I'm not sure what to rate this. I liked the beginning. I kinda like the middle. I got lost in the snowstorm at the end. It had flavors of books I likeI'm not sure what to rate this. I liked the beginning. I kinda like the middle. I got lost in the snowstorm at the end. It had flavors of books I liked but that it was a mash of several...I just don't know. The long breathless sentences combined with the novel's brevity overall felt like the author said a lot without telling me what I wanted to know. ...more
There were moments that are perfect (to me), moments that are repetitive and moments that I feel could have been left out. Luckily, for the book, theThere were moments that are perfect (to me), moments that are repetitive and moments that I feel could have been left out. Luckily, for the book, the first sort of moments predominated....more
I'm old enough to remember the Beanie Baby craze but young enough to not know just how crazy it really was. I still have the ones my brothers and I boI'm old enough to remember the Beanie Baby craze but young enough to not know just how crazy it really was. I still have the ones my brothers and I bought, for the reasons Ty Warner (Ty Inc., founder) would appreciate, because we liked them. A few sit on the shelf in my room...tags intact because that was THE WAY.
Bissonnette chronicles as much of the life of Ty Inc.,'s semi-elusive founder as well as can be done without direct interviews (Warner doesn't talk to press). He works in history of the stuffed animal industry (which I never contemplated) into the telling as well. I really enjoyed those extras bit.
Ty Warner is almost the ultimately flawed character: just when you want to cast him off as a complete corporate villian, there'll be a snippet of story that rather gives you reason to believe there is a human in there, one deeply fragile human. Included are the outcomes for several employees at the height of the craze and the stories of the women who started the speculation phenomenon that made Warner a billionaire. (which I didn't know...I thought it was a gimmick by the company). Part of this would really seem mythical to me if I hadn't been alive and seen pieces of it. Perhaps the fact that I still have a fondness for our old Beanies (new ones in stores now, not so much) tainted my perspective on this. But it's a great, weird story that really is about more than just small stuffed animals...it's a lot about people and commercialism and the power of a great, though addled in ways, mind. High drama, high tragedy, it's such an American story.
I was into this. I could identify with the aimless Juliet, 29-years-old and pretty sure she'd peaked in high school. Her 20s and time had been unkind.I was into this. I could identify with the aimless Juliet, 29-years-old and pretty sure she'd peaked in high school. Her 20s and time had been unkind. And I'm often a sucker for murder mystery.
It didn't live up to hopes.
The police investigation was woeful. I really hope there aren't investigations conducted as shoddily as this. Things happened (or didn't) to suit the story the author wanted to tell. She wanted to set up the main character as the unfortunate victim of police interrogation. But the MC kept getting in the way of clearing herself...in ways that I doubt any sane person would try. Going to the crime scene before it's been processed? Stealing things from the crime scene and the victim's step-mother's house? (though really, that wasn't a good tangent). Then the MC started acting like she was the smartest person in the room but missed an obvious connection for so long that I began to doubt my theory (I was correct). It's not fun being that far ahead of the story.
But the real grievance came during a conversation between the MC and her coworker. The subject: police harassment because "I see brown people." (the coworker was Hispanic). The MC says: "What do they have to do with [the murder investigation]? Or me?"
Um, callous much? Racial component asidem that, to me, was a heartless thing to say to someone.
I got properly riled and took it on Twitter. After I cooled off my hope was that the author was trying to broach the topic of white privilege when it came to cops questioning/mistreating/brutalizing brown/black people in the name of justice. (The author found my tweets and proved this idea correct.) But it came off poorly executed to me. The bluntness, the lack of compassion didn't fit with the MC's character...she was supposed to be talking to her best friend! She'd not been that unsympathetic to that point. The conversation, which tries to go for repairs a few sentences later, changed how I perceived the MC. I got taken out of the story. I was never able to get back in. (But this moment comes way past halfway into the book...so I finished because I wanted to know what happened.)
Now, I could 'maybe if' that moment into the ground. Maybe if police brutality of all sorts wasn't in the news so much right now...Maybe if I hadn't read this the same week the Sandra Bland story broke...Maybe if I wasn't a PoC and able to see why the police where questioning the best friend before the MC was...Maybe if the sentence/convo had played out still clueless on the part of the MC but w/ curiosity and confusion instead of cruelity...Maybe if I didn't read this book immediately following Gone Girl which, for its other flaws, did the 'wrong-person-framed-for-murder' part to creepy perfection...Maybe if...
But those things happened (or didn't) and I read it when I did and she wrote it how she did and...the baggage I brought with me to the story skewed how I felt about it. It was just okay. ...more
I don't think I can review this properly. There is definitely some bias because I love what Kidd does with a book. I think Safran Foer tried somethingI don't think I can review this properly. There is definitely some bias because I love what Kidd does with a book. I think Safran Foer tried something similar in Extremely Loud Incredibly Close but he's experimentation made the book unreadable for me (listened to it instead). Kidd's work is nothing if not clearly presented while playful....more
There were moments of this that were brilliant. Moments...because this was a book of moments but it felt like they were beads in a box left to bumbleThere were moments of this that were brilliant. Moments...because this was a book of moments but it felt like they were beads in a box left to bumble around instead of being strung together with real cohesion. So much of it felt incomplete. The dialogue style was largely maddening to me and felt mis-punctuated (And that is one of my biggest pet peeves about reading/writing...messing with punctuation conventions [ex: no quotations marks; no paragraphs; periods for commas or ellipses;]. You're being pretentious, obfuscating for no purpose other than to create an in-crowd of people who 'get it'.) This was work to read. When you have to struggle through a paragraph, confused by word choice and style, it puts up barriers to immersion that is necessary (for me anyway) to enjoy a book.
Then there's a part of me that feels badly for rating this so lowly. I shouldn't dislike something purely because I didn't understand it. After much thought, I'm 98% sure that even his writing/my reading produced crystal clear comprehension, I just didn't like the story....more
still processing...I'll edit this later. (edit) 5/26/2015
I first read Shapiro's Still Writing. Then I read Devotion. So I went into this having becomestill processing...I'll edit this later. (edit) 5/26/2015
I first read Shapiro's Still Writing. Then I read Devotion. So I went into this having become a fan of her style. It was interesting to read this after reading Devotion because of the overlap in contentious mother/daughter relationships. When I was reading the beginning of Family History I had the thought that this reminded me of some other character who had problems with her mother...only to realize it was Devotion (which is a memoir) that I was remembering. Also the similarity with an incident regarding a young child in Family History and Shapiro's own son. I can't really accuse Shapiro of being derivative or repetitive...Family History was published first and Devotion was non-fiction, so. It just is. As a dabbling writer, I often fictionalize events from my life as a way to cope, to investigate.
Putting that plot similarity aside (which isn't the whole book in either case) I liked this...I didn't love it (as I did my previous reads of her books). It felt like an early work (in comparison to her other books...not to things I've read in general). But the style that I have come to appreciate- slow but rhythmic like breathing, introspective without being neurotic or obsessive- is definitely there though a touch unrefined. Also, there is a turning point in the history of these characters...but nothing is ever made of it, nothing is ever settled or found out. Focus is switched to a another point...but I kept thinking something would happen with an earlier moment (the story is told non-sequentially). I kept hoping until the end, but there was no resolution. I try to be okay with a lack of resolution...but such a big deal was made of the change in this character that to delve into something else...why?
Actually rating would be 3.5 if I could rate on the half-star. ...more
Any review would be incredibly biased due to my being a fan of the radio show for years...probably over a decade. It was a great choice to write is asAny review would be incredibly biased due to my being a fan of the radio show for years...probably over a decade. It was a great choice to write is as dialogue. Kept the tone intact....more