Christos Tsiolkas likes to shock his readers. He wants to make you think.
And yes, this book made me think - about swimming and Australian sporting culChristos Tsiolkas likes to shock his readers. He wants to make you think.
And yes, this book made me think - about swimming and Australian sporting culture, about the class-system we have (even though we profess not to have one), and about how Tsiolkas likes to be profane and shocking for the sake of it.
It also made me think that he needed to cut the book in half, stop hitting me over the head with the THEMES and the SHOCK and the OMG THIS IS ABOUT HOW TERRIBLE THE SPORTING CULTURE IS.
I get it. I got it very quickly and then I got sick of it.
I know this is a terrible review and I'll come back to write a better one tonight but right now, I'm just amazed that I persisted and finished the book at all. It's well written but the structure doesn't work for me. Perhaps the printed book is better able to deal with different time periods and points of view than an ebook but I found it confusing and frustrating.
He raises good ideas and perspectives and he writes well, hence the three stars. ...more
Americanah is an absolutely fascinating look into a different world, the world of the outsider, no matter where they are. At it's heart, it's the storAmericanah is an absolutely fascinating look into a different world, the world of the outsider, no matter where they are. At it's heart, it's the story of a love affair between Ifemelu and Obinze and how life gets in the way. But it's more than that - it's an examination of race and expectations in America, of the realities of life in Nigeria, of how 'home' can draw you back regardless of how 'good' your life is elsewhere. As someone who has moved countries many times and now calls Australia home, I found the ideas so interesting. I moved when I was a teenager and I've only been back to my birth country twice in almost 20 years but this book made me wonder how I would feel going back.
I admit though that, while the ending was satisfying, I would have almost preferred an unhappy ending. I think it would have kept with the portrayal of reality that the novel accomplished so well - the idea that life is just that, life, and it's filled with unhappy endings. A minor gripe perhaps....more
Lionel Shriver holds some rather strong opinions about the obesity crisis and boy, is she keen to let you know EXACTLY what she thinks. As a result, tLionel Shriver holds some rather strong opinions about the obesity crisis and boy, is she keen to let you know EXACTLY what she thinks. As a result, the characters in this book lack depth and the narrator (Pandora, AKA Lionel herself really) lacks any real compassion or understanding for human behaviour.
Pandora is married to Fletcher (although why, I still have no idea since they both seem to be nasty and judgemental assholes) and they live in Iowa with Fletcher's two kids. Fletcher is a health nut who abhors any kind of joy, and Pandora runs a company that creates nasty dolls that mock people, pretty much. She's loaded, he's not and there you have the dynamic in their 'marriage'. Fletcher also seems to be a jealous, possessive ass, who resents Pandora's relationship with her brother, Edison.
Pandora and Edison are supposedly really close, or so we're told over and over and over again. Except she hasn't seen Edison in 4 years. By that definition, I'm close to my postman. REALLY close. So when Edison is down on his luck, Pandora ignores Fletcher and sends her brother a plane ticket and cash to come stay with them, I mean her, I mean them. Oh, who cares. Anyway, Edison arrives and it turns out that he's turned into a lard ass. He's morbidly obese and eats sugar from the packet so it coats his face. In other words, he's the ultimate cliche, the flattest of flat characters who only serve a purpose to illustrate Lionel's distain for FATTIES EVERYWHERE.
And voila, we have Pandora stuck in the middle between her healthy nazi husband who hates happiness and her lard-ass brother who stuffs his face full of crap, breaks things and clogs the toilet up with his sh&t. Literally. He stays with them for two months, during which Pandora's marriage pretty much falls apart and, on the eve of his return to New York, he confesses that he has nothing to go back to. Pandora decides to leave her husband (although that's not what she calls it) and move into an apartment with Edison to help him lose weight, because that's what family does. Let's just say that my family doesn't do that. No family I know does that. It's stupid.
And anyway, she has some weight to lose because apparently gaining even 20 pounds in your 40s is BAD and HOW CAN YOU LIVE, so she and Edison go on this unsustainable meal-replacement diet for a frigging YEAR and wow, Edison loses all the weight on schedule, because in Lionel Shriver's world, there's no such thing as a plateau or real life. Because it's all about WILL POWER, dontcha know?
There's more to it but I'm tired. One thing I do have to say is that Lionel Shriver has the most incredible vocabulary I've ever seen. There are more words in more sentences than you'll find anywhere else. In fact, I'll bet that every word in the dictionary features in this book. The longer the better....more
What I can say about The Goldfinch that hasn't already been said? It's long. Very long. Extremely long. It is filled with every word known to the EnglWhat I can say about The Goldfinch that hasn't already been said? It's long. Very long. Extremely long. It is filled with every word known to the English language and then some and Donna Tartt then finds ways to use more words to say more about things you've never thought of or never thought of thinking about. It's a treatise on the world and on art and on fate. It's about deep thoughts and nefarious people who are wholly unlikable at times. They don't think small thoughts - they meander on the way of the world in hundreds and thousands of words where ten words might do fine.
I actually liked the basic plot and I thought the concept was good. I did want to find out what happened to Theo and Pippa and Hobie and Boris. But 800+ to tell me that story? This book needed a good, TOUGH editor with a red pen to cross out so much of the rambling description and allow the story to come out.
But who am I to criticise a Pulitzer Prize winner?...more
This is an incredible book. Intertwining the stories of Ruth, a Canadian woman living on a remote island off the coast of Canada and Nao, a Japanese tThis is an incredible book. Intertwining the stories of Ruth, a Canadian woman living on a remote island off the coast of Canada and Nao, a Japanese teenager whose diary Ruth finds washed up on the beach one day, wrapped in a Hello Kitty lunchbox with an old watch, some letters and a notebook, A Tale for the Time Being is part diary, part discovery and part zen. There are so many times when I stopped to simply think about the beauty of the words on the page and the wonder of the ideas. It's clever, it's thoughtful and it's pure.
The ending is a little strange and I'm not sure what to think of the direction Ozeki took but this book will stay with me for a very long time. ...more
I struggled to get into this one, probably because I read it on my kindle and it was a bookclub selection, so I didn't have the blurb to go by. I struI struggled to get into this one, probably because I read it on my kindle and it was a bookclub selection, so I didn't have the blurb to go by. I struggled to get a sense of where the story was set and who the narrator - and later, narrators - were. So I grumbled but kept reading, promising myself that I could read something else once I was finished.
And then I hit my stride! Wow, three narrators - Elias Cole, Adrian, and Kai - all tell the story of Sierra Leone and the lives of those left behind, those who choose to leave, and those who choose to stay. It's a story of courage - the courage of your convictions and the lies you tell to alleviate your guilt. I found myself gasping at some of the twists and especially the ending and I almost need more time to digest it all.
It's a powerful story and I can't wait to discuss it at the next bookclub meeting!...more
Okay, I fold. I initially abandoned this book last year when I tried to read it. It was silly and ridiculous and a waste of time, I thought. So when iOkay, I fold. I initially abandoned this book last year when I tried to read it. It was silly and ridiculous and a waste of time, I thought. So when it was this April's bookclub book this year, I cringed and swore this would be one month that I didn't read the book.
Because it's silly and ridiculous.
But I pushed through because I wanted evidence of how stupid it was and how bad it was. So I read the whole damn thing.
And yes, it's silly and ridiculous but it's fun and once you stop thinking and just read, it's enjoyable.
Now I have no proof of how stupid it is. And yes, this is a terrible review since I'm telling you absolutely nothing but you'll get all the plot points etc from the other reviews. This is just me admitting that maybe I was wrong and maybe you should read this and keep reading through the point where you think this is ridiculous and keep going until you get to the point where you think 'hey, I'm actually enjoying this'
Sarah Thornhill continues the story of the Thornhills as started in The Secret River although it functions as a standalone book as well. Sarah - or DoSarah Thornhill continues the story of the Thornhills as started in The Secret River although it functions as a standalone book as well. Sarah - or Dolly, as her family calls her - is the youngest child of William Thornhill. As she grows up, she and her brother's best friend, Jack Langland, grow close and promise each other that they'll marry. However, the path to happiness is never easy and when Jack finds out her father's secret past, he storms out and leaves Sarah distraught.
In what seems to be a side-story, Jack brings back Sarah's brother's child, a half-white, half-Maori girl from New Zealand to live with the Thornhills. As might be obvious to us in the 21st century, this is not a good move and Jack wants to return her to her family in New Zealand but is forbidden. Somehow, this seems to turn into the main thrust of the story, almost as if Kate Grenville went 'whoops, need to tie this up nicely, better have a lot of shit happen in the last chapter!' I didn't really understand Sarah's perceived 'connection' to the girl, especially since she didn't really try that hard to help her or watch out for her. She had good intentions sure, but she never actually acted on them. Maybe that was supposed to be enough for her to feel such guilt later?
This is a nice read. It's a pleasant read. The writing is very good and the descriptions of landscape are very well written. If you're looking for something to read on holiday that is a step up from genre fiction but not something that will tax you too much, this is it. Enjoyable but not memorable....more