneously being so real I could see and smell everything.
The whole collection centers around the same people in the same small town, so you get to learn all about them as you go along. The standard recommendation, I gather, is to start reading Munro by reading the title story from this collection. And yes, it was amazing. 10 stars all around, if I could do that. I can't wait to read more....more
This book left me speechless, on nearly every level. The simplest: how the author made the secret world of North Korea so profoundly real and understaThis book left me speechless, on nearly every level. The simplest: how the author made the secret world of North Korea so profoundly real and understandable. Detestable, but understandable. But more, it left me speechless by its craft. This is a story about the power of story, the truth within fiction, and he keeps it operating on so very many levels simultaneously. It's also about trauma, and surviving trauma, and what that takes from you and how you endure. I'll remember this book for a very long time and will definitely read it again and again. I highlighted so many passages, some with chills in my stomach, some with an ache in my heart, some with understanding in my whole being. I'll save them as quotes here, rather than putting them in this review.
At the same time it is all these things, all these deep and profound and literary things, it's also just an incredible story, a page-turner I didn't want to end but I couldn't wait to finish. Because there are lies upon lies, fictions within fictions, I couldn't predict where the story would go and that was thrilling.
Just a superb book in every way. Very highly recommended....more
Anne Carson took all the words and did something with them that I've never seen before. I read in awe and wonder, and often laughed or had to stop andAnne Carson took all the words and did something with them that I've never seen before. I read in awe and wonder, and often laughed or had to stop and catch my breath. All I want to do here is write some of the dozens of passages I underlined, sentences, phrases, word pairs circled, starred, noted. The 'what' of this astonishing book is marvelous (other reviews or the blurb provide that), but it's the 'how' of it that is unlike anything else. There are echoes of her phrases bouncing around in my mind.
She hijacked my own speech too. Unusual word pairs came out of my mouth in the wake of reading it, and I'd think, "Oh Anne, there you are." The last book to get inside of me like this was Moby-Dick; or, The Whale.
After reading the first five pages, I ran out to my local independent bookstore and bought everything on the shelf that she's written. I'm trying to decide whether to read Red Doc> next or Glass, Irony and God, but either way I'm just not ready to leave the worlds she creates. This book belongs on my shortest list of favorite books....more
What a fantastic book this was -- my only regret is that there aren't more like him in the healthcare system, at least yet. He's such an influential tWhat a fantastic book this was -- my only regret is that there aren't more like him in the healthcare system, at least yet. He's such an influential thinker, maybe this book will start a dialogue. I hope so. If you have parents who are still alive it's a great book to read, and if you think you might age and die someday it's a great book to read. I'm asking my daughters to read it. It's elegantly written, very easy to read, and very thought-provoking. I will probably re-read it a few more times. ...more
This beautiful book wrenched me, hard. Beautiful sentences for absolute horror, beautiful sentences for aftermath, beautiful sentences for before theThis beautiful book wrenched me, hard. Beautiful sentences for absolute horror, beautiful sentences for aftermath, beautiful sentences for before the horror. One chapter stopped me cold and I sat, on the airplane, big-sobbing, the kind that feels like it's about everything. This book sits on my absolute favorite shelf now.
It's silly to do any quibbling with something so big and wonderful, but here are my 'who cares, read it read it read it' quibbles. I didn't like the beginning and was more confused for a little too long than I like to be. And I thought the book had several endings, each one feeling like the close to the book. Who cares. I mention this in case you start reading and have my experience with the beginning, so I can say keep reading. What a book. ...more
My friends are sick and tired, I imagine, of hearing me go on and on about this book. Since I read the beginning of the Preface, I have been unable toMy friends are sick and tired, I imagine, of hearing me go on and on about this book. Since I read the beginning of the Preface, I have been unable to stop trying to get everyone to read it, and that continued while I savored every word. This was my first time reading D'Ambrosio, and I regret that I've not known his work until now. Better late than never.
A caveat is that I feel an enormous kindredness to him: suicide in our families, severe discomfort with rigid categorical thinking and a greater comfort with ambiguity and complexity as a way to get anywhere near the 'truth', and a pretty deep sense of being an outsider. When I read the preface, it felt like I was reading the words of a long-lost sibling who had been there with me through it and understood in a way no one else could. Since these are themes that circle through the collected essays, it's hard for me to know how they would strike me if they weren't so perfectly true and personal for me.
I enjoyed every essay in the collection, every one, but found myself most drawn to the ones with greater personal material. One thing I especially enjoyed each time was the way he found an ending to the piece. It was never a neat circle-closing ending, but it did end. I always felt the ending, but it wasn't complete in a neat and tidy way. I loved that.
Off to buy everything he's ever written. I'll be reading this one again and again and again....more