Yes, this is "the 9/11 novel about the memorial competition." Even though I was dissatisfied with the ending, I thought it was good. It does get veryYes, this is "the 9/11 novel about the memorial competition." Even though I was dissatisfied with the ending, I thought it was good. It does get very political, but I was impressed with the author's ability to portray the viewpoints of characters from both sides of the spectrum (even if it is fairly obvious that she herself tends to swing left). The main characters were well-developed and seemed like real people, although most of the jury members were more like one-dimensional caricatures of artists.
Sean reddened. He didn't need to see his parents' faces to read their scorn. He couldn't even pretend that he would have been as brave as Patrick if given the chance: faced with a building pouring fire and smoke, he would have run away as fast as he could. Nor was he sure this would have been wrong. Patrick had charged into a building that pancaked almost immediately on top of him, and he'd left three sad-eyed children behind....more
Annie ends things with Duncan because their 15 years together have been so bland, and she wants more for themselves. Since his retirement, Tucker has become something of a ne'er-do-well. He's dependant, and as became clear (at least to me) after his hospitalization, he doesn't know how to change into a better partner - or, maybe, he knows what he needs to change, but doesn't know how and isn't interested in learning or trying to do so. Now, I really liked Annie. Male authors who can write realistic, sympathetic women always impress me. By the end of the book we know that Tucker is happy, but we have no way of knowing that he's changed. And, personally, I wanted better for Annie. She deserved it. It would have been nice to know for sure that she'd gotten it.
She stopped typing. If she'd been using pen and paper, she would have screwed the paper up in disgust, but there wasn't a satisfying equivalent with e-mail, seeing as everything was designed to stop you making a mistake. She needed a fuck-it key, something that made a satisfying ka-boom noise when you thumped it....more
For some reason I'm surprised I've already read twoother books by him (I've also since discovered who his ex-wife is). I suppose this is my long wayFor some reason I'm surprised I've already read twoother books by him (I've also since discovered who his ex-wife is). I suppose this is my long way of saying that I was surprised, once I thought about it, to realize that I had any previous experience with Auster at all, and also that I think it helped my reading of the book. I was annoyed that the second part was written in the second person (I steadfastly refused to agree to read a book for my old book club because it was written in the second person), but overall, I did like this book. The characters seemed real enough (the main character especially), which is impressive because there were some very extreme personalities. There was a lot to think about, it was very well-written, and ultimately redeemed itself from being so man-centric. It's interesting, too, that I'm not yet able to see much of a pattern developing between this and his otherbooks I've read - the mark of a good writer, I'd say....more
Oh, I wish I could give it two and a half stars. I tore right through this book in a couple of hours, and enjoyed it (woo, the supernatural!), but itOh, I wish I could give it two and a half stars. I tore right through this book in a couple of hours, and enjoyed it (woo, the supernatural!), but it left me with a funny aftertaste. Partway through started I becoming uncomfortable with the way the Mexican characters were treated (picture the magical negro relocated to the Yucatàn peninsula). And, now that the book is all over, I realize that I don't really know much of anything about the main character. I mean... she was divorced. Instead of having a personality, she is recently divorced. The men in the book tell her she's "cold," even though she "pretends to be sweet," but conveniently enough (I suppose) for the author, neither of these qualities are ever actually exhibited. Instead she freaks out at the jungle, and freaks out about men, and in the end we're supposed to believe she's like a totally transformed person - almost like Eat, Pray, Love, but with way less meditation. By the end of the book, I wished I'd read it on a tropical beach instead of in my parents' living room. I think I would've liked it a lot more that way.
The great, mysterious Olmec people... made it a practice to leave their children in the company of jaguar cubs so that they could learn the secrets of mysticism, including silence and invisibility. The Olmecs disappeared without a trace, so maybe it worked....more
This was the other book I purchased for my train ride back to Boston, and, like the other one, I was convinced I'd read it before. Luckily for me, itThis was the other book I purchased for my train ride back to Boston, and, like the other one, I was convinced I'd read it before. Luckily for me, it became obvious shortly after I started the book that I had not (although it seems to be an understandable mistake), and I enjoyed it much more than my other train book.
Even though the plot was a little bit frustrating. Way more of the back-and-forth than I usually like, of the "I can't marry you! I want to marry you! I won't marry you! I will marry you! Now I will talk to you! Now I won't talk to you! Now I can't talk to you! Now I love you madly!" variety. I did like that the heroine was polyglot, and there was a fun sub-plot where she tried to teach a stableman's daughter to be a noblewoman (with results far better than any they'd dreamed of)....more
Wow, so I totally thought I'd read this book before. I purchased it (yes, purchased it!) for the train ride back to Boston from Philadelphia. Of coursWow, so I totally thought I'd read this book before. I purchased it (yes, purchased it!) for the train ride back to Boston from Philadelphia. Of course, it now turns out that I'd read another book by the same author about the same family that also involved a sub-plot involving cheating at horse racing, which I guess explains why the names and characters seemed so familiar. So I actually had no reason to feel mildly disappointed the entire time I was reading this book...
It was pretty fun: the heroine loves playing detective, the hero is an avowed rake who's reformed by love. I don't think the horse racing plot was quite as interesting as in the other book, though....more
So this is a book club book that I read at least six months too late. No biggie. It's very intense! Mostly it made me feel incredibly ignorant about tSo this is a book club book that I read at least six months too late. No biggie. It's very intense! Mostly it made me feel incredibly ignorant about the Civil War. This I think is a very bad thing, given how important it is for our history, and especially since it's so easy to be very high-minded about it because of where I live. The book gives an incredibly detailed picture of life in the North and the South wrapped around the literary context of "Little Women." It's a lot, but it's very very good.
Are there any two words in all of the English language more closely twinned than courage and cowardice? I do not think there is a man alive who will not yearn to possess the former and dread to be accused of the latter. one is held to be the apogee of man's character, the other its nadir. And yet, to me, the two sit side by side on the circle of life, removed from each other by the merest degree of arc....more
I read this book right before I moved to Philly, and all I really remember is a lot of the author patting himself on the back for living in open-mindeI read this book right before I moved to Philly, and all I really remember is a lot of the author patting himself on the back for living in open-minded liberal enclaves, while simultaneously denigrating those who choose to live only amongst people just like themselves. Long story short, I don't think I got much out of it....more
So I read this right after that worshipful book about David Petraeus, and it was a great counter-point. Sure, the first few pages were eye-rollingly mSo I read this right after that worshipful book about David Petraeus, and it was a great counter-point. Sure, the first few pages were eye-rollingly melodramatic, but once Filkins settled down, it was really informative. Most of his reporting focused on the actual people who live in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he writes about his experiences moving and living among them....more
Good fuel to the fire of my deep and abiding love for David Petraeus (not that it really needed the help). Also, as kind of a leftist/pacifist, this wGood fuel to the fire of my deep and abiding love for David Petraeus (not that it really needed the help). Also, as kind of a leftist/pacifist, this was useful for an alternate view of the military, which I tend to assume is made up mainly of kids with few-to-no ways out of the less-than-ideal circumstances in which they grew up. Nope, in this world of David Petraeus everyone (including the general himself) has advanced degrees. It was good for me to read this depiction of the military, but also disappointing that the issues around torture were never discussed. It was a good and engrossing read, but once I put the book down the gaps started showing through pretty quickly.
After an article by Ralph Peters appeared criticizing the draft [counter-insurgency manual:] for taking too soft an approach to fighting insurgents, and Petraeus's four-star superior advocated qualifying the stark language of the paradoxes, Petraeus ordered modifications over Crane's strenuous objections. Thus, the final paradoxes read: "Sometimes, the more force is used, the less effective it is," and "Some of the best weapons for counterinsurgents do not shoot," which is a less elegant rendering than the unqualified originals. Petraeus's favorite aphorism, "Money is ammunition," which he had coined in Mosul, remained untouched. T.E. Lawrence's maxim, "Do not try to do too much with your own hands" was reformulated as "The host nation doing something tolerably is normally better than us doing it well."...more
I have not yet seen the movie based on this book, although the book is very interesting. The movie, at least, has a reputation as being an unflinchingI have not yet seen the movie based on this book, although the book is very interesting. The movie, at least, has a reputation as being an unflinching look at socioeconomic divisions, so I was surprised by how aloof the book turned out to be. It's very spare, almost stream-of-consciousness without actually exposing anyone's emotions, with the classic French willful ignorance of racial distinctions (no students' backgrounds are explicitly stated, but there are a number of references to the bled and a lot of excitement around a Mali-Morocco soccer game). I think I was expecting a sociological analysis, when really it's a portrait.
"What's that mean, surcummstan, m'sieur?" "It's a country. There are people who live in Sicrummstan." "You're always kidding around m'sieur, that's not right." "'In this circumstance' means in this case, in this situation, here and now, within these walls--in these circumstances, on that wall there." From the start, Aissatou was listening without joining in. Directly under the full sun, her ears cocked, she concentrated on all the terms of the debate. My whole life I will remember Aissatou.
Mad props to the translator, Linda Asher, by the way. She gets double-billing on the back of the book and she absolutely deserves it....more
Okay, so Jennifer Weiner's oeuvre is not one that I'm a huge huge fan of, although I do appreciate how she gave lots of women a voice (while also regrOkay, so Jennifer Weiner's oeuvre is not one that I'm a huge huge fan of, although I do appreciate how she gave lots of women a voice (while also regretting how some people assume her characters speak for all women). So I figured this would be pretty run-of-the-mill chick-lit, and turned out to be oddly disappointed, at least at first, by its emphasis on mother-daughter relationships. But I found myself extremely interested in the characters, especially the mother, so the book turned out to be decently rewarding, for what it was.
The two of them are always super-polite to each other. They say please andthank you and oh, of course, that will be fine. I suppose it could be worse. Last year Tara Carnahan's mother called her father a rat bastard during parent/teacher conferences, then threw her cell phone at his head, which was a double offense because at the Philadelphia Academy we're supposed to use respectful language at all times, and cell phones aren't allowed.
(and yes, Philadelphia, a pleasant surprise - I recognized some of the street names and landmarks.)...more
This book was sad, sad. It's written from the point of view of a child - I'm still not sure how old - as a child, so there are lots of misspellings anThis book was sad, sad. It's written from the point of view of a child - I'm still not sure how old - as a child, so there are lots of misspellings and errors, that make it read authentically. The ending is predictable, but that doesn't mean I wanted to see it happen. Imagining hearing it all in the voice of a nine-year-old English boy made it seem that much more real, and so more tragic.
Oska was very thin with black hair and he only played his guitar a bit sometimes, so it was like he was talking with it actually, it said "oh yes" or "no I don't think so" he was a smiley guitar ferrit. Marther said "your all staying in Oskas' room actually, he's sleeping down here on the sofa, we so wanted to help you" and mum said "that's so kind, Oska, I really don't know how to thank you" and he didn't say anything, he just smiled and made his guitar go "pling pling pling" like it was saying "thats ok" which was funny. So I thought "actually you new people are quite nice after all I suppose, even greedy Gus and Marther special monkey" I thought "I'm glad I'm giving you your animals."...more
Finally! A cheesy romance with a strong heroine where the heroine doesn't have to grotesquely compromise her identity in order to be able to spend herFinally! A cheesy romance with a strong heroine where the heroine doesn't have to grotesquely compromise her identity in order to be able to spend her life with the man she loves. Sure, there were only two sex scenes and it was mainly plot-driven (not a bad thing, just unusual for the genre), but overall I thought it was great! (contrived Princess Diaries links notwithstanding.)
Perhaps it was only that his head was entirely too large for his small, wiry body. Now that she had such a fine specimen of a husband to compare him to, Finnula found Mellana's lover sadly lacking in both muscle tone and body hair. It pained Finnula to think that her sister was forever wedded to such a physical inferior....more
On the one hand, this book was really fun to read. On the other hand, I think every time I turned a page, feminism died a little bit. There were a lotOn the one hand, this book was really fun to read. On the other hand, I think every time I turned a page, feminism died a little bit. There were a lot of chick lit clichés to ignore (about the heroine's figure and her attitude toward it/ignorance of its true appeal, to say nothing of which guy she would eventually end up with), but it was so amusingly written. Few books have left me feeling so conflicted. I know this is one of a series; maybe I'd feel more resolved about it if I'd actually started at the beginning?
I wondered if he'd once been told never to interrupt ladies in conversation or that women liked a listener, or something. You never know what strange male quirks are the result of a misinterpreted magazine article, read in a guest bathroom somewhere at the age of fifteen.
However, when I woke up on Monday morning, the very thought of going into work pinned me to the pillows. The Elephant of Depression wasn't just parked on my chest, it was relaxing there with the Walrus of Gloom and the Hippo of Bleak Friday Nights in Alone. They had beers. They were settling in....more
This book was super cute! Yes, phenominally unrealistic even for a cheesy romance novel, but extremely fun to read, although Jane Austen was only invoThis book was super cute! Yes, phenominally unrealistic even for a cheesy romance novel, but extremely fun to read, although Jane Austen was only involved superficially. It's much more about time travelling, and ghosts, and the one who gets away. Really fun.
"I might point out that ne'er-do-wells rarely speak several languages, quote classical literature, or understand scientific and mathematic principles," Teddy said, almost hiding his reluctance at singing the other man's praises. Mina stuck out her bottom lip. "There could be an educated pirate." "Obviously my sister has been reading too many romantic novels," Teddy said as he shook his head and spread his hands....more