Roz Chast has a great sense of humor and it thrives here, but this one was also sad, scary and pitiable. The frustrating quirks and dynamic of her eldRoz Chast has a great sense of humor and it thrives here, but this one was also sad, scary and pitiable. The frustrating quirks and dynamic of her elderly parents are good for a laugh, being authentic and familiar, even though those of our own parents won't match exactly.
It was pointedly effective how Chast threw in actual photographs, which highlighted her ambivalence about her parents due to the painfully uncomfortable poses they showed and the obviously enormous age difference. In a similar way, the series of less-cartoony drawings of her dying mother's face at the end of the book were very touching.
I appreciated the honesty of the memoir: the story of her mother shitting all over the house, the attempt to finally connect with her, the frightening amounts of money all the care cost. I almost felt bad about having borrowed the book from the library rather than buy it, except when I considered the costs I myself will soon face.
Everyone wants to be patient and giving when caring for aging parents. But they do tend to drive you batty, making it a cycle of good intentions - meltdown - guilt - reprieve - repeat.
I'm giving this three stars even though I jumped ship halfway through. It's a funny and well-written memoir of a girl growing up in rural Indiana. KimI'm giving this three stars even though I jumped ship halfway through. It's a funny and well-written memoir of a girl growing up in rural Indiana. Kimmel brings her family and local characters to life, and I definitely laughed out loud more than once. But as the years I have before me dwindle, I'm thinking this isn't going to do much for my soul or my brain or even my waistline, and am moving on to books with a better chance of accomplishing one of those things. ...more
After finishing Heat Wave, which I greatly enjoyed, I quickly bought two more Lively books. One of them was Moon Tiger, which won the Booker Prize, maAfter finishing Heat Wave, which I greatly enjoyed, I quickly bought two more Lively books. One of them was Moon Tiger, which won the Booker Prize, making me assume (wrongly) that it would top Heat Wave.
I enjoyed this story and the way the narrative is constructed, swaying back and forth in time and shifting among narrators. Especially good was the introduction of the lover's diaries near the end. I was happy to find out what the eponymous Moon Tiger was - a burning spiral used on North African nights to keep mosquitoes away. In this story, it also suggests our finite allotment of time on earth and with each other. It also throws the smoke of protection of the novel's lovers for their short time together.
Despite the novel's various charms, I wasn't bowled over. I wished readers got a deeper look at a character other than Claudia, the protagonist, especially since a number of secondary characters get a chance to lead the narrative. I didn't think there was anything particularly fresh about the writing or the story, even as it held my attention and sympathy.
Still, I think it was a worthwhile read, and I plan to move along to According to Mark nevertheless, which I hope it hits it out of the park. ...more
Penelope Lively drifted on and off my to-read list for awhile. So glad I picked this up. Great voice, sympathetic protagonist and an ominous atmospherPenelope Lively drifted on and off my to-read list for awhile. So glad I picked this up. Great voice, sympathetic protagonist and an ominous atmosphere, helped by the heaviness of hot weather. The story centers on a woman in her 50s who lives next door to her daughter and her daughter's dashing husband, and their child. Aspects of the daughter's relationship remind her of her own failed marriage to a beloved but untrue star academic. The action is not dramatic but has serious pull, like increasing humidity before a storm (cliché, sorry, but so it is). Most of the book's interest lies in the behavioral cues between characters, and the protagonist's musings on how she got to where she is in her life. The war of the sexes was brought off wonderfully. I was surprised, and satisfied, by the ending. ...more
This is what you'd call a 'gift book,' there being no good reason for it to exist except as a marketing opportunity in a museum bookshop, in this caseThis is what you'd call a 'gift book,' there being no good reason for it to exist except as a marketing opportunity in a museum bookshop, in this case The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Indeed I got it as a gift, third-hand, from a family member liquidating a section of his library. The book combines some works found in the Met museum with 'love poems' - I put the 'love' in quotes because there's a section on friendship, and one on familial love. It's not all cupids and hotness and late-night phone sex. There were some great poems in here, but if you really wanted an anthology of love poems then surely there are better ones. There are some fine works of art in here, but if you were really in it for the works of art you would be better directed to the non-poetry section of the bookstore. These were mostly very well-known poems with a few I hadn't read before. The selections were good and that's laudable. The works of art appearing next to the poems sometimes seemed random, but anything can be an object of 'love,' I guess. There were two absolutely great Yehuda Amichai poems and if I really were interested in your poetic well-being I'd say save the however many dollars the Met wants for this and buy his The Selected Poetry instead. ...more
Beautifully written and thoughtful book about a character with many selves who survives centuries, switching genders in between. There is a manor housBeautifully written and thoughtful book about a character with many selves who survives centuries, switching genders in between. There is a manor house to anchor him/her, a lot of reflection, and thoughts extrapolating and fondling themselves into a pitch. It can be transporting if occasionally tedious.
“Then she called hesitatingly, as if the person she wanted might not be there, ‘Orlando?' For if there are (at a venture) seventy-six different times all ticking in the mind at once, how many different people are there not - Heaven help us - all having lodgment at one time another in the human spirit? Some say two thousand and fifty-two. So that it is the most usual thing in the world for a person to call, directly they are alone Orlando? (if that is one’s name) meaning by that, Come, come! I'm sick to death of this particular self. I want another. Hence the astonishing changes we see in our friends. But it is not altogether plain sailing, either, for though one may say, as Orlando said (being out of the country and needing another self presumably) Orlando? still the Orlando one needs may not come; these selves of which we are built up, one on top of another, as plates are piled on a waiter’s hand, have attachments elsewhere, sympathies, little constitutions and rights of their own, call them what you will (and for many of these things there is no name) so that one may come if it is raining, another in a room with green curtains, another when Mrs. Jones is not there, another if you can promise it a glass of wine - and so on; for everyone can multiply from his own experience the difficult terms which his different selves have made with him - and some are too wildly ridiculous to be mentioned in print at all.”...more
Coincidentally, today just before I finished this a colleague handed back to me Varieties of Disturbance, which I'd lent to her some time ago. I askedCoincidentally, today just before I finished this a colleague handed back to me Varieties of Disturbance, which I'd lent to her some time ago. I asked her how she liked it and she said she liked much of it, but sometimes felt Davis was full of herself, and must think all her words are gold-plated. I don't feel that way at all, though I think Can't and Won't: Stories is a better collection. I got so used to the very short that I kind of dreaded the stories of normal length, even though there were good too, with the exception of "Letter to the Foundation," which I didn't like.
My favorites were - A Cook's Lesson The Two Davises and the Rug (a longer one, relatively) A Woman, Thirty Her Geography, Alabama How I Read As Quickly as Possible Through My Back Issues of the TLS Men Negative Emotions The Piano The Seals (a longer one) Left Luggage Waiting for Takeoff (which begins, "We site in the airplane so long, on the ground, waiting to take off, that one woman declares she will now write her novel, and another in a neighboring seat says she will be happy to edit it.") Industry Wrong Thank-you in Theater...more
The last three hundred pages of this book were pretty good, when the plot catches up to itself and there is some satisfaction of justice. But I didn'tThe last three hundred pages of this book were pretty good, when the plot catches up to itself and there is some satisfaction of justice. But I didn't think the pay-off was extraordinary, and I don't know if the overall effort is worth 830 pages of one's time.
At the start it was very hard to keep track of who's who and though that difficulty, too, abated, the problem never really went away.
Anne is the neglected Brontë, overshadowed by her famous sisters. I never gave much thought to reading her until #readwomen2014 came along and I madeAnne is the neglected Brontë, overshadowed by her famous sisters. I never gave much thought to reading her until #readwomen2014 came along and I made a rough list of writers to try. I am so glad. I loved this book. It’s like an action movie of the emotions, with some passionate exaltation or desperate abyss achieved on every page.
Instead of a car chase there is taking a walk hoping the beloved will appear. Instead of a gang fight there is a man ordering the servants to confiscate a woman’s paint brushes. Instead of a bloody assault on a lonely road, there is, oh wait, a bloody assault on a lonely road! I was shocked.
None of the characters was too admirable. Helen is a pious exactitude; Lawrence is a weak space filler; Gilbert is guilty of assault and rather full of himself. The locals are a bunch of insufferable busybodies, and of course Mr. Huntingdon was an incorrigible reprobate. You practically watch him drag his sorry arse into hell.
I loved the writing. Anne Bronte manages some amazingly long sentences that are damn near Germanic. I also liked her use of device, i.e. the diary form and the letter. Everything told is recounted, in two voices.
An intricate story, or overlapping stories, with a complex plot covering (seemingly endless) decades. I didn’t particularly like the voice, and it camAn intricate story, or overlapping stories, with a complex plot covering (seemingly endless) decades. I didn’t particularly like the voice, and it came off as plain old wordy in its reflections, somehow flat and yet occasionally overwrought, too. For the reader, plenty of work for not so much payoff.
This one-sentence paragraph could sum it up: “I wonder which is preferable - to walk around your whole life swollen up with your own secrets until you burst from the pressure of them, or to have them sucked out of you, every paragraph, every sentence, every word of them, so at the end you’re deplete of all that was once precious to you as hoarded gold, as close to you as your skin - everything that was of the deepest importance of you, everything that made you cringe and wish to conceal, everything that belonged to you alone - and must spend the rest of your days like an empty sack flapping in the wind, an empty sack branded with a bright fluorescent label so that everyone will know what sort of secrets used to be inside you?”
That said, it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t read more Atwood. I’m sure she has a more disciplined book. ...more