A stranger on the Internet instructed me to review this book, so I guess I’ll do as I’m told.
This book is okay. Actually, the second half of this bookA stranger on the Internet instructed me to review this book, so I guess I’ll do as I’m told.
This book is okay. Actually, the second half of this book is great, but still not great enough to resurrect the full work to anywhere beyond its three-star label of mediocrity.
Often with mystery novels there is a slow but steady build of intensity, a momentum that gathers in a such a way that the reader remains riveted to the end. That occurs here, as well, so I don’t ascribe my disappointment with the first half of the book to any lack of momentum on its part. Instead, I think I was turned off by the writing. In fact, I’d say that the plot drive in the second half was so well executed that it overcame what I would otherwise have to describe as naïve, whimsical writing. But in the author’s defense, he was (at the time of this book’s initial publication, anyway) a naïve writer. The Other was Thomas Tryon’s first novel, written after having spent much of his early adulthood as a Hollywood film actor.
The Other is a frame story, but the identity of the narrator is unknown until the book’s denouement. The story involves two twin boys, one of whom is a vicious evildoer while the other acts as his doe-eyed apostle. Of course, every evil deed performed is accompanied by telling amounts of circumstantial ambiguity so one could probably see “The Big Reveal” coming a mile away, especially if he’s seen enough M. Night Shyamalan films. Still, the reveal (and the events which occur after it) are well executed, as I stated earlier, which makes this book—all being said—ok....more
I love Amy Poehler. In fact I love every member of that early two-thousands (the decade, not the centuryIt breaks my heart to give this book one star.
I love Amy Poehler. In fact I love every member of that early two-thousands (the decade, not the century) female Saturday Night Live cast ensemble: Poehler, Fey, Rudolph, Dratch.
I often mentally include Kristen Wiig in the mix, too, because she’s fantastic, but she was sort of late to the party, having joined SNL a year before Dratch and Fey left.
But as I was saying, I think highly of Poehler. I enjoy her comedy, her intelligence, her personality overall. But I didn’t like this book.
To me, Yes Please reads more like a scatterbrained diary than the well-crafted memoir I had been hoping for. Very little of the book seems to have been composed with any forethought; it’s as though Poehler were performing improv in “lit” form. Except while she may be a master of the art on a stage, her improvisational talent doesn’t really migrate to the written page. Her stories meander along without any real segue between them, each having a very “oh and by the way” aspect to it. Maybe it was meant to be random and incoherent but it just didn’t work for me.
At one point in the book Poehler mentions her addiction to self-googling, so in many ways I am hoping she doesn’t stumble across this review because I’d hate to imagine her feelings being hurt by it, so maybe it’s best that no one votes for it.
In other words, do what you guys normally do....more
This play reminded me of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf for all the obvious reasons—the biting sarcasm, the viciousness lying just below the surface oThis play reminded me of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf for all the obvious reasons—the biting sarcasm, the viciousness lying just below the surface of the faux pleasantries. The scope of the discomfort is a bit broader in this Albee play, though. Instead of the focus being solely on the married couple, other bystanders get sucked into the fray. There’s even a slap across the face in one scene, which is something I always get a kick out of. Face-slapping scenes are the best, aren’t they? Sometimes I’ll tune into a soap opera when I’m home sick just to see if any faces are being slapped.
I’m not sure who Harry and Edna are meant to represent. Probably they aren’t meant to “represent” anyone and I’m just being overly analytical as usual, but their presence in the play and their bizarre interactions with Agnes and Tobias are just a trifle too…weird…not to possess some sort of subtextual meaning. Plus, with dialogue like “for fear of looking into a mirror” and “our lives are the same,” I had to wonder whether Harry and Edna aren’t mere extensions of Agnes and Tobias themselves.
Oh, you were expecting something deeper than that? Sorry, but that’s as far as I got. This ain’t AP English class, kids.
I’ll be seeing this play on Broadway next month with some fellow Goodreaders. Glenn Close and John Lithgow will be assuming the roles of Agnes and Tobias. I think Glenn Close will make a great Agnes, too—being subtly antagonistic toward her fellow characters on the one hand while on the other trying to maintain a sense of order in a life that seems to lend itself only to chaos. It’s as though a school of hungry piranhas were threatening to close in on her and it’s her job to prevent a feeding frenzy while simultaneously keeping at bay the anxiety that gnaws at her from within.
Once again I am guilty of loving a book for what are probably all the wrong reasons. The jacket description of Hamilton’s The Slaves of Solitude mentiOnce again I am guilty of loving a book for what are probably all the wrong reasons. The jacket description of Hamilton’s The Slaves of Solitude mentions an oppression brought on by World War II, a population redistribution into the rooming houses of London’s suburbs (to escape the Blitz, among other things), and a feeling of claustrophobia that results from this migratory shift, bringing strangers from different backgrounds into close proximity but without the sense of relief that a larger city (like London) would otherwise afford its inhabitants. [There were at most one or two “public houses” in these suburban settings. If you needed to get away from your roommate for a few hours you could enter into one of these establishments but there was a good chance your roommate would end up in the same place.] The premise of Slaves takes its cue from this description of wartime Britain and brings us a character whose own stifling experience living in an English boarding house is one we become intimately acquainted with. Except instead of the book being about these English boarding houses or about wartime oppression in suburban London, and even while it mentions these things repeatedly, for me this book was a voyeuristic peep show into the dramatic tribulations of a single middle-aged woman over the course of a two-month period in late 1943.
And it was fantastic.
It is hard to articulate what it is about a book that qualifies it for me as a “page turner”—whether it’s plot pacing or humor or internal musings that somehow hits the nail right jolly square on the head, I don’t know. But this book has all of those things. It has a slow but steady build to a glorious showdown that left me shaking in empathetic rage and excitement. When Miss Roach wants to punch something (or someone), SO THE FUCK DID I! And when her stomach gets caught in her throat for injustices that she cannnot believe are happening to her, I also could feel my pulse racing, the heat of fury rising to my cheeks. The gall of these people with whom Miss Roach has the unfortunate luck to become associated. Who do they think they are? Their impudence, their self-righteousness, their utter impropriety. We identify with Miss Roach so deeply that we feel each of these outrages personally, acutely. That is the nature of this book that spoke to me. That, along with Roachy’s own sense of self-awareness—she is honest with herself and open to the possibilities of her own faults even while most of us would have difficulty being that way under similar circumstances. Whether the book embraces any larger, overarching context, I have no idea. Nor do I even care! And I do not mean that flippantly; I’m just saying that this book worked well enough for me on a personal level that it could have happened anytime or anywhere—the “wartime-in-Britain’s-suburban-boarding-houses” thing was just a vehicle for the magnificent drama within....more