As previously stated, I'm against self-indulgent memoirs that merely serve as an expressive outlet for some whiny egotistical artiste to shit his pret...moreAs previously stated, I'm against self-indulgent memoirs that merely serve as an expressive outlet for some whiny egotistical artiste to shit his pretentious, often wildly exaggerated stories all over me. The whole thing is a nightmare. I have no sympathy for him. I hate him, I hate his stupid stories and I never want to have anything to do with this book again.
On a more positive note, the book works well as kindling.(less)
You know, I have an incredibly strong memory of reading Me Talk Pretty One Day. I devoured it over just a night or two, and I laughed and laughed and...moreYou know, I have an incredibly strong memory of reading Me Talk Pretty One Day. I devoured it over just a night or two, and I laughed and laughed and laughed the whole time. I've even recommended that book to friends in an effort to keep the positive happy vibes flowing throughout my life.
So, I regret to inform you that not a single other David Sedaris book has given me such a visceral reaction, not even this one, although I do enjoy the title very much.
Then again, short-story memoirs often aren't my cup of tea, so my opinion probably shouldn't be worth much if they are yours. At a minimum, this book is perfectly adequate reading to pass the time on a plane or train or something of that nature. You'll laugh. (less)
This kind of weepy, uber-emotional word-vomit is Picoult's trademark, and while it's not my cup of tea -- or even my cup of free, warm tap water -- sh...moreThis kind of weepy, uber-emotional word-vomit is Picoult's trademark, and while it's not my cup of tea -- or even my cup of free, warm tap water -- she's at the top of her game with My Sister's Keeper.
That's not really a compliment, however, since knowing how to pen contrived, melodramatic tales about Important Social Issues does not a literary mastermind make. Picoult is no more than a good enough writer to know how to craft loaded sentences and lame plot devices to manipulate her audience, and if there's one thing I hate, it's when an author tries to manipulate me and my heart strings -- it's such a pathetic attempt at attracting audience interest.
My wish for the world is that we stop touting Picoult as a Serious Writer when what she produces is simply formulaic pop fiction designed to give Oprah fans something to talk about.
I admit...I was totally in love with The Other Boleyn Girl. I know, it's not historically accurate, and it's essentially chick-lit-for-the-16th-centur...moreI admit...I was totally in love with The Other Boleyn Girl. I know, it's not historically accurate, and it's essentially chick-lit-for-the-16th-century-crowd, but I can't help it! Henry VIII through Mary's eyes was a story we've never heard, and the opulence and luster of court life--coupled with all that scandal!--were completely engrossing. Total page-turner.
Hoping for more, I picked up The Boleyn Inheritance, but what a major disappointment. It just seemed like a bad sequel:
Editor: Philippa! The people are clamoring for more Tudor lust and greed!
Philippa: Jolly well. I will, of course, have to re-read my 7th grade English history textbook to remind myself which wife was which...it's over 200 pages, so it could take several months.
Editor: Uh, right. This is a business, lady. I'll need to see a draft by end of day tomorrow.
And that, my friends, is how The Boleyn Inheritance came about. I think. Pretty sure. It wasn't clever, the characters fell flat...no good. Here's an actual quote (or close to it--I don't have the book in front of me) that almost made me throw up a little:
Katherine Howard, wife #5, who everyone knows gets her head chopped off ("divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived") is young, foolish and giddy that the king fancies her: "Court life is so much fun, I think I shall lose my head!"
Um, excellent use of foreshadowing there, Philippa.
If you want more on Henry VIII's life, court and wives, check out Alison Weir's The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Truth is better than fiction...(less)
I read Da Vinci Code just as the bell curve marking its popularity began sloping downward. Normally I avoid this sort of crime/mystery/thriller book,...moreI read Da Vinci Code just as the bell curve marking its popularity began sloping downward. Normally I avoid this sort of crime/mystery/thriller book, but it was sort of a book you had to read to be part of the culture in the mid-2000s.
Casting my literary elitism aside for a moment, I admit Brown sucked me in to the point that I finished the book in one sitting. Still, I'm always left unsatisfied after finishing a novel like this -- the twists aren't twisted enough, the writing is too formulaic and conveniently, just as it's time to wrap the story up, someone always pieces together the mystery in some impossible fashion.
Fine for passing the time, but this book is essentially the literary equivalent of rerun TV. (less)
I remember nothing about this book except that we're expected to believe Robert Langdon jumps (falls?) out of a helicopter (plane?) from a tremendous...moreI remember nothing about this book except that we're expected to believe Robert Langdon jumps (falls?) out of a helicopter (plane?) from a tremendous height, yet fortunately his sharp intellect deduces that he can use his coat or shirt or something to act as a parachute, thereby saving his life. Oh okay. (less)
Avoid at all costs. After being bored for the first 90% of the book, the end just turned bizarre. I had no idea what was going on -- some sort of fant...moreAvoid at all costs. After being bored for the first 90% of the book, the end just turned bizarre. I had no idea what was going on -- some sort of fantastical sandstorm caused the guy to have mystical visions, or something... -- and I had to skim my way to the finish line. Call me crazy, but I just can't get into mysticism. Or sand spirits. Or whatever the hell was going on in this book.
I'm unable to understand why people think this book is so life-changing...do I need to reread it? Did my spritely youth-of-a-self miss something when I read this nearly a decade ago? Perhaps I shall look to my YES/NO pebbles to answer that and guide me toward Truth and Enlightenment.
When I was in fifth grade, I checked Little Women out from my elementary school's library. The book was massive - thick, hardcover and heavy as, say,...moreWhen I was in fifth grade, I checked Little Women out from my elementary school's library. The book was massive - thick, hardcover and heavy as, say, 20 Baby-Sitter's Club books. Yes, this was a Serious Book, reserved only for the most sophisticated of eleven-year-olds. I brought it home and devoured it.
It's been a long time since fifth grade, so I can't really offer any critical commentary, but I can tell you that I loved the book, if only because it made me feel as grown-up as my older sister...and she's 2 years older, so we're talking serious sophistication here. (less)
Too many emotions and feelings for me. In other words, too "Oprah's Book Club."
It's been a decade (or so) since I read this, yet the imagery of the p...moreToo many emotions and feelings for me. In other words, too "Oprah's Book Club."
It's been a decade (or so) since I read this, yet the imagery of the protagonist running around to each of the food stalls in the mall, stuffing her face then puking it all up (really, Wally, don't you think that was a touch overly symbolic?) still stands out. Just saying.(less)
Being the aspiring Parisian that I am, I am so, so jealous of the author's life. Along with Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik, this is a must-read for...moreBeing the aspiring Parisian that I am, I am so, so jealous of the author's life. Along with Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik, this is a must-read for any Francophile who imagines packing it all in one day and moving to the City of Light. (less)
Really conflicted over if I should give the book 3 stars or 4 - I can make arguments for both.
THREE STARS: Um, can she please shut up about her stupid...moreReally conflicted over if I should give the book 3 stars or 4 - I can make arguments for both.
THREE STARS: Um, can she please shut up about her stupid depression already?? I understand it's a serious medical condition blah blah blah, but I didn't pick it up thinking it was going to be another super uplifting whine-fest about how hard life is for someone because they're depressed and oh even getting up out of BED in the morning is just too, too much.... I mean, here she is in Italy, and she keeps taunting me with tales of food, Italians, Italian travel, Italian the language, Italian everything, and yet we keep going back to how she was thisclose to suicide.
Not that I don't care, but...I don't care. Okay, that's harsh, and I get that her depression was the platform from which the whole book/concept sprung, so it IS necessary - to some extent - to discuss. I just felt that it dragged on mercilessly. (I actually have a few places in my copy where I wrote, "OMG SHUT UP."
Despite that...I did enjoy the whole book, though I thought the beginning (with the whiny depression bit) and the end (i.e. the entire Indonesia/Love piece) were the weakest. She lost a little of it in Indonesia, and I think it's because it stopped being entirely about her experiences. It was almost like "so there's this boy and he's sooo cute and omg should we totally date?? I don't know! what should I do!?" Again...I don't care. I was way more interested in her time with the medicine man and with her doctor friend, but no, I have to instead read about her Brazilian lover.
FOUR STARS: Elizabeth Gilbert is a completely engaging writer (minus the whiny/love bits). She's funny - laugh out loud funny (just ask Steve, who was sitting next to me when I was reading this) - and just self-deprecatingly enough that you like her and get the sense that she'd be a lot of fun to hang around with. She's also a great observationist and strong at depicting her characters, so I could paint a clear picture of each vignette. Total page turner. I read this on vacation to the beaches in Thailand, and to me, it was perfect for a beach (or pool, as the case may be) read: not you typical mentally challenged, horribly written, formulaic chick lit (can you tell I'm not a fan?), but breezy enough that you don't really feel like you're working. So, situationally, this book fit into my reading schedule perfectly. Always a plus.
I am in awe of her decision to do this, and I think she pulled some incredible memories/experiences into the story. I once heard that a sign of a good movie is that after you watch it, or while you're watching it, you just think, "I want to do that! I want to move to Greenwich Village in the 1960s Vietnam Era and became an LSD-doing, war-protesting, Beatles-song-singing hippie!" (So yeah I'm thinking of Across the Universe, a.k.a. my current favorite movie.) Same goes for this book: I kept thinking about how I wanted to pack it in for a year and move to three places, four months in each, and meet amazing people and see amazing things and eat amazing food. I wanted to go to Italy and absorb the culture, I wanted to go to India and find God the way she did, I wanted to go to Indonesia and rent a little house in Bali and find balance. (Wanted? I mean want.) In that sense, she totally won me over.
I also respect/appreciate the fact that Gilbert actually knew what she was talking about - she didn't just blindly go to these locations, but she was a dedicated student in each (well, maybe not in Indonesia so much), and each location was researched and examined historically. It wasn't just "Bali is pretty. There are beaches. Food in Italy is SO good, yum. In India we pray and it is poor." The India chapter surprised me the most on this - she certainly wasn't a novice, and her plan to get closer to God wasn't created on a whim.
There were a lot of cool little things about the concept, too - she was on a mission to find herself, and each of the places she went to begin with "I." She wrote 108 vignettes because the Indian prayer bead (which is called...mental blank...) has 108 beads. Little things like that tied everything in.
So...I'm leaning towards four stars. Clearly, if you read the review, I'd recommend the book. It's a fast read, some of the stories are brilliant, and if nothing else, you'll maybe come up with a few new vacation ideas...
UPDATE: I had it on four, but I changed it to three, a.k.a. "I liked it." I did. But it doesn't merit the "really" qualifier; I think I'll forget, in time, what I liked so much about this book.