i was just reading my delight of a book, readers' advisory service in the public library, and the chapter i was reading was the one on "appeal". basici was just reading my delight of a book, readers' advisory service in the public library, and the chapter i was reading was the one on "appeal". basically, appeal is how you describe a book to a patron based on its salient elements: pacing, characterization, story line, frame/tone, and style. the idea is that by using these descriptive elements, we can recommend any book to any person, whether we have read the book or not, whether we know anything about the genre, based on the appeal of these elements to the reader and always always always making sure to avoid "judgment words"; focusing simply on articulating the bits and pieces for the best and most appropriate readers of the books.
i'm not going to do that. not here, not with you.i was going to, for practice - going to go through all the marvelous things this novel has to offer a reader, but instead i'm going to do something librarians aren't supposed to do. i am going to impose my taste on you. that's right, bitches. and i am going to ask you to trust me. i know we don't really know one another, but let me give you my résumé of trustworthiness: the other day, a child dropped her stuffed giraffe and her parents didn't notice. even though i had just been saying - "i want that giraffe, yo", i picked it up and gave it to the mommy. SEE HOW TRUSTWORTHY I AM?? one time i found a wallet on the subway. it was the wallet of some japanese tourist, and there was all this american money inside, and after trying to call the number on the credit card (which was all crazy-japanese-language, and the american division was no help - same with the bank), i ended up going allll the way to the japanese embassy to drop it off. SEE HOW I CAN BE TRUSTED WITH MY GOOD NATURE?? i am very good at keeping secrets (even the really juicy one i heard about you. YES, YOU). i will not read your diary, and i will not steal your boyfriend/girlfriend...
but mostly, i can be trusted in my book sense. i'm not going to push my byron fictionalizations on you - i know that these are just personal fetishes, and they are crappy crappy sensationalist novels. same with my teen-survival and aftermath books. even though i sometimes like some crap, i know when something is good. and this is good:
he became a surgeon because he was afraid of knives. he got married because he was afraid of women. he had a child because he was afraid of responsibility. now, his marriage over and his child no longer speaking to him, he turned off all the lights in the house because he was afraid of the dark.
look, i'm just some chick with a mouth like a sailor who was recommended this book years ago and i took a chance and it turned out to be one of the best books i ever did read. i paid 2.38 for it on abe.com.
there is nothing more boring than a junkie. a drunk will put on a good show; stumble around, maybe vomit explosively, and most drunks, even serious drthere is nothing more boring than a junkie. a drunk will put on a good show; stumble around, maybe vomit explosively, and most drunks, even serious drunks, manage to retain a certain charm which allows them to successfully cadge drinks. cokeheads and speedfreaks are capable of carrying on conversations, even if half the time it is difficult to follow their logic. but at least they're trying, and you can always just watch their teeth grind. people on hallucinogens (do people still do those anymore?), all you need is a flashlight and a wall, and they can entertain for hours. but junkies. they are just really obstacles to step over on your way to the bathroom - not entertaining at all. selfish, really. and junkie fiction is usually the lowest of the low in terms of entertainment value. either it's shock value "look at what people are willing to do for a fix" tales, or glossily redemptive "look at my transformation". yawn.
that being said, i fucking love this book. and i've given up utterly on its ever coming back into print. there were rumors of her writing a second book, which have also seemed to evaporate. so i give up on that, too. and i ordinarily wouldn't dig this book because it is, it's a drug narrative. but it's about all manner of self-destructive behavior and squalor but with moments of heartbreaking tenderness. and yes, the narrator is very articulate which is odd for a junkie, but it's not the same kind of articulate in-your-faceness that is in, say, calamity physics. it's not treacly or perky. it's nihilistic self-loathing jewish rage. it's a sexually brutal entanglement with a plumber, a misplaced religious/racial identity, the obligatory AIDS-character, the power of chain gang music, and lesbian peach pie.
but nicole richie's novel is still in print. amazing....more
why are books allowed to go out of print?? especially quality books, while ghastly interchangeable pastel chicklit books are allowed to be churned out why are books allowed to go out of print?? especially quality books, while ghastly interchangeable pastel chicklit books are allowed to be churned out to clog the shelves year after year? this one particularly surprises me, because it's steven millhauser, ftlog. all of his other books are in print, he's got a pullitzer; what more do you need to keep one lousy book in print? i'm noticing more and more as i am ordering for the store that publishers just aren't able to keep things in print anymore, or are making only very small batches of certain backlist titles. one week, three or four "table books" will no longer be available, then they will come back, then be unavailable again. it makes me sad because on the one hand - i want them to go out and have a chance to sell, on the other hand, i want to protect them as though they are the frail endangered species,the Last Copies, and not let the others get their hands on them. sometimes it works out - obscene bird of night came back into print in a big way and i immediately ordered an unreasonable amount of copies just in case, as though i am preparing for some literary apocalypse and the store is my book bomb shelter. but this book i have never been able to get in the store, and it is my favorite millhauser, which makes it difficult for the readers advisory part of my job. "yes, millhauser is good, but you should really try to find portrait of a romantic - its the very best". honesty loses sales.sigh. mike didn't like this book, but reading his review made me realize how much it really is like fortress of solitude, without any of the popular culture references. when i read this book, f.o.s. was not even a thought in young lethem's head, so i never mentally compared the two. now i want to read them over back-to-back. i loved both books, millhauser's is just a darker, more fantastic, magical-realismy version. young boys and their suburban death-fascinations. this book should almost be required reading for middle school boys. ...more
this review is for all of the people "following my reviews". i dont know who you are. you dont message me or comment on my reviews, or vote for them.this review is for all of the people "following my reviews". i dont know who you are. you dont message me or comment on my reviews, or vote for them. i dont know what you are getting out of this relationship. the only thing i can think of is that you are waiting for me to make the first move and review something just for you. so here it is: read this book. this is one of the best books i have ever read, and it is out of print, (although its sequel is still in print - go figure) so you are going to have to work for it. and once you have it, you are going to have to work a little bit more to get everything out of it you possibly can. even though i am going through a phase with the teen and baby books, this is where my heart is. its not a long book, but it is a deceptively intricate and layered book, which will unfold like one of those vagina dentatas and snap you up. it does for me what i thought house of leaves was going to do for me, until that ended up being ultimately unsatisfying like a nicely-wrapped empty box. this book is the real deal. i cant give up plotpoints, because the real shivery cerebral excitement comes from slowly understanding its echoes and the seams. now stop following me and go read it....more
finally! a book that romanticizes male infidelity!! shhh ladies, in our places, now... here's the thing - this book has a great story - particularly ifinally! a book that romanticizes male infidelity!! shhh ladies, in our places, now... here's the thing - this book has a great story - particularly in the way it describes locations- therefore 4 stars. however, it has some of the most unrealistic characters imaginable. there are some major inconsistencies in the main characters emotional obliviousness vs. his very intense social awareness. he demonstrates a very heightened sensitivity in certain scenes but seems unaware that having different wives in different corners of the world might somehow backfire and cause tension. but i am a sucker for a well-told story, so i am overlooking some flaws tonight....more
a lot of this book is funny; humor is directed against things that i dislike in short-form bursts that can be read even while walking down the street.a lot of this book is funny; humor is directed against things that i dislike in short-form bursts that can be read even while walking down the street. but there are less satire-y pieces that are just good writing, like uhf and the fun we tried to have. and then there are pieces that i think you have to be mykle hansen to understand; i get the feeling there are all sorts of references that are not for me. but its okay because the bits i do understand are well worth it....more
anne hebert, where have you been all my life?? and why are you all out of print?? and why did i buy you years ago and only pick you up now?? i declareanne hebert, where have you been all my life?? and why are you all out of print?? and why did i buy you years ago and only pick you up now?? i declare again: canadians are one of the worlds best story-telling communities. i have rarely been disappointed by a canadian. and its not just blood-pride, if ayana is wanting to chime in. because its everything: the pacing, the novelty of narrative structure, the descriptive passages... unless i'm just more attuned to it because of some long-buried ancestral tug. but then why do i also respond so well to nigerian and irish fiction? why am i using this "review" to muse about something so extratextual? am i just in canada-lust right now because of the leonard cohen concert? regardless, and more on point, this book is excellent. i will seek her books out like i did with maritta wolff and jonathan carroll and liz jensen and all my other favorite out of printers. and i will have a tea party. in canada. so. ...more
i really liked this book, but i found that the middle was a little weak and the ending was too abrupt. that being said - its definitely worth reading,i really liked this book, but i found that the middle was a little weak and the ending was too abrupt. that being said - its definitely worth reading, especially because its such a quick book. im just pleased because i didnt figure out all the secrets before the ending - big pet peeve of mine. im always happy to find an original voice. ...more
this is a book i spent much of my adult life trying to find, and my friend found it in a matter of months. just a coincidence, mind you, nothing to dothis is a book i spent much of my adult life trying to find, and my friend found it in a matter of months. just a coincidence, mind you, nothing to do with my lack of skills... i loved this book as a child, and still do, mostly because of how hard it was to get - but i respect its playing coy - a dignified stance for a book about a monster who loves to swing......more
okay - it is time to write a proper review for this book, particularly since i have been recommending it like crazy over the past few days, and since it is out of print, i should at least make the effort to try to explain why you should make the effort, yeah?
but damned if i know where to start. cover-blurbs compare it to james baldwin and faulkner. is that a start? i haven't read baldwin, and i haven't liked the one faulkner i did read, so let me dig a little deeper...
it is a luminous example of the lyricism of the afro-canadian literary tradition. yeah, that's true, but what a chunkily pompous sentence to describe this whirlwind of a book that sweeps you away with its bluesy prose and brutal and violent episodes. but not gratuitously violent. see what i mean?? i'm all thumbs and redundancies and backtracking when it comes to trying to make you read this.
all i can tell you is how he makes me feel. he destroys me. just punches my heart over and over and then rubs it all over with whiskey poetry. if you want examples of his writing, i have "reviewed" about 5 books of his poetry, where i basically just typed out his poems because he is a much better writer than me, and he can sell himself. he just needs to be back in print to do so. read him read him read him.
kathy, alan, and bill have written more relevant reviews of this that should be read, and i am so glad they listened to me and took a chance and wrote good reviews about this secret gem of a book, because i am too in love with it to even begin to tell you why.
hardly a "proper" review after all, but i am hopelessly inept....more
as a smoker of french descent who doesn't like children and has never seen an episode of american idol - and does not understand its appeal - this booas a smoker of french descent who doesn't like children and has never seen an episode of american idol - and does not understand its appeal - this book felt tailor-made for me. it's not perfect, but it made me nod several times and say "i know, right??" to absolutely no one thus reinforcing my reputation as a crazy curmudgeon.