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I'm having a little trouble lately reading books to completion. I think this is related to my sudden acquisition of a lot of new books (holiday giftsI'm having a little trouble lately reading books to completion. I think this is related to my sudden acquisition of a lot of new books (holiday gifts and the like). It's making me feel tugged in too many directions and hopeless about finishing anything. Yet again, obligation has rushed in to save me from myself. This slim volume was our book club's pick for our upcoming January meeting, so I had to dig in and read it. I am not familiar with Lore Segal, but after reading this, I do feel that I might read some of her earlier work.
Shakespeare's Kitchen is a hybrid between a short story collection and a novel. The cast of characters and common settings recur throughout each story, and many of the stories focus on a love triangle among the three main characters: Ilka and Eliza and Leslie Shakespeare. A loose narrative thread binds the stories together.
Segal's third person narration has a gentle touch and seems to really love the characters even when they are engaged in unlovable acts. Despite the tone of the narration, there were times where I just could not like certain characters. Eliza, for example, kept coming across as an unpleasant bitch, and I could not think of her as anything but, even though the gentle narrator assured me that Ilka loved Eliza.
Several of the stories have an element of the bizarre, but it is so cleverly written that it doesn't seem bizarre at all until you give it some thought. I'm specifically thinking of the "reverse bug" with the screaming and the crime wave.
As I was reading, what struck me the most is that this is very much a book about adults. So much of what is popular literary fiction (or so much of what I read) is focused on children or young adults or youth or precocity or coming of age. Segal's characters are firmly ensconced in middle age, and though some of the characters do have children, their parenthood is never their main attribute. I, for one, enjoyed the change of pace, and it wasn't until I read this book that I recognized that I needed it....more
I think I may have given this book five stars if I had been able to sit down and read it in a couple sittings. Since I had to keep putting aside to doI think I may have given this book five stars if I had been able to sit down and read it in a couple sittings. Since I had to keep putting aside to do life-things, I kept forgetting some of the finer points of the plot. Plus, because I don't know much Spanish, I sometimes felt like I was missing out. I mean, there isn't so much Spanish that you can't follow the book, but a sentence here or there and words mixed in made me feel like maybe I was missing something significant. Overall, the book definitely deserves the four stars: I loved the changing narrators. I probably preferred the sections in Yunior's voice, but each narrator was distinct and brought something new about the book. I also appreciated the footnotes about the Dominican references. Otherwise, I would have breezed right past them without knowing what they were talking about. ...more
Really great, funny debut novel. Fun mashup of child-genius-comes-of-age (my favorite genre!) and mystery/suspense/thriller. The protagonist's voice iReally great, funny debut novel. Fun mashup of child-genius-comes-of-age (my favorite genre!) and mystery/suspense/thriller. The protagonist's voice is as smart as I wish I had been at her age....more
This book makes you never want to eat again, unless the food is from a grass farm.
I knew the outline of the book from its many reviews. The first partThis book makes you never want to eat again, unless the food is from a grass farm.
I knew the outline of the book from its many reviews. The first part about corn is a real slog, and I thought i wasn't going to be able to finish. Luckily, Pollan allows the book to get a bit more personal as it goes on, and I loved his discussion of Supermarket Pastoral. I'm just starting to catch myself being taken in by words on food packaging that I know don't mean anything: all-natural, green, healthy, etc.
Also liked how Pollan said that to eat in our industrial food system takes something like "a near-heroic act of forgetting." I can vouch for this, having read a great deal of this book in the car and then stopping to eat McDonald's....more
I did read "The Littlest Hitler" in an anthology, and I can't wait to read the rest of this collection! *** I started reading the rest of the stories tI did read "The Littlest Hitler" in an anthology, and I can't wait to read the rest of this collection! *** I started reading the rest of the stories this morning, and I loved the story "Bee Beard." I'm on a constant search for good literature about the world of work, specifically the cubicle-inhabiting, mouse-clicking kind of work that so many of us spend the bulk of our lives doing. "Bee Beard" was a good example. Plus, I am afraid of bees, so the whole story was very freaky. *** Finished this up today, and I was genuinely impressed with this collection. The only low point for me was the short-short "Absolut Boudinot." It wasn't funny/scathing enough to justify its inclusion. I felt that maybe the publisher was pushing the author to include a certain number of pieces, so he just threw that in.
Other than that brief disappointment, I loved this collection so much that I'm upgrading my rating to 5 stars! The narrative voices were varied; each story felt distinct from the others. Some of them had a little po-mo gimmickry, which I enjoy....more
Most of the text is printed Ani lyrics, so there is little new material for the long-time Ani Difranco listener. With all the artwork inside, this booMost of the text is printed Ani lyrics, so there is little new material for the long-time Ani Difranco listener. With all the artwork inside, this book is more of an art object, a different way of looking at Ani's writing. The book is very well made, and the pages are nice paper; it's pleasing to touch and hold. A must for completists!...more
I enjoyed this book a lot. Quick read; managed to finish it in one day, interspersed with a full workday and a 3 hour linguisitics class. The narrativI enjoyed this book a lot. Quick read; managed to finish it in one day, interspersed with a full workday and a 3 hour linguisitics class. The narrative voice of Jeliza-Rose drew me in right away, and in my ling class, something was said about "the language of metaphor" that seemed very applicable to the book and specifically Jeliza-Rose's narration. Now I can't quite articulate it. Basically, J-R uses "A is B" metaphors signifying her childlike acceptance of the metaphorical paradox. The narrative arc of the book is her loss of the language of metaphor. Make sense? I didn't think so.
Anyway, I liked the Barbie heads, just the right touch of humor for what is, when you consider it head-on, a horrifying situation. Disembodied Barbie heads crack me up!...more