In the early morning of July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis (after delivering the makings of what was known as “Little Boy” – the atomic bomb that would eventually be dropped on Hiroshima) was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The torpedoes nearly sheared the Indianapolis in half and within 12 minutes the entire ship would vanish to one of the deepest burial grounds in the ocean. Nearly 300 men would die almost immediately – close to 900 would make it off the ship. In Harm’s Way is the true story of what happened in the four days it took for the military to discover the survivors . . . .
This has been on my to-read list for an eternity. In my mind it was always a book that could only be read during Shark Week. As my bad luck and failing brain would have it, I generally put myself on the wait list too late and have simply been putting this off every year when the timing failed. Until this year. As someone who does not read a lot of non-fiction I will say this earns every one of its 5 Stars for being succinct, not bogged down in military lingo and technical mumbo jumbo and presenting a story so horrifyingly fascinating it read like fiction. A must read for every shark addict . . . .
“At one time there was a social contract that if you played by the rules (went to school, got a job, and worked hard) everything would be fine. That’s no longer true today. You can do everything right, just the way society wants you to do it, and still end up broke, alone, and homeless.”
Nomadland is the three year study of a subset of retirees living the above quote. Either due to losing (or never acquiring) a pension, the housing bust, market crash, divorce, or a handful of other unpredictable situations, these folks have chosen a lifestyle similar to “a modern-day version of The Grapes of Wrath.” Their homes????
Their work? Whatever the change in season and change of location brings. From the much advertised . . . .
For the Christmas rush to various harvests in the Fall . . .
To maintaining campgrounds and manning rides at amusement parks throughout North America in the summer . . . .
(Ouch, shoulda ducked there, fella.)
These are people with an incomparable work ethic who have chosen to do whatever it takes in order to get by. They have swapped $100,000 per year budgets for $75 per week and comfortable homes with sprawling lawns in suburbia for motor homes, modified delivery vehicles and pull-behind campers. Their stories are simply fascinating. Highly recommended to those who have never experienced more than a First World Problem as well as anyone who is looking for non-fiction with the page turnability factor like what was found in Evicted. ...more
I’m going to be 100% transparent here and admit to the fact that I had never heard of Lindy West or her writing or this book. What I had heard of, however, was . . . .
I have such a wicked crush on Aidy Bryant it’s not even funny. From being one of the driving forces behind the female counterpoint to The Lonely Island . . . .
To owning everything there is when it comes to playing oversexed teens . . . . .
Aidy Bryant is a continual over-the-top laugh-out-loud force every week on SNL and has become a quiet force in proving both the “women aren’t funny” and “fat people are disgusting” troll armies wrong . . . .
When I heard she was getting her own television show I was thrilled – followed by nearly immediately being crushed because I am not a subscriber to the Hulu. So I did what I do best and I looked to see if Shrill had started off as a book.
I started listening and thought this was going to be a little memoir on navigating the world as a fat female. Being that I myself am a fat female, I have definitely spent my adult life embracing my plus size and trying to present a confident/body positive image no matter what trolls might have to say otherwise about the subject. I was pretty sure I would like this book. And I did . . . . until I didn’t any more. Body positivity = good. Believing overweight people should be declared a protected class????
Again – this is coming from someone who is probably around the same size as Lindy West, but I’m not about to let my white privilege show through so much that I’m going to back her up on that argument.
Wishing comedians didn’t joke about things like rape = good. Spending 1/3 of a book arguing that you believe in free speech while kinda doing whatever was possible to take away other’s (albeit disgusting uggos) free speech = notsogood. And speaking of that part of the book. On what planet does Daniel Tosh deserve more attention than he already has received? At some point I think that turd would have dried up and blown away by now if it weren’t for all the attention he receives in response to his “bad boy” brand of humor. Oh and dare I forget the focus on the boypig Tosh (or even better the sour grapes presented to the non-offensive Patton Oswalt simply for being famous enough that people listen to him when he speaks) while Louis C.K. gets a pass . . . . .
Hindsight is 20/20 on that one!
I ended up not being the target audience for this “fat, feminist, abortion story” – obviously YMMV. If I didn’t have such a hair trigger when it comes to wanting instant gratification I would have taken a second to look at the blurb and see that West is Lena Dunham’s kind of girl which means she probably wouldn’t be the kind of girl for me. Guess that ol’ hindsight works for me here too ; )...more
“What’s the difference between a private library and a book hoarder?”
Now for the question of the day – can Kelly .gif up a non-fiction review?????
This book has received mixed reviews from my friends, but after seeing Debbie's reaction I figured it was worth me rolling the dice. It totally was too and really my only complaint was this was supposed to be a BI.O.GRA.PHY. People who write books like these are only supposed to be telling you about the person they are writing about. They aren’t supposed to show their obvious raging boner of a crush on their subject or interject their own sob story into the mix. Me no likey that bit.
Now on to the part I can see being a peeve for many others. Most of the trips on the way-back machine to Sandra Pankhurst’s history can be reacted to like such . . . .
Her memory fails her in many of the places where it counts the most which makes her a very unreliable narrator for the remainder. It also makes non-fiction read like fiction which is waaaaaaaaaaaaay beneficial to achieving a high score on the Kelly and Mitchell entertainment scale. Really, the only issue I have with the way Pankhurst’s history is presented is that a certain type of people (who wouldn’t ever even read this book to begin with, but certainly would have no problem bashing it) will use it to say that gender identity is a mental disorder brought on by a person’s upbringing – and that makes me barf. But fuck those people, right?
The other thing I kept thinking while reading was “why didn’t James Frey do this when he wrote his “memoir”?????” Remember James Frey and his million little pieces that made Oprah all . . . .
Hindsight is 20/20 for that fella!
But anywho, if you aren’t a big non-fiction reader and looooooooooooooooooove shows like this . . . .
(Nothing makes me clean house quicker than a Hoarders marathon, knowwhatI’msayin’???)
You might find this to be a winner for you too. ...more
Simply put, that’s my whole problem with The Real Lolita. This is a book that doesn’t have much book to it. There are few documents remaining to provide detail and the main players are all deceased. Heck, even the person who this is about is dead by the halfway point and my Kindle copy was wrapped up at 76%. The remainder of the story is full of quotes like the following . . .
“Here’s the point in the narrative where I would like to tell you everything that happened to Sally Horner after Frank La Salle spirited her away from Atlantic City to Baltimore, and the eight months they lived in the city, from August 1948 through April 1949. The trouble is, I didn’t find out all that much.”
As the author herself states . . .
“Inference will have to stand in for confidence. Imagination will have to fill in the rest.”
That just doesn’t cut it for me when it comes to a true crime novel. And the links between Nabokov’s and Horner’s tales are all based on presumptions as well. I mean, excluding the very upfront admission by Nabokov himself that Horner did inspire/breathe new life into the ongoing twenty-year project which was trying to give Humbert Humbert’s voice something to talk about. But the supposed symbolism and such were once again 100% speculation.
Like many other authors or students of literature, Weinman chooses to portray Nabokov as a bigger predator than the actual criminal himself. And like so many others, she has no proof behind any of her theories. I’ll happily admit Nabokov makes my hinky meter ping as well. His writing does tend to gravitate toward the same subject matter. But was he a pedophile or hebephile or ephebophile or simply fascinated with writing about the taboo? Most likely the latter.
It’s also abundantly clear how Weinman feels about Lolita - going so far as to reduce it to a “daring little sex novel.” She chooses to brush over the fact that this is a classic, subject matter notwithstanding - focusing on it selling a lot of copies rather than being a book entire literature courses are dedicated to studying. The baby is also sort of thrown out with the bathwater as fans are labeled as pervy wrongreaders who, for decades, were too stupid to realize Lolita was actually a victim and that in the present should simply keep their (and all other) copies firmly placed on bookshelves rather than encourage others to read at all, to which I say . . . . .
If you want to read about Sally Horner but aren’t lucky enough to have a public library like mine and share a similar beer budget which doesn't allow you to buy allllllll the books, I recommend skipping this one entirely and going for Rust and Stardust instead....more
I knew I was going to have to get my hands on a copy of Don’t Make Me Pull Over as soon as I saw the cover. I mean, who could really resist the siren song which is that of the family truckster . . . .
Being that I am of a certain age, my fondness doesn’t lie courtesy of film alone. No no, I was a willing victim passenger of the “way back seat” as a child. Much like the author, some of my best memories spurred from the place where only the youngest member(s) of the family were forced to ride. If you’re looking for a bit of nostalgia, Richard Ratay’s take on family trips might be for you . . .
“It wasn’t that we enjoyed spending endless hours imprisoned together in a velour-upholstered cell, squabbling over radio stations and inhaling each other’s farts. It was that we had no other choice.”
Funny how the timing worked out such that I was reading this right when my family is set to embark on a weekend road trip. Of course, their “must see” item on the road is where Last Chance U is filmed while mine would be something more traditional . . . .
Luckily Ratay was of like mind with me. You might find yourself a little bogged down with the history of not only how the automobile came to be mass produced, but also how roads themselves were developed/designed/funded. But right when you think it has gone off the rails, Ratay swings you back in the direction of his personal history and tidbits that make you chuckle from nostalgia. Like dodging Ol’ Smokey courtesy of the fuzz buster and CB radio . . . .
Or the holy grail of road trip time passers . . . . .
If you had one of these, you know time spent was precious because not only did it suck batteries like a G.D. hoover, but it also had no volume control and its use was sure to be permitted only momentarily before the elders in the car went batshit and snatched it away.
All in all, this served as a pretty decent trip down memory lane of all the fun that was had while trying to reach our destination . . . .
I had a feeling I would be the dissenting opinion on this one right from the start when the author performed a Google search for some stolen cufflinks based off of a sketch (not an actual picture) and swore she found the exact items (for a bargain price of $8 even) and that she would be able to identify the original owner/identify the perp due to the fact that “names starting with the letter N” weren’t very prevalent on the Top 100 Baby Names list at the time and also thought it was perfectly reasonable to Ziploc baggie the things and present them to the police (because DNA evidence would still be present 30 years later??? Zoinks). I stopped watching Nancy Grace once my firstborn started sleeping through the night and I wasn’t held prisoner by the lack of viewing options at 2:00 a.m., thank you very much.
I feel I need to disclose that I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Patton Oswalt’s book . . . . that I still have not read because he broke what is left of my dried out rotten apple of a heart when his wife died unexpectedly and he shared how shattered he was and I can’t bear to even think about picking the damn thing up to this day. That being said, I understand why getting I’ll Be Gone In The Dark to print was so important to him. But it’s MY belief that reviews should be honest - and honestly??? I don’t get the hype. I don’t think McNamara’s writing is particularly brilliant unless you are interested in what type of clothing and music were popular at the time of a crime rather than details of the cases (not to mention the fact that she only wrote half of it before she died, making it EXTREMELY choppy); the timeline itself is 100% disjointed and hops from past to future to past again without rhyme or reason; despite the “EAR” or “ONS” or “EAR/ONS” being responsible for 50+ crimes hardly any are covered in this book; and last, but certainly not least, McNamara doesn’t seem to have had too much insight into the case at all, but rather an obsession/borderline addiction where conjecture rules and fellow couch commandos are considered experts (if you’ve ever been on a site like Websleuths or the like, you’ll know the exact opposite is true).
Bottom line is: I don’t think this would have ever been published were it not for her husband being famous and making it happen as part of his grieving process. Good news for everyone involved is that the Golden State Killer wound up being caught which gave I’ll Be Gone In The Dark new life and a sort of cult following and very few people who want to go on record as “poo poo-ing” it due to McNamara’s untimely death. Obviously I drank the Kool-Aid because I read the thing too. I’m just also willing to shit on everyone else’s sundae....more
Here’s a dramatic reenactment of me in the car going to hell Wal-Mart with the husband while simultaneously trying to describe my feelings about David Sedaris . . . .
Ever since I finally got brave enough to attempt audiobooks several months ago, I’ve methodically been revisiting Sedaris’ work. If you haven’t experienced his stuff before, I’m telling you audio is the way to go and Naked is David Sedaris at his best. From being a little kid with O.C.D. in a time where such behavior was dismissed as “quirky,” to a young man living at a nudist colony, to his mother’s cancer diagnosis - Naked will have you laughing until you cry and crying until you laugh. An added bonus is his sister Amy lends her voice to some of the selections as well. Talk about my fantasy audible ménage à trois. The only thing better than the Sedaris siblings? Their mother. Several years ago I used to wish I could be her when I grew up. Now I’m thinking my wish came true which I think is awesome, but probably terrifies my family. ...more
When this popped up over at the pornbrary’s “Recommended To You” page I didn’t have to do anything other than look at the title before hitting the request button. I was ready to declare once and for all to the pornbrarian that . . . .
But then I realized maybe he/she doesn’t know me quite as well as I thought they did because there were like eleventy-four people ahead of me in the queue and I very much have the mindset that This Is America and OF COURSE I Want It Now! Mind you, I had no idea who Matt Bellassai was. I simply bemoaned the fact that my entitled butt would have to wait a hot minute rather than receive instant gratification. Then I did what I do best and forgot all about this book until finally my turn did come around and I checked out the synopsis.
Here are some things to know about me:
1. I still don’t really know who Matt Bellassai is, although his book made me laugh the terrifying “what if I lart” (definition below) laugh that happens when old ladies attempt to contain their guffaws whilst reading at work.
2. I’m not positive I know what a Buzzfeed is either and no I’m not interested in looking it up, but apparently that’s how this guy initially became famous. (I think there was some other Buzzfeed thing that I wasn’t familiar with and some of you tried to explain to me, but alas I am dumb and also maybe have early onset dementia so I don’t remember any specifics.)
3. I do not and will not ever (yeah yeah, immortal Bieberish words remind me to . . . .
but I feel pretty comfortable saying never here) spend my free time watching You Tubers or vloggers. (I started jotting down my ramblings simultaneously with reading this book, so I now know that Bellassai isn’t a traditional “You Tuber” – I think – maybe, but he did do a video on the internet that went viral so tomato/tomahto.) My husband and friends can’t even get me to watch Netflix and that is a simple button on my remote that I don’t know how to work, but at least I know exists. I refuse to use a computer once I leave the office and my phone is for making phone calls (and about twice a week to send a text it takes me 14 years to type out since I insist on using real words and punctuation). I have nothing against You Tubers or viral videologists – I’ll just be leaving the addiction to watching their videos to the youth of the nation. That being said, I have still not taken a gander at Bellassai’s (apparently People’s Choice Award winning) web series.
4. I frequently complain (even when I enjoy their stories okay) about youngsters who write memoirs because they haven’t lived long enough to have accrued experiences that fill a “life story” and instead seem to be cashing in before their 15 minutes of fame runs out. That’s why I’m choosing to call Bellassai an “essayist” à la David Sedaris. His stories may be about himself, but they are presented as snippets of life rather than an autobiography and also because I am allowed to be as fickle as I would like to be.
Okay, so now that you’ve had to endure allllllll of that overshare, here’s the point: I was not and am not familiar with Matt Bellassai – something I’m sure he would be completely comfortable with since I highly doubt middle-aged, fat, married women are his target demographic. That being said, this book was FREAKING HYSTERICAL – to the point aforementioned that I was more than a bit concerned I might laugh fart (a/k/a lart) since I was trying my best to not allow any raucous sounds to escape my body from one orifice and that those sounds would therefore choose a different one. And although I’m almost certain that I am nearly old enough to have birthed this boy (should I have chosen motherhood instead of high school), we are of one mind when it comes many different topics and especially to one particular terrifying entity:
“Say one wrong thing, however innocuous yet hilarious you think it may be, and you become Teenage Girl Enemy Number One. I’m chubby, gay, pale and a whole decade older than most of them, which means I might as well wear a sign that says, “Hello fellow Internet users, please destroy my entire life.”
If you are in need of something light that will confirm that - no, your new mascara is indeed not waterproof, this might be the book for you. Now I have to make an exception to everything I said up top and FINALLY Google this cat in order to watch the Drunk at Work or whatever the fuck his shit is called before my friend here at the office bludgeons me to death with my stapler : )
IMMEDIATE EDIT: Google search officially complete (or as complete as I want it to be which means I watched one video and now I'm going to figure out what book I'm going to read next). I deactivated my Facebook account around a month ago for all of the reasons listed HERE. Matt Bellassai is my Patronus....more
When I initially posted the "review" below (based solely on leaked segments) the day before Fire and Fury was officially released, I had no idea my little bit of nothing would get as much attention as it has. I also didn't really plan on reading the book. But then somehow the library decided it should order SIXTY copies of the thing and I went from 90th on the wait list to it being my turn before even a week was over (many thanks to the patrons who either removed their names from the list or made a point to return the book right away so everyone could get their chance) and there was a snow day so I had no excuse not to dive right in. So what do I think now that I'm finished? Well, I think we elected fucking Fredo to run our great nation . . . .
I stand behind everything I said before. This was indeed simply a "tell-all" as I originally believed and probably contained a "bigly" chunk of tabloid journalism (which surprisingly focused A LOT on the Bannon/Jared & Ivanka relationship). It's convenient that one of the most quoted figures in the book is Roger Ailes who is now dead. But at the end of the day does it really matter which quotes are real or who leaked what when it comes to sort of a "National Enquirer" type of bestseller? Trump said it best when he said the following about his supporters:
"I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."
If nothing else has been confirmed for me since the inauguration (aside from the fact that Trump had the biggest crowd ever in attendance *eye roll*) it is Trump's own quote above and this point that Fire and Fury makes over and over and over again . . . .
"He could not even attempt to imitate decorum."
And THAT is something that no one will ever be able to fix when it comes to this 71-year old man. Let's just hope America wakes up by the next election before Trump turns our country into a "shithole nation." : (
Today our Führer is attempting to prevent this book’s release. People quoted in the book are also coming forth denying they said some of the things attributed to them. If a copy of this (literally) falls into my lap – like from the sky while I’m sitting on a park bench or something – I may read it. As for what has been leaked so far regarding its contents? All I have to say is . . . . .
OF COURSE Trump didn’t think he would win the G.D. election. No one in the universe did. He put his name in the hat as a marketing ploy for his failing brand. Unfortunately for America, no one drinks the Trump Kool-Aid as well as Trump himself so once he was told there was a chance he could win he brainwashed himself into thinking he was qualified for the job.
OF COURSE he sleeps in a different bedroom than Melania. Melania had ZERO intention of ever moving from her gilded penthouse in Trump Tower until the powers that be told her she was obligated to for the sake of public appearance. It’s not like she really hides her distaste when it comes to her husband . . . .
OF COURSE Rupert Murdoch called him a “fucking idiot.” HE IS ONE. I guarantee Tillerson called him a moron too.
OF COURSE he is so delusional he believes someone would poison him. Hell, it’s probably someone in his own family … or someone who married into his family only to be used as a patsy.
OF COURSE he hates the Obamas. Every single move he’s made since being elected is an attempt to delete Obama’s footprint from the history books. At this point one could only be thankful if the reasoning behind Trump’s disdain is because they were “very arrogant” rather than because The Donald wears a white robe and hood around Mar-A-Largo on the weekends.
OF COURSE Ivanka has her eye set on being the first female president. It’s pretty obvious at this point the Trumps like to fancy themselves as a new and not-so-improved version of the Kennedy clan.
OF COURSE Trump doesn’t read or “really even skim,” but instead engrosses himself in television viewing in order to see just how “fake” the news is that day in order to be able to Twat about it while taking his 3:00 a.m. constitutional every night after his handlers have retired to their beds. Is it really surprising Trump isn't a big reader? He is, after all, the dude who has “the best words” such as . . . .
OF COURSE Steve Bannon used him . . . .
Once again DUH MOTHERFUCKER. You were the only one stupid enough to believe a fucking white supremacist had the best interest of the country at heart.
OF COURSE everyone who works in the White House right now hates everyone else. Kelly hates everyone most of all. Thank Jeebus he loves this country enough to keep trying to stomp out the dumpster fire which is this presidency with his bare feet every day.
Was I the only person who equated this release to a Kitty Kelley sort “unauthorized biography????” Now, thanks to Trump and his merry band of minions – along with their cease and desist demands, this is sure to be a bestseller . . . .
I think by this point it’s pretty much common knowledge that I love David Sedaris like a fat kid I love cake and, well . . . . .
Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim might be my favorite collection yet. I could seriously kick myself for not only not trying audiobooks before this Fall, but also for not thinking of collections like these as something that would fit into my short commute time perfectly. We’re talking true . . . .
Even while in a stupid ass Fiat rather than a Volkswagen since mine decided to die like a whore on the corner a few months back. And when work got like WAAAAAAY too worky the other day and I was afraid I was going to full out pull a Milton . . . .
Or a Leslie Knope . . . .
I opted to schedule a mental health vacay day instead and went home to immerse myself in my favorite type of therapy this time of year – decorating Christmas trees (with an added bonus of listening to the soothing sounds of David’s dysfunction this go ‘round). Dress Your Family was a great blend of stories of the Sedaris children and parents (words cannot express how much I adore Sharon, their mother), the Sedaris children as adults, David and Hugh and everything in between. Thanks to the combo of some sort of sinus condition/basement dust I lugged upstairs along with the decorations, I laughed until I was overtaken by an emphysema-ish coughing fit/wheeze that may or may not have concluded with me urinating a bit on myself - and if THAT isn’t an endorsement, I don’t know what is.
I’ve put a hold on every other available Sedaris audio in order to get myself through the end of the year without (hopefully) causing bodily harm to anyone at work. Now I just have to deal with a cat who is terrified of Santa’s impending visit after hearing the story of “6 to 8 Black Men”. . . . .
No it isn’t. Read the story. Anyway, I keep telling him we don’t live in Amsterdam so he doesn’t have anything to worry about, but I think it’s pretty obvious by the look on his face that he doesn’t believe me . . . .
Before I even begin this ramble, I feel a disclaimer should probably be provided regarding these 4 Stars. If you have not yet had the privilege of experiencing David Sedaris’ essays, you most definitely should not begin with Theft By Finding. Pick up any one of his other collections and read that first. Then repeat. Repeat again until you reach superfan status and you’ve started fantasizing about how delightful it would be to wear him around like a skinsuit as a beck-and-call-boy for your constant amusement. That’s totally normal, right????
Right. When you reach that point of fandom, you’re ready for this.
Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 is exactly what the title states – various diary entries that span several decades. Sedaris himself said this book should be read in snippets. If you are of the ilk, this would be a perfect selection to have readily available whilst sitting on the throne. Since my gastrointestinal system is of the “all or nothing” variety (TMI??? Naaaaaah!) and I wouldn’t dream of defiling my lobster’s work in that manner, I can’t confirm or deny if this is the way to go. I can, however, confirm that the early years are a rough read as you follow Sedaris from his 20s in Raleigh where he more than dabbled in methamphetamines and underemployment as a starving artist while consuming daily feasts at the local IHOP. You LITERALLY read the phone book as well as random recipes and lists of what he got for Christmas and various other nonsense like what happened that day on As the World Turns or the off-color joke a co-worker told him that day.
If you can get through the first 20% or so, it becomes smoother sailing. David puts down the meth pipe and details his initial successes as a playwright in New York City all the way to becoming a best-selling author and residing in Paris. He lets you in on his family history – including his mother’s death and his sister’s battle with mental illness and includes some truly poignant entries . . . . .
“Last night under the stars in a pasture in our sleeping bags, I poured my guts out and said things I was afraid to admit even to myself. And you know, it felt good and not as hopeless as I thought. All that had been inside for so long.”
While I could have lived without the never ending submissions regarding his various French classes, unforgettable moments in history are documented within its bindings . . . .
“There is a new cancer that strikes only homosexual men. I heard about it on the radio tonight.”
“Hugh and I awoke to the news that Princess Diana has been killed, literally hounded to death by photographers.”
“Last night on TV I watched people jump from the windows of the World Trade Center.”
As well as monumental moments in his personal history . . . .
“This spring I am, if I’m not mistaken, in love.”
Most importantly, around the 25% mark Amy moves to the same town and made my life complete when her various antics began being included . . . .
“Amy and I went to Hoffritz to find Dad a Father’s Day gift. Our original idea was to buy him a knife, but in the end we spent $72 on a vibrator. It’s a Panasonic with a long stem and a thickish disk on top, designed so you can reach behind yourself and work out the kinks in your back and shoulders. We also figured he’ll use it on his dog. “Our father’s going to love this,” Amy said to the saleswoman as we laid the vibrator on the counter. The woman smiled. “The next time we see him, though, I bet his front teeth are all chipped.” The smile faded. ”
Amy is the kind of asshole I dream of becoming one day. Hysterical with absolutely no filter. David and I both tend to be more of the “George Constanza” variety when not in writing . . . . .
There was little to no doubt in my mind when I requested an advanced copy that I would be denied so I immediately put myself on “pre-hold” at the library well before the release date. Words cannot express how happy I am now that I did not read this early, since it allows me to quote the story that caused quite the embarrassing moment at work . . . .
“Lisa told me that the previous day she’d accidentally put a used Kotex through the wash. It went through the dryer as well, and when it came out, Bob held it up, saying, “These aren’t supposed to be laundered on their own, are they?” Lisa said she guessed not, and Bob asked why she’d washed just one of them. “I looked for the other and couldn’t find it anywhere.” “The other?” Lisa said. “Shoulder pad,” Bob said. “Isn’t that what we’ve been talking about?” He handed here the fluffy clean Kotex, still warm, and she put it in her dresser drawer until he left the room.”
I read that during lunch yesterday and while I was trying to muffle my laughter, my supervisor confused the noise for hysterical sobbing. At that point there was no way I was going to be able get myself back under control and, well . . . .
Due a combination of Sedaris’ epic rise in fame here in flyover country along with my crippling phobia of strangers in crowds, I most likely will never be brave enough to attend one of his readings and officially declare us besties for the resties. But we’ll always have our mutual love of America’s best television program as an unbreakable bond . . . .
And he won’t have to bother getting one of those pesky restraining orders against me. Winner winner chicken dinner.
You’ll always be my lobster, though, David. Always . . . .
Let’s just get things out of the way and address the pink elephant in the room. The title of this one alone almost gave me an out of body experience and most definitely had me saying . . . .
Then she added in a homeless-as-fuck looking kitten for the cover art as a bonus and I was sold.
(Have no fear, Samantha Irby, I am far too lazy to actually leave the comfort of my couch in order to stalk you properly. It shall strictly be via the intertubes.)
Several years ago I had a bit of what you might call an addiction to the blogosphere. It started with The Bloggess and other “mommy blogs” like People I Want To Punch In The Throat and several more I can’t remember the name of now and also Hyperbole and a Half and I Can Has Cheezburger (because DUH) and Shit My Dad Says and Damn You Autocorrect and Texts From Last Night and Texts from Bennett and Parents Shouldn’t Text and one about what a dog’s texts would say and on and on and on.
Now I know this might seem insane to you guys, but I’m actually pretty fucking good at what I do for a living. And if you think I read fast? Well, you should see how quickly I can draft and file a pleading or create a closing binder. Like a boss, yo. Long story long, with an entire universe of fellow weirdos right at my fingertips and zero desire to interact with actual, real-life humans - like EVER – the rabbit hole became harder and harder to pull myself out of once I got in and I knew I could end up getting fired if I let myself go there at work. Then Jenny Lawson wrote a seriously disappointing second book that made me realize our pretend friendship probably wouldn’t work out so well after all and the entire imaginary bubble burst so I quit blogs pretty much cold turkey (and began to focus on memes and gifs – lucky you). All this is being disclosed to let you know I had never heard of Samanthy Irby before seeing this title so I can provide zero insight as to whether this is fresh material or simply “upcycled” content from Bitches Gotta Eat that has been repackaged with a mangy cat on the front.
As soon as I saw this thing (somewhere at some time ‘cause y’all know my momma must have dropped me on my head a time or twelve since I cannot remember shit), I ran straight to NetGalley in order to get a copy. Then I noticed the publication date had already passed and forced politely requested the porny library order a copy. Which they did (probably because they’re scared of me by now, but whatever it takes, right?). Oh and NetGalley? You can go ahead and decline me. You know you want to and since I managed to land a copy already there’s no need to keep pretending you’re not going to . . . .
Good news is, since this wasn’t an ARC I’m allowed to quote it. And quote it I must because you need to know if your big girl panties are actually large enough to handle what Ms. Irby is about to throw at you – a/k/a I’m pretty sure you probably need to be at least 72% asshole to truly find her relatable. Lucky for me I’m 97.4% asshole so she was my lobster.
Shall we start with the sewer rat looking mah fah with the yellow backdrop? That’s Helen Keller. Irby was forced to take her in as a roommate when a co-worker brought her crusty eyeballed self in to the animal clinic for saving and they couldn’t force her on anyone else with a clear conscience . . . .
“Could you imagine if Helen was your boyfriend? You’d wake up at five thirty in the morning for work, tiptoe around so you don’t wake up His Highness, stub your toe in the dark multiple times while hastily dressing in clothes that you won’t realize don’t go together until you’re out in daylight waiting for the bus, and spend twelve hours slaving under a brutish dictator, only to come home and find that your companion is lying in the exact spot in which you left him. Except now that the sun is up, you see that his stinky body is curled around that sweater so new you haven’t even had a chance to take the tags off yet. And then what does he do? Get up to greet you with a kiss and a shoulder rub? No, that animal yawns in your face before taking a shit with the door open and asking how soon you can get dinner ready.”
And then she wrote literally an experience I have at least weekly with someone I work with . . .
“Joanna . . . asked me the other day to give her the name of a good book I’d read recently, and . . . I stood in front of her for, like, three real minutes cycling through every book I’ve rated on Goodreads in the last three months trying to determine which one would be the most impressive. I just stood there with my ears on fire wondering if I should just say A Little Life because no one would think you were dumb if you made it all the way through a seven-hundred-plus-page book. And I didn’t; I did not make it through that book, because a quarter of the way in, this other book about teenagers in love that I wanted to read came out, so I abandoned the smart shit to spend an afternoon sobbing over a story about children.”
Not to mention how she once had to pay twenty-seven dollars IN ONE DAY to the swear jar her boss put on her desk (please boss, don’t ever do this, I can’t afford it), or how she spent her formative years waiting for the moment Drake would get up out of that wheelchair on Degrassi and come for her, or that she’d rather be dead than hot in the summer, or that she knows not only all of the cast members of The Real Housewives of Atlanta (past and present), but also all of their children, pets and significant others by name, or when buying a garment for the pool she’d like to request to “see your most opaque turtleneckini and your finest ankle-length swim bloomers,” and admits to having things called “outside pajamas” . . . .
And then she told a diarrhea on the side of the road story . . . . .
That was the moment my husband and manchild “shushed” me because I was making it hard for them to concentrate on the ever-so-important MLB draft because apparently we’re getting a cut out of the signing bonuses this year or something?????
Maybe the most amazing thing of all is how Irby was able to mix in some real talk and serious subject matter and still keep it light (excluding one thing which I am TOTALLY going to spoil below so you don’t go in unprepared like me). She didn’t shy away from sharing about her abusive upbringing and a run-in with a pervy weirdo, her sexuality, medical problems, etc., but never in a “please pity me” way. She even offered some real truth big gals need to hear right now in case they think they aren’t allowed to have any self-worth just because they’re fat. Simply put, Samantha Irby wrote something amazing. I’ll definitely be picking up her first book Meaty sometime.
Now for the spoilsies. The goddamn cat died . . . . .
If you’re a fan, this is probably old news, but it wasn’t to me and even though Irby tried to keep it light, I still ended up looking like this at bedtime . . . .
I should probably leave well enough alone and not post any sort of review regarding little Zippy, but I’m not gonna. I’ve been seeing this title pop up on various lists and whatnot for YEARS now and always managed to avoid it due to the eternal question I ask myself whenever I see a memoir written by a non-famous person: “WTF was so special about you that you think everyone else wants to read about it???” But then the dang thing came back again when I was perusing the Faceplace and saw my library’s weekly question post, which this time around was “what’s the last book you read that made you laugh out loud.” Some of the answers provided by rando strangers on the interwebs I agreed with, some made me want to find out where they live so I could go smack them around a bit for obviously being super unfunny people and probably a real drag to hang around with and then there was Zippy. Again. I popped over to GR and saw my few friends who had read it had enjoyed it and then I noticed reviews from others. Those people belong in a category I like to call . . . .
It didn’t take long for me to figure out this might be my type of memoir when on Page 2 I discovered the author’s sister’s reaction when she discovered Haven Kimmel planned on writing about growing up in their small town was . . .
“I know who might read such a book. A person lying in a hospital bed with no television and no roommate. Just lying there. Maybe waiting for a physical therapist. And then here comes a candy striper with a squeaky library cart and on that cart there is only one book – or maybe two books: yours, and Cooking with Pork. I can see how a person would be grateful for Mooreland then.”
Since I had already read Cooking with Pork myself, I figured what the hell. And what did I find? First, I really did laugh out loud and second . . .
“It’s a memoir, and a sigh of gratitude, a way of returning.”
I spent nearly the entire book trying to figure out why (aside from the fact that a lot of pieces of Zippy’s life – especially those of the camping variety - seemed to mimic my upbringing) I was having quite the spell of déjà vu all the way up to the last page when finally it dawned on me . . . . .
And speaking of that last page. Dammit woman!!!!!
WTF? I thought I was signing up for something that triggered everybody and their brother, not one that made my eyeballs get tingly with happy tears about dogs as Father’s Day presents or the most magical Christmas ever.
Now, before you go putting this on your TBR, here are some things I know almost for certain about the people who will be able to enjoy this book:
1. They need to be a bit long in the tooth. This is the story of a girl who was brought up in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. It’s not what you would call “politically correct” so the younger generation will definitely find 1 or 12 things to get worked up about.
2. They need to be familiar with small town life. We’re talking about real small town life – Zippy grew up in a town with a population of 300.
3. They have to be able to differentiate between animal abuse and (i) farm living as well as (ii) the foreshadowing that your neighbor Petey Scoggs might grow up to become Jeffrey Dahmer.
4. An appreciation of this statement regarding food groups as being gospel: “fried, meat, bread, coke, and ice cream. She was an excellent cook.” A first-hand knowledge of the difference between a FryDaddy and a FryGranddaddy is also a necessity.
5. A pretty iron stomach, being raised with an aluminum Christmas tree (and if you were rich, the accompanying color wheel) in your house (and not because it’s awesomely “retro” now – even though I agree it is), knowing how bad it sucked to have to “ride the hump” or sit in the “way-way back” of the Family Truckster on road trips, and quite possibly have your only braggable talent being that you could “sing along with every word of a complicated song” (for Zippy, it was the “canticle part of Scarborough Fair” – for me it was We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel).
Did you answer in the affirmative/take a trip down memory lane with respect to all of the above? If so, maybe you should give this one a try . . . .
If not? Well, go ahead and fill this out in triplicate and Shelby will be with you shortly . . . .
I’m not exactly sure where this ramble is going to go, but if you’re of the sensitive nature it’s probably a good time to back away slowly . . . . .
Let’s get my main bitch out of the way first. While J.D. Vance admits in the introduction that he has not yet accomplished anything in his life, he still turned what could have been a real page-turner of a family history or some sort of socio-economic type of observational study into being all about him. Part of my lack of enjoyment may be blamed on the fact that I work in a law firm so reading the doldrums of the author’s schooling/interviewing/clerking processes were all a massive snoozefest for me and seemed like filler when the author should have just quit while he was ahead. Another reason is I’m flat out tired of famous 20 and 30-somethings writing their “life stories” when they haven’t even lived yet. When non-famous people do the same my reaction can get a little more volatile when it comes to their personal horn tooting . . . .
The main problem with Hillbilly Elegy is that it isn’t quite sure what type of book it’s supposed to be. I wish Vance would have stuck to this being a “memoir” as the title states. He could have followed the direction of Jeanette Walls and written about his childhood – with a particular focus on Mamaw. Mamaw might be my favorite character of all time. I’d say I want to be just like her when I grow up, but I’m almost certain I – along with the people I choose to surround myself with . . . . .
already are (minus the pistol packing and hoarding of garbage). Mamaw was the glue that held a pretty sprawling family together. Nearly every story involving her had me busting up laughing. She was someone who came from nothing and took no shit when it came to keeping what little she had together . . . .
“Mamaw told Papaw after a particularly violent night of drinking that if he ever came home drunk again, she’d kill him. A week later, he came home drunk again and fell asleep on the couch. Mamaw, never one to tell a lie, calmly retrieved a gasoline canister from the garage, poured it all over her husband, lit a match, and dropped it on his chest. When Papaw burst into flames, their eleven-year-old daughter jumped into action to put out of the fire and save his life. Miraculously, Papaw survived the episode with only mild burns.”
Rather than not trying to fix what wasn’t broken, Vance’s work becomes a bit schizophrenic when it migrates from memoir and attempts to focus on the community as a whole. Although many of the attitudes and mindsets contained within the pages of this book were already well covered with the HBO documentary American Hollow, Hillbilly Elegy does a bit of bait and switch by taking the hillbilly out of the hills and instead following a population who, at some point in their family histories, migrated into towns. Unfortunately, Vance loses focus yet again when he broadens his sights even further and begins talking about working class white men as a whole. I’ll let you choose to read the book for yourself and see if it reads with more cohesion for you than it did for me while stating that the people who should read this are the least likely to. Mainly those who fit this bill . . . .
“There is a cultural movement in the white working class to blame problems on society or the government, and that movement gains adherents by the day.”
That mindset has grown to such epic proportions people are actually offended by women and minorities protesting because “all lives matter” or some other malarkey. Not to mention a twatting ignoramus/washed up reality show star has been elected as President by touting campaign promises like Mexico paying for a wall that will magically eliminate illegal immigration and create millions of jobs. I’ll mimic the book and put it on the record that the only people I’ve ever known who were/are abusing the system have been able-bodied white people, so GTFO with that woe is me bullshit. Although not in Appalachia, I too was raised in a small town (educated in a small town – taught to fear Jesus in a small town ™John Cougar Mellancamp) so I’ve heard about all I can of this type of rhetoric. At some point . . . .
“you have to stop making excuses and take responsibility.”
My family tree has no golden leaves growing from it. We’re poor, most of us aren’t well educated. We’ve been down and out, but thanks to the values instilled on us by our grandparents and great-grandparents and those before them, most of us simply pull ourselves up by our bootstraps when life gets rough. Those who don’t? Well, the longer they remain on this Earth the more glaringly obvious it becomes that they don’t want to do fuckall while they’re here and it won’t matter a diddly dang dong who the damn President is. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A Long Way Home will probably end up as a selection on all the lists featuring inspirational stories and here I go giving it a 2 Star. What can I say?????
The first sign that this probably wasn't going to be a great book is the fact that the blurb wasn't even a blurb, but rather the opening pages of the story. That should have served as my warning, but I was all about reading errrrrry book that went from “Read to Reel” and I didn’t even bother looking into this one at all before requesting it. Plus, the movie has received about eleventy Oscar nominations so it had to be decent, right? Wellllllllllllllllllllllll, the story was . . . . it was just terribly written and could have easily been an article in a Newsweek or Time type of publication rather than a nearly 300 page book.
A Long Way Home is about a boy named Saroo, who at five years old becomes lost from his family and winds up on the other side of India. Not knowing his last name and only that he lived in a place that sounded something like “Berampur,” Saroo is labeled lost by the Indian government and winds up adopted by an Australian family. As an adult Saroo becomes a bit obsessed and uses Google maps to walk the various train tracks in hopes of spotting something familiar that will reconnect him with his past . . . .
There you have it. It’s quite clear immediately that Saroo Brierley is no writer (and if I’m calling it out, you know it must be bad) and the fact that he was only five years old when he became lost meant hardly any details of his story were remembered. This could have been a much more comprehensive tale if it wasn’t so one-dimensional and used contributions from his families (in both Australia and India) as well as the juvenile detention facility and orphanage to help make it feel more complete.
I have a feeling this is one of the rare occasions where the movie will surpass the book. I mean, just look at this child . . . .
I hate kids and I even kind of want to kidnap that one.
Book #9 (????? I’m starting to lose track) on the Library’s Winter Reading Challenge...more
Man was I looking forward to reading this book. In case I haven’t made it really flippin’ crystal clear already, I’m a HUUUUGE fan of all things SNL. While others complain about bad seasons and bad casts, I am a constant defender and only acknowledge bad skits or bad reoccurring characters rather than opting to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I also believe Norm Macdonald is one of comedy’s most untapped resources. His dry delivery and “guy you’d like to have a beer with” approachability have made him a favorite of mine. Not to mention how well he did behind the news desk on the Weekend Update – that is, until jokes about a certain someone got to be too much and he ended up shitcanned . . . .
When it comes to reading books about SNL folks (or comedians in general, for that matter) I expect there to be a lot of funny ha-ha. While there was a blip about how a certain someone came to fruition . . .
And while there is obviously way more material to work with during this current election cycle . . .
There was a notable void in discussion of another pretty memorable candidate . . . .
Or even how the ever rotating casting of this character came to be . . . .
In fact, there was practically nothing mentioned about anything. Instead, Norm’s “biography” read a little like a long, strange acid trip or a road trip similar to another I’ve read about before . . . .
Basically, Norm’s book is nothing but bullshit. He spins yarns of a high-functioning morphine addiction, doing hard time in the joint (as well as butt-rape, natch), and running up a million dollar all-or-nothing marker in Vegas. Out of 200+ pages the only things that seemed to be real rather than “based on a true story” were Norm’s unending appreciation for Adam Sandler’s friendship and all he has done in order to keep enough cash in Norm’s pocket to keep purchasing his Wild Turkey 101 . . .
And a story of “Old Jack,” a hired hand who lived on his family’s farm for ages and one day took an 8 year old Norm to see his pet squirrel . . . .
“He closed the door and the inside of the shed went black. Then I heard the bolt. I forget what happened next.”
Needless to say that little tidbit threw me for a bit of a loop . . . .
I have no idea if this book will work for others. All I can say it is different from any other biography I’ve ever read. ...more
This was my 200th review of the year and the one that completed my 2016 Challenge. Perfect timing is perfect : )
Now, let's get on with the show . . . .
“Do you have any regrets? “Garfield, maybe.”
As the opening lines of this book state . . . .
“Bill Murray has shown up everywhere, from the sideline of the 1986 NFC Championship Game, wearing an old-fashioned leather football helmet, to the Mediterranean island of Yeronisos, volunteering as a digger on a 2006 NYU archeological expedition.”
At this point Murray sightings/random interactions have reached almost Urban Legend proportion. He may photobomb your wedding photos - or if you’re a hipster invite himself to participate in your game of kickball – or even just appear right behind you and grab you in the pu$$y cover your eyes while asking you to “guess who?”
Over the course of the years, Bill has “developed an onscreen persona: the wiseass slacker who gets the girl” . . . .
Along the way he has made nearly the entire world fall in love with him. The Tao of Bill Murray provides a bit of backstory regarding his entire acting repertoire, providing details of how his improvisational skills made for some of the most memorable of moments . . . .
And how his . . . . unconventional approach to work had him miss every practice yet somehow manage to nail a pretty intricate scene . . . .
He is an actor who makes directors like Sophia Coppola say things like . . .
“My wish came true. Bill Murray did my movie.”
And demonstrates that . . . .
“In both comedic and dramatic roles, he brings the ineffable spark of Billness.”
But rather than being some puff piece on Murray’s filmography or a snoozer of a biography, this book focuses on the more important things in life. Like using your best “Carl Spangler” voice to prank call one of you best friends who just so happens to be married to Kelly Lynch of Road House fame . . .
“No matter what time, two in the morning, it’s ‘Patrick Swayze’s fucking your wife right now.’ It was kind of funny, the first dozen or so times.”
For me, as a lifetime lover of Chicago Cubs baseball, the highlights of The Tao of Bill Murray were hands-down the various moments shared regarding Bill’s time at Wrigley Field where he prefers to sit “up among the weird and the damned.” . . . .
Bill’s love of the game shines as he remembers the time he filled in for legendary broadcaster Harry Caray (who was recovering from a stroke) in 1987. As Bill says, “that was the peak of my performing career. That was the peak – what I was born for.” And he shows he has zero shame when telling Amaris Ramirez “I’m going to be in the hospital – I’m very sick. Could you hit two home runs for me today?” He is a fan of epic proportions who is able to cross all boundaries of fandom due to his celebrity status – placing bets with players about whether or not they can steal bases or even showing up in the dugout during the game bearing gifts of beer and chili cheese fries. Most importantly, even though the Cubs haven’t won a series since 1908, Bill reminds us all that this could be our year . . . .
After reading A Man Called Ove last week, I was afraid nothing would compare and I’d be stuck in book hangover mode unless I picked something totally different from what I normally read. I decided to go to the library website incognito in order to not get the typical porny recommendations made “just for me” and get the generally recommended ones instead.
Obviously A Walk In The Woods was a book that appeared on the list and I remembered way back when I was thinking about reading Wild a certain Georgia peach said I should read this instead because at least if I hated it she was almost certain I’d at least get a couple of laughs. And she was correct. Right from the start Bryson declares . . .
I wanted a little of that swagger that comes with being able to gaze at a far horizon through eyes of chipped granite and say with a slow, manly sniff, “Yeah, I’ve shit in the woods.”
I pretty much decided right at that point the author was probably my people. To begin with he described his state of living as “waddlesome sloth,” which is a lifestyle I support 110%. He followed that up with a shopping trip to buy necessities such as “a big knife for killing bears and hillbillies.” And then he sealed the deal by taking his old friend Katz along for the hike . . . .
“Jesus, I smell like Jeffrey Dahmer’s refrigerator.”
In case the above didn’t clue you in, Katz isn’t exactly what you’d call politically correct. You’ve been warned so don’t come crying to me about what a disgusting manbearpig he was. Here’s another tidbit at what my new best friend Katz brings to the table . . . .
Good lord, look at you! What have you been doing? You’re filthy. You haven’t been screwing hogs again, have you, Bryson? . . . They’re not clean animals, you know, no matter how attractive they may look after a month on the trail. And don’t forget we’re not in Tennessee anymore. It’s probably not even legal here – at least without a note from the vet. . . . Come sit down and tell me all about it. So what was here name – Bossy? Did she squeal a lot?
These two were a hoot. A regular Odd Couple taking the reader on a potential life-threatening comedy of errors. From freak snowstorms to uninvited tag-alongs on their journey.
(SIDENOTE: Apparently the role of the uber annoying Mary Ellen is played by none other than the lady who voices this delightful little lady in the movie version . . . .
While Ms. Schaal makes for quite the entertaining cartoon voice I have a feeling I’d want to stab the non-animated version should we ever meet. /ENDSIDENOTE)
To a possible bear attack that had me casting John Candy in the role of Bill Bryson due to this fond memory . . . .
The only reason this gets 4 Stars instead of 5 is due to the fact that . . .
While it’s obvious that Bryson fell in love with The Appalachian Trail on his journey, there is a lot of info dumping that occurs because of this love. The history of national parks/the Army Corps of Engineers/the forestry industry as well a detailed inventory of flora and fauna and random tidbits and “fun” (in a macabre sense of the term) facts regarding different locations along the trail sometimes left my mind wandering.
That being said, A Walk In The Woods is an adventure I won’t soon forget. I didn't know until this weekend that there’s a film version. I hope to check it out soon because . . . .
Nick Nolte was more than a bit too old for the role, but still might end up being the perfect choice for Katz!...more
Per usual when I read a good hardcover, (1) I failed to watch my children play in their baseball games and instead kept my tunnel vision pointed directly at the book and (2) the flagging of the pages happened which made all of the parents around me give me the “that b*&^% be cray” look . . . .
Buuuuuuuuuuuut as also per usual, I’m not really going to quote anything that I post-it noted. After reading Evicted I was left with one reaction . . .
If you really want to provide yourself a justifiable excuse to hate the human race, this is the book for you. Evicted follows the lives of several people living in poverty and trying (or not, as the case may be) to get ahead. From Sharrena – the slumlord, to her tenants Lamar – a man who lost his legs when they froze while he was high, and Arleen – a woman who already lost children to the system, but is trying to hold on to her two youngest, to Tobin – the owner of a trailer park and Lenny – the “property manager” of sorts, to Scott – a former nurse who got addicted to drugs and couldn’t stop the downward spiral, to Larraine – the resident looney tune of the park.
Matthew Desmond immersed himself into the lives of these people – living with them rather than just conducting a few interviews and going back to his comfortable lifestyle. The story he presents is one that reads like a novel rather than non-fiction. Filled with dialogue and experiences rather than statistics it was a truly un-put-down-able read and it allowed me the opportunity to confirm what I’ve known for quite some time now . . .
Every single person in this story was despicable in at least one way, shape or form and made it impossible to ever really feel sorry for them. You want to side with the landlord who is getting screwed over by tenants who don’t pay the rent, but manage to buy dope, smokes and booze – but at the same time you want to kick her ass for charging people to live in uninhabitable conditions (literally, a house she was charging $600+ for was CONDEMNED). You also want to feel for the mother who has $20 left to her name after paying rent – until she opens her mouth and proves she believes she is owed something for doing nothing and takes advantage over and over again of ANY generosity shown to her. You feel for Larraine, because obviously she is in need of some mental health services – until she becomes one of the oldest clichés in the history of the food stamp recipient who spends her entire month’s sum on one lobster and king crab dinner. I could go on and on . . .
The lesson to be learned here is glaringly obvious. The system is broken. It’s been broken since the Five Points were built in the 1800s and it’s not getting any better. Evicted didn’t spend time getting preachy or even offering up more than a couple of suggestions on how to potentially relieve some of the pressure on the impoverished. It just laid everything out there in black and white and that is maybe the most compelling argument of all.
Review copy received from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review....more
This is a hard one to review. If you want to read something that makes sense, do not pass go and just move directly to Dan’s page since he knows how to use his words. As for me and my experience with True Crime Addict, it goes a lil’ summin’ like this . . .
The backstory for the above gif is that back in 2014 I took my friend Trudi’s advice and picked up The Man From Primrose Lane at the library. Then this happened . . .
Fast forward to the Fall of 2015 where I received a private message from James Renner himself asking if I would like to receive an advanced copy of his new release The Great Forgetting. My reaction to said message?????
Renner went two for two with books that blew my cranky ass away. But we allllllllll know the hat trick of readability is an elusive achievement. Especially when the tables are turned and the author decides to leave fiction and go back to his roots of writing about true crime. Good news is, I enjoy an occasional true crime story. Even better news is, Renner is the bomb diggity when it comes to putting pen to paper. True Crime was as much Renner’s life story as it was about the missing young woman Maura Murray. I’m going to spoil things a bit and say it’s a good thing he wove the reasoning behind his addiction to unsolved cases into this one because this remains a cold case so there is no solving the mystery to be had upon turning the final page.
I’m not sure this would work for everyone if you’re not already a Renner fan. That being said, he’s one of very few authors I recommend wholeheartedly, so give one of his other books a chance and you’ll probably end up like me and want to know what makes him tick. Like Dan said, I too will read anything this author writes. Better keep up my A-game so I don’t get passed up for the next ARC . . .
Obviously an advanced copy of this book was provided to me by the author, but it didn’t influence my opinion at all. The only thing that did bother me this whole experience was having someone who I blocked ages ago use a mutual friend to private message me and see if I wanted her to send me a copy of this book. Uhhhhhhhh, yeah person who I don't even want to associate with on the interwebs, let me give you my address. That’s not creepy at all . . .
Know what today is? Iowa Caucus Day. I bet there’s nothing Hillary Clinton would like more than a walk down memory lane back to September 11, 2012 . . .
Just kidding. I don’t talk politics on social media. The great thing about 13 Hours is that IT didn’t talk politics either. Here, allow me to let the book speak for itself . . . .
“It is about what happened on the ground, in the streets, and on the rooftops of Benghazi, when bullets flew, buildings burned and mortars rained. When lives were saved, lost, and forever changed.”
In case you aren’t familiar with the backstory (if you have no idea what this book is about do everyone in the U.S. a favor and refrain from voting in the next election – I don’t really care which way individuals swing, but people who know nothing about pretty in-your-face news events scare the crap out of me) it goes a lil’ something like this: Libya is an itty bitty country in Africa that has a deadly combo of a lot of money and a history of political strife. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens so happened to be in Benghazi on a most historic anniversary – that of September 11th. Residing in a “secret” location called the Compound, Ambassador Stevens was surrounded by State Department staff . . . .
“Not combat Cos, they’re intel collectors. They’re fucking glorified desk jockeys, that’s what they are. They’re smart people, but smart doesn’t outsmart a bullet.”
The muscle? Local militiamen who (in theory) would make sure no harm came to the property or government officials residing there.
Down the road was another compound known as the “Annex” which housed private security personnel consisting of retired members of some of the military’s most elite special forces. When the poo hit the fan and the gates of the main Compound were flooded with dozens of armed men it was those men who risked their lives when the hired help (and pretty much everyone else) failed to save the day . . .
13 Hours was a remarkable story. Told by the people who were actually participating in the events, there’s no political posturing to be found. The style reads more of a “just the facts, ma’am” with the only conclusion being one that at this point in time seems so obvious . . .
“The attacks could have been prevented. That is, if only the State Department had taken appropriate steps to improve security at the Compound in response to numerous warnings during the months prior.”
I haven’t yet watched this movie because . . . well because generally I read my movies. I am intrigued, however, by the casting of Krasinsky of The Office fame in a dramatic action film. Word on the street was he was on the shortlist for Cap'n ‘Murica (which I would have been allllllll over because true to my nature I hate the current choice. Oh Chris Evans, your smarmy face is nearly as punchable as the Affleck and Damon). And while his newest endeavor has brought much joy to my Thursday evenings, I’m ready to see what else he can do . . .
My friend Mauoijenn read this one too, but no matter what I do the new “algorithm” continues to filter her off my feed so I have to cyberstalk her page once a week and play catch up. Will this tag work some magic that somehow brings her back???? If so, which one of you will next disappear???? ...more
If you don’t have a sense of humor, this book is most definitely NOT the choice for you. On the other hand, if you’re like me and are already a little tired of your resident Donald Trump Kool-Aid drinker’s election talk around the water cooler, this is a great selection to have sitting on top of your desk all day, every day. It’s almost as handy as a can of Troll-B-Gone – but not quite. Since The Deleted E-mails of Hillary Clinton flat out states it is a parody in the title, I felt my giffy inspiration could only come from one place. So without further ado . . .
Or a book “review.” Whatever.
Read all about Hillary’s quest for the perfect pantsuit for any occasion . . .
As well as how her staff attempts to get her to unwind. Things like providing her an X-Box and Call of Duty Black Ops . . . .
“I’m sure any game like this is beyond my capabilities. The last game I played with any real concentration was Ms. Pac-Man but I ultimately got frustrated with how she felt a need to wear lipstick and I worried the ghosts didn’t take her seriously.”
Learn about Clinton’s former celebrity crush . . .
“Confession time: I used to have a TOTAL crush on Prince. But I’m over that now. I really am.”
And who make up the other three members of the “Fun Four.” Spoiler alert about one of said members:
(Yes I realize that is NOT a Saturday Night Live gif, but I will use it at each and every opportunity presented until Oprah sends me a cease and desist letter.)
As well as what they do in their spare time . . . .
“I’ll see if Barack can toss me the keys to Camp David for a weekend. It’s a lovely facility – peaceful, quiet, great food, and you can hunt actual human beings with rifles and shoot them dead. Ha! Just kidding. They’re animatronic mannequins that have been built to skitter through the woods. You can really shoot them, though. It’s pretty weird, to be honest with you. Cheney had it put in.”
Be shocked when you find out Hillary was the driving force behind some of television’s finest programs . . .
And has received offers from an equally surprising potential running mate for the next “president picking contest election” . . . .
Meet the most unlikely email superhacker ever . . .
Finally, dive right in to the real meat and potatoes everyone has been curious about. Things like Clinton’s reaction to the death of Gaddafi . . . .
“I’ll tell you one thing about the United States: give us a quarter of a century, we’ll get our man.”
And the most hot-button issue of all. Benghazi . . .
“Even so, I remind you that no one must ever find out the truth. The shocking truth that □□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□ and that the State Department believed tha□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□ between Barack Obama and Condi Rice on a speedboat outsi□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□ Area 51 but by that point, Ed Asner was □□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□ Whitewater AND Lewinsky AND the repeated failure of □□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□□three sorcerers.”
Juicy stuff, right?
Anywho. This was quite the amusing little time waster that would make a great gift for the right-wing zealot in your family. Win or lose, Hillary (and her personal e-mails) are sure to be a topic of conversation for years to come. Unlike this poor guy . . .
None of my friends have read this so I WILL TAKE ALLLLLLLL THE GLORY FOR MYSELF. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
ARC provided by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. ...more
While this book had my curiosity peaked (EDIT: like a peak higher than Mt. Everest, Ron) upon release (I mean who DOESN’T want to know about the Cult of Personality Scientology at this point, right?) I didn’t have plans on reading it. Why, you may ask? Mainly because I had almost convinced myself the story would be nothing but bullshit before even reading the blurb. Leah Remini’s run on a successful television program had come to an end and I thought she was looking for some more dollahs to make her hollah. I also spent the entire run of The King of Queens being told that my husband and myself “are EXACTLY like Carrie and Doug!” WTF? I never watched the show so I finally tuned in after hearing that for the umpteenth time. And guess what? Carrie’s kind of a bitch . . .
STFU Ron 2.0 peanut gallery. Also, what kind of freaks spend their time talking to others about me and my husband???? Not only does that sound like a wicked snoozer of a conversation, but picture this . . .
Only we’re both fat. Ew. And finally, I’m not like Carrie at all ------ but I am pretty much Molly . . .
Anywho, now that THAT backstory is out of the way. I finally gave in to reading this after it was gifted to me. (I’ll give you three guesses to figure out from who.) Of course since both me AND my book fairy are computer illiterate I couldn’t get the damn thing to download and had to end up waiting for a library copy. It really is the thought that counts with me because I’m too stupid to even use gifts that people send me.
So what did I find upon reading this book? Well, to begin with I’m a lot more like Leah Remini than I thought. Right out of the jump she owns that she can be an asshole and that she isn’t one to play the role of shrinking violet. Her whole life her mouth has earned her the label of “troublemaker” and she doesn’t shy away from it . . .
“I hate when people say, ‘Enjoy it,’ when you’re complaining about something. I am enjoying it. But I also enjoy complaining about it. It’s one of my favorite pastimes.”
Okay, maybe I’m EXACTLY like Leah Remini.
I also learned she was pretty much born and bred into Scientology. She wasn’t someone (*cough Will Smith cough*) who joined because “all the cool kids were doing it.” Nope, she joined as a child because her mother signed them up and spent DECADES drinking the special Xenu-mix Kool-Aid flavor. This book really did tell the ins and outs of her experiences with Scientology. From Sea Org to “being on course” to “audits” to . . . .
Because really at the end of the day NO ONE can “Go Clear” without spending a poopton of cash.
Knowing that Tom Cruise has been sue happy in the past and assuming Remini and Cruise didn’t really run in the same circles, I figured Troublemaker would go into ZERO detail about the infamous couch jumper. Imagine my surprise when Leah totally dished about all of her encounters with the tiny weirdo. What kind of things?????
If you’re a fan of celebrity bios this is one of the best I’ve read. Obviously the Scientology portions are the “hook” to get people to buy this one, but I was surprised by how much I liked all of the NON-Scientology bits. Remini sums Scientology up best . . . .
“My problem with Scientology – despite its claims to the contrary, the practice doesn’t help you better the world or even yourself; it only helps you be a better Scientologist.”
Obviously Shelby gave me this book, but Sandra and Jennifer really liked it/wrote great reviews too. Go check them out, spread the love, and maybe even make some new friends : ) ...more
For those of you who know me, you are already aware I’m a mom of boys. (You’re also well aware of the fact that I don’t really write reviews of books, but more just ramble on about whatever I feel like and post a bunch of gifs, so this “review” should be par for the course.) My one experience with football looked a little something like this . . .
Yes. They are doing exactly what it looks like they are doing.
When our youngest was a tiny little pipsqueak he wanted to play football. Baseball season was over and he wanted to be able to see all of his little buddies (we live in a metro area, so our kids don’t usually go to school with their teammates) so we signed him up for peewee flag and ended up on a team that was known for being the best. It didn’t take long to realize that even the non-tackle division was a little cuckoo when it came to being competitive and the boys were encouraged to “lead with their heads” and “let us hear those helmets.” Now, this was before CTE was discovered and senate hearings were held, but as a mom I knew I didn’t like it. If they were expected to crack skulls in Kindergarten, how long would it be before this was the norm???
I wasn’t thinking about brain trauma, though. I mean, that’s what the helmet is for, right? I was thinking neck/spinal injury was likely to occur. Just look at the first picture above - those little fellas looked like bobble heads! Having all that extra weight on their neck was bound to cause whiplash, right?
Turns out neck (or knee or shoulders or back) injuries were quite possibly the last thing anyone should have been worried about and a conversation had already been going on since the early ‘90s about a potential life-altering concern – closed-head injuries. The man who brought it to everyone’s attention???
Iron Mike Webster, the best center in the NFL. A true monster of the midway who spent 15 years as a professional, played in four Super Bowls and eight consecutive Pro Bowls. A man who went from having it all to being someone who forgot to eat, who became lethargic, who peed in an oven and took up residence in a storage closet at Arrowhead Stadium, whose teeth started falling out and attempted to fix them by super glueing them back into his mouth, a man who could only get some sleep by tasering himself into unconsciousness. Iron Mike successfully sued the NFL in 1998 and was the first to win a claim for a football-related brain injury. When Mike Webster died a few years later of a heart attack at the age of 50, it was his brain that pathologist Bennet Omalu was interested in. He wanted to know what made Webster go crazy and suspected an underlying brain disease – and boy did he find one.
Concussion is the story about the discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the fight to make it public knowledge, the massive tort case consisting of nearly 6,000 players suing the NFL for future benefits should they fall victim to the disease, the Senate hearings surrounding Big Tobacco the National Football League and the realization it wasn’t necessarily the big hits that caused the damage, it was the repetitive little hits (that amount to between 20-30 g’s on every play) . . . .
This was a horrifying yet fascinating read that I could not put down once I started. So, why the mediocre rating? Sadly, it’s because Omalu appears to suffer from a severe case of “God complex.” I was interested in the story about concussions and the truth about the potential for my no-longer-peewee-sized (but very much linebacker-sized) son to end up with a debilitating disease should he ever want to play. What I wasn’t interested in was more than a taste of Omalu’s life story and I really wasn’t interested in hearing about his bassackwards views on relationships and family or what seemed to be imagined slights due to his race. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Dr. Omalu has dealt with racism, but I believe him being overlooked in participating in particular discussions/hearings/lawsuits regarding CTE were due more to him being completely unlikeable rather than him being black. Good news is Concussion credited another book (League of Denial) that I hope will be one that gets more of the stars from me.
Many thanks to my friend Elyse for bring this story to my attention.
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!...more
Of all the banned books I’ve read over the years, THIS one might be the one that I really can’t figure out a reason for banning. There have been some selections that my children aren’t quite old enough to read or fully understand, but they are still tiny humans. In a couple of years I’ll gladly let them peruse my bookshelves and read whatever all of the nutters tell them not to. It was thinking of those nutters that left me shaking my head at the choice of banning Persepolis. I mean, there’s no sex, no drugs, no foul language – it’s simply a memoir of a girl who lived through the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Generally when the whackjobs take a break from their cultlike book burnings they are all about sharing anything that points out how horrible the Middle East is. I guess at some point they just decided to go all Oprah with respect to book bans . . . .
I, for one, am absolutely delighted that Banned Books Week led me to discover Persepolis. What a brilliant (and so very important) little book. Marjane Satrapi was able to detail the history of the Revolution and its lasting effects on not only her family but Iran as a whole with humor . . .
a lot of humor . . .
and compassion . . .
and the heartbreak of a nation combined with the reality of her own life . . .
It showed that no matter what might be broadcast on the evening news that people are people and even those of us who are separated by half a world have more similarities than differences. It also tackled how important it is to talk to your children about big issues . . .
and to open their mind even further by using the thing the banners continue to try (but fail) to take away . . . .
My friend Matthew was the first to express his love for Persepolis when he saw it on my “Currently Reading” list and he unleashed his rebellious side and read a banned book this week too. I hope my kids are half as awesome as he is when they grow up. And to any other “kids” out there reading this – just say damn the man . . .
Most of you are probably already familiar with the concept of public shaming. Heck, we see it on Goodreads all the time. The author who chooses to get spammy or games the ratings system with sockpuppets or trolls reviews when someone dares to bash their “special snowflake” is quickly drawn and quartered by users. If you’re an American you were probably even forced to read about public shamings back in high school . . .
(^^^^This version was sooooo much better than the original)
What you may not know is how prevalent public shaming was as a form of punishment back in the olden days. While the practice of slapping a Scarlet A on someone’s clothing went by the wayside hundreds of years ago and public airing of grievances became a practice reserved strictly for Festivus, Al Gore’s invention of the interwebs brought back public shaming in a B.I.G. way.
With today’s handy-dandy technology and the anonymity that the internet provides, the world has become full of Keyboard Commandos . . .
“With social media, we’ve created a stage for constant artificial high drama. Every day a new person emerges as a magnificent hero or a sickening villain. It’s all very sweeping, and not the way we actually are as people. What rush was overpowering us at times like this? What were we getting out of it?”
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a book that covers a handful of “shamings” and the aftershocks the publicly shamed experienced while trying to get their lives back together. It covers everything from plagiarists to stories of those with good intentions gone wrong due to made up facts and studies, but the sections I found most intriguing were those of jokes gone bad. If you have been on the internet more than a nanosecond, you’ve probably seen someone get butthurt. It’s easy to read something the wrong way when tone is absent. Thus was the case with “The Tweet Heard ‘Round the World” . . .
and Lindsay Stone . . .
While it’s obvious that both of the above were cases of using poor taste, both of these women’s lives were ruined leaving the author to note:
“There must have been among [their] public shamers a lot of people who chose to willfully misunderstand it for some reason.”
I agree. I mean, as distasteful as they may have been I think most people “got” both of the jokes, and while I agree it’s up to these individual’s employers to determine whether or not they want to keep these women on their payroll, I have to ask why it’s not okay for someone with less than 200 social media contacts to post something insensitive without getting flamed by millions, while Trey Parker and Matt Stone have made millions doing the same????
(FYI: In case you are Anne live in a cave and are unfamiliar with the program, the correct answer was “NAGGERS.”)
We then flip the script in order to tackle the issue of a shaming which backfired . . .
While Justine Sacco and Lindsay Stone clearly put themselves out on display for judgment, the two gentlemen in the previous photo did not. Not only did Adria Richards take it upon herself to publicly shame the two tech convention attendees when she happened to overhear them making a private “dongle” joke which resulted in them losing their jobs, she also ended up losing hers when she unintentionally publicly shamed herself whenever she opened her mouth . . . .
“Have you ever heard that thing, ‘men are afraid that women will laugh at them and women are afraid that men will kill them’?” she asked.
I told Adria that people might consider that an overblown thing to say. She had, after all, been in the middle of a tech conference with EIGHT HUNDRED bystanders.
“Sure,” Adria responded. “And those people would probably be white and they would probably be male.”
Richards went out of her way time and time again to prove that ALL things male were most definitely not A-Okay with her, which led to something Richards should have really been afraid of – actual threats on her person and a DDoS attack on her company’s servers which resulted in her termination.
And that is where So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed got terrifying. While I believe Richards seriously made a mountain out of a molehill and deserved to be fired for being a public asshat, the nearly immediate response of the internet shamer to threaten a woman shaming victim with some sort of physical harm, up to and including rape, as a form of public degradation while never mentioning the same with respect to a man was nauseating.
The same can be said for the reaction to various sexcapades. A woman who makes a stupid joke (or has a differing opinion on a book) causing her shaming can expect to be called fat or a c*^t or a bad parent or told they should be genitally mutilated, but a public figure who admits to having an affair will most likely be lauded a hero once he buys his wife a fancy vacation to “rebuild their marriage” or helps her get elected as President . . .
If you’re looking for a “smart” book that is easy to read, I highly recommend this one. Many thanks to Sam for bringing it to my attention – and for picking something we can FINALLY agree on. Now if you’d just re-read The Martian and admit that you read it wrong the first time I won’t have to gather the masses and shame you ; ) ...more
“Slump? I ain’t in no slump . . . I just ain’t hitting.”
I get asked quite frequently how I have time to read all of the books I read. The answer is pretty simple. I spend most of my free time doing this . . .
I was raised in the Church of Baseball by a family of loyal Cubs fans. P.S. Watch out world, we’re coming for you . . .
But I digress. In my present life I have the privilege of raising a couple of my own little leaguers. As Yogi Berra would say . . .
“Little league baseball is a good thing ‘cause it keeps the parents off streets and the kids out of the house!”
He ain’t lying. While other parents moan and groan about “how different things were when they were kids” my husband and I don’t have those experiences at all. In fact, we are the ones who still have to force the children to come back inside – neither rain nor snow or sleet nor hail keeps them indoors and as Yogi’s quotes will tell you, baseball teaches some valuable life lessons. Things like:
“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over”
and that . . .
“You can observe a lot by watching”
and . . .
“Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical”
and . . . .
“You can’t think and hit at the same time”
I cleaned out a closet a couple of weeks ago and discovered this little book. There wasn’t room in the organized hoard which is my “entertainment” bookshelf so I tossed this one on the coffee table in case the boys wanted to read it. When I heard Yogi Berra passed away, I immediately went downstairs and grabbed it. Reading Yogi’s quotes was like . . .
“Déjà vu all over again.”
While this book isn’t a real life-changer, I highly recommend it for any baseball superfan in your life - especially if he happens to be a catcher who wears the number 8 . . .
(as always, the part of small child is being played by Mitchell – this time he’s showing off his first over-the-fence homerun ball)
Yogi, thank you for being an example to my children – not only on the field, but especially off it. RIP and don’t forget . . .
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”...more
When I got a bad case of the giggles while picking this up I thought I was just being a dirty old lady with the mentality of a 12-year old. However, it turns out this book is about exactly what I thought it was going to be about. Bottoms is an art book that cuts out the middle man and focuses on the TRUE subject matter that is worthy of appreciation in pieces of art . . .
Obviously I had to buy it . . .
NO! For science. Duh.
Anywho, when I got home my husband was all like: "nice - glad you took the kids with you to buy your pornography." And I was like . . .
"IT WAS FOR CHARITY!"
Because you can totally say that when you purchase your porn art at a thrift store who donates all of their money to children in need....more