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2019 TOB Shortlist Books > The Golden State

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Let's talk about it...


message 2: by Heather (new)

Heather (hlynhart) | 305 comments I finished this yesterday and really loved it. I rated it 5 stars, which was a little inflated I admit, but I just felt the author really nailed the internal monologue of the main character so much, and I liked that the supporting characters seemed like real, flawed individuals.


message 3: by Jan (new)

Jan (janrowell) | 1060 comments Heather wrote: "I finished this yesterday and really loved it. I rated it 5 stars, which was a little inflated I admit, but I just felt the author really nailed the internal monologue of the main character so much..."

Glad you liked this one, Heather. I'm a big fan as well. Kiesling was doing a lot in this book. I thought she nailed the dailiness and anxiety of sleep-deprived early parenting, and I far preferred her exploration of the passport catch 22 to Lisa Halliday's Asymmetry.


message 4: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 778 comments Okay, blond moment. I started listening on Hoopla, and was thinking Well, this is interesting enough, but it doesn't seem like a TOB-type book and also doesn't fit in with the description I read when the long-list came out (although it takes place in San Francisco.)

Turns out I was listening to Golden State. I was excited at first, because it was free audio, and Michelle Richmond and I share(d) an editor at Bantam when she wrote Year of Fog, and she's represented by the agent I'm currently considering signing with. But yeah, it's a completely different book.

Eye-roll at myself. Okay, carry on...


message 5: by Alison (new)

Alison Hardtmann (ridgewaygirl) | 451 comments I really liked this. I think that Kiesling really nailed the love and tedium of caring for a baby, and the weird, dislocated feeling of being in a place where the people around you have a worldview that is characterized by insularity and hostility to difference.

The lack of commas sometimes felt too intrusive. I'd be living in Daphne's thoughts and then, all of a sudden, I'd be aware of the punctuation choices, but that's a minor quibble.


message 6: by Caroline (new)

Caroline   | 150 comments I am listening to this on audio, which seems like a great way to experience a voice-driven book like this.

Not sure that I'd be as compelled by reading it on the page.


message 7: by Caroline (new)

Caroline   | 150 comments This one really snuck up on me in the last few chapters. At some point I went from 'I get what the author is doing but this lady is a little hard to take' to 'I will be bereft if I don't know what happens to these people.'

In that light, I'm fascinated with where the book leaves off, but I don't feel unsatisfied.


message 8: by Gwendolyn (new)

Gwendolyn | 159 comments I’m only half-way through this one, but I already know I love it. The parenting aspects alone make this novel a standout. There are so many moments in here that I feel I’ve lived through myself (my kids are a bit older now, but I can still tap into those panicky feelings of being a mother to a toddler).


message 9: by Sherri (new)

Sherri (sherribark) | 358 comments Elizabeth Arnold wrote: "Okay, blond moment. I started listening on Hoopla, and was thinking Well, this is interesting enough, but it doesn't seem like a TOB-type book and also doesn't fit in with the description I read wh..."

Elizabeth, that made me laugh because I've almost done that many times. BTW, now I need to read one of your books. Very cool!


message 10: by Noa (new)

Noa (nsing) | 18 comments Heather wrote: "I finished this yesterday and really loved it. I rated it 5 stars, which was a little inflated I admit, but I just felt the author really nailed the internal monologue of the main character so much..."

Agreed.....I was at first taken aback with the writing style, but after a while, I didn't really notice the lack of commas.....but just when I felt I was grooving, I'd have to re-read a few sentences, if that makes any sense. Felt the anxiety of her situation, brought me back to the days of being a mother of infant. Really well done.


message 11: by Elizabeth (last edited Jan 08, 2019 11:29AM) (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 778 comments Reading this now, about 20% through, and I really like the narrator's voice. Not much has happened so far, but...I'm enjoying meandering through the pages with her.

The run-ons and lack of commas don't bother me, because I feel like I'm just wandering my way into her unstructured thoughts. (I wonder if Kiesling's future novels will have that same voice, if it's actually the author's voice, or if it was intentional because it reflects the way Daphne's wandering through life, and the way life feels in general with a pre-verbal child.)


message 12: by Mike (new)

Mike | 16 comments The lack of commas made for some bothersome reading at first, but then as I acclimated it began to really help capture and enhance the free-flowing, often amusing thought process and actions of the narrator/mother. My experience with infants being minimal, I read a great deal of this book with a smirk on my face glued to the daily train wreck unfolding. Good stuff.


message 13: by jo (new)

jo | 429 comments So wait, I’m listening to the audiobook, but what is this lack of commas you all talk of? There are literally NO commas? Just periods? What about colons and semicolons?


message 14: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 778 comments jo wrote: "So wait, I’m listening to the audiobook, but what is this lack of commas you all talk of? There are literally NO commas? Just periods? What about colons and semicolons?"

I haven't noticed colons or semicolons...The book has some commas, but I haven't been able to figure out the rhyme or reason for her placing them where she does, but leaving them out elsewhere. It may be she avoids commas when she wants the narration to feel extra rambly, Daphne just spouting thoughts, the way we spout them when speaking to ourselves. An example, this is a sentence I just read:

""I can assume that the University has not gotten wise to my job abandonment and thus that my full monthly salary is forthcoming on the first which after my mandatory retirement contribution taxes healthcare will be $ 3,316 which after daycare and rent leaves $ 516 which is never quite enough for phones and utilities and the food we are all three eating on two different continents and hopefully Engin will get one of his periodic but not totally reliable payments from Tolga et al."

It's actually not as hard to read as it might seem...But I think it might work better in audio.

She also tends to put dialogue from multiple speakers within the same paragraph, which I don't think I've seen before...That does throw me off-balance.


message 15: by jo (last edited Jan 11, 2019 07:45AM) (new)

jo | 429 comments Elizabeth Arnold wrote: "jo wrote: "So wait, I’m listening to the audiobook, but what is this lack of commas you all talk of? There are literally NO commas? Just periods? What about colons and semicolons?"

I haven't notic..."


Thank you elizabeth! The performer's rendition of this in audio is to speed up a little, and not breathe so much, so it gives a sense of the way one thinks about these things, as being precipitous, pressuring, anxiety-producing.

I just read the scene in church and i LOLed!


message 16: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 778 comments I finished this last night, and loved every bit of it. The characters were so real, Daphne and Alice were beautifully nuanced, and there was a perfect mix of humor and pathos. It did a nice job reflecting our current political situation, and the ending was perfect and made me tear up. A 5 star read for me. I'm so excited to see where Kiesling goes in the future.


message 17: by jo (new)

jo | 429 comments Elizabeth Arnold wrote: "I finished this last night, and loved every bit of it. The characters were so real, Daphne and Alice were beautifully nuanced, and there was a perfect mix of humor and pathos. It did a nice job ref..."

i second everything you say. i listened to the audiobook and i went to look at all the books the performers has recorded cuz i'll listen to them all including the ones i know i'll hate. j/k but it was just that good.

also man the writing and the pacing. so great.

(view spoiler)


message 18: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 778 comments jo wrote: "Elizabeth Arnold wrote: "I finished this last night, and loved every bit of it. The characters were so real, Daphne and Alice were beautifully nuanced, and there was a perfect mix of humor and path..."

Glad you liked it! As for the ending (view spoiler)


message 19: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1656 comments Just started listening (so I’m not going to read all the comments lest I learn too much) and I keep bookmarking already... the working mother of a babbling baby SO familiar to me! Excellent narrator so I’m grateful to the main thread that rec’d it on audio!


message 20: by Ruthiella (last edited Jan 16, 2019 01:39PM) (new)

Ruthiella | 340 comments Just finished this last night and I really loved it. Yes, the lack of commas in print meant I had to read those bits more slowly. I was afraid that this was going to be book where "terrible things happen to nice people", but it is not that at all.

It is a first person perspective of someone who is only barely holding it all together but her challenges are all familiar to me in one way or another and in many respects I too (if you could get in my head) often feel as if I am only barely managing to be a functional adult after 30 years of experience as an actual adult.

There was so much going on regarding motherhood, marriage, bureaucracy, language, borders, the U.S. post 911, etc. but I think the author balanced it all perfectly for me.


message 21: by jo (new)

jo | 429 comments Amy wrote: "Just started listening (so I’m not going to read all the comments lest I learn too much) and I keep bookmarking already... the working mother of a babbling baby SO familiar to me! Excellent narrato..."

isn't the narrator phenomenal? too bed all the other books she has recorded are stuff i don't care about.


message 22: by Jennifer (aka EM) (last edited Jan 27, 2019 07:27AM) (new)

Jennifer (aka EM) | 24 comments hi all! I just finished this mere hours ago and I was blown away. Like Caroline, I found the ending gob-smackingly good.

Like Caroline, Amy and jo, I feel I enjoyed this probably much more because of the audio, and the reader - phenomenal.

Also jo, I totally agree with the conclusion under your spoiler tag. Lots of foreshadowing to support it too.

I am struck, right now, about the aptness of the title. It seems to me the political angles framed by Engin's green card debacle at the front and the secessionists at the back suggest a struggle with statehood in the nationalistic sense. Then, there is the idea of being in different kinds of inter/intrapersonal states - state of anxiety, state of grief, state of despair. Motherhood itself is a state. Marriage is a state. Loneliness and boredom are both states. All of these things are explored so well here.

Loved this book so much ... hope it goes far in the tourney.


message 23: by Tristan (new)

Tristan | 104 comments I don't have children and typically dislike books about parenthood. This book has stayed with me though. I felt I got inside the head of the mother so well that I gained an appreciation of the difficulties of parenthood.

This book was also helped by being paired against Census. Next to the pile of garbage, The Golden State was perfection.


message 24: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Greene (dakimel) | 236 comments I really liked this too - and am glad I got to listen to the audio, since Amanda Dolan did an excellent job with the push-pull of rushing forward to keep up with Honey while fighting the torpor of unoccupied summer days in Alta Vista.

I agree w y'all about the ending, and love what Jennifer (aka EM) had to say about statehood - and further, the idea of 'golden' statehood, some kind of ideal inhabitation of motherhood, relationship, work, country, connection to past, etc. All of those things are so elusive, and it's so easy to internalize the difficulties of achieving those states.


message 25: by Meg (new)

Meg (gemgt) | 9 comments I have 3 kids who are 5, 2,and 9 months, and this book was uncomfortably spot on with parenting young children. I haven’t read anything else that hit this stage of life in this time period so perfectly. Tbh, it almost made me want to put it down because I live so many of her thoughts and parenting day in and out. And also, she seemed like somewhat of a train wreck, which made me see myself as a train wreck, but really it’s all parents of young toddlers that are train wrecks. She constantly felt on the edge and I think that’s just this time in life (please someone with older kids say it gets better haha).

I can’t say I enjoyed reading the book but it resonated with me and will stick with me and I think is a superb book.


message 26: by Janet (new)

Janet (justjanet) | 635 comments Meg wrote: "(please someone with older kids say it gets better haha).
"

It gets better, much better....mine are 33 and 30 and I feel blessed every day. They are actually a help now and I'm so very proud of them. Hang in there....you will always worry about them but eventually the tables turn and you need them more than they need you....the circle of life.


message 27: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 778 comments Mine is 8, almost 9, and it's not better yet, ha.

And I loved everything about this book. It didn't even bring back the difficulty of early parenthood so much as the joys of having a little one continuously attached to me. It made me homesick.


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