**spoiler alert** After reading Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, and Landline last year, I ended a long Twitter hiatus purely for the sake of following Ra**spoiler alert** After reading Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, and Landline last year, I ended a long Twitter hiatus purely for the sake of following Rainbow Rowell's feed / Benedict Cumberbatch gif museum. I'd read anything by her at this point, including her grocery list, so getting a copy of Attachments was a given. I read it in two long sittings and I was sorry when it was over. ...more
I listened to Amy Poehler's audio performance of Yes Please and the whole while I thought "what the hell must the physical pages of this book look likI listened to Amy Poehler's audio performance of Yes Please and the whole while I thought "what the hell must the physical pages of this book look like?!" The audio performance is totally entertaining, and at times even odd, with lines read by Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart, and Poehler's parents in equal and random turn. The producer of Parks & Rec adds commentary to one of Amy's chapters in a way that sounds totally impromtu and leaves me curious how the chapter reads in type. Seth Myers reads his own chapter with similarly impromtu introduction and banter with Amy, and the final chapter is read live to an audience so enthusiastic and prone to clapping you might suspect Tinkebell was dying at Poehler's tiny feet.
Listening to the audiobook, I have no doubt, is the best way to experience this book. The Boston accent Poehler hilariously slips in and out of is reason enough to download.
Yes Please is also a bit of an odd ball in content. It sort of defies genre and is instead a unique, feel-good ball of Amy aura. The chapters on her career, her love of improv, her children, and considerable name-dropping are the expected bio-fare (though she writes not so much historically about her family and friends as her heart just gushes gratitude and praise for them). There is humor, of course, but most of all there's a lot of heart, and advice on being a good person who makes healthy choices (or tries to), and Amy, as with her Smart Girls work and the character of Leslie Knope, is big-hearted, and just kinda wants everyone to feel awesome.
The introduction felt long-winded; talking about how hard a book was to write sounded less and less like a joke the more and more she talked about it, to the point where it seemed self-congratulatory to me. But that's the only complaint I can wage. Skip over it if it starts to grate your nerves a bit too. Some of the name dropping had a similar effect on me, but I can't say that Tina Fey and Kathleen Hannah don't deserve whatever kudos ya wanna throw their way, and Poehler seems nothing if not genuine is the good things she is so easy to say about other people.
Improv and the ~theatre~ are not subjects of interest for me, which is probably why I didn't jump on Yes Please earlier, but even those topics aren't her main focus. If anything, I think this book is a self-help book. It's a lesson in being a kind person, and when kindness fails, at least being an honest one. It's easy to listen to Poehler talk about nearly any topic, and if my review tells you anything about this book, it's probably this: it's really hard to not refer to her as merely "Amy", because she feels like your best pal.
I hope she'll write more, despite how hard it is, and how tired she is. DOESN'T ANYONE KNOW HOW TIRED SHE IS!?? ;)...more
Thank you, Neversink Library, for bringing such smart books back into print. My book club is at a point whereDarkly, wonderfully, ridiculously funny.
Thank you, Neversink Library, for bringing such smart books back into print. My book club is at a point where we don't really even need to read summaries or reviews for titles published under this imprint, we can trust that they will be wildly varied but equally excellent....more
Loved reading it so much, I downloaded the audiobook too. Kathleen Wilhoite's narration is great, especially when she reads Bee. She adds so much youtLoved reading it so much, I downloaded the audiobook too. Kathleen Wilhoite's narration is great, especially when she reads Bee. She adds so much youthfulness, I feel like I know Bee better through her than when I read the book in hardcover....more
**spoiler alert** Did I gasp and lash out like all super-fans? Yes. But then I kept reading. And laughing. And I loved this book. Months later I'm stil**spoiler alert** Did I gasp and lash out like all super-fans? Yes. But then I kept reading. And laughing. And I loved this book. Months later I'm still amused every time I think about chicken pox or the mom from Good Luck Charlie.
I find it such a shame that Helen Fielding left such a gap in the series. I wish she had written about Bridget and Mark's married life, if only for a single novel. If she can write about child rearing, dating, working, and aging parents so cleverly, why not marriage? Not only could she have done it well, but Mark Darcy-lovers would have been endlessly satisfied to see them married and bickering. I know. I wanted this book too. But I understand where Fieldimg is coming from at the same time ( though how she thought she could get by killing off such a HUGELY popular character without a bit of a stink certainly boggles me).
There was an interview at the release of the book (NPR, I think?) wherein Fielding stated that for her, Bridget was a look at modern dating tactics... And Mad About the Boy is just that. Fieldimg jumped back in because there were new fields to be mined. Since Bridget met Mark, social media came along and changed the landscape drastically. So, while for fans Bridget Jones was a story about Bridget Jones falling in love with Mark Darcy, for Fieldimg, it's always been about Bridget Jones, and women in general, falling in love, period. And the death of Mark gave her the opportunity to explore not just MORE relationships, plus the advent of Twitter, but dating and love from a perspective of mourning, grief, motherhood, and an older age. ...and that makes sense to me.
Do I still think she needs to march back to her keyboard and type up 400 pages on life with Mark for me to wedge between this and The Edge of Reason on by book shelf? Yes. But Mad About the Boy isn't a lesser book because of the missed opportunity, and if you can get over the initial surprise, you'll find Bridget as endearing and ridiculous and laugh-out-loud funny as ever. I did and already look forward to rereadings....more
A deceptively simple story about a group of well-intentioned winos, presented clearly, episodically and hilariously by Steinbeck. I really consider ToA deceptively simple story about a group of well-intentioned winos, presented clearly, episodically and hilariously by Steinbeck. I really consider Tortilla Flat a loving family portrait, and Steinbeck himself thought of it as his own Mexican Round Table. Sure they're bums and I don't actually want to be a paisano, but you can't help but see the romance of the lifestyle, even as the spend the night in drunken slumber, facedown in the dirt with only an overturned boat for shelter. They're free and, in their own way, even a bit noble.
But mostly this is just really, really funny and really, really great writing.
I know the question of racism is asked when Tortilla Flat is read. It's a book about drunk, unemployed Mexicans living in California. But Tortilla Flat isn't a work of prejudice. It's a product of its time, certainly, of the Depression Era, of the monetary struggle and malaise of the period. But it's not a story about being Mexican, it's a story about Danny and Danny's friends, who happen to be Mexican. And for me the sketch Steinbeck makes of the community of Tortilla Flat is a friendly if not loving one that shows the humor in every normal human beings tendencies toward both selfishness and selflessness and about the pursuit of life's little pleasures. Like wine. Have I mentioned the wine enough yet?
The tale ended on a surprisingly somber note for me, but the party and the parting of ways were perfect. I can't help but be reminded of one of my own friends, Anthony. He's one of those guys everybody knows and loves and, while thankfully he isn't drunk or destructive or dead... he does have Danny's magnetism. And he throws the biggest, best parties too. But you probably know him and his house....more
Celebrity-author phobics (I was wary too): Lauren Graham is legit. I don't know if my rating would be quite as high if I'd read rather than listened tCelebrity-author phobics (I was wary too): Lauren Graham is legit. I don't know if my rating would be quite as high if I'd read rather than listened to the novel (Graham's reading is predictably great), but either way it's a solid story with honest moments of self doubt and humor. Predictable, sure, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing and isn't here.
Listening to Lauren Graham's audiobook performance just seems like the obvious way to experience Someday Someday Maybe (her James Franklin voice drove me a bit crazy but as he's a douche bag, it's fittingly irritating). I don't know how much of the story is autobiographical, but listening to Graham read makes me believe every word, like she's reading me her diary from 1995.
I have no acting or Hollywood aspirations or abilities so I'm ignorant of acting methods and awed by the seriously talented. I couldn't deliver a single line believably to save my life, so it was interesting to get inside the head of someone who gets inside the head of so many others. I really enjoyed and was really interested to hear about acting from the perspective of 27 year old aspiring, yet-to-break-out Franny Banks, and more generally Graham just got the setting and details down right. This is show biz, this is New York in 1995, and this is the brain of a real girl, smart and talented and funny but floundering, self-doubting, sad and confused and making stupid decisions sometimes but chipping away at figuring out who she wants to be. Is it light? Yeah. Is it real and relatable and worth the listen? Yup.
PSST: Dan's Franny & Zooey connection was one of the sweetest, most poignant moments of the book for me. ...more
A lot of humor and a lotta heart. 326 pages of pure entertainment.
Like a lot of reviews I've read, Semple didn't quite stick the landing for me -- IA lot of humor and a lotta heart. 326 pages of pure entertainment.
Like a lot of reviews I've read, Semple didn't quite stick the landing for me -- I didn't enjoy the longer first person narratives quite as much as the documents. To be fair though, I *loved* the docs, so that's not much of a complaint. Part of me feels Semple tied everything together too tidily, and part of me wonders what's wrong with tidy? I got the ending I wanted, afterall (though I do wonder what's to become of Soo-Lin...) and I was happy quickly flipping pages until I got there.
Something I'd gladly read again and already plan to share the crap out of....more
I almost feel like... what's the point of reviewing someone as good as Karen Russell? Why bother with my words when you could be reading hers? But ifI almost feel like... what's the point of reviewing someone as good as Karen Russell? Why bother with my words when you could be reading hers? But if I can do anything to convince you to buy one of her books, then I guess it's worth the effort.
To bother stating, at this point in her career, that Karen Russell writes beautiful, wildly creative, impossibly smart sentences is just redundant. It should be widely accepted fact. I read another review, that stated she must arrange her sentences with tweezers, and I loved that visual. I imagine it can't be too far off from what her actual writing process look like. Not that she makes it seem like work but, rather, that her stories are so expertly crafted and convincingly placed, that you can't help but acknowledge how researched they are. In Vampires in the Lemon Grove I think she (and surely this is a credit to her editor as well) has not only grown in her story telling, but vastly in her restraint. My only complaint with her excellent novel Swamplandia! was that it was so thick with artful sentences that it felt uncomfortably dense at times. Vampires in the Lemon Grove is equal in its art, and so much more confident in its easiness.
It's been a pleasure for me to watch Russell's shift from the fairy tales of St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves to the subtle magical realism of Vampires (Swamplandia! sits so interestingly between these two as a meditation on the role of fairy tale in real life). There is an eeriness and poignancy to much of this new collection that lies in wondering how much of each tale is real, imagined, or metaphor. Fear, of vampires, of monstrous women, of the walking dead, or omen birds, or war or missing boys works purely for entertainment, of course, but those fears also speak to feelings of wanting and regret. It is a quietly creepy collection, but a thoughtful one. And there is humor, for sure, and not just in the story about presidents trapped inside the minds of horses (and yes that is the basis for a story.)
Even when I didn't love a story -- when I thought a setting wasn't "my thing" -- I was impressed by it. Take the final story, The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis for example: I didn't quite get why these kids kept returning to the scarecrow, why Larry was so obsessed with it. Like Larry's pals, I got tired of checking in on the damn thing after so many visits. But by the end? I'm haunted by its symbolism. My least favorite story taught me that unkindness is its own curse, that we can never undo the bad things we do to each other. Even if our victim moves on, we carry the scars of our own cruelty. My least favorite story was that successful. And my favorites? They made me question eternal love, feel the pain and confusion of losing oneself by imaging myself a monster, a slave, a horse, and scared the begeezus out of me so badly I had to pull back the shower curtain to make sure nothing was going to jump out at me in the middle of the night after reading "Proving Up."
Maybe I'll come back and note my thoughts on individual stories, but until then, know that this is an impressive collection of strange and spooky stories that will convincingly place you in new cities, time periods, even species and you will believe it all because Karen Russell does her homework.
Stand out story: Proving Up. Doubtless, this will appear in anthologies for years to come. My husband deemed it the "best American horror story since Sleepy Hollow" and I think he might be right....more