I don't even want to talk about how many times I've read these terrible books since I, 12 years old and highly impressionable, unearthed them (in thei...moreI don't even want to talk about how many times I've read these terrible books since I, 12 years old and highly impressionable, unearthed them (in their original early-90s glory) in a claustrophobic used bookstore in Santa Barbara. It's a thing. I wish it weren't. I love them. I wish I didn't. Read them in the bath if you must read them at all. Weep with me over the failed tv show that tried to make them hip and current when they are so, so clearly not either of those things. Talk to me about Nick's cool grey eyes and Diana's hair that looks like a mixture of sunlight and moonlight - a description that is used not once, but like, a million times. I hate myself. I want to be a New Salem witch and use crystals to lift stains from my cashmere sweaters.(less)
Well, damn, this book is smart. I'm not talking about the ending (I don't actually think all the mechanics work out perfectly) so much as Flannery her...moreWell, damn, this book is smart. I'm not talking about the ending (I don't actually think all the mechanics work out perfectly) so much as Flannery herself, in all her glorious unreliable narrator-ness. The book is her diary, which she's editing for publication from prison - the treatment of time is beautifully messy and fun. You've got (1) traditional diary-style storytelling, (2) annotations at the original time of writing (i.e. Flannery giving her friend her journal instead of telling her a story and then stopping and saying, wait, I'm only writing this now, that won't work), (3) annotations during the editing process, (4) entire anecdotes added in and acknowledged as dramatized (i.e. a scene in which her friend gives her a ride and they argue briefly about their group's new nickname - The Basic Eight - and then Flannery gets out of the car and tells you that she walked to school that day, but she knows a conversation like that happened at some point, and this seemed like as good a place as any to include it), (5) conversations repeated word-for-word, between different characters (actually my favorite part of the book - Flan talks to Adam, and then repeats the conversation with Gabriel, this time taking Adam's role - it's identical, down to the descriptions of expressions and such), (6) open acknowledgement of all of it! She wants you to know she's unreliable! She wants you to see the seams where things were pieced together, and not care, because it's her story, damn it! And it's SO GOOD. (less)
This is my favorite book, full stop. I can't remember when I first read it - late high school or early college, I know. I won't say that it created my...moreThis is my favorite book, full stop. I can't remember when I first read it - late high school or early college, I know. I won't say that it created my preference for this sort of aesthetic, but it certainly crystallized it. Moral decay, a tight-knit group drawing even further inward, affection and sympathy for characters doing Bad Things, incest! It's filled with so many of the things that I love in fiction, and everything is topped off with a healthy dose of atmosphere (or maybe an unhealthy dose, maybe an overdose, maybe I'm an addict?). Tartt's Hampden is slow and thick with ambience; it feels like another world, and I suppose it is, because you're seeing it through Richard's eyes - it's the opposite of his hot, flat California home, it's never seen a tract house or a massive shopping mall. It's old and rich and highbrow, and it's oppressive and liberating all at once. I find the plot delightful, but honestly, it's secondary to the characters and setting (and the pacing is, frankly, bizarre). I can see how that might turn some people off, but characters and setting are always my favorite things, so I am, obviously, going to be trapped in a lifelong obsession with this damn book.
Look. This book means things to me. I see a lot of myself in Richard "A Morbid Longing for the Picturesque At All Costs" Papen - I'm not saying it's a good thing; he's foolish and lies to himself and is thoroughly unreliable (he has a moment of self-realization toward the end of the book that is beautiful to me because it's all things that were so, so, so obvious to the reader already) and so easily swayed by flattery and inclusion. He's not a great guy, but he feels very real to me. Francis feels very real to me, Charles feels very real to me. Even Henry, who is like no one I have ever met (and no one I ever hope to meet) feels real to me. Do they have weird quirks? Yeah, of course they do. But they're fully drawn, they have personalities and histories - and real people have quirks too. A character being strange and unfamiliar to you doesn't mean they're unrealistic or not worth your time. I mean, these guys are the worst, yeah. They're insufferable snobs, they're the kind of people who sniff at you and tell you they don't watch television, they don't even oooown a television, ugh. They talk to each other in Greek! They're permanently soused, drunk as fish, louche lazy and befuddled by your silly middle class troubles. And I love them all. Sue me.
I think Bennington College stayed on my radar for years after reading this, even after I went to a massive state school on the other end of the country - where, incidentally, I majored in Classics (I am a parody of myself, to be honest).(less)
Oh, I love this book. Josh is hilarious, way smarter than he has any right to be, and pretty much always upbeat, which is refreshing. I love The Catch...moreOh, I love this book. Josh is hilarious, way smarter than he has any right to be, and pretty much always upbeat, which is refreshing. I love The Catcher in the Rye as much as any other smart person who went to public high school and feels alienated a lot, but I'd definitely spend time with Josh Arnold before Holden Caulfield. And we'd eat really delicious food prepared by Excilda and laugh about how stupid racist people are and drink lots of his dad's expensive wine.(less)
Oh, Wise Child. You are so ornery and lazy and lucky. Re-reading this and Juniper for the first time in several years made me wonder if they had somet...moreOh, Wise Child. You are so ornery and lazy and lucky. Re-reading this and Juniper for the first time in several years made me wonder if they had something to do with my desire to do nothing but milk cows and spin/dye wool and bake simple foods for the rest of my life. Oh, and do magic. Duh.
But in all seriousness: a quiet, calm book that I love to a ridiculous extent. I fear the day my copy falls apart and I can't find a new one because it's stupidly out-of-print.(less)
I can't lie - I was really into LJ Smith when I was in middle school. I think I found some Night World books in a used bookstore and went crazy from t...moreI can't lie - I was really into LJ Smith when I was in middle school. I think I found some Night World books in a used bookstore and went crazy from there. And then, sadly, I was packing for college and, seriously underestimating the power of nostalgia and importance of comfort reading, packed them all up and gave them to Goodwill. All of them! Night World, Dark Visions, Forbidden Game, Secret Circle! Everything! How foolish.
Fast forward a few years, and picture my (really embarrassing) excitement when I see the incredibly trashy reissue of The Vampire Diaries in a bookstore. I hadn't read them, but that had to bode well for everything else, right? Right! And so now I've got all my crappy teen paranormal romance in handy omnibus form, just as poorly written, formulaic, and close to my heart as ever. Except for the damn Forbidden Game. When do I get that one back, too?
I kind of think this particular trilogy is like the Platonic ideal of LJ Smith stories - a beautiful redhead torn between too-good-to-be-true blonde and snarky-because-he's-WOUNDED brunette, a group of kids fighting adults (some evil, some oblivious), some sort of soulmatey psychic connection? I mean, really. You can't mess this shit up.(less)
I decided it was time to finally read River Secrets and Forest Born, so I reread this and The Goose Girl first. This book isn't really as strong as th...moreI decided it was time to finally read River Secrets and Forest Born, so I reread this and The Goose Girl first. This book isn't really as strong as the first, narratively speaking - it lacks the shock of betrayal that drives TGG, and the plot is kind of meandering (not always a bad thing, but it's not great here), but I do love Enna herself. And I've got to give Hale credit for being willing to write a main character who does dodgy things, and owns up to them, and then, whoops, makes more mistakes. And I can't lie, I'm impressed by her willingness to write in a totally creepy and inappropriate romance (I'm always down for creepy and inappropriate romances, as long as they are acknowledged as such within the text). I think these books could have been forgettable, middling YA, but Hale doesn't pretend that fairy tales (whether her original creation or a Grimm adaptation) aren't messed up (TGG was harsh, you guys!), and that elevates them. On to River Secrets (for which I am not excited, because I find Razo impossibly annoying)!(less)