Not entirely sure I liked this book. I have a thing with posthumously published manuscripts. The often have an unfinished quality that I find hard toNot entirely sure I liked this book. I have a thing with posthumously published manuscripts. The often have an unfinished quality that I find hard to read in a printed work. ...more
If you want an easy way to learn the ins and outs of publishing and doing the grueling hard work of attempting to make writing your prime income sourcIf you want an easy way to learn the ins and outs of publishing and doing the grueling hard work of attempting to make writing your prime income source, with with which you clothe and feed yourself, then How to Become Famous Writer Before You’re Dead by Ariel Gore in the book for you. In this 262 page volume, Ariel Gore tells it like it is and takes her readers through the process of first establishing a writing lifestyle and then getting the polished and written work out there.
Written to complete her friend Allie’s dream of writing a book on how to navigate the publishing world, How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead is packed with information and affirmations for every writer, and even a few suggestions that just seem like fun. While the title might seem cheesy and the author may not be as well known as Ray Bradbury and Stephen King, the advice offered in this book is advice from a real do-it-yourself type personality that takes the reader through personal experiences, Q&As with other underground writers like Michelle Tea and Margaret Cho, as well as some inspirational exercises to challenge the reader.
This is the second book I’ve read by Ariel Gore (see my review of Bluebird) and at first I have to admit I wasn’t as taken with this book as I was with her psychology text, however I stuck with it and I was very glad that I did. While the first fifty or so pages didn’t hold any particularly riveting information for me, the back two hundred gave me some keen insight as to how to put together a press kit and press release, find an agent, look at publishers, and most importantly, how to look for a publisher that would be the right fit for my writing.
More importantly, these pages had things that I hadn’t considered. For one, the culture of zines and how useful they can be to getting a writer’s name out there. One of the challenges, presented after one of Gore’s interviews, challenges the reader to make a zine and distribute it so that the writer gets hands on experience with the whole spectrum of publishing. This challenge in particular was definitely one that resonated with me and made me want to challenge myself to do something similar.
In the very end, I was glad that I picked up this book and that it turned out to be such an insightful source of information. It really shows how an author can be self-made and how they don’t have to rely on big publishing houses and large advances to get their name out there....more
I’ve been anxious to review this book since I first cracked it open in September. I found the book on Amazon, after a summer of working with a therapiI’ve been anxious to review this book since I first cracked it open in September. I found the book on Amazon, after a summer of working with a therapist myself trying to sort out my depression, and had the intention of ordering it but in September I decided to get it through interlibrary loan and the day it arrived through interlibrary loan I sat in my room and plowed through sixty-six pages without once glancing up to look at the clock. Why was a book on psychology so engrossing to me?
The answer is quite simple. In Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness, Ariel Gore says the things that we all know but never say. She examines the dichotomies of womanhood so well and exactly how society infringes on a woman’s happiness. What makes this book so relate-able is that is is not a psychologist discussing these issues for other psychologists. Ariel Gore is a writer, mother, and romantic partner who goes through the same stresses that every woman does and she just happens to want to solve this question of happiness. She is writing for women like herself and not for those in the psychology field (though I would at least recommend they read the section about her daughter adjusting to college life).
I could go on to quote many examples of this book but I am going to let her preface say it all for you:
I must have been about nine years old when my paternal grandmother gave me the gift of a small glass bluebird. “It’s a symbol of happines,” she told me.
I turned it over in my hand. “Why?” I asked. I’d already learned that the color blue represented sadness.
My grandmother smiled at me and then frowned. “Ariel,” she said gravely. “You ask too many questions. A nice young lady doesn’t ask so many questions.”
I put the glass bluebird in my hip pocket.
“Now smile and say ‘Thank You,’” my grandmother instructed me.
I smiled and said “Thank you,” but I kept on asking too many questions.
This preface so brilliantly explains the point that Ariel is trying to make with her book. Mixed with equal parts: psychology, history, and autobiography this book examines what women need to be happy, why they can’t be happy, and why this status is not okay. Through interviews with psychologist, research in psychological studies, and keeping her own happiness journal with a few other women, Ariel Gore paints a picture of the little things in life that can make people happy and how to actively seek happiness.
I cannot express in words how much I love this book. Sure there are plenty of studies on happiness. Plenty of women who write about their own journey and trying to find happiness, but I think that Ariel provides a good mix of advice and anecdote in simple everyday terms. She looks back on her life, her current status, and takes her own steps to increase her own happiness in doing her research, while at the same time edifying readers with landmark psychological studies and point out their downfalls.
About halfway through this book I told my mother that I was considering buying my own copy to have on the bookshelf. She seemed eager to read it so I picked up a copy on my next trip to The Strand in New York City. Now having reached the end of this book I still maintain that every woman should read this book and then give it to the men in their lives to read. It’s a book that will open your eyes and change your outlook on life. Not in the preachy steps to happiness way that only gives the reader one path to follow, but in the form of an ideology that gives women room to “write their own script” as Gore calls it.
Having reached the end of this book I am sorry to have to return it to the library but I have also located some of the texts she references. Texts such as Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Victor E. Frankl’s Man Searching for Meaning. I look forward to exploring some of the ideas that Gore discussed and seeing how her own research can help me improve upon my own life.
FINAL GRADE: A+ (I’d give it a higher one if one existed.)...more
Mothers-in-law. There have been many movies about it and more then a few of us have wished the life villainous would get their claws out of their marrMothers-in-law. There have been many movies about it and more then a few of us have wished the life villainous would get their claws out of their marriage. Such a relationship serves as the center for Of Bees and Mist by Eric Setiawan. Serving as the likable, if somewhat gawky, protagonist, Meridia was born to a critical father and an eccentric mother. Her life punctuated by the different colored mists that surrounded their house, serving as an indicator of when her father would depart to see his mistress while her mother slaves away in the kitchen seemingly oblivious to the fact that her husband departs every night to see a mistress. Meridia grows up watching their relationship until she finally meets Daniel, a boy she's smitten with. As their own relationship progresses the topic of marriage comes around. When Daniel brings Meridia to meet his mother, Meridia is charmed by the apparent normalcy of their life and sees Eva as a potential confidant. However, soon after their marriage it becomes apparent that dynamics in the house are not what they appeared and that Eva possesses a power of persuasion to all members of the house, aided by the buzzing of bees. As Meridia gains insight into her mother-in-law's games, she attempts to get Daniel to see reason in the hopes of saving their relationship and having a life free of Eva's persecution.
I took some time before writing this review because I feared that I wouldn't be able to do this book justice. For a while after I read it, I wasn't quite sure how I felt about the book. Setiawan using many literary devices to provide a subtle symbolism to the mythical world he constructs and all these nuances didn't make sense until I finally put the book down and thought about it for a few days.
I found Meridia to be a very relate-able character, exhibiting the timely plight of many woman in today's world. Through the book we see her relationship with, not just Daniel, but her father, mother, and sister-in-law shift and bend and the way they're manipulated is so subtle that I hardly realized it was happening until I was almost done with the book. One of the most notable changes in the book is Meridia's relationship with Daniel's sister Malin, who went from scorning Meridia to finding an ally in her. A reverse transformation occurs with the younger sister Permony, who even though she loves Meridia, suffer falling out down the line in the book.
The way the relationships in the book are broken and mended and broken again presents a very discreet coloration of a domestic drama. The picture Setiawan paints with his words are chosen beautifully. The novel flowed without excess description, giving the reader enough to imagine the way the characters looked and behaved without dictating every minor detail of their lives for us. His characters come to life with vivid personality and exceptional quality. It felt like I was in the room watching the events of the different households unfold as I read it and that allowed me to engross myself in the story for hours on end.
In the end the only real peeve I had with this book was the plot. While the family drama in that of itself was interesting, the mystical aspect of the story wasn't explored enough. I found the foreboding qualities of the bees and the mist, both ominous spiteful in their own rights, to be underplayed. Though I could understand the reason for choosing the two metaphors I think that the qualities and reasons they had such power where something that could have been played into a little more.
But aside from the mythical aspect, I found Of Bees and Mist to be a very enjoyable and sentimental novel that accurately explored a complicated family dynamic. In the end though, I think that the real hallmark of this novel is Meridia and her journey throughout the story, not so much because of her experiences with the bees and the mist, but because of the way she transforms from a young girl to a woman and reinvents herself several times over during the course of the novel. For that reason I consider this a must read for anyone seeking that kind of inspiration to reinvent themselves.
I came across this title, The Blind Contessa’s New Machine by Carey Wallace, while loafing around in my local Borders this summer. However, having litI came across this title, The Blind Contessa’s New Machine by Carey Wallace, while loafing around in my local Borders this summer. However, having little cash on me and a paycheck not coming for another week, I didn’t get to read this title until I was at school this year. Upon receiving the small ivory volume from the library, I opened the book to be immediately drawn in by the exquisite first paragraph that gives a brilliant impression as to the adventure ahead.
Carey Wallace’s novel recounts Carolina Fatoni’s experiences as realizes that she is slowly losing her sight. Set in Italy, during the 19th Century, the book provides a rich landscape with memorable characters that embrace every fashion from the DaVinci like neighbor and love interest Turri to the narcissistic Romeo turned husband Pietro. The exquisite prose takes place in three primary locations: Carolina’s childhood home, Carolina’s new home with her husband Pietro, and the lake between the two houses, where Carolina and Turri spend most of their time. The fluffy style of the prose makes for an enjoyable light read but at the same time brings about questions about human nature, marriage, and friendship and begs the reader to answer the question: Does love really conquer all?
It is hard to summarize this book well enough without giving away the decadent prose and human connection that Wallace is capable of conveying to the reading. Every word of this novel is important and chosen with care and each scene carefully placed and thought out to advance the storyline. While reading this post, if you’re worrying about the fact that I can’t summarize the plot beyond one paragraph, it is because with such a short novel I don’t find it beneficial to write a summary longer then the plot and as such would like to leave those who choose to read it with something to be desired.
The succinct appearance of the book should not be a turn-off for anyone because in the brief . Though the book is only the size of a five by seven photograph and about an inch in width it is a rich text that I found myself analyzing despite the fact that this was supposed to be a book I would read outside of coursework.
When I started reading, I found myself unsure of what to expect but after Carolina’s marriage, when her blindness slowly started to take over her vision, the novel really hit its stride. Not only was Wallace able to make my sympathize for Carolina but also made me feel ambiguous towards her husband. Depending on the scene she’d constructed I had no idea whether I was supposed to like him or hate him. It wasn’t until I reached the end of her charming narrative that I had formed a solid opinion on him and even then my opinion was turned on his head.
At about halfway through the novel, I also noticed a certain level of Gothic influence playing into Wallace’s plot. Perhaps I’ve been reading a little too much Jane Eyre, but the Gothic trope of a ghost or inexplicable and unseen presence plays a key role once Carolina completely loses her sight and begins exploring the house. Between this similarity and Turri’s DaVinci-like proliferation of various inventions, it is no doubt that this novel would be a remarkable and breezy read for history fanatics.
In the end when I finished reading The Blind Contessa’s New Machine I found myself wishing that the volume was about twice the length. I was hesitant about letting the characters go despite the fact that my opinion kept fluctuating on them from the very beginning. Upon looking back, however, at it, the novel was perfect in its succinct and tender treatment of a real life situation. I felt as if this story could be set in any day and, while the circumstance would be different, the root of the story would essentially be the same. Saying as much I dub The Blind Contessa’s New Machine as one for those who enjoy a profound love story and would like to come away with a deeper understanding of what love is.
I have always been a sucker for books with good dystopian story lines and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins delivers on that very premise. Set in thI have always been a sucker for books with good dystopian story lines and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins delivers on that very premise. Set in the ruins of North America, in the country of Panem, the story details the lives in the twelve districts that surround The Capitol with. The Hunger Games focuses on the story of a sixteen-year-old girl from District Twelve, named Katniss Everdeen, who's life consists of hunting in the woods with her friend Gale in order to keep her mother and her little sister, Prim, alive. However, on the day that Katniss' narration begins, survival is more important then ever. At two a celebration known as "The Reaping" occurs where a boy and a girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen will have their named picked from a bowl and made to fight for their survival in an arena where the Hunger Games will take place. Katniss has done everything to make sure Prim is safe, but when Prim's name is drawn out of the bowl on Reaping Day, Katniss steps up to take her sister's place as a tribute. Taken to the Capitol where she joins the other twenty-four tributes, Katniss is disgusted by the pageantry of what, in her mind, equates to an execution, and the politics that occur during her training days. Which is only made more complicated by the male tribute from her district, who may very well fancy her. As the Hunger Games progress Katniss is faced with morality and survival in this tale of what it truly means to be human.
My first impression of this book was not a good one. I had problems imagining the world that Collins was setting up and I wasn't entirely sure that I got it straight. The first likened the world of Panem to an old Victorian village, especially District Twelve, and then later started to imagine a world similar to Equilibrium. Finally when I managed to get the combination of technology with the poverty stricken districts, I found the book quite enjoying and was really taken by the politicking and how Collins was able to weave it into a story that featured children.
Shortly after Part II began I found myself engrossed in the novel. I didn't want to put it down with each new stratagem that was devised and each alliance that was made. In fact, one of the biggest successes I found of Part II was making me forget the politics of Part I and involving me in each move that the tributes made. It isn't until Part III that the political aspect of the book picks up again leaving the reader starving--I know I can't help the pun--to read the sequel Catching Fire.
The lasting impression that The Hunger Games gave me was that this is not Twilight. Certainly there's action and adventure, even a love triangle, but its not the focus of the book. What this book gives readers is the haunting desire to question the motivations of a culture and think about what they would do if such a practice was implemented. As I approached the end of The Hunger Games, I found myself reminded of The Draft. The practices of Reaping Day reminded me so much of that practice at the very end that I couldn't help but find myself desiring to read Catching Fire immediately, particularly since Katniss' transformation is so beautifully written.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield centers around the life of reclusive author, Vida Winter, who has spent the last few years creating a seriesThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield centers around the life of reclusive author, Vida Winter, who has spent the last few years creating a series of alternate lives for herself. Now ill and nearing the end of her life, Miss Winter decides it is time to tell the truth and come clean about the events of her life. Thus she sets her sites on, Margaret Lea, a biographer more interested in the dead that lie in books and archives then in living subjects. However, when Margaret receives a letter from Miss Winter inviting her to her home, her curiosity is piqued and she begins reading Miss Winter's most famous collection of short stories. Margaret goes to see Miss Winter unsure of whether or not she should accept the offer to be the biographer of a woman who has lied to so many journalists in the past, and just when she thinks she makes up her mind, Miss Winter draws her in with one simple sentence: "Once upon a time, there were twins."
The novel consists largely of Vida Winter's narration of her past telling the story of a house in Angelfield and of her parents, Isabelle and Charlie, and the staff The Missus and John-the-Dig. Miss Winter's narration of her past and Angelfield is juxtaposed with Margaret's own musings about her own twin sister. Told with the pace of the mystery, The Thirteenth Tale expertly weaves ends of several stories into a wonderful tapestry of sisterhood and friendship with books being the epicenter of this lovely novel.
The book reads much like a work of classic literature with a setting that reminded me of an old estate and a large garden and the absence of any modern day technology to draw away from the drama and feeling of the story. In a sense the little aspects of this book are so subtle and slight that once the story concludes and the mystery of Vida Winter's wife is solves, the tiny insignificant things seem to have a greater purpose in the plot. In this fashion, The Thirteenth Tale remains a page turning experience while at the same time keeping the simple yet sophisticated narrative voice of reluctant Margaret Lea.
In retrospect, it is hard for me to find anything at fault with the story, while some chapters did seem to rage on about certain niche areas of literary history, in hindsight, most of the prose and the theoretical games posed by Miss Winter's narrative are worthwhile and in the end leave the reader looking at symbols that are so slight and delicate that a reader with a cursory glance would never even register that they were there.
I have to say that I was very sorry to see this book end. The story was so original and crafted so beautifully that I am looking forward to see what else Diane Setterfield has up her sleeve in her future literary efforts. In the meantime as we await another literary masterpiece by Setterfield, I recommend picking up a copy of Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger for another story of twins and ghosts that is sure to please those with insatiable appetites for books about sisters and ghosts.
When it comes to British humor and fantasy, you can't get a better mix then this novel by John Connolly. In The Book of Lost Things Connolly details tWhen it comes to British humor and fantasy, you can't get a better mix then this novel by John Connolly. In The Book of Lost Things Connolly details the story of a young boy, named David, who's mother dies. Not long after his mother dies, his father remarries a woman named Rose and together, they bring about David's half brother Georgie. David is jealous of the new baby and escapes into the world of literature. It is during this time, that David starts to hear his mother calling to him to save her and in the pursuit of her, he discovers a passageway in the garden that leads to a world of fairytale and myth. In the hopes of getting home, David is told he must trek across the foreign land to find the king, and his magical "book of lost things." So David sets out, in the hopes of rescuing his mother and reuniting the family that was destroyed by Rose and Georgie's arrival, with the help of The Woodsman and a knight as he is pursued by The Crooked Man who wishes to make a bargain with David. Though at first David is hopeful that The Crooked Man can send him home, he soon becomes suspicious of his actions and begins to question the way that this mystical land is run.
When it comes to my views, on this book, I am not sure where to begin. While it does go along with the classic coming of age" themes it has a certain tone of danger that makes it more inclined for adults then children. Connolly expertly translates the fairy tales known throughout the ages in with David's story and puts his principle character into impossible scraps that his imaginative mind finds a way out of. While at times I felt dumber then dirt reading about how David expertly solved the trolls riddle, or managed to trick the woman in the cottage, I found the entire experience an extremely enjoyable story.
What really grabbed me about the book, is the way the Connolly so clearly captures David's contempt for his brother. In David's disdain for his half brother, Connolly clearly captures a clear them in many sibling relationships and uses it as the basis as his morality tale. The subject matter at the beginning of the book, when he introduces Rose and Georgie, is raw and emotional and as David progresses through the book, I could see a very subtle transformation in David's thinking as Connolly turns the deadly sin of envy on its head and makes it a morality tale for children.
Though this book is not my favorite, I have to say I enjoyed it much more then my previous read The Magicians. While David does not have magical powers, the plot and adventure of this parallel word seemed much more present and the lessoned learned by David to much more real and thought out. The ending of this book however, was the best aspect of the story. It couldn't have ended on a more perfect note, and for that reason I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mix of fantasy, with a strong coming of age tale, and a nice sprinkling of tears.
Stories about angels and ghosts have been a part of my life ever since I could remember. However, recently I am starting to notice a particular trendStories about angels and ghosts have been a part of my life ever since I could remember. However, recently I am starting to notice a particular trend in literature where ghosts are the pivotal characters. Last year I read Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin in which a young girl gets hit by a taxi and is sent to the afterlife in Elsewhere, where she discovers that she will age backwards and then be reborn as a different child. My love for Zevin's account of the afterlife led me to believe that I might enjoy Laurie Notaro's Spooky Little Girl.
Spooky Little Girl begins when the protagonist, Lucy Fisher, returns home from a Hawaiian vacation to one of the worst final days of her life. Not only has her fiancée neglected to pick her up from the airport but when she finally pulled up to her home in a cab, she finds all her belongings in produce crates and her fiancée inexplicably absent. If that weren't enough to deal with, the day before she departed for Hawaii, Lucy forgot to make the daily deposit at the bank. A deposit which, to her surprise, contained a check for twenty thousand dollars. After being accused of thievery and drug use, Lucy is fired from her job and with no other option moves in with her sister Alice. The next day, when Lucy takes the bus to the unemployment office, she gets hit by a bus and flattened into a pancake.
When Lucy wakes up she finds herself in a dormitory style building, in ghost school. She is one of many SDs, Surprise Demisers, who are going to be sent on assignment in their afterlife so that they can accomplish what they never did in life. Under the tutelage of Ruby Spicer, Lucy and the other SDs, learn the basics of haunting so they can go back and fulfill their objectives so that they can move onto "The State." A heaven that will give them everything they desire but maintains a certain standard for who they let through their velvet ropes. However, it is also made very clear to the Ghosts that if they terrify their subjects enough to involve the work of mediums and psychics, they will be pulled into The White Light, which turns them into a speck of the space dust in Saturn's rings. To avoid this unsavory fate, Lucy must be subtle when fulfilling her objective in order to avoid staying on the earthly plane for all eternity or orbiting Saturn with the other tortured ghosts.
Laurie Notaro is very gifted in humor, a genre that is hard to handle. From the beginning Notaro grabs the reader with jabs about credit card interest and reality show stereotypes while keeping the book fresh and exciting with a certain brand of dark humor that sustains its charm. Notaro is able to create characters that endear us all, from Lucy the slighted ghost to Nola the vindictive office girl, the humor and tone of this book transcends the depressing subject matter of death.
Though the first few pages of this book may appear to be just a humorous story read for a few giggles, the story progresses to have an interesting and intricate plot that involves an interesting cast of characters and situations. However, in the final analysis, the plots all come together into a delicious and fulfilling plot. At the end of this book I found myself wanting the story of the other SDs and what they had in their time on Earth. Yet, the plot was still fulfilling and even if Notaro never dips into this cast of characters again, Spooky Little Girl is worth a read with its refreshing tone and cheeky banter.
Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, returns with Her Fearful Symmetry, a ghostly tale of two sisters and their estranged dead auntAudrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, returns with Her Fearful Symmetry, a ghostly tale of two sisters and their estranged dead aunt. The main characters in Niffenegger’s new novel are two sets of twins. A set of twenty-year-old twins, Valentina and Julia, Edwina, their mother, and her estranged twin sister, Elspeth. The book begins with Elspeth’s death, and the subsequent reactions of Edwina and nieces. Much to Julia and Valentina’s surprise, Elspeth has left them her flat in London, on the condition that they live there for a year before selling it. When the Valentina and Julia move into the flat they find their lives are quickly embellished by the mystique and intrigue of Highgate Cemetery, the Elspeth’s ghost, and the curious behavior of two neighbors. Robert, who lives below them was Elspeth’s significant other. As well as, Martin, their upstairs neighbor who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder. As the year unfolds Valentina and Julia find their relationship changing.
The premise turned me off to reading this book. I did not have a positive experience with The Time Traveler’s Wife and I wasn’t confident with Niffenegger’s ability to entwine a ghost story with a drama. However, within about twenty pages of this book, I was enthralled. Niffenegger’s voice is much more vibrant in the third person, and her personal experience as a guide at Highgate are utilized to the best of their ability without giving the novel the sound of a GPS. Niffenegger was also able to produce an well-developed intricate plot using the ghost story and the two sets of twins. The different takes on the twins’ relationship and the blossoming connections they form with their neighbors make this story fulfilling and worthwhile.
Waiting is a chore, and a chore done very well by Clare Abshire, heroine of The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, who beautifully displays tWaiting is a chore, and a chore done very well by Clare Abshire, heroine of The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, who beautifully displays the art of domestic patience while she waits for Henry to appear to her. The Time Traveler’s Wife is a story composed largely of angst-ridden romance of an adolescent.
Clare meets Henry when she’s six years old, and is immediately amazed by this naked man who appears in the meadow and vanishes before her eyes. He provides a list of dates where she can meet him in bring him coffee and clothes and leaves her with the notion that she and him become very close in the years to come. And so begins a story of adolescent romance that borders on pedophilia.