This was my first foray into the "Best American Non-required Reading" collection, and it was such a refreshing change of pace from everything else I tThis was my first foray into the "Best American Non-required Reading" collection, and it was such a refreshing change of pace from everything else I typically read. From the amusing tidbits of the front section to the unusual short stories to the engaging articles, it was a thoroughly delightful experience, and there were only a few pieces of the entire anthology that I didn't love. While the included pieces may not be the absolute "best" (such a subjective matter to begin with) they are all deserving of merit and well worth the short time it takes to read them.
Obviously I can't compare this edition to the others, but I will definitely be picking up future releases....more
A moderately amusing short story, Overtime reminded me a lot of a Dr. Who Christmas special. From its easily-consumable, single-episodic length to theA moderately amusing short story, Overtime reminded me a lot of a Dr. Who Christmas special. From its easily-consumable, single-episodic length to the undercover agency specializing in the supernatural, this Christmas tale comes complete with the threat of global annihilation and a dash of non-linear time theory. The only thing missing is David Tennant....more
Carver's stories are like the old-fashioned holiday window displays - a brief glimpse into another world, where very little happens, but which is stilCarver's stories are like the old-fashioned holiday window displays - a brief glimpse into another world, where very little happens, but which is still interesting enough to hold our attention. I enjoyed the writing and the format, and yet I found the stories inexplicably saddening....more
I believe this is a book that is made better with age. I didn't expect to enjoy it, and so I've put off reading it for 15 years since it originally caI believe this is a book that is made better with age. I didn't expect to enjoy it, and so I've put off reading it for 15 years since it originally came out. I'm actually glad that I did, because I think it's a much better book now than it was 15 years ago.
Polaroids from the Dead is a collection of essays that Coupland wrote in the early 90’s and that appeared in various magazines and publications. Published in 1996, he collected the pieces into a single volume and illustrated them with photographs to try to capture the essence of the first half of the decade.
In 1996, this would have seemed tedious. The early 90s had just passed. How can you feel nostalgic about events that occurred only two or three years before?
One of Coupland’s suppositions is that the early 90s lacked an identity. The world was changing, but it hadn’t clearly redefined itself yet. The 90s would become the decade when people became wired and overnight millionaires were made and unmade in the dot-com waves. However, in the first years of the decade, the millionaires were still few and the internet was still developing. The time was defined by its very lack of definition.
When Polaroids came out, I was a starry-eyed, forward-looking high schooler, busy planning my future and expecting the best. A book looking backward with an intensely introspective tone would have bored me to tears. Now, with a few more life experiences under my belt and twenty years from 1990, the book makes some sense. It’s like a little literary time capsule, preserving a period in time that was otherwise quite forgettable. ...more
Although Lamming's book is described as a novel, it seems to be more a collection of short stories. Each chapter is told as a first-person narrative bAlthough Lamming's book is described as a novel, it seems to be more a collection of short stories. Each chapter is told as a first-person narrative by a woman in the Bible who is generally overshadowed by her male family members, and reveals an insightful and distinctly feminine perspective on the traditional stories. The book begins with Eve, describing the terrifying flight from Eden, and continues through both the old and new testaments. Among the narrators are Moses' adoptive Egyptian mother, Lot's wife, Sarah the wife of Abraham, Martha the sister of Lazarus, and the wife of Pontius Pilate. In each case, the women discuss the emotions, reactions, and motivations of the famous Biblical episodes in which they appear. Through their well-crafted voices they provide a fresh, unique look at these familiar tales.
What struck me most about the book was the haunting way in which the stories are told. In each case, the woman is speaking directly to a friend or relative, who always remains silent and unseen. In some cases, the speaker's narrative is periodically interrupted by household concerns, which lends an extra note of realism to the setting, but can also be a bit confusing as the speaker jumps back and forth between her past and her present.
Another point of confusion to some readers is that Lamming assumes her audience already knows the stories as they're written in the Bible. In her retelling, she makes direct references to the original stories but doesn't explicitly summarize them. While this may be awkward for someone who isn't familiar with the originals, it creates a much more realistic voice for the characters as they're not forced into recounting a history that their unseen listener would already know. It also builds a level of rapport with the modern audience, who can easily slip in and take the place of the characters' companions, mentally nodding in recognition as the storyteller makes references to her past.
The only criticism I have of the book is that a few of the stories felt a little too long and drawn out. A few times this made it hard to push on and keep reading, and I personally think the collection would have been made stronger by shortening the longer chapters and making up the length by including a few more women....more