I liked this book a lot. It reminded me a little of Ship Fever: Stories, but I can't decide if it's because of the short story format or because one oI liked this book a lot. It reminded me a little of Ship Fever: Stories, but I can't decide if it's because of the short story format or because one of the short stories, Counting the Days, is set in St Lawrence during the same historical events.
I liked the theme of travel, and being far from home, the book is divided into 3 sections, Departures, In Transit, and Arrivals & Aftermaths. Each story is set in a different location & time, based on actual people or events.
My favorites were The Widow's Cruse, Counting the Days, Snowblind, The Gift, and What Remains. ...more
This was an okay transition story between the Cinderella story of Cinder and a Red Riding Hood story, which I think is what Scarlet is about. I was noThis was an okay transition story between the Cinderella story of Cinder and a Red Riding Hood story, which I think is what Scarlet is about. I was not clear initially how the two stories would be connected in this world, and this short story helped with that.
Other than that, I did not really care about the characters too too much. The genetic modifications were interesting, as were the werewolves, but the individuals themselves did not really inspire me....more
I really wish I had read this before reading Cinder, or that it was left in as the first chapter, or included as a flashback. Since it's the story ofI really wish I had read this before reading Cinder, or that it was left in as the first chapter, or included as a flashback. Since it's the story of how Cinder gets adopted and finds Iko and the basis of her relationship with her stepsisters & stepmother, a lot more about the characters made sense to me after I read this. (Although it shouldn't count as a book on its own for book-count purposes - only 19 pages long!)...more
I think my main problem with this book was that I just did not like it very much. It wasn’t the format – I generally love short stories. It wasn’t theI think my main problem with this book was that I just did not like it very much. It wasn’t the format – I generally love short stories. It wasn’t the historical context or the genre fiction – God knows I read enough of that otherwise. I just think that every story felt like something that had been done before, and better. I did not think it was smart or clever. I thought it was sort of boring and unnecessarily pompous.
I guess one of the reasons I did not like these, where I usually really enjoy short stories – none of them were finished, or started, really. The ending of each story cut off abruptly, and I as a reader was just sort of bodily deposited into the middle of the next story, grasping around to get my bearings. I suspect this was supposed to be some sort of clever narrative technique, but it did not come off as clever, it just pissed me off, as a reader.
I did not really care about most of the characters, emotionally – their names did not stick in my mind, and they were just not a compelling set of people to begin with. My favorite character BY FAR was Sonmi~451. I would have read a whole book about her, and that universe, it reminded me of The Windup Girl, but good. My second favorite character was Robert Frobisher. I thought Mr. Cavendish & Louisa Rey were not interesting. I guess this is common to any book of short stories - some are good and some are not so good.
I was not a fan of the different dialects & writing styles, although I understood why the author did it. It made each story stand out. It was referential to a particular type of writer or a particular style of writing common to the time period. Nice. But a little overdone, I think. I also disliked the obvious connections between the stories - I could just imagine the author giggling to himself as he included symbolic symbols of symbolism in each section of the book.
Halfway through this book, I sat down and watched the trailer for the movie several times. Maybe I could get some additional insight into why so many people gave this book super high reviews? Nope, all I could picture for the second half, while reading, was Tom Hanks in age makeup (or is Tom Hanks really that old now??!??) or Halle Berry scrunching her brow and looking thoughtful.
I don't think I would have kept on reading this through to the end if it wasn't a book club selection. ...more
I read this because I love Project Runway (and keep up on what everyone is doing via Blogging Project Runway) so I knew a little bit about Laura BenneI read this because I love Project Runway (and keep up on what everyone is doing via Blogging Project Runway) so I knew a little bit about Laura Bennett already.
This was okay - I think in a lot of ways it was trying too hard to be funny 100% of the time, but there were some moments where in spite of that it was touching or real or made an important point about the sheer ridiculousness of helicopter parents. These moments were WAY better than the trying-too-hard-to-be-funny moments.
I LOVE that the nannies Alicia, Nicole and Blake are not only acknowledged, but featured prominently. I love that Laura does not ever apologize for being a working mother and having a good career making good money.
I was a little bummed that there was not more dirt about what it was like to be on Project Runway. ...more
I was kind of disappointed in this - there were a couple of scenes and lines that were amusing, but it was not as good as the other books I've read byI was kind of disappointed in this - there were a couple of scenes and lines that were amusing, but it was not as good as the other books I've read by this author. I never really got the gist of what was going on. Were these once newspaper columns that were collected into a book? It really bugged me that each short story was SUMMARIZED in the one after it, as though readers could not be expected to remember events that took place two or three pages previously.
And while I generally love some self-depreciating humor as much as the next person, it was really just a little too much in this book. Not every sentence has to be funny, individually. Sometimes sentences can be used to make a larger point, which is then funny. The author didn't seem to know this, though. That style - each sentence being its own joke - made this a really dense and tedious book to get through.
It did not help that I was reading this at the same time as Mindy Kaling's book, which I loved, which was actually funny....more
To be honest, I have not ever seen the American version of The Office, so I had no idea before reading this that Mindy Kaling writes for/plays a charaTo be honest, I have not ever seen the American version of The Office, so I had no idea before reading this that Mindy Kaling writes for/plays a character on that show, which is kind of embarrassing. (I have seen the Ricky Gervais version, which is great.) BUT I love comedy and in particular the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler/SNL style comedy, even if I am woefully out of date in actually watching it. I picked this up because I had this Curtis Sittenfeld article rolling around in my head while I was browsing at the library. (Is it weird how much I love Curtis Sittenfeld’s articles and reviews but at the same time I am not a fan of her books?) Also, I have a soft spot for memoirs and short stories, and especially memoirs composed of short stories, which this is. I listened to the audiobook version of this, which was perfect. (Except for the chapter towards the end, with pictures.)
So I looooved this book, it was as though Mindy Kaling and I could be best friends because we are so alike! (It appears many people thought this, in the reviews here, and either liked or hated this style.) Except for the fact that I do not have a successful career as a writer, have not graduated from an Ivy League school, am not funny, couldn’t act to save my life, and in fact I am not a very good writer at all, even of emails. But OTHER than that! We wear the same size, we could share clothes! We have the same basic outlook on dating/relationships/commitment AND dieting. I appreciated how context was provided for every story or situation that was dated or dependent on a timeline. I love how much of this took place in the 90’s.
The whole way through this, I was thinking to myself, “Can I give this 5 stars? This is not deep, serious, moving literature. I should give it 4 stars.” But then I would get to another part where I either laughed a lot, or agreed 100% with Mindy, and I changed my mind. This book was awesome. ...more
I don’t remember where I heard about this book – maybe from Goodreads? Maybe from an article somewhere else on the internet. But I am so glad I read tI don’t remember where I heard about this book – maybe from Goodreads? Maybe from an article somewhere else on the internet. But I am so glad I read this because it really resonated with me – it’s about aviation in Alaska, superficially, but more importantly it’s about life. I, for one, am not familiar with aviation in the slightest, but it didn’t matter, reading this.
I loved the writing in this book. I think the essay format was perfect for telling these stories.
I also loved the stories – the pseudonyms got a little confusing (Tony Sam Scott Frank Bob etc) – especially since it was obvious that every one of these people was living larger than life in the author’s mind, bland and interchangeable pseudonyms did not do them all justice.
What I most want to know is how the author got this book published without drawing down the legal wrath of, well, anyone. Did she time this specifically for after the Company went out of business, or did they go out of business because of stories like this? Or for some other reason entirely? This sort of tell-all style has gotten more than one person fired or sued, and I am sure there were a number of people who were not pleased that all the blatantly illegal details of how the business was run that are shared in this were made public. Especially since many of the deaths of the titular pilots in question were directly or indirectly caused by Company policies or procedures. ...more
I really like memoirs, and I really like short stories, and I like reading the Yarn Harlot's blog, so I liked reading this book. I was a little disappointed that some of the stories were recognizable blog posts - I remembered reading them previously.
Many of the stories were more about life as a knitter/person with a giant stash of yarn than about knitting itself. This DEFINITELY helped diversify the audience for this book - for instance I knit stuff, but sort of slowly and ineffectively, and I could identify with many of the stories in this book despite that.
I actually think the structure required in a short story format works MUCH better for this author than some of the longer books of his I’ve read. (TerI actually think the structure required in a short story format works MUCH better for this author than some of the longer books of his I’ve read. (Terminal World, I am looking at you.) The plots and situations he places his characters in are unique and interesting to hash over. BUT with a short story, it is hard for him to get bogged down in unnecessary and unproductive dialogue.
I have not read the other books in the revelation space series, and I really didn’t feel like I needed to in order to understand these stories. (I read Chasm City, but that was really a stand-alone.) There was nothing presented here that was totally incomprehensible, and in many situations the characters are used as foils for the author to explain scientific concepts HE clearly finds interesting. I guess some things would be revelatory if I had read other books in the series, but as it is I did not feel like I was missing out.
I really liked the Conjoiners. I REALLY liked the Denizens. I do not totally understand the author’s obsession with big game hunting – I could go my entire life without revisiting Hammer Dryad hunting. BUT there were no truly terrible stories here – all were at least entertaining.
My favorites in this collection: Weather Grafenwalder’s Bestiary A Spy in Europa
The ones I was only mildly interested in: The Great Wall of Mars Nightingale Glacial Dilation Sleep Galactic North ...more
I got this at a used book sale solely because of the title – which is great.
This hits on two of my favorite genres – memoirs and short stories, so II got this at a used book sale solely because of the title – which is great.
This hits on two of my favorite genres – memoirs and short stories, so I thought I would really like it, but it fell surprisingly flat. The best thing about it was the titles – both of the book and of the short stories in it. It really seemed like the author was trying just a *little* too hard to make what was a completely normal childhood/young adulthood come off as eccentric and unique. She uses a lot of self-depreciating humor, but it was insincere and read as false. It was like the author was saying, “I am obviously gorgeous and perfect, but deep down I am just as flawed as you are, let me recount a quirky tale!” (Subliminal message: buy my book/give me a literary award/don’t forget I’m actually more special than you) But her definition of “quirky tale” was a story about playing the Oregon Trail game in the early 90’s, or having a collection of knickknacks, or going to a swank summer camp as a kid. (Note to author: Not quirky.)
Also – as a young woman from the suburbs, the author moves to New York City as a young adult. The way she chooses to demonstrate that she is a Real New Yorker is by namedropping place names into every possible conversation or description. Since I myself am familiar with New York, I kind of knew what/where she was talking about, but if anyone had not been to the city, a lot of the references would make no sense. (But of COURSE – everyone who is anyone has been to New York City! Where else could you possibly go?) It was as though the author could not imagine any of her readers being from different states, or countries.
I think the only story I found even blandly amusing was "You on a Stick", about being the maid of honor at the wedding of a former high school friend.
This one, for me, is going back to the used book store. ...more
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via the Goodreads First Reads program. (Awesome!)
Let me preface this review by sayiDisclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via the Goodreads First Reads program. (Awesome!)
Let me preface this review by saying that I liked this collection of short stories a lot. They were all very well written and edited, etc. I love the quality of this author’s writing. Individually, each story was interesting and engaging and compelling.
As a collection, however, it became obvious that the main characters featured in each of the stories were more than a little autobiographical. There were several hallmarks of the author’s life that were repeated throughout: the American son of Indian immigrants living in West Virginia, he lived in New York City as a young gay man, returned to India to care for/visit relatives, then moved to upstate New York to further his career. Each character in each story is ostensibly different – they have different names, and different personal details, but they all seem to have lived an identical life path to that of the author. I understand the advice is to “write what you know,” but it gets to be a little much for the reader, especially when reading the entire book in one sitting.
Which is what I did, because the writing was so great.
I REALLY wish that this story had been included in the collection, as an afterward or epilogue – the author writing clearly as himself. http://randomhouseindia.wordpress.com... I desperately hope that this author considers writing an actual memoir. After reading this book, I want to know more about HIS life story, his thoughts and feelings and experiences. The stories in this book had an air of superficiality, since they were skimming the surface of the lives of strangers – they lacked the depth and emotional insight the author can clearly portray when writing about himself.
From my perspective, as someone who is not Indian-American, gay, or a man, the most powerful and touching stories were the second and third in the collection. “Floating” describes an American couple on a trip to India, where they connect with a young artist, and only fully discover who he really is after they return home. “Citizen” is about a woman and her grandson, who is helping her study for the US citizenship exam.
My least favorite story was “Yours” – it was a little too personal and had a narrow first person perspective, without really engaging the reader or connecting with the audience.
I wish the author had gone more into depth about what it means for these men to be disconnected from their “cultural in-group” (as it says on the back of the book) – in many ways it was unclear if the issues that they struggle with are due to cultural or generational differences. It is clearly intentional that all of these threads are woven together in the book, but I wish that the author had used the individual stories better to tease these themes apart and explore them individually....more
Okay, I picked this up because of the Goodreads group read, or summer reading program, or whatever. They had just sent me an email about it, and I hadOkay, I picked this up because of the Goodreads group read, or summer reading program, or whatever. They had just sent me an email about it, and I had just finished my last audiobook, and was casting around desperately at the library for something to listen to. I recognized the cover of this from the Goodreads email, and grabbed it before the library closed. The only thing I knew about this prior to starting it was that it contained a chapter done entirely in powerpoint, which obviously loses its appeal when translated into audiobook format. (Great.) My plan was - if I like this book enough, I can find a dead tree copy and look at the powerpoint chapter later.
The reader of this audiobook, who I am sure could be a very nice person, or may be a good actress on screen, comes across as one of the high school aged cousins you get to do one of the readings at a church wedding. Possibly the cousin who dresses entirely in black and locks herself in her room for days at a time, writing deep poetry in which every word is imbued with MEANING, but when read aloud, is somehow emphasized incorrectly.
This is NOT a book I would normally select - I have very little patience for the "problems" of upper-class middle-aged New Yorkers reliving their past and hashing out "issues" with their therapists. I almost threw this out the window when I realized that the entire first chapter summarized a therapy session in which the main character, Sasha, is (badly) justifying her kleptomaniac tendencies. UGH. But - I decided to keep listening, because this is set up kind of like a book of short stories, in that each chapter is told from a different character's perspective, about the same set of events, or in this case, people. (Like Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina? - although I think this author would FLIP if she knew I was making that comparison. So lowbrow!) In a way, this is just like any other book of short stories - some are good, some are not so good, some are terrible, and some are great. Once I realized this, I liked this book MUCH better. It just starts out with such a weak and terrible story.
I do not care for Benny, at all. Or Scotty. They are both hairballs. The stories about Lou's kids, and Lou dying? Blah. I realize this makes me a bad person, but I have absolutely no sympathy for the personal problems of addicts, pre- or post- rehab. Just not interested. I dislike very strongly all the chapters that have to do with Sasha. All of the people connected to her life. UGH. She is just not a great character, I don't feel like I need to know more about her life! But instead, we hear from practically everyone she has ever been involved with. The powerpoint chapter, while an interesting concept, was not THAT compelling, I don't feel like I need to find a copy of this book so I can look at it. This was done on the audiobook by using the sound of an old Kodak slide carousel advancing to delineate the slides. Ted, in particular, reminded me strongly of my father in law, for whom I feel a visceral hatred due to his parenting skills, or lack thereof. It is fine to no longer love your wife, or want to get a divorce, but to hate your own children? Awful. Come to think of it, all of the father figures involved in the various stories here are terrible parents, who either don't understand or care for their own children. I was mildly interested in Stephanie, Benny's ex-wife, although her story was SO predictable. Same for her brother. Kind of a flat character. I liked the story about Rhea, the San Francisco punk rock kid in 1980. She is funny and honest and relatable, and most importantly, not actively despicable. I LOVED the story about the publicist who specializes in rehabilitating the image of genocidal dictators in the Western world.
I do like the past/present/future fluidity of the timeline. The writing is good, funny sometimes, although it is hard to decipher when that's intentional or not, because of the audiobook reader. I appreciate the many different writing styles and formats that were included. I enjoyed identifying the connections between characters. Reading this made me want to do a flowchart of the characters involved.
I am aware that my opinion is meaningless in the face of the many awards that this book has won, but I just can't justify giving this a great rating, since I only really liked two of the stories in the whole thing. ...more
There are only a handful of authors out there whose writing I love so much that I will snatch up anything new without reading a summary or descriptionThere are only a handful of authors out there whose writing I love so much that I will snatch up anything new without reading a summary or description of it first. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is one of them - I saw this book at the library, picked it up, checked it out, and brought it home before I bothered to read the inside flap. I didn't even think about it, because I was sure I would like it. Which I did! It's really a hybrid between a novella and a book of short stories - a group of characters each tells their own story. I liked the open-ended conclusion. I liked the individual characters. I liked their stories. I wish this was longer. This reminded me a little of Heroic Measures: A Novel. ...more
This collection of short stories seems to me like something that would be assigned in a high school English class, since most of the stories includedThis collection of short stories seems to me like something that would be assigned in a high school English class, since most of the stories included involve teenage boys or young men having emotional or existential crises. It seems like something that an English department would decide on to Get Teenage Boys Excited About Reading. (Although I may have judged this wrong, being out of high school for awhile and never having been a teenage boy.) It is a very masculine collection - small town with dusty roads and pickup trucks and hunters, people living in cabins in the woods and not having much in the way of technology, and many many people exercising their Second Amendment rights. It seems like every single character has some variety of PTSD. It is not really clear what time period many of these stories are set in - a few of them say - most could easily be set anytime between the 1940s and now, in any of thousands of tiny little towns. Most of the plots & settings are so far removed from my personal experience as a smartphone-wielding internet-connected east coast liberal city dweller that they could honestly be taking place on a different planet. ...more
I do not normally like zombie stories - I am not a big fan of horror in general. But I really liked this collection! I thought it was really well editI do not normally like zombie stories - I am not a big fan of horror in general. But I really liked this collection! I thought it was really well edited - there was not a single short story that I disliked, which is saying a lot. All of these were kind of creepy, even the unicorn stories. ...more
This was a pretty good book of short stories. I had not read most of these before, that was nice. As with any book of short stories, there were some tThis was a pretty good book of short stories. I had not read most of these before, that was nice. As with any book of short stories, there were some that were great and some that were not so great. Many of the really strong stories were clustered towards the beginning of the book - I kind of wish they had been a little more interspersed to hold up the weaker stories. The last story - Civilization by Vylar Kaftan - is GREAT. Especially after reading all the stuff that went before it....more
This collection reminded me very strongly of collections of short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I am not in a military famiThis collection reminded me very strongly of collections of short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I am not in a military family, but I grew up close to a Navy base - the pace of life was very familiar to me. Excellent writing....more
Very short stories, only a page or so each. I like reading folktales, but I wish this collection had included longer or more fleshed out versions of tVery short stories, only a page or so each. I like reading folktales, but I wish this collection had included longer or more fleshed out versions of the ones chosen, perhaps with related discussion as to meaning, and descriptions of where they came from....more
Very interesting. I wished it was longer - It's a compilation of columns, really, without interconnecting storylines, so you can read each chapter indVery interesting. I wished it was longer - It's a compilation of columns, really, without interconnecting storylines, so you can read each chapter independently. ...more