**spoiler alert** Before I picked up Puttering About in a Small Land, I had never read a Philip K. Dick novel but I'm familiar with his sci-fi works t**spoiler alert** Before I picked up Puttering About in a Small Land, I had never read a Philip K. Dick novel but I'm familiar with his sci-fi works thanks to Hollywood. Imagine my surprise as I was perusing The Strand's collection of books and came across this non-sci-fi gem. The Strand, by the way, is a fantastic bookstore in Manhattan—check it out if you ever get the chance.
Puttering is set in the 1950s during a dreamy, developing landscape of suburbia Los Angeles. Two families are involved but Dick chooses to focus on Roger and Virginia Lindahl, and Liz Bonner (who is married to Chic Bonner, a supporting character in this story). The novel is written in the points of view of Liz, Roger and Virginia. The Lindahls are parents to a young boy named Gregg and the Bonners have two sons, Jerry and Walter. All three boys attend the private Los Padres Valley School up in the hills of Ojai during the week and come home on weekends.
Throughout the first arc of the novel, we learn that Virginia is Roger's second wife. He was previously married to a woman named Teddy and they had a little girl together. After his divorce, Roger marries Virginia against her mother's misgivings about a man who was too immature to look after his wife and child. Together, Roger and Virginia hightail it from Washington, DC to California. This takes place during the war and the two of them are able to find jobs at factories out in California. The Lindahls eventually save enough money to consider buying a house but a series of events complicates things and forces them to spend a bit of their earnings, and at the same time Roger gets the idea to open a store for television repairs. Virginia, only wanting Roger to be happy, decides to enlist the help of her mother and borrows enough funds to help Roger open up his shop. While doing this, she sacrifices her dream of dancing professionally.
The story then fast-forwards back to "present day" if you will, and at this point the Lindahls have been introduced to the Bonners. Virginia's impression of Liz isn't very complimentary, with Virginia going so far as describing Liz as "dumb" to her husband. Liz seems to have a child-like personality, is easily excitable, but is highly accommodating because she wants very much to be liked. This excitability, as well as her physical appearance, appeals to Roger. As the story progresses, Roger and Liz begin a passionate love affair to which Liz finds out about.
We are given the opportunity to explore the complexities of these characters who long for something more than what polite society can offer them. The institution and bonds of marriage are tested and destroyed, there is an ominous cloud of loss that hangs over the Lindahls that quickly becomes a storm after the war, we question the idea and responsibility of having a nuclear family—is it truly part of the American dream, or just an inconvenience?, and we witness the aching of sexual desire that serves as the elephant in the room, making its way toward the crowded kitchen table in the Lindahl household.
This is a novel I could picture my American Studies professor assigning to me for required reading and I would consume it to no end—that's how much I truly enjoyed this novel. But as someone who lives off of stories that explore human growth, isolation—both moral and physical, and has a love for period pieces, this is a novel that hit every mark on my "all the things I love" checklist.
On a personal side note, I want to mention that when I first started reading Puttering I was making a trip into West LA and my destination required me to exit into the hills of La Cienega. As I was making my way through the area, I felt as if I was transported back in time especially at the moment when I drove past Pann's, a local diner on La Cienega and La Tijera Blvd. I was amazed, wondering to myself, 'Did Puttering really take me back in time? Or am I having a random David Lynch moment?' Leaving the city to head back home toward Orange County, I felt broken. A sense of loss came to pass as I begrudgingly accepted that I had to leave a city that was still locked in an era that I could only dream about in books such as Puttering. ...more
It took me a long time to finish this book because 1. it's been a very busy year in my personal life and 2. I didn't want to finish it because I becamIt took me a long time to finish this book because 1. it's been a very busy year in my personal life and 2. I didn't want to finish it because I became attached and very much involved with Wataru the Brave and his traveling companions.
This is a lovely novel of over 700+ pages, and if I had sat down consistently every night reading it, I probably would've finished in a month. I believe it's a young adult/children's novel, and it's full of adventure, fantastical elements and mythical creatures, and reflects a few elements of modern society (politics, religion, but not enough to turn off or confuse the reader). Also, dragons. Dragons are pretty cool.
This is a novel about a young boy's journey to change his destiny, but along the way he discovers his mettle and realizes that the goal is to not change his destiny, per se, but to do the right thing. The plot is slightly predictable but that didn't bother me. I really enjoyed reading this book and would gladly pass it along to the next reader. ...more
If you've read On the Road, expect the same line of writing--stream of consciousness, if you will. I've had to interject my own set of punctuation marIf you've read On the Road, expect the same line of writing--stream of consciousness, if you will. I've had to interject my own set of punctuation marks but it didn't really do anything to disrupt the flow of the story. I also feel like The Dharma Bums would be a nice companion piece to Siddhartha (Hesse) if you're interested in reading about Buddhism on the fictional level. And like On the Road, my favorite parts included all the cross country hitch hiking. Hippie Buddhists, what can ya say? I guess it requires a lot of trust in strangers! ...more
I think I'm going to continue exploring some of Gaiman's more adult-oriented novels versus his children's books (e.g. Coraline). I was impressed withI think I'm going to continue exploring some of Gaiman's more adult-oriented novels versus his children's books (e.g. Coraline). I was impressed with the depth of American Gods and enjoy the fact that it's a cross-country road trip across America...an homage to On the Road, if you will, with the addition of some of the oldest gods known to mankind. I'd recommend getting your feet wet with this novel first before any of his other books. I'll probably try to get my hands on a copy of Stardust or Anansi Boys next. ...more
This book is a collection of short stories. From past experience I've never had much luck with short stories only because the author(s) build up a chaThis book is a collection of short stories. From past experience I've never had much luck with short stories only because the author(s) build up a character, kind of conclude the story, but most of the time leave me high and dry. Overall I really enjoyed the author's style and her plot lines, but I can't say I'd read the book again because I'm left thoroughly disappointed after each chapter. However, I think I'll check out her debut novel, Swamplandia! ...more
What the heck? The testimonials for this novel run along the lines of, "Better than Ender's Game"--I call BS on that statement. I felt like I was readWhat the heck? The testimonials for this novel run along the lines of, "Better than Ender's Game"--I call BS on that statement. I felt like I was reading one long, drawn out soap opera. Here's the book in a nutshell: family secrets, suggestions of an almost incestuous relationship, Ender airing out the family's dirty laundry in public, talks of humans trying to understand the alien race of the Pequeninos (Piggies or Little Ones) and trying to understand their culture without influencing them too much, God, and the measly beginnings of a rebellion. This sci-fi novel was confused and I was getting impatient. Ridiculous! It's a less than mediocre sophomoric effort of the Ender series. I think I'm going to wait awhile before moving on to the third part of the Enderverse: Xenocide. ...more
I was excited to read Fifty Shades of Grey and had heard a lot of good things about it…until I started reading it. I was willing to put aside the factI was excited to read Fifty Shades of Grey and had heard a lot of good things about it…until I started reading it. I was willing to put aside the fact that this is E.L. James' first foray into fiction and that she was inspired to do so after writing a bunch of fan fiction for Twilight (which I never read, and never will). What piqued my interest enough to pick up a copy of Fifty Shades was the BDSM element—how…intriguing.
So when I delved into the first 200 or so pages, I was disappointed to find myself bored and constantly fighting to not destroy each line of every paragraph. The simple sentence structure made the writing feel so choppy, as my friend had pointed out to me. Perhaps that's why I was having such a hard time reading more than 30 pages a night. Nope, it's probably because the narrative is so asinine, the characters are totally not relatable, and the writing is just horrible.
Also, I was expecting more flogging.
That's right, there wasn't enough flogging to satisfy my desire. This may only be my fifth romance/erotica novel, but I understand the power of words and how they can have an effect on your psyche; E.L. James just didn't utilize her words to their fullest potential (translation: I didn't get "excited"). However, what I really found annoying about E.L. James' writing was her inability to use a thesaurus. But what she lacked in synonyms she made up for by beating the same idea over and over into the book. How many times do you have to tell us "I flush," or "I'm flushing," or better yet, "I feel my face flushing at the thought of him" on one page? Imagine reading that over and over for 356 pages.
So if there wasn't enough flogging or tongue wagging (ha!), then what was this book about? Boringly enough, it's a twisted love story about a young college graduate named Anastasia Steele (Ana) and the domineering, sexually abused and successful entrepreneur Christian Grey. He gets his jollies on by hitting/flogging/beating and ordering Ana into submission. She, who was a virgin when we began this journey, begins to fall for him and wants "more" (e.g., his love, which he can't give her because he's so screwed up in the head). This goes on for the first 200 pages and rears its ugly head throughout the rest of the 156 pages. Let me save you some time: skip the first 200 pages and go from there. You won't need the back story because there is none.
I've read that this is a novel that spouses enjoy recommending to each other. Yeah right, I can't even recommend this book to anyone. Don't start this book thinking that it's the bible of BDSM—because it's not. I'm sure there are so many other books out there that do a better job in portraying that lifestyle; this was just not one of them. There are also many better erotica fiction novels out there that are waiting to be discovered.
By the way, I still have the second and third book waiting for me in my e-reader. This time I'll be sure to take a look at what other people have had to say about them before deciding whether or not I should read them or trash them. ...more
I'm jealous of how Jeannette Walls has a way with giving each word of every sentence a life of its own; there is purpose for every vowel and consonantI'm jealous of how Jeannette Walls has a way with giving each word of every sentence a life of its own; there is purpose for every vowel and consonant. This is a story of a woman with gumption, Walls' grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, and her life on the range, as a school teacher, and as a mother.
I felt a deep connection with this woman even though I don't share the same background or history of someone during this time period. Lily led an amazingly fascinating life and you can't help but root for her, a pioneer in a time when women were expected to grow up and find husbands that would take care of them. No, this woman had GUMPTION. She broke horses at the age of six, rode 600 miles on her trusty mare for a teaching job (a trip she made solo and took about a month), learned how to drive and fly planes, survived her share of personal heartaches, broke the law by selling back door booze out of her home, and gave birth to two children, one who is the fleeting free spirit that is Walls' mother.
I relished each chapter, refusing to put the book down even though it was 3:00 am. Walls gave me a taste of what America, particularly West Texas and Arizona, was like during the Great Depression and Hiroshima. It never felt like a history lesson, but I felt as if i was there walking down North Third Street toward her home in Phoenix before she and her family decided to make one last move. I suppose that's the theme that i loved so much about this book and The Glass Castle: like horses, the families in both books were always roaming free. They were nomadic in nature, if you will.
A lovely, quick read, I believe that Half. Broke Horses is worth your time. It certainly was for me....more
Charming and a quick read and for readers of all ages, The Graveyard Book is loosely based on Kipling's The Jungle Book and has us following the advenCharming and a quick read and for readers of all ages, The Graveyard Book is loosely based on Kipling's The Jungle Book and has us following the adventures of Bod (short for Nobody) Owens, a boy who lives in a graveyard atop a hill in Old Town, a fictional small town somewhere in England. Fantastically dreamy, right?
Bod, who is raised by his adoptive parents Master and Mistress Owens (who do not play a huge role in the novel) and his guardian Silas, is the sole living person among the dead. He has the Freedom of the Grave--the ability to disappear among the shadows, walk through gates, and converse with the dead--yet he has the growing curiosity of any normal, living boy. We read along and watch Bod grow from a walking one-year-old baby boy to a teenager of 15.
Each chapter serves as a vignette on the (mis)adventures of Bod as he gets in to trouble, whether it's from entering the Ghoul Gate, interacting with the living outside the graveyard, or when confronted with the truth about the man who has been hunting him down since the night he first walked in to the graveyard.
Overall, not an extraordinary read as it doesn't offer much in character development, but it does serve as a nice Sunday read. ...more
It's been a week since I finished this novel and I still can't stop thinking about it. First of all, if you were born and raised in the 1980s, you'llIt's been a week since I finished this novel and I still can't stop thinking about it. First of all, if you were born and raised in the 1980s, you'll recognize most, if not all, of the pop culture references (e.g., WarGames, Joust, John Hughes, etc). If you weren't a child of the 80's or aren't familiar with 80's pop culture, you can still appreciate the novel for what it is and the direction it'll take you down the virtual rabbit hole.
I’m not familiar with Ernest Cline's work; in fact, the only other thing I know he penned was the screenplay for Fanboys, which received a fairly mediocre reception when it was released in theatres which is pretty disheartening because I feel it's one of the more underrated buddy films of the last five years. Ready Player One reads like a cinematic adventure: it's fast-paced, features a few action cut scenes, some drama and romance, and some side scrolling. ;)
I don't want to go into the synopsis of the story since that will definitely lead me to spoiling everything for you, but I will tell you this: each chapter is so good I was scared to move forward with the next chapter. Why? Let's just say I liked the suspense, but really, it's because I knew that I'd be one chapter closer to finishing this fantastic novel. I seriously did not want it to end!
I'm also glad that there were no loose ends at the conclusion of Ready Player One. Lately, I feel that the authors of the last few books I've picked up ran out of time (or steam) and had to come up with a conclusion in two pages or less. Cline did an excellent job working his way up to the final showdown in a span of a couple chapters.
Cline's novel is a story that will hold well ten, definitely twenty years, down the road. I will definitely reread it in the future. ...more
It's a dissection and a dissertation about love involving three college-age people. The narrative flows quite nicely (although it was(3.5-3.75 stars)
It's a dissection and a dissertation about love involving three college-age people. The narrative flows quite nicely (although it was a bit chunky in the first act, but that's forgivable), but you can tell the style is distinctly Eugenides. Maybe a lot of people didn't care for this novel because nobody dies.
Eugenides wrote a 406 page novel reiterating what so many of us already know: love is complicated. It gets in the way of everything, it's your excuse for making excuses, and a lot of times, it's over-romanticized; love isn't as pretty as the Victorians depicted it.
Like Eugenides' other books (The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex), I stayed up into the wee hours of the night and early mornings to devour this book. I became attached to the characters; I wanted to slap Madeleine, knock Leonard over with a baseball bat, and violently shake Mitchell back to reality. The ending is a bit predictable, which didn't bother me too much; however, I couldn't help but root for someone to die. (What??)
Overall, I enjoyed it. Would I read it again? Sure, just not within the next year. ...more