After reading The Glass Castle, I was privileged to hear Jeannette Walls speak at a fundraising lunch benefitting programs for homeless people. She waAfter reading The Glass Castle, I was privileged to hear Jeannette Walls speak at a fundraising lunch benefitting programs for homeless people. She was an amazing speaker; at turns confessional and intimate, but somehow able to inject humor into a tragic family story.
I couldn't wait to read Half Broke Horses to learn more about the family's history. The story does NOT disappoint. It explains alot, actually, about the fantastic character of her real life grandmother Lily Smith. You get a glimpse into the background of Jeannette's heartbreakingly creative but mentally ill mother and father, including stunning historical photos of the young couple. You can totally see why the two were drawn to each other.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed The Glass Castle, as well as anyone who loves stories of complicated, multi-dimensional families....more
After reading the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs last summer, it dawned on me the sister Mona Simpson mentioned is a novelist I was already fAfter reading the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs last summer, it dawned on me the sister Mona Simpson mentioned is a novelist I was already familiar with. I had read her books "Anywhere but Here" (written in 1992 before she met her famous brother) and"My Hollywood" (written in 2011). I couldn't imagine how meeting and realizing she and Steve Jobs were full-blooded siblings must have impacted her life and writing career.
Of course then I wanted to read "A Regular Guy", knowing that it had caused strain with her brother, as the main character millionaire tech magnate Tom Owens is clearly modeled after her brother, and he's a complicated, imperious soul. But what I enjoyed so much is the perspective of Jane, the young daughter he was reluctant to claim and imagine what his real daughter Lisa's life must have been like.
It was a great read even if it didn't have any basis in reality. Clearly Simpson and her brother shared alot of similar brilliant, creative genes....more
I really loved this book. The author is someone who had an insider's scoop on ultra-glam John and Carolyn Kennedy's lives and horrifying deaths. TheirI really loved this book. The author is someone who had an insider's scoop on ultra-glam John and Carolyn Kennedy's lives and horrifying deaths. Their playful relationship is one of mutual respect and slight distance; thank goodness she doesn't worship them. That's NOT a book I would want to read. They were her employers and eventually friends, but I just enjoy her own story; her rise from feisty and slightly rough-around-the-edges Bronx Italian girl who lucks into a birdseye seat amongst the glitterati and literati, while gaining a little bit of contact-priviledge and fashion smarts along the way. As a long-time assistant to creative directors, I can enjoy her story about the behind-the-scenes support and discretion she offers up, and the friends and relationships (not to mention some society entree) she gains. She's my kinda gal, and I'd love to know how the rest of her love life and career end up!...more
Wow, who knew Patti Smith was such an amazing writer? Well, duh, she's a poet after all, but I was just not into her when I was young. I always thoughWow, who knew Patti Smith was such an amazing writer? Well, duh, she's a poet after all, but I was just not into her when I was young. I always thought she was more than a little weird, and asexual, and atonal, and just didn't understand people who thought she was a genius. And Mapplethorpe, I remember walking into one of his shows in Dallas many years ago, and just being visually assaulted by his imagery. Frankly, I was grossed out, but still enthralled by the composition of his work. So, while not a fan, I was more than a little intrigued by their relationship and their story, but honestly didn't know that much about it.
One day I heard her on NPR, accepting her National Book award, and she was so moved, so humble, and so articulate that I instantly ordered her book. And when I got it, I couldn't put it down. Her story is SO beautifully written, so full of emotion, and sharp observation, but she is non judgmental. Her relationship with Mapplethorpe was almost other-worldly, and they were right in the cusp of the post-Beat, pre-punk NYC scene. She bumped into everyone, but as a fly on the wall, she was not yet famous.
She gives such delicate insight into both her and Robert Mapplethorpe's upbringing, their complicated family relationships, and their evolving, and yet ever-loyal love. It makes my heart sing that people's love for each other can transcend traditional roles and relationships, in sickness and in health. Simply one of the best books I've ever read, and a book that only Patti Smith could have written....more
I love a good coming-of-age story, and I also adore "fish out of water" stories, and this book really hit both marks for me. Because my mother grew upI love a good coming-of-age story, and I also adore "fish out of water" stories, and this book really hit both marks for me. Because my mother grew up in Ireland, emigrating to the U.S. after WWII, I am always drawn to novels both by Irish writers, and Irish characters. I loved how the main character had to draw on her inner strength to survive, because she realized she never could really go back home. It also offers a great snapshot of how society, as well as women's roles in Ireland as well as the U.S. changed in the '50s, and how difficult those waters were to navigate. ...more
You know when you sit around with your brothers and sisters talking about your childhood memories? And it drives you crazy because you seem to remembeYou know when you sit around with your brothers and sisters talking about your childhood memories? And it drives you crazy because you seem to remember events completely differently? This memoir, co-written by four siblings trying to recreate the crazy events of their childhoods, celebrates those different memories. Of course each child sees their memories through the eyes of a pre-schooler, or a drug and alcohol-addled teen, or an older college age adult trying desperately to grab all the pieces of their fragmented family, and pull them back together.
Very moving, VERY relatable, a great book to share. I'm bringing my copy over to my sister this afternoon! I'm wondering if I can inspire my 7 siblings to take pen to paper and each write our memories of a single event, or perhaps of our deceased father, and compare the memories ourselves! ...more
Wow, did I love this book. Such escapism! I adore her husband Paul, and love their romantic relationship. I started craving french food while readingWow, did I love this book. Such escapism! I adore her husband Paul, and love their romantic relationship. I started craving french food while reading this, and took myself out to my favorite tiny bistro to finish the book. I think the pages may have traces of butter and pate!
Of course, like many, my favorite part of Julie/Julia movie were the Julia Child parts. This book reminds me why....more
This is such an enjoyable book. I read it over the Thanksgiving holidays, and didn't want it to end! Compelling storyline and rich, relatable characteThis is such an enjoyable book. I read it over the Thanksgiving holidays, and didn't want it to end! Compelling storyline and rich, relatable characters made this one of my favorite books of 2009. Although I was not raised in the south, and in fact didn't know many black families at all growing up, I could still relate to all the struggles of the central characters, mostly because they are women, who's main lifeline are their friends, and they would sacrifice almost anything for each other. Set in the same early '60s era of my other obsession "Mad Men", the Civil Rights era brings a true drama to the plot, as well as present-day appreciation for the struggles and sacrifices the characters make.
One of the few times almost all of my book club members actually completed the book! I can't wait for us to discuss it next week....more
Our book club decided to read The Two Mrs. Grenvilles upon learning of Dominick Dunne's recent passing. I just finished it, and found it a total, trasOur book club decided to read The Two Mrs. Grenvilles upon learning of Dominick Dunne's recent passing. I just finished it, and found it a total, trash, page turner. I'm sure it is based on actual events, as Dunne was a wanna be in the upper class NYC scene, and he has a well-known fascination for crime, and the wealthy's ability to "get away with it." The characters in this story are, sadly, spoiled, mostly amoral, and sadly negligent parents, but I found it hard to put down. Immediately read the Vanity Fair profile on him in the October issue . . . ...more