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The Animators
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2018 TOB Shortlist Books > The Animators

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message 1: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy (asawatzky) | 1655 comments so let's talk about it....


Kristin-Leigh (okrysmastree) | 58 comments The Animators charmed me so much! Based on the back cover blurb and the first chapter I was ready to roll my eyes - I'm SO TIRED of "New York Stories," especially ones about naive college kids from flyover states. I was stunned when the novel timejumped and then introduced its core crises.

This book is probably the most "written for me" of the shortlist - I'm such a sucker for quirky-yet-fully-realized characters and strong female friendships.

I doubt The Animators will win, but I can't wait to see the writeups and comments it gets!


Drew (drewlynn) | 416 comments I had to force myself to keep going until about halfway then it really picked up for me.


Dianah (fig2) | 255 comments I love books about messy friendships, so I was all over this one.


Ruthiella | 340 comments I was not as enamored of The Animators as other readers but the plot is a doozy and I read mostly for plot so I was carried along just fine to the end. And I think this book has real heart and emotion. It actually reminded me of a romance novel (not that I have read too many...not my favorite genre) in part, its highs and lows.

I think this book does have the ability to go far in the tournament if the judge(s) falls for the real love story in this book which is the friendship between Mel and Sharon.

What most impressed me personally about this book was its depiction of the films. Often I have trouble with visual art in as represented in novels since I can't actually "see" it. But I so want to see Nashville Combat if it really existed and I think Whitaker did a great job bringing the animated art to life in the text.


Peggy | 168 comments I really enjoyed this book for the depiction of the way female friendships can be a complex mix of love, jealousy, resentment, and forgiveness. I also liked its commentary on storytelling--who "owns" our stories/memories. Sharon mines a pivotal traumatic moment from her life, but it wasn't just hers and she--arguably perhaps--betrayed someone she professed to love to do so. Didn't even have the stones to tell him beforehand. I hope the judge(s) really digs into this aspect of the novel as it meant a lot to me.


Ruthiella | 340 comments Peggy wrote: "I really enjoyed this book for the depiction of the way female friendships can be a complex mix of love, jealousy, resentment, and forgiveness. I also liked its commentary on storytelling--who "own..."

Totally agree that the book is in large part about where that line is in mining one's personal life for one's art which is fascinating. This is also touched on with Mel and her depiction of her mother in the first film.


Mikey B. Overall I enjoyed this book - and also reading the various comments and reactions to it.

I liked the dilemma of using intimate aspects of someone's life (Teddy) to make a story, in this case a film. It is a good representation that fiction does not come out of nowhere. Much fiction is based on people's lives. And that's what Mel and Sharon did.
I read a biography some years back of Somerset Maugham the novelist. He went on a long journey to Asia in the early 1900's and met with many British colonials. He listened to the stories they told - and then made novels and many short stories out of these tales. When he returned back some years later his reception among these same colonials was somewhat different (frigid). They had now read Maugham's stories and how he had processed their conversations as a novelist.

I don't feel that the dilemma of using Ted as a character in their second feature, Irrefutable Love, was resolved. And maybe it cannot be.

So this was a strong theme in "The Animators" which is what made it good story.

But I did get tired of the endless smoking of cigarettes and weed. I almost felt I was getting an advertisement for cigarette companies!


Amanda (tnbooklover) | 1 comments This was one of my favorite reads of 2017 and I’m so happy it made the short list. I loved the characters and their relationships.


Kristina (kristina3880) | 35 comments One of my favorites. This one stuck with me for awhile. The author made me care for these characters like they were my friends. So glad it made the list.


Katie (katalia) | 8 comments I loved this book. I loved in NYC for 7 years in my late 20s, so books about people in the city in that life stage have a special place in my heart. These characters were so well written and Whitaker did such a great job with the nuances of female friendship. I felt so invested in the story and had a few good ugly cries in there. I hope it does well in the tournament.


Rosie Morley (rosiemorley) | 40 comments Mikey B. wrote: "But I did get tired of the endless smoking of cigarettes and weed. I almost felt I was getting an advertisement for cigarette companies!"

I felt the same way.

I've also just finished Conversations with Friends, which was on the longlist (and really enjoyed it). I thought it was strikingly similar to the Animators in lots of ways, particularly the central friendship. It also had lots of characters who smoked.


message 13: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa (lisapeet) | 6 comments Of all the novels I read last year, this is the one I recommend to friends the most, I think. It's got a lot going for it—good writing and dialog, great female friendship dynamic, and a lot of thinking about and depiction of the art-making process, which I always like in a book (as a former art major who considered becoming an animator at one point).


message 14: by Janet (last edited Jan 07, 2018 07:54AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Janet (justjanet) | 634 comments I just finished this so it's fresh in mind. The "betrayal" of Teddy is one of the more interesting issues in this book, although it sounds like near the end when Sharon tells details of the movie, it really wasn't very much of a betrayal. I think it was Sharon's mother who said of the depiction "oh, was that Teddy?". Sharon also used her other family members in Irrefutable Love. We all know that authors do this, mine their friends, family and acquaintances for characters and stories. Do we take the time to figure out who it was? I kind of feel like it's much ado about nothing but I'll leave that to the TOB to sort out.

I just wrote a review so rather than rewrite, I'll just leave my link here....https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Bryn (Plus Others) (brynplusplus) | 94 comments I just finished this one! I liked it, but it didn't wow me -- a solid four stars, I think, as a good realistic novel with excellent characters but nothing that blew my socks off.


message 16: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa (lisgitt) | 88 comments I loved this book; it was one of the best books that I read last year. I didn't think twice about giving it my zombie vote.


message 17: by Adam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Adam (adamstephenhall) I wish I had read this one before I cast my zombie. I’m only four books into my ToB journey and this is a strong contender to win my personal bracket.


Melanie Greene (dakimel) | 236 comments Be like me, Adam, and vote for it with your laptop even though you've already voted for Goodbye, Vitamin with your mobile.

I finished it today & found it terrific. (I was dragging my feet about reading, so I could linger, and I'm normally not much of a lingerer. But I will say that the final section, Sharon after [final Big Event, are we spoiling things here in these threads?], didn't grip me as tightly as what came before. Mainly because I figured she'd get where she got in the end, and there wasn't nearly as much tension around that as there was about how Mel's meltdowns during the press tour would affect them, or Sharon's recovery journey, or all the Teddy stuff and Mom/Sharla stuff would go.

I loved the use of color in this. I did a search for 'purple' at the end and screen shot all the instances, because they all just hit me as so... full and lush and overflowing and electric and intent.

And I really was immersed in the physical reality of Sharon - my lungs feel poisoned by all the smoking she did. My hands were cramped. I woke up surprised I hadn't lost a ton of weight from the hospital stay. That close an inhabitation by a character is, while not at all comfortable, rare and impressive.


message 19: by Bob (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob Lopez | 360 comments About 5 hours in, the book took a dramatic turn in terms of my estimation. I was all "Hurumph!" and "Bah!" and rolling my eyes because I thought it was gonna "I'm so glad I escaped my hick roots." Even the audiobook narrator's accent went in and out (the vocal fry stayed, though), but it became so much more. It was about illness and recovery and friendship, and art and working hard. I'm about a fifth from the end, but I know it's a strong contender.


message 20: by Adam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Adam (adamstephenhall) I'll echo Melanie and say that the characters just felt so real to me. It's been a while since I've finished a book and found myself missing the characters now that they're gone. So well realized.


Katie | 127 comments I didn't have this book on any of my 2017 TBR radars but it's the first I ticked off my TOB list because my library had it digitally. I'm so glad I read it! I'm not sure it's a sure fire TOB winner but it was such a great depiction of friendship and love. Female friendship and love. I am not an artist - far far from it - and their work/scene is nothing I'd relate to yet their friendship and the story of their struggles felt so relatable. It's a book I'm glad I read, as always happens with TOB for me.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

I am having such a hard time forcing myself through this book. If not for all the positive comments in this thread, I would DNF it. Maybe its greatness will reveal itself on the next page, or the next chapter...


message 23: by Ryan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ryan Fields | 77 comments I just finished this yesterday and was pleasantly surprised. I knew very little about it coming in and the cover had the feel of generic lit fic, so I wasn’t really excited about it. However, it sucked me in and one night I read 90 pages after 9:30 (and I’m usually asleep by 10ish- no shame). Also, this book does something I really like in art-related books: it makes me want to see the finished product (in this case the two animated features).


Bryn (Plus Others) (brynplusplus) | 94 comments Tina wrote: "I am having such a hard time forcing myself through this book. If not for all the positive comments in this thread, I would DNF it. Maybe its greatness will reveal itself on the next page, or the n..."

There was a point in which it picked up momentum for me and I started wondering what was happening next, but it took a while to get there.


Myrna I think because I identified more with Mel than Sharon, the conclusion of the book left me frustrated. There is a lot to say about co-dependent female friendship from a queer woman's perspective which was left unexplored with Sharon as the narrator.


Heather (hlynhart) | 305 comments The thing that I appreciated the most about this book (and it's been a full year since I read it) is that I recall feeling like it totally nailed the way me and my artsy, unconventional, probably-thought-we-were-cooler-than-we-were friends talked to each other in our twenties. The dialogue. I'm a big sucker for an author who can get dialogue right.


Beverly Myrna wrote: "I think because I identified more with Mel than Sharon, the conclusion of the book left me frustrated. There is a lot to say about co-dependent female friendship from a queer woman's perspective wh..."

As an artist I identified with Sharon, especially with her insecurity. She thinks Mel is a better artist. There is always someone you think is better than you. So seeing Mel through Sharon's point of view gave me an idealized, incomplete view of this character. I understand why you thought the novel lacking in this regard. To me that was a weakness of this book.


message 28: by Jenny (Reading Envy) (last edited Jan 21, 2018 05:46PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 602 comments I'm about 100 pages from the end and may I just confess that I spent the better part of a half hour looking up my favorite boy friends from my early childhood to see what they were up to?

Heh. Book inspires reality.


Janet (justjanet) | 634 comments Jenny (Reading Envy) wrote: "I'm about 100 pages from the end and may I just confess that I spent the better part of a half hour looking up my favorite boy friends from my early childhood to see what they were up to?

Heh. Boo..."


Pffft! Did you find anything interesting? I did that once and found out my first love had died....it felt weird.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 602 comments Janet wrote: "Jenny (Reading Envy) wrote: "I'm about 100 pages from the end and may I just confess that I spent the better part of a half hour looking up my favorite boy friends from my early childhood to see wh..."
I looked at two - one who invited me to his 6 year old birthday party where I was the only girl (we rode the bus together), and one who used to spend recess kissing my knees after I went down the slide. Both appear to be married, fairly recently, and to have mini versions of themselves. Awwwww. Both still live in the town/county where we grew up, while I have moved across the country.


message 31: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin Glover (erinxglover) | 101 comments Jenny (Reading Envy) wrote: "Janet wrote: "Jenny (Reading Envy) wrote: "I'm about 100 pages from the end and may I just confess that I spent the better part of a half hour looking up my favorite boy friends from my early child..."

Jenny and Janet, I had no such compulsion. You two crack me up.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 602 comments I finished this book late Sunday night, even stayed up late to finish it, which means I liked it. I still only gave it four stars, feeling a bit feisty compared too all the five-star ratings from my friends. I mean, so much of it is very strong. The descriptions of the creative process and the animated films themselves are surely five stars. The discomfort between family members in Kentucky, also I would give five stars. But I feel like the author felt she needed more heightened elements like the Teddy history story line or the trajectory Mel's life takes.... I guess I'm here to say that with compelling characters and writing, I don't need things to scream I'M SO EXTREME for me to care and feel invested. In fact when these other elements are so good, I almost feel insulted when it goes there. It's like fashion, a little bit of editing in the sense of removing an accessory, would have really taken this to a five star read for me.

And if anyone out there still watches Big Brother (guilty), every time I think EXTREME I think:



Jessica (jessicaxmaria) | 27 comments I loved the audiobook for this and quickly fell in love with Whitaker's dialogue and scene-setting. Loved reading a story about female friendship based on creative collaboration. I'm rooting for this one!


Janet (justjanet) | 634 comments I'm distressed because it's going up against Exit West.


Jessica (jessicaxmaria) | 27 comments Janet wrote: "I'm distressed because it's going up against Exit West."

Me too. I'm hoping if it gets defeated it will come back as a zombie...


message 36: by Jan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jan (janrowell) | 1058 comments Janet wrote: "I'm distressed because it's going up against Exit West."

Me too, Janet!!


Lauren (laurcoh) | 33 comments Janet wrote: "I'm distressed because it's going up against Exit West."

Same!!!


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 602 comments I was thinking about this book in the shower this morning, and realized this is the book I read after White Tears. Isn't it interesting how both have two same-gendered friends, creating stuff together, while White Tears becomes a complex topical exploration novel with horror elements and this just continues to be what it is about.


Gwendolyn | 159 comments I listened to this as an audiobook, and it was a great performance. The audiobook narrator played the characterization so perfectly that I felt like I knew these women. As others have mentioned, I also enjoyed the parts of the book describing the women's artistic collaboration and creation. I'm not sure I would've liked this one as much in print (all the smoking, drinking, drugs, and other self-destructive behaviors probably would've felt tedious), but I'd definitely recommend it in the audiobook format.


message 40: by Gaby (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gaby | 29 comments Hallelujah! My faith in TOB is restored. This is my 10th book that I’ve read on the short list and have not been wowed by any of them. I really like to be emotionally moved by books and The Animators certainly did that for me. This book is chock full of great characters large and small, and a great plot to go with it, all the way to the end. I just have White Tears to go. I decided not to read the last 5 or 6 books until after the tournament if anything looks interesting at that time.


Bretnie | 441 comments Ooooohhheeee this book. I loved it. The characters, the tough parts, the art world, the self-exploration, how it never went the way I expected. It got to me. I feel like it's one of those books where when you're done I'm not ready to leave the characters.

I was mixed about how things were left so unfinished with Teddy - was hoping for more resolution, but also happy it didn't tie things up in a pretty predictable bow. I liked how the characters weren't blameless. How you could see both sides when people were arguing. Even Sharon's mom in the end.

Excellent as an audiobook also!


message 42: by Eric (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eric | 90 comments I'm 80 pages in and getting a little bored with Mel's bad behavior. Some funny swearing, though. I think I'm going to use "suckle my balls". The "-le" suffix gives it extra dimension.


David | 10 comments Just finished this one. Liked (sometimes a lot) but definitely didn't love. I didn't love "Exit West", either, but my money's on that one advancing. This one's so popular it could Zombie back. That wouldn't be a bad thing, but fans will likely have to watch it die twice.


message 44: by Gail (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gail (gailparis) | 20 comments I'm at 66 pages and ehh- its okay I'm liking not loving it -I'm waiting for Mel to really do something horrible and for the story to take off from their break-up...


Nadine (nadinekc) | 544 comments Eric wrote: "I'm 80 pages in and getting a little bored with Mel's bad behavior. Some funny swearing, though. I think I'm going to use "suckle my balls". The "-le" suffix gives it extra dimension."

That's what makes it literary fiction!


Nadine (nadinekc) | 544 comments Gail wrote: "I'm at 66 pages and ehh- its okay I'm liking not loving it -I'm waiting for Mel to really do something horrible and for the story to take off from their break-up..."

I wasn't hooked early on either, but I'm glad I listened to readers who pushed me to keep going. If Mel is your sticking factor, the further you go the less Mel and the more Sharon you get. It's one of those books that I'm liking a whole lot more as I think back on it.

My IRL book group talked about it last night, and I noticed that people in their 40's especially adored it.... I guess it hits their nostalgia era....


message 47: by Eric (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eric | 90 comments This book illustrates the problem with the rule of giving a book 50 pages before you decide whether you're going to finish it. With this one, it takes over 100 pages to find out what the book is about -- that being the exploration of Sharon's childhood horror story.

I'm on page 150. And I'm caught up in it. But if I had stopped after 50 pages, I never would have known how invested I would become.


Janet (justjanet) | 634 comments Yes, there is Sharon's pivotal moment and that is where the book starts to take off.


message 49: by Eric (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eric | 90 comments "You puttin' on your eatin' dress, Mamaw?"

LOL

Kayla Rae Whitaker is a hoot. I hope she comes to a Booktopia someday.


Janet (justjanet) | 634 comments Eric wrote: ""You puttin' on your eatin' dress, Mamaw?"

LOL

Kayla Rae Whitaker is a hoot. I hope she comes to a Booktopia someday."


I listened to the audio and sometimes the narrator said Louisville wrong....I can't tell you how much that annoyed me.


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