In the beginning there are Wall Street Bankers alone in dark rooms full of money. Then there are Icelanders unimpressed with Bjork blowing up Range Ro...moreIn the beginning there are Wall Street Bankers alone in dark rooms full of money. Then there are Icelanders unimpressed with Bjork blowing up Range Rovers, Irish Donald Trump Wannabes, Corrupt and Conniving Greek Monks and an Overstaffed, Overpaid and Underperforming Greek Public Sector, Duped and Poop-Obsessed Germans, and then finally California. The Governator, Wine Country, Silicon Valley, Police, Firefighters, Fatties, Me, You, and a Dark Room Full of Money. (less)
This isn't the first time where I read a book and while reading would be like "Wait. Who is this character again? How are they related to such and suc...moreThis isn't the first time where I read a book and while reading would be like "Wait. Who is this character again? How are they related to such and such?" And then I'd go back and re-read; maybe even keep a list of names running w/ a brief description of who they are or why they are significant. I didn't do any of that this time, though, b/c I simply didn't care about any of these people.
I finished this last night and thought to myself what did I just read? What was this book about? I still can't remember/don't know.
There are fucked up timelines to where it seemed as though these characters went to high school in the late 90s (ok, so they're about a decade younger than me), and then were in their 40s in the 2030s. I'm probably wrong, I mean, I'm sure I am--but like I said I had zero desire to reread any of this shit so I'll just leave it at "was unnecessarily confusing."
In one of the later chapters we learn that one of the characters ends up marrying a college boyfriend and they have two kids together, one who has autism. An entire chapter is devoted to the writing's of the girl which are all done in charts and graphs. The boy likes to point out and time pauses in songs. Which one is autistic? I have no idea.
To sum up: this book, to me, was so dumb. Really, really dumb. For real.
A friend of mine loaned me this book via Nook's "Lend Me" option which is both gay and retarded. I didn't realize at the time (neither of us did) that...moreA friend of mine loaned me this book via Nook's "Lend Me" option which is both gay and retarded. I didn't realize at the time (neither of us did) that the book is only on loan for 14 days and can only be loaned once. So what happened was, I didn't finish. I had about 150 pages left when I got a very rude alert telling me, essentially, to have a good day.
Anyway, the ending that I did not read and have no idea about may have compelled me to give this one three stars, but as I have no desire to finish it and couldn't manage even to finish in two weeks (of no work), I figured I'd settle on two.
Here is what I know from the 350 odd pages that I did manage to read (CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS!):
This book is about a yuppie couple who have a couple of kids [image error]
Turns out their marriage sucks [image error]
Wife always wanted to have sex w/ hubby's best friend [image error]
Hubby's best friend, like most of the characters in this book, is unlikable
Uber-liberal couple end up raising a Republican son that hates their guts (for reasons that aren't clearly identified) [image error]
Uber-liberal couple's daughter isn't mentioned much
Wife cheats on hubby w/ asshole rocker best friend; hubby cheats on wife with young indian homewrecker
Characters are one-dimensional and stereotypical. Author praised as someone with insight into "American Experience." Don't get it. Not trying to be a Franzen hater, never even heard of the guy until my friend e-lended me her copy. Read some reviews on here today and realized people are hot or cold over the guy. Put me in the cold camp, please. (less)
$%&!#@ I don't know what the fuck I hit, but I just deleted what was the first half of my outstanding review. I'll start over, but we all know it'...more$%&!#@ I don't know what the fuck I hit, but I just deleted what was the first half of my outstanding review. I'll start over, but we all know it's never as good as the first time.
I never read this book in school. It may have been assigned, I don't remember b/c I didn't attend class (yes, even all the way back to junior high) and even if I had, I sure as hell didn't read. Aside from this absurd idea I have that since I didn't read any of the designated Must Reads in school I HAVE to read them now, the fact that this year marks the 50th anniversary of this book's publication also compelled to familiarize myself with this bestseller.
This book is about societal norms. It highlights the pure mythology of our expectations about gender and family and community, and the desperate pathetic need we have to keep this imaginary construct in tact. Mostly, though, it's about racism--"Southern" racism.
Now I wanna make a point that I don't want to belabor but feel important to mention (to me, anyway), as someone who's grown up in the South yet traveled fairly extensively outside of it (at least Stateside), and as someone who owns a TV and uses The Interwebs, I absolutely LOATHE when my fellow Americans who happened to not be born in the South act is if the word Nigger has never been uttered North or West of the Mason-Dixon line. Let's not delude ourselves. This shit's an American problem, not just a Southern one.
50 years later and we have a Black President. All's well that ends well, right? Not quite. Turns out all We had to do to discover how far We haven't come is to elect a black president. A Black, Muslin*, Foreign, Uppity, Socialist, Communist, Terrorist President.
As much as I love this book there's one thing I know: Atticus didn't exist then and he doesn't exist now. He's as much a fiction as that other "Love Thy Neighbor" motherfucker who they hung up on a cross. To err is human, to suggest that some sicko who'd lynch a black man for catching a glimpse of a white woman through his peripheral should be jailed or hanged also has some good qualities and, you know, you just have to get to know him is a load of horse shit.
I believe in an Atticus, though. Just not this one. I know Atticus. He went to college and then law school, he's idealistic and compassionate, he was raised around and is even related to bigots. He despises racism yet can't keep the word nigger from out of his thoughts every time a black person wrongs him in some way. He's got tons of white guilt. He'd rather get mugged than offend a black homeless crackhead who lives under a bridge near his work by crossing the street or walking briskly to and from his office. He smiles more than normal in black neighborhoods. He tries. He fucking tries. But he's not perfect, no one is. Let's not delude ourselves.
Then there's Scout. My god I love Scout. She's young and curious and keen and isn't interested in meaningless chit chat w/ the "ladies". She's knows it's bullshit when her teacher is outraged by Hitler's expressed desire to eradicate the Jews despite her seeming not to give even so much as two shits about Tom Robinson's being railroaded by her fellow citizens and murdered by the local cops (C'mon, we all know he wasn't really running). Before I wrote this review I looked up some reviews written at the time the book was published and found a few that weren't sold on Scout. They just couldn't believe a girl as young as Scout could be so smart. Meanwhile, not one peep about how Atticus is morally superior to EVERY ONE. Whatever, maybe I'm just biased b/c I hate skirts and love overalls but I never doubted Scout's authenticity. I think I love her so much because of and not despite the fact that she told us the story at age nine. I don't really have much to say about Jem. He was cool but this review is getting long and I'm getting tired. He and Boo and Dill and all the various other Maycomb County Players are more or less bullet points under headings 1: Atticus: Be the good that you want to see in the world and 2: Scout: Trust your instincts and question everything. So, yeah, how can you not be down with that?
I downloaded this before xmas last year for the annual road trip to Dallas. One thing I want to note here is that iTunes sucks for books. I mean, you...moreI downloaded this before xmas last year for the annual road trip to Dallas. One thing I want to note here is that iTunes sucks for books. I mean, you have to do some real navigating to find something recorded in the last 20 years by someone under 80 and not The Shack. I think I'd have more luck finding a cute top or bag at Ross. Anyway, so, this book wasn't on my 'to-read' list but fell under the 'It'll do' category.
And then, it wouldn't do. I couldn't even finish listening to this book.
I finally gave up when the family pet died and was reunited with the dead girl in heaven. (less)
Wanted to get some pleasure reading done over Spring Break. Well, pleasure isn't the right word for this book, but you know what I'm saying. I had a h...moreWanted to get some pleasure reading done over Spring Break. Well, pleasure isn't the right word for this book, but you know what I'm saying. I had a handful of 'to-reads' on my nightstand and this is the only one that grabbed me. (less)
There's this kickass iphone app called 'Stanza' where you can upload a bunch of books to your phone...for free! When I first downloaded the app I didn...moreThere's this kickass iphone app called 'Stanza' where you can upload a bunch of books to your phone...for free! When I first downloaded the app I didn't realize how it worked and only found two free titles: Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Goodreads David had recently (and marvelously) reviewed Oz, thus inspiring me to choo-choo-choose It. (I've since found an assload of other free books available for download to your phone, including (notably) Darwin's Origin of Species, Melville's Moby Dick, Paine's Common Sense and USA's (!!) Constitution.)
Anyyellowbrickroad- I thoroughly enjoyed touching my way through the tiny text. It was nearly impossible for me to read w/o picturing Judy Garland and all the other characters from the movie, but that only made me realize how well the movie was done (way back before CGI!). The other theme running through my mind was how this book was, supposedly, an allegory for the Gold Standard , the Populism movement, and the ills associated with the Industrial Revolution. I had also read that Baum was pro-women's rights, and was vocal about how they should be given the right to vote. This made me wonder if he was hot and imagine what it would have been like to have dated him.
Whether any of the theories about Baum and this story being about his political ideals/tendencies is true or not I have no idea. But once the seed is planted, that theme was all that sprouted up as I read. Honestly, though, I think it made me enjoy it more. I love subversion!
After I read it I saw something on the interwebs about this being the 70th anniversary of the movie. In honor of this fact, the Empire State Building had planned a day to light up the top building green. Around that same time, there was a request from a political group suggesting the building be lit up green as a sign of solidarity with the Iranian people. They were told "Oh, yeah, no. We already have plans to light it up that day for Wizard of Oz anniversary." And when the political group found out it was going to be green ANYWAY they were like "Oh, that's cool." THEN... then, the people in charge of determining when that shit gets lit up and what color it's going to be thought "Fuck. What if some maniacs see our green lights and think it's some kind of political statement against Iran and then decide the fly a plane into us or something ?!" So at the last minute they went with red, as in Dorothy's ruby red slippers. Which, you know, in the book are actually silver.
Ingenious. Clever. Heartwarming. I liked it. I liked it a lawt. I don't want to waste your time or the tiny bit of brain power I have going right now...moreIngenious. Clever. Heartwarming. I liked it. I liked it a lawt. I don't want to waste your time or the tiny bit of brain power I have going right now with a plot synopsis, and anyway this book has been reviewed on GR a bunch (and there are some good ones out there)so you can read more about what it's about elsewhere. But I do wanna say that, for me, the book's got a strong Seinfeldy/Larry David vibe. There's tons of general observations about everyday nothingness that evolve into epiphanies about the world we live in and/or philosophical rants. And most of the book is set in an office superstore which is a little like, "who the fuck cares what goes on in a Staples?" which reminded me of the Seinfeld where Jerry and George pitch their show to NBC as being "about nothing." At one point I thought "Hmm. That's sort of derivative, have to knock it down a star." Then I tried reading Bethany (one of the main characters) as Elaine Bennis, but it didn't work. So I realized that while it was reminiscent, it was still original, new...fresh! I found the characters relatable, likable, and real. Besides, nothing's born in a vacuum.
Aside from all of that, the book's actually pretty dark. One of the things Coupland does so well in _The Gum Thief_ is transition from the everyday setting of bad lighting, shithead customers and gossipy teens to heavier issues like suicide, the loss of a child, drug abuse, illness, insanity, and heartbreak without even blinking. It's all so unbelievably believable. And, oddly, not a bummer at all.
I don't know. I'm not sure what else to say about it. There's so much going on. You just have to read it for yourself. I read a negative review by a goodreader that suggested all the characters had the same voice: Coupland's. I didn't get that AT ALL. I mean, I think to have characters that work together, or are friends with each other, or are related to each other each have a voice or perspective so different from the other's would be not only off-putting, but unrealistic. I am a lot like the people I hang around for a reason: I like people who share a similar outlook on life and get my sense of humor. Other than that the reviewer complained the main character was too old to be goth. She's obviously never been to gothsinhotweather.com, or a Marilyn Manson concert.
Thanks to GR I now want to read essentially every book my friends rate/review highly. On top of that, I have a problem of loving to buy books the way...moreThanks to GR I now want to read essentially every book my friends rate/review highly. On top of that, I have a problem of loving to buy books the way the some women love to buy shoes or handbags. (I hate stereotypes, but I think that one holds up pretty well.) So after I finished my last book I was like "Now what?" I decided to dive into a sci-fi book gifted from a GR friend (who is now my "real life" friend), but had a hard time getting into it. So I cheated on her, err it. I went back to my stack of unread books and decided to pick up Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I was hesitant about Foer b/c I know his other book (or one of his other books, I haven't done any research to see how many he's written) was turned into what to me looked like a ridiculous movie with the dude from the hobbit movies with the big weird eyes who annoys me. Ultimately I decided it's not really fair to hold that against him. Maybe the book is good? Anyhow, I'm rambling now so let's get to it.
I really, really liked this book. I found myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading it and being excited to get back to it. I finished in three days, which for me says a lot.
OK, so, IF I had rated this book as soon as I finished it I probably would've given it at least four stars, maybe even five. But since I didn't want to get busted for cheating on my sci-fi book, I put off reviewing it for awhile. In that time I have read a couple of somewhat negative reviews that brought up some points that rang true to me.
First let me give a brief summary of the story (for the very few of you who don't know by now): Time: 9/11, one year later. Setting: NYC. Main Character: Nine year old boy, Oskar, who's just lost his Dad in the WTC. Oskar is also the story's narrator. Oskar loves the internet and knowledge and tinkering and inventing and exploring and hasn't yet come to terms (not that one ever does) with his Father's death. His mom has started dating again and this is problematic for Oskar. Although he is extremely bright, the adults in Oskar's world can't get a handle on him and worry about his behavior/state of mind. His grandmother (his Dad's mom) lives right across the street from him and, as most grandmother's do, loves to dote on him and spend lots of time with him. Oskar, unlike most grandkids, likes to spend time with her, too. I'm not sure Oskar has a friend his own age. I think part of Oskar's shtick is that kids his own age don't get him. I could be wrong, though.
OK I don't think I'm being as brief here as I intended but let me just add that the plot of the story has to do with a key Oskar finds in his Dad's closet that he is convinced will, if he can just figure out what it goes to, give him more insight into who his Dad was, thus helping him deal with his loss. The quest begins! Enter a varied cast of assorted New Yorkers with stories of their own who all find Oskar as endearing as the reader does, or should. Apart from the main plot consisting of the mystery of the key, there is a subplot involving Oskar's estranged grandfather and the relationship (or lack thereof) he has with his grandmother and father. The two stories end up weaving together and, in the end, there is, for me, an extremely sweet and touching denouement involving Oskar, his Dad, and his Grandfather.
Now onto the criticism (finally!). The character that is Oskar's grandfather was sort of annoying and there was a bit of nonsense involving the marriage between the grandfather and grandmother and private spaces and silent communication and magazine purchasing. I'm afraid Foer may have felt that creating Oskar's grandfather as a WWII/Dresden bombing survivor might not make him sympathetic enough and decided to throw in a dead girlfriend and a loss of the ability to speak. For me this was going too far. On top of that his grandmother (sister to the dead girlfriend) was just plain weird when it came to the relationship between her and the grandfather. So for me, it was all about Oskar's story and his voice. Fortunately (for me anyway), that part of the story is so strong and so well written that the other more unbelievable bits are (overall) easy to put up with.
There is one scene in particular that really got to me and made me forget about all the other bullshit that may have bothered me. It's the scene where Oskar finally meets the man behind the key. Their encounter is sincere and sweet and emotionally moving without being gimmicky or overly sentimental. And anyone who reviews this book and fails to acknowledge that is full of shit. Granted, one honest exchange between two characters does not a great book make, but it does go to show that Foer has created something at the least credible and at best truly special here. Bag on his literary tricks and gimmicks in other parts of the book all you want, but the emotion evoked in this particular scene is completely legit and to suggest otherwise is proof that you are either pigheaded or emotionally bankrupt.
While I do think there's some legitimate criticism out there regarding what some refer to as Foer's use (or misuse, or confused use--whatever) of magic realism, the bottom line is there's not enough distraction there to take away from Oskar's story, and that's what the book is truly all about. (less)
Not my genre, and so on. Didn't get it, and so it goes.
Just noticed that 23 (!) of my friends have this book on their shelves and no one but me rated...moreNot my genre, and so on. Didn't get it, and so it goes.
Just noticed that 23 (!) of my friends have this book on their shelves and no one but me rated it below three stars. Also, interestingly, of those 23 only two actually reviewed it. Who of you wants to admit that you are full of shit??(less)
I downloaded this on itunes today because my job is super boring and I like to have stuff to listen to and/or watch online. Plus it's popular with som...moreI downloaded this on itunes today because my job is super boring and I like to have stuff to listen to and/or watch online. Plus it's popular with some friends, and I'm a follower like that. Anyway, I had to force myself to turn it off today so that I would have something to look forward to tomorrow. I'm halfway through. The story and the reader's voice are mesmerizing! Don't want it to end.
Review starts here:
There's a series on PBS about these doctors--it may even be called "The Doctors," (can't remember)--anyway it's a documentary that follows a handful of Harvard Medical students from their first days in the classroom, to residency, to their eventual careers. I haven't seen each episode but my boyfriend was telling me how one of the students went on to become an ophthalmologist and would go to third world countries to examine people and hand out glasses every chance he got. He (the doctor) also confessed to being lonely because he worked so much and went on to talk about how when he retires he wants to travel and distribute more glasses. My reaction was that a lot people who recognize where there is a need somewhere see it as something so overwhelming that even if they were to do something THAT something wouldn't be enough so they choose to do nothing (or, at least I tend to feel that way). Whereas this guy is working hard and when the time comes for him to stop working and take some time for himself and his family all he can think about is all the people out there whose lives would be improved if they just had a new pair of glasses. So simple. God bless him.
This, for me, is the message of Zusak's "I Am The Messenger": You don't have to be great to do good, you just have to do it. The story's protagonist, Ed Kennedy, is (as the book emphasizes) an ordinary 19 year old guy. He has no special skills, or talents. He's not really strong, or really funny, or really good at math. He's a cabbie who plays cards with his friends and has had a crush on the same girl since he sprouted his first pube but is way too passive and laid-back to do anything about it, like, for example, move on when it's not reciprocated. Ed's Mom is a complete nag who makes it clear to him that she prefers his siblings to him and that she expects nothing more from him than for him to fuck up. Yet Ed, like most ordinary 19 year olds, doesn't dwell on his unfortunate relationship with his mother. Or the unfortunate state of affairs that are his life.
But the unfortunate byproduct of Ed's unfortunate obliviousness to the reality of the world around him is that Ed is missing out on the big things. Like he says at one point "Big things are just the small things you notice." (Or something like that.)
Much like The Ghost of Christmas Past or Earl's list of bad deeds he must apologize for in the name of Karma, an outside source enters Ed's life to help lead him off the road of mediocrity and onto the road of good deeds. Ed's messages from an ominous stranger come in the form of playing cards in his mailbox with cryptic clues written on the back that Ed then must decipher and act upon. Ed has no clue who's behind the cards, or what the purpose of all this is but he carries on, unwittingly improving the lives of all the other ordinary people around him and in the process coming to understand himself, his mother, his friends and the girl who is the object of his desire on a deeper level.
What I loved so much about this book, aside from the writing and the characters and the setting and the suspense and the emotion, was that despite the novel's outlandishness, Ed's achievements and his impact on others is completely believable. You know that there is nothing significant about Ed. He has no superpowers, his acts of goodness were not preordained. Yet you don't doubt for a second that Ed's simple deeds make his world a better place.
This story is sweet and thrilling and captivating and inspiring. I have no idea what makes it a "Young Adult" book and I refuse to be embarrassed for liking it so much. Unlike "The Hills" which is clearly young adult and something any person over the age of 21 should be embarrassed to admit to liking. Fucking Spencer! What an asshole! (less)