I think this book marks the first time that upon completion my reaction couldn’t be clearly placed on the love/hate spectrum. I didn’t clutch it lovinI think this book marks the first time that upon completion my reaction couldn’t be clearly placed on the love/hate spectrum. I didn’t clutch it lovingly to my chest as I would have Jane Eyre. I didn’t want the hours back that I’d spent reading it like I did when I finished The Little Town that Stood Still (I still contend that something was lost in translation with that one). It was not a feeling of pride for having finished as with Dickens. It wasn’t passing neutrality as with chick lit. I paused, turned the tome in my hands and thought.
It’s a beautiful book, in the physical sense. Kidd, it turns out, is a well-known graphic designer turned novelist. So this story probably has some autobiographic touches. I want a copy just to look at the cover art and the arrangement of the droll, expected, skipped-over bits of the book (acknowledgements printed along the covers edge, the image-based titling). Normally writers are concerned with carefully piecing their plot points. Kidd took an extra step to tweak the layout of the age-old novel. The risk was worth it.
As for content, the enigmatically named book (he never does fully explain cheese monkeys but that’s not point) tell the tale of a nameless protagonist during his first year at a state university. He’s studying art, to the discomfiting chagrin of his parents and the disillusion humor of himself. Kidd made me laugh by page 10. He kept me turning the pages, sneaking away to find out what odd assignment or social snafu would happen next. I yielded my emotions to his words, cringed and cracked up on cue. He won.
It shows the extremes of art (and in that way…of life), from hare-brained conceptualism to harsh thought-driven design. Another critic called The Cheese Monkeys a ‘coming-of-age story’. I’m not sure it goes far enough to be that to me. The main character does come into the story a ‘wide-eyed’ youth and by the end is a little…well, experienced. But the book and its collection of characters and their lessons did make me think, they evoked emotion, horrified, thrilled and shocked me…the way art should....more
Midwestern college student and aspiring-indie-films-actress, Amy Spencer, auditions for the lead role in a new TV series. Soon she’s on an plane to CaMidwestern college student and aspiring-indie-films-actress, Amy Spencer, auditions for the lead role in a new TV series. Soon she’s on an plane to California, put up in an exclusive hotel and show to the network studio where…she gets the job!
Of course they say they hired her for her acting ability, but she’s quickly put through the ‘hollywood car wash’- diets, hair color, plastic surgery- to make her more marketable, the enviable ‘ideal’. The question ever before her is how much is she willing to give up, how far from her true dream will she go before she gets off the wild ride?
I got this book in a ThisNext giveaway. (My copy is signed by the author, eep!) It’s an easy read, I breezed through it in about a week. Must confess that I am impressed. Hollywood brings to mind high-priced shallowness where image is everything but almost none of it is real. This book does prove that, but plopped in the center is a girl, Amy, with a lot of character who’s continually amazed by the lengths the team of people assigned to creating her brand go to to fool people and change her into a young Hollywood clone.
It’s far from smooth sailing for Amy, therefore it’s not a Cinderella story. Which is what I expected. It’s grittier, lonelier, a touch depressing. There is a liberal helping of glam, and it comes close to name-dropping in regards to some ‘oh-no-they-didn’t’ scandals. In general I find it hard to feel bad for celebrities but I did feel bad for Amy at times. made me smile too. She’s a fighter. She kept going, she didn’t give up. I liked that.
Robert Mayer grew up a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers, from childhood until they moved to LA. This book is a memoir, chronicling his life and his passionRobert Mayer grew up a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers, from childhood until they moved to LA. This book is a memoir, chronicling his life and his passion for his team(s) and the game. Told in 9 chapters and an epilogue and prologue (pre- and post- game?), Mayer carefully recounts his days as a child in the Bronx as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and all the pain that entitled. The memoir continues through to present day (at the time of publication), covering not just his dedication to mastering the game but also other milestones of life: being in high school, first love, losing a parent, getting married…finding yourself. All is intertwined and often related back to some aspect to the game, but it’s done subtly, tastefully. His multiple timelines carried out in each section with each story with each chapter, each scene, being meticulously crafted, stitched together, completing itself…something like a baseball.
This book moves me to the point where I feel anything I type will not do it justice. I’m a baseball fan, for the team that Mayer hates (Yankees). During a not-so-good time in my life, the daily games of baseball, tracking the players and the teams were the only thing I cared about. Then came winter…and no baseball. So I made frequent trips to the library reading books about baseball to fill the void. That’s when I found this book, under it’s old title Baseball and Men’s Lives: True Confessions of a Skinny-Marink. I was…at the title of this blog suggests…intrigued by the title. ‘Skinny-marink’ had been part of a song I’d learned as a child. But I never knew what it meant. Unfortunately Mayer doesn’t either.
I’m currently on my second reading and I’m finding it just as transporting as the first time. Gone are the days when baseball alone filled my life. I have school, and a budding craft business…or two. This book is still dear to me. Normally, I don’t go for memoirs or non-fiction books. But this one is special. It’s the only book that I’ve gotten from the library and then had to purchase for myself. The list of other library ‘must-haves’ is short....more
Sometimes you read a book and upon finishing it you squeal a little squeal, cry a little tear, sigh a little sigh, each in complete contentment. ThenSometimes you read a book and upon finishing it you squeal a little squeal, cry a little tear, sigh a little sigh, each in complete contentment. Then immediately you want to read it again. That’s how I felt about The Storm.
It’s the quietly told story of Kenzie Maxwell, a man of nearly 70, thrice-married and kinda of shiftless. He’s had some late success as a writer. But the story is more about the past and his group of loosely related relatives.
Twenty years ago, while working at a shelter for teenagers run by his brother, Kenzie became romantically involved with a 17-year-old girl named Kia. She gets pregnant and has a child, a girl named Gabrielle…called Bree. During the birth, Kia dies.
This scandal forces the brothers apart and Kenzie to leave the city. As so it goes until it comes near Kenzie’s 70th birthday. He’s married now, to wife #3. They live with her adult son on a gated community sort of island off the coast of Florida. Bree, who’s been raised by Kenzie’s sister, has been invited for the occasion. Dalton- the brother, and his stepson, have been summoned to the island by its proprietress…he’s her lawyer. So a family reunion is all but imminent. How will it go off? Dalton’s never harbored any anger or resentment toward Kenzie. Can they be reconciled? Can sense be made of this disjointed family?
This, to me, is what The Wasp Eater tried to be: dreamlike and lucid. Buechner’s style is enveloping and deftly takes you in the heads of each member of this small cast. Much of the book is relating the backstory of the characters, yet it doesn’t have the feel of a history book. It’s distinct, thoughtful and well-crafted, full of emotion and wonder in its own still way. I enjoyed it....more