Luminous prose aside, had the two most interesting characters in this short book, the women, been developed and explored to similar depths as the men...moreLuminous prose aside, had the two most interesting characters in this short book, the women, been developed and explored to similar depths as the men (the brothers Tyler and Barrett) then perhaps I would have found myself clicking on that 4th star. (less)
I like Joan Didion... and now I want to leave Oregon and move to California, though wonder if my staunch New Englandness can truly make such a move wi...moreI like Joan Didion... and now I want to leave Oregon and move to California, though wonder if my staunch New Englandness can truly make such a move with comfort or a modicum of ease or will I simply feel like a foreigner, like a spy sent from a far to see how the other side lives and to debunk the mythology I created growing up back east of California? I am a New Englander, truly; in many ways the puritanical pragmatism is ingrained in my bones and is the tendency I fall back upon despite valiant efforts and eating copious amounts of psychadelic mushrooms in the early 00's. When I am in Portland, distance and nostalgia cloud my rarely accurate memory with a veil of foggy romanticism. I think of Amherst and Northampton and Cambridge, the oldness, the architecture and history. When I am in Massachusetts, I feel withdrawn, interior, a touch stifled and, frankly, a tad depressed and I think warmly of Portland: the rain, my bike, and cozy dwellings. I left this book moved by many of Didion's essays, wondering how I missed this book, when in high school I devoured The White Album and Play It As It Lays with such rapidity that I lack any idea of what those books were actually about, but in typical Didion fashion, I recall with clarity and immediacy who I was. Where I was emotionally and spiritually stays with me: a plane on the way to Atlanta, terrified because in a few months I was leaving home to go to college and felt rudderless, without much tethering me to anything, adrift. I remember my window seat, drinking lukewarm lousy black tea as I watched the clouds and the glimpses of land below, a creeping sense of awareness that my crisis of identity was banal and even the scene itself, on a plane, book in hand, tears welling in eyes struck a chord, a cheap string on a shitty plastic guitar. And now I wonder, where do I belong geographically... where is my home, in the sense of place as home? (less)
I liked this book considerably more than I thought I would upon cracking the spine. And as tiring as Rabbit got (particularly during this one sex scen...moreI liked this book considerably more than I thought I would upon cracking the spine. And as tiring as Rabbit got (particularly during this one sex scene which read for I swear over a dozen pages and was at it's core a narcissistic song to himself/ Updike/ Rabbit/ you catch my drift), I didn't find myself loathing him, as I thought I would I guess due to other's thoughts on the book and the general mythology that I seem to have patched together about Updike over the years. I thought my inner righteous feminist would seethe and puff and my toes would curl in as I read the thoughts, language and actions of Rabbit Angstrom. That or I would find the plot tepid: infidelity in the suburbs, again? Meh. Interestingly, my mind can't seem to compose a review about this book without feeling compelled to discuss my personal likes and dislikes of the characters, because I feel I must share my thoughts on Eccles, the priest, father, reverend, whatever the damn title: gross and pathetic and more voyeur than anything else. I wish the women had more psychic life, or perhaps a sliver more independence as their existences seemed to be primarily as the moorings of men, but perhaps I ask too much for the time period. (less)
The character development in the book was great and I dare say every character held my fancy for some period of time, even if toward the end I wanted...moreThe character development in the book was great and I dare say every character held my fancy for some period of time, even if toward the end I wanted to crack Isabel over the head with one of her art vases, or some other heavy ornate object of decor lazying about Uncle Elliot's house. The bitch! Setting up Suzanne, the barely recovered opium junkie/alcoholic prostitute Larry was briefly engaged to, tempting her with fancy Russian vodka, booze drunk only by kings and queens and other sorts with regal titles! The little cunt! Setting Suzanne up knowing that while in the DTs, she could never say no to justifying a sip, which would never be just a sip and end up as a full blow out- leaving town (and Larry) drunk and likely stoned in the night to a Port of France in which she could slip away, back to her life of sailors, whiskey, wine, opium and numbness. Oh Isabel, such the turd, doing it just to keep Larry away from any other woman, knowing he would never be hers. Desperate to believe in Larry as celibate, while she goes about in her marriage to the kind and gentle, fat and red-faced, dull and worshipping Gray whose main purpose in life seems to be to make money in order to keep Isabel in haute couture dresses.
At times the Eastern/Buddhist-oriented descriptions of India and Knowingness and One deterred me from reading and propelled me to sleep, which is fine, I like sleep, but for years now, when living people in the world or characters on film or in books begin discussing terms such as those mentioned above I sort of mentally check out. I think it may be a mixture of me being a bit of an idiot who tends to take things too literally as well as a passive desire to resist these topics, particularly the language, which I find clunky and self-righteous? So by the book's end, what had made Larry like-able: his quest, his quiet tragic history, his not-knowing nature had sort of de-materialized and what was left was this Eastern rhetoric talking empty shell. Which perhaps is the goal, and one can see my bias tends toward banged up, bruised and complicated shells holding messy, slimy, self-absorbed and confused creatures.
Anyhow. I'm excited to see this movie, the one with BIll Murray as Larry! La la.(less)
"The thing to learn is to know what people are thinking about, not what they say." And is saying it ever so difficult in Winesburg... but Anderson has...more"The thing to learn is to know what people are thinking about, not what they say." And is saying it ever so difficult in Winesburg... but Anderson has it down and communicates what the people of Winesburg are thinking about beautifully. Favorites among the chapters (though all were spellbinding) include: Hands, The Strength of God, Loneliness, and Death. I'd like to visit Winesburg, and though I've moved on to another book, I hope it continues to haunt my dreams.(less)
I just finished this. I have yet to formulate solid thoughts (I like thoughts and stools to be more solid than loose, but prefer them out of my system...moreI just finished this. I have yet to formulate solid thoughts (I like thoughts and stools to be more solid than loose, but prefer them out of my system within 24 hours, so am willing to make allowances) and am still operating in a shocked and awed state. My head reels, my shoulders are tense... I think I want some muscle relaxants, a glass of bourbon and an Indian to bring me some catfish. It's about a 90 minute read people, just find a copy and do it yourselves. It was akin to being surrounded by screens playing Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? while three or four of O'Neils plays are read aloud... Must stop typing: Images keep popping into my mind, and I must tend to them. They are distracting me from my already weak grammar(less)
I'm in Florida... isn't this what you do here? Read mysteries? And while P.D. is no P.H. (Patricia Highsmith), it's a well-written suspenseful page tu...moreI'm in Florida... isn't this what you do here? Read mysteries? And while P.D. is no P.H. (Patricia Highsmith), it's a well-written suspenseful page turner. A 3.5.(less)
I'd say more 3.75 than 4 stars. The first section, Philip's childhood, I imagine may be tedious for some but given my regular habit of tending to my i...moreI'd say more 3.75 than 4 stars. The first section, Philip's childhood, I imagine may be tedious for some but given my regular habit of tending to my inner Anglo weinie boy before considering the needs of my actual tired 29 year old self, I found it riveting: lonely, orphaned, club-footed Phil, struggling with religion, relationships, loss. He goes to Germany, then Paris, and these are fine and dandy to read. Mildred, green skinned object of Philip's obsession, arrives and for a spell things become interesting. Eventually, though, this slips into redundancy (I can only get too absorbed in obsessive love stories, particularly when they cycle through again and again and there is literally nothing shown to be redeemable about said obsession. They become tiresome. Obsessions can be fascinating, but this one was, well, after 200 or so pages irritating enough to make me want to grind a heel into Phil's club foot and knock him over) It's not a particularly brilliant book by any means, nothing earth shattering or moving, but propelling and readable enough.
P.S. Maugham was quite a queer fellow, and I guess the summary of my thoughts on this book is that I wish Phil had some same-sex affairs interspersed among or prior to his Mildred spells... there was a head master at a school, a popular spot and power dynamic in which the seed of same-sex love could have been planted. And in Germany, Phil is constantly surrounded by wise, nurturing older fellows: why not a poke too? I don't know. Having written that, I guess I have to say I'm a little bummed out. I know my history, the likelihood of old W. Somerset referencing some stronger than chummy/ paternal alliances was not going to happen, but, a girl can dare to dream can't she? Especially when her inner Anglo-weinie boy is feeling shy about being disappointed in the lack of homo-eroticism. (less)