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JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
please post here about novels you have read recently. This is not for our end-of-the-month list


JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
I just finished Christopher Buckley's Supreme Courtship

This book was so clever and such a great political satire. If this is not Buckley's best, then I am in for some treats because I just "found" this author.....how could it have taken me so long to find out about him? I have two more of his books on reserve.

I found myself chuckling as I read. Buckley's wit and staccato writing style were amazingly effective. The almost over-the-top characters were finely drawn. And his "snarkiness" level was perfect!

No one was immune as far as this author was concerned....all branches of government, the media, reality TV, and our mostly uninformed electorate.


Donna in Southern Maryland (cedarville922) | 133 comments Mod
JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "I just finished Christopher Buckley's Supreme Courtship

This book was so clever and such a great political satire. If this is not Buckley's best, then I am in for some treats becaus..."


Glad you enjoyed it JoAnn. I have heard good things about this book and this author.

Donna


message 4: by madrano (new)

madrano | 444 comments Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley was a great book, as well. His humor almost makes up for all the ire his dad brought out in me. ;-) Best of all, as you noted JoAnn, he spares no one in pointing out the amusing aspects of their stances.

deborah


message 5: by Reeves (new)

Reeves Honey | 142 comments I guess because my mom and her sisters were sent to a Catholic girl's boarding school when their mom died,I was curious to read Gail Godwin's novel about this called Unfinished Desires. I just scored that at the library along with La's Orchestra Saves The World a stand alone by Alexander McCall Smith.
In the Gail Godwin book they mention a hilarious quote from Cary Grant in Arsnic and Old Lace..."insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops!"


JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
I just finished a good thriller, House Rules by Mike Lawson. Here is the review I just posted at GoodReads:

Joe DeMarco is a trouble shooter for the House Speaker, John Mahoney, a wheeler-dealer who has his hand on the pulse of everything in DC and seems to like to stir the proverbial pot.

This thriller focuses on a suspected conspiracy to cast Muslim Americans in a bad light so as to get a bill passed that would restrict their rights.

DeMarco, Mahoney, and a varied cast of clever characters slowly unravel the conspiracy, despite lots of dead ends and many of their efforts being thwarted. The character development was good, as was the plotting, and it kept me guessing all along with all of its twists and turns.

I liked Lawson's apparent insider's look at the political process and his skepticism about Washington, which I share.

Despite all the complexities in the book, I felt that some solutions were just a little too "pat" and convenient. Otherwise, I would have given it 5 stars.

This was #3 in a series featuring Joe DeMarco and I picked up #1 at the library today. Looking forward to reading it!


message 7: by Cryleo (new)

Cryleo | 45 comments Rosie by Alan Titchmarsh
Rosie by Alan Titchmarsh

Cute - is my summation of the whole book especially of its main character Rosie. I hope I will grow old as gracefully as Rosie. But most importantly the book taught me to live life to the fullest, NOW. Not tomorrow, not when ... and not what ifs ... but now irregardless of what your current age is.


JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Last night I finished one book and immediately started reading another....and finished it too!!! The second book was

The Children's Blizzard

I read this in just few hours.....but must admit to skimming much of the meteorologic information and the drama about the forecasters. Like Isaac's Storm, I just felt that there was too much info on these topics.

But the rest of the book - the tales of struggle, death, and survival - gripped me and forced me to read every sad word. Laskin's compelling writing just pulled me into this tragic story. Do these storms still occur or has forecasting gotten so good that we do not hear of loss of life like this?

I was also reminded of some of the Little House on the Prairie books that I read as a child...not that they ever encountered anything this bad.

I could not help be reminded of David McCullough's The Johnstown Flood which I also finished in just hours. Both of these books made its tragedy so personal. Unbearably sad stories, indeed.


message 9: by madrano (new)

madrano | 444 comments I'm appreciating all the comments about books folks are reading. It's good to learn what pleases & displeases. Leo, i particularly like that you mention how the book impressed your personal life--LIVE!

JoAnn, i really liked The Children's Blizzard too. Because i know so little about weather factors, i didn't dare skim the meteorologic info. It fascinated me, particularly learning how the storm "grew". I felt the same with Isaac's Storm but i think i'm a bit more of a weather freak for the "how"s than i realized!

Today forecasting seems to eliminate surprise storms like the one mentioned in the book. (In fact, i think for both books above, this is one of the things they hope we'll come to appreciate--and i DO!) What cannot be foretold sometimes is the intensity. I suspect this is why we get warnings that often seem more intense than the ensuing storm.

Another factor is that people are often more prepared for emergencies than back then. For instance, i knew few people in the Dakotas who don't carry in their cars some food, blankets & first aid kits, lest they become stranded in a storm. In Texas, Maryland & Oregon, i met few people who had such things at hand. I recall in the last year or two reading on instances where cell phones are now becoming a lifeline for such storms, too. You may be off the road but you are able to reach someone for assistance.

I think at the time Little House was covering & even TCB, settlers were still learning how dangerous & unexpected such storms were. And they'd had earlier ones which they'd survived but it was the timing which caught them offguard in this case. We've come a long, long way as far as these storms go. Hurricanes? Not so much.

deborah


message 10: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Nice to "meet" you, Justin, and hope you stop in often. Many of us here loved Olive Kitteridge...I thought it was such a special book. I also like Munro's stories, although I have not read many of them, just a few.

I see that you are from Baltimore. Do you still live there? I just came home from the library with Baltimore Noir, edited by Laura Lippman.....stories that take place in "Charm City". My daughter lives there, and I like to read fiction set in places I know....


message 11: by Catamorandi (new)

Catamorandi (wwwgoodreadscomprofilerandi) | 28 comments After spending one month reading a book I didn't get half-way through with, I gave up on Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. It was flat and boring. I wasn't liking any of the characters much either.


message 12: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) Welcome, Justine !

I read Olive Kitteridge last summer. I mostly read a lot of non fiction, but I was really pleasantly surprised that the book met all the hype. I gave it a 4+ rating out of 5.


message 13: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Catamorandi wrote: "After spending one month reading a book I didn't get half-way through with, I gave up on Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. It was flat and boring. I wasn't liking any of the characters much..."

me ether. I am not much for reading books where the characters are often drunk.


message 14: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
re: Alice Adams....Justin, I have just never been able to enjoy her books and I am not sure why.

I was in Philadelphia the other day...the Main Line...and now I see why people who live there take the train into Center City. EGADS, the traffic is awful.


message 15: by madrano (new)

madrano | 444 comments Justin wrote: "I think you'd love Alice Adams. ..."

First of all, welcome Justin.

When i saw the above comment in your post, i thought you meant the book by Booth Tarkington, which is an uncomfortable pleasure to read. I was tickled that it is still read. Reading on i realized you were discussing an author whose name i don't recognize. LOL!

deborah


message 16: by Reeves (new)

Reeves Honey | 142 comments Welcome,Justin. I really liked Olive Kitteridge also.
I grew up in Philadelphia the first 10 years of my life in the U.Of P. neighborhood. Now I live in suburban NJ,Haddon area.


Carolyn (in SC) C234D | 123 comments Justin wrote: "Thanks, Deborah and R. Nice to "meet" both of you, too. Deborah, I'm glad you realized I wasn't talking about the Booth Tarkington novel -- definitely not like Olive Kitteridge! And R, it's alwa..."

Hi Justin, welcome. I appear here once in a while. I loved Olive Kitteridge, thought it was very well done in an interesting format. Read The Glass Castle a year or two ago with our local book group, and found it fascinating. How well she turned out with two screw-up parents.


message 18: by Sarah (last edited Mar 11, 2010 07:39PM) (new)

Sarah (sarahreader) I was fascinated by The Glass Castle, and very impressed with Jeanette Walls' ability to respect her parents despite their dysfunction. Everyone who reads it is outraged on her behalf, but she doesn't seem to share that feeling.

A few weeks ago I read her next book, Half Broke Horses, which is constructed as a first-person "memoir" by her grandmother (her mother's mother), who was also a true original character and a forceful personality. She was a rancher in Texas, a schoolteacher in one-room schools, learned to fly airplanes, and was courageous and free-thinking in so many ways. I know JoAnne, you will not want to read it because of your frustration with memoir and fictionalized biography and autobiography. But I'm so glad I did. It is based on memories of Walls' grandmother, related by her mother. Whatever the limits of the sourcing, it was a compelling and exciting portrait told in an astonishingly real "voice." It made me feel more resilient myself! Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls


message 19: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
You are so right, Sarah. LOL I still have not gotten over the exact words Walls quoted near the beginning of Glass Castle. She was 4 and quoting an exact conversation!

But at least for this new book, Walls was honest and called it a "true-life novel". I am sure she had to fill in many gaps by novelizing the story, since anything her unstable mother related to her would be suspect as far as veracity and reliability.

One Amazon reviewer, a relative of Walls, is really ticked off because in the back of the book, in her disclaimer, Walls says that Lily Casey Smith was her grandmother.....but this reviewer says that was not her name, that it was Lily Casey Klasner. She also says the whole family is upset at the inconsistencies and says this is the real story....

http://www.amazon.com/Girlhood-Among-...

Does Walls mention this book in Half-Broke Horses?


message 20: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Justin wrote: "I guess a really good memoir should read well as a novel, too, right? I mean, would The Glass Castle be just as interesting if she was a fictional character? ."

I would guess that it would be just as interesting, but probably would not sell nearly as well.


message 21: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Justin wrote: "
That's an interesting point. Do you think that's the main reason people decide to make a book a memoir and not a novel? Or do you think there are other artistic reasons..."


I am sure people write memoirs for many reasons...but the ones that sell best seem to be the ones I call "memoirs of dysfunction". The worse, the better. I am not sure I have ever noticed a best-selling memoir of a happy life.


message 22: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: I am sure people write memoirs for many reasons...but the ones that sell best seem to be the ones I call "memoirs of dysfunction". The worse, the better. I am not sure I have ever noticed a best-selling memoir of a happy life..."

--------------------

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way
---- Anna Karenina


message 23: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
<<Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way
---- Anna Karenina >>>

Dear Anna,

I totally disagree.


message 24: by madrano (last edited Mar 12, 2010 01:35PM) (new)

madrano | 444 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "I am not sure I have ever noticed a best-selling memoir of a happy life. ..."

I can think of one, probably because i read it (with Alias) and did not care for it. Lazy B by Sandra Day O'Connor & her brother Alan. The family was happy, the land was wild and the story ho-hum. But in '02 it was on the NY Times Best Seller list.

deborah


message 25: by Bunny (new)

Bunny | 254 comments Then there's Our Hearts were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner - very happy book.


message 26: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments >>Then there's Our Hearts were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner - very happy book.<<

Thanks for mentioning Our Hearts Were Young And Gay: An Unforgettable Comic Chronicle of Innocents Abroad in the 1920s I just put a hold on the audio version from my library. From the descriptions on Amazon it sounds really fun.


message 27: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Bunny wrote: "Then there's Our Hearts were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner - very happy book."

LOL - this is an old memoir....before dysfunction sold so well!


Sherry (sethurner) (sthurner) I know I read the Skinner book way back when, but I don't remember a thing. Sad, eh? How about Life with Father, or Mama's Bank Account for happy memoirs? Or The Education of H*Y*M*A*N*K*A*P*L*A*N?

Life With Father

Mama's Bank Account

The Education of Hyman Kaplan


message 29: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 13, 2010 10:27AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) I can see a few reasons why these memoirs sell well:

-We like to read stories about people who triumph over hardship. The Horatio Alger theme.

- Inspirational. If they can do it, so can I !

- Gosh, I have it bad, but not as bad as this poor soul.

- If they can overcome X, I can ceratinly overcome Y.

- You realize your not alone in the world. You're not a freak.

- You may have the same issues and learn how to overcome them just like the author does.


message 30: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Sherry (sethurner) wrote: "I know I read the Skinner book way back when, but I don't remember a thing. Sad, eh? How about Life with Father, or Mama's Bank Account for happy memoirs? Or The Education of H*Y*M*A*N*K*A*P*L*A*..."

I never heard of any of those.......and just like the Skinner book, these three are all old, before dysfunction sold so well.


message 31: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Alias Reader wrote: "I can see a few reasons why these memoirs sell well:

-We like to read stories about people who triumph over hardship. The Horatio Alger theme.

- Inspirational. If they can do it, so can I ! ..."


I think people read memoirs because they are voyeuristic. It is like looking surreptitiously into someone's cabinets. And I am including myself, even though I have mostly given up on the memoir genre.


message 32: by Bunny (new)

Bunny | 254 comments I like memoirs because every person's story is original and different from my own. I can't believe how creative life is that every single person is living a different story, and each story is as good as any novel to me and, generally, far more creative because life is more creative than anything our imaginations can dream up.
I've met some memorable people through memoirs, some I'll never forget. I appreciate that very much as a non stop reader.


message 33: by madrano (new)

madrano | 444 comments My favorite are by the Gilbreth siblings, with Cheaper by the Dozen (Perennial Classics) by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. Cheaper by the Dozen being my favorite. I usually like to ready memoirs for the historic or international sort of context, such as Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.The closest to dysfunctional family memoir i've read is The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less by Terry Ryan The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less by Terry Ryan.

deborah


Sherry (sethurner) (sthurner) Cheaper By the Dozen is a delight.

Another memoir I enjoyed was Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals. Much of it is set in Greece, and is quite funny. Sometimes chapters from this book found their way into lit. anthologies, in the guise of short stories. I guess I have always enjoyed stories that feature nature and animals.

My Family and Other Animals


Sherry (sethurner) (sthurner) I just finished Borderline, the Nevada Barr mystery set in Big Bend National Park. It was fine, with all the usual elements of scenery, politics, and skullduggery, but I only read it because a friend pressed it into my hands. I am losing my taste for mystery series pretty quickly these days.

Borderline


message 36: by madrano (new)

madrano | 444 comments I'll have to check out Borderline, as we hope to visit Big Bend this time next year. It's a gorgeous part of the country, but a long drive there. When i was a teenager my family camped there. The thing i recall most was looking at a house from the high place i was standing & thinking, "That is Mexico. How can it be another country? It looks just like here." LOL!

deborah


Sherry (sethurner) (sthurner) Big Bend sounds like a beautiful place. I Googled it and saw some drop dead gorgeous photography.


message 38: by Suep (new)

Suep | 15 comments Sarah wrote: "I was fascinated by The Glass Castle, and very impressed with Jeanette Walls' ability to respect her parents despite their dysfunction. Everyone who reads it is outraged on her behalf, but she doe..."

i'm starting this book today...i really liked glass castle. i wonder if writing a memoire allows flexibility with fact/fiction; rather, how the person believed "life" to be, rather than the absolute truth? everyone has their own perspective, even if 3 kids grew up in the same household.


message 39: by Bunny (new)

Bunny | 254 comments I loved the Durrell books - it was hard to believe such a cheerful animal lover was the brother of Lawrence Durrell who was such a serious writer. I was so impressed by The Alexandria Quartet when I was very young :) I wonder if I would be still ~


message 40: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sarahreader) Suep wrote:i wonder if writing a memoire allows flexibility with fact/fiction; rather, how the person believed "life" to be, rather than the absolute truth? everyone has their own perspective, even if 3 kids grew up in the same household.

SueP, I think the memoir genre is a lovely hybrid, that allows people to reflect on their own or family history without the need to have sources, footnotes, etc. as in a more formal autobiography or biography. A personal memory is elusive, but has value. It's fun to think of the continuum of genres along the truth/fiction or private/public axis, such as secret diary, journal, web journal, memoir, fiction-based-on-life, historical fiction, autobiography, biography, etc. So many works are in the middle between categories. It doesn't bother me a bit. I've read enough tainted and revisionist history to know that "accuracy" is a moving target, even when people try hard to use reliable sources.


message 41: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (last edited Mar 14, 2010 03:43PM) (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: "I think the memoir genre is a lovely hybrid, that allows people to reflect on their own or family history without the need to have sources, footnotes, etc. as in a more formal autobiography or biography"

......then why use quotation marks? Why not just write it as a narrative?

I don't know about anyone else, but as an English teacher and an editor, quotation marks mean that what occurs between them is exact words spoken by someone.

Here is an example - pretend I am writing a memoir

1-----It was my fourth birthday and I was feeling shy. As soon as the candles were lit, I jumped off my chair and ran to the basement to hide. My mother called, "JoAnn, come up here right away before all the guests leave. We have so many presents to open too."

2 - It was my fourth birthday and I was feeling shy. As soon as the candles were lit, I jumped off my chair and ran to the basement to hide. My mother called to me to come back upstairs so I could see my guests and open presents.

Both paragraphs convey the exact same idea, but instead of making my four-year old self speak the exact words my mother used (as if one can remember exact words from that age!), I wrote the second paragrah as narrative.


message 42: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
I started having bad feelings about memoirs about 15 years ago when I went to see an appearance by someone who had recently published a best selling memoir of her life in a foreign country as a child (through age 13).

Someone asked her how her story had come to the attention of a published and she told us that he had read a short piece she had written for her alumni magazine. The publisher asked her to come to NY for a meeting and that is when he proposed that she write a book/memoir. She told him that everything she remembered had been in the short article she wrote for the magazine, not nearly enough for a book. So he told her to make it up ---- and she did. She said she remembered "things" and invented stories to go with them. Things like a favorite mug, a house in her village, a dessert, a doll.

To me, that just smacks of dishonesty.


message 43: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 14, 2010 03:57PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) Sarah: I've read enough tainted and revisionist history to know that "accuracy" is a moving target, even when people try hard to use reliable sources.
-----------------

I'm reading
1984 and in this novel history is what the party in charge says it is. As Orwell wrote, "whoever controls the past, controls the future."

Napoleon Bonaparte said: "what is history but a fable agreed upon."

And by anonymous, "One of the spoils of victory includes amnesia.


message 44: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sarahreader) Yes, Joanne, I understand your objections to memoir quite clearly. I just don't share them.

This doesn't mean I condone dishonesty, and every book should be judged on its merits. I assume most memoir writers try to be honest, although they often are narcissistic and invested in portraying themselves as they want to be seen. The writer you heard obviously was far on the fiction (!) side of the continuum, and apparently admitted it. But plenty of people have strong, intact memories. Putting re-constructed quotes into fictionalized work or work based on memory is a well-understood literary device and usually just doesn't bother me.

As far as being voyeuristic, well, ouch . . . but, OK. I have plenty of faults. People who publish memoir obviously don't object to people knowing their version of their stories. The dysfunctional family/abused child stories give me the creeps and I avoid them, though Mary Karr and Jeanette Walls' first book were exceptions. I'm glad I've read many thoughtful memoirs and personal histories of interesting and often inspirational people.


message 45: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: "Putting re-constructed quotes into fictionalized work or work based on memory is a well-understood literary device and usually just doesn't bother me. .."

Of course I understand the use of made-up quotes in fiction...but in all my years of teaching English and as an editor, I never saw this use of quotes "condoned" as acceptable in non-fiction ---- unless the words were someone's exact words. Maybe I am just not up-to-date on literary devices!

I found this article interesting:

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics...


message 46: by Suep (new)

Suep | 15 comments I like reading memoires because I enjoy and am facinated hearing/reading how others live, including their perseverance whether it is fact or not. The way I look at memoires is like this; it is the person's reality, not mine. I may question and suspect they are full of bull but it's their truth, not mine. Now, if they say everything written here is truth and factual, then I think that person lacks integrity and chalk it up to the almight dollar- make money on fabrications....A Million Little Pieces....Still, it's that person's conscious that they have to deal with knowing it's bull,and that everyone (most everyone) will question anything they write in the future. It's still entertaining.


message 47: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Justin wrote: "But I think the same issue with quoting could be a problem in fiction or any writing that relies on memory. Even a fictionalized character might have trouble accurately remembering a conversation that happened when she was 3 or 4 years old. But fiction often directly quotes very old conversations."

But the difference is.....it is fiction! And it is supposed to be made up.

I would suspect that there is a term in the mental-health field for people whose reality is not real. LOL


Donna in Southern Maryland (cedarville922) | 133 comments Mod
JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "Sarah wrote: "I think the memoir genre is a lovely hybrid, that allows people to reflect on their own or family history without the need to have sources, footnotes, etc. as in a more formal autobio..."

Thanks for your example JoAnn. I think I understand your point now. You are probably right. Why make it up if you don't have to?

Donna in Southern Maryland


message 49: by madrano (new)

madrano | 444 comments I agree, that seems dishonest. You think that is typical of the industry?

In your examples, JoAnn, i thought the first example was easier to read. Conversation just reads easier than text. This doesn't make it correct, only more lively, which is what i felt. The second conveyed the same idea but wasn't as pleasant to read. I suppose this is why authors have used quotation marks.

My thoughts on quotation marks changed when i noticed an author (& i wish i could recall who) use them when s/he was sharing what s/he thought. Something about that struck me as wrong, as it wasn't actually spoken. By the end of the book, i began looking at them differently & haven't looked back.

deborah


message 50: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (last edited Mar 15, 2010 04:43PM) (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
madrano wrote: "
My thoughts on quotation marks changed when i noticed an author (& i wish i could recall who) use them when s/he was sharing what s/he thought. Something about that struck me as wrong, as it wasn't actually spoken.."


I would prefer to see it written as:

I thought that the baby was cute.

as opposed to I thought "The baby is cute." That seems awkward.


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