The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma

Though I have a serious problem with ordering more books than I can handle through the library (ninety percent of my books are inter-library loans, twenty percent from out of state), I still have a problem with covers. I absolutely judge a book by it’s cover, and when I see one with an interesting cover and title and summary, well, what’s one more book on top of the four I already have? Such was the case for this book. And you all know I can’t resist books about books.

The Reading Promise is a memoir by Alice Ozma, who entered into a challenge with her father when she was in third grade that they would read together every day, for at least ten minutes, for one hundred straight days. When they completed their challenge, they decided that, rather than stop the fun, they would extend their challenge to one thousand days. Once they matched this number, and Alice was now in middle school, they decided to just continue reading indefinitely. As it turned out, they wouldn’t stop- wouldn’t miss a single day- until Alice’s eighteenth year, when she left home for college.

The story is told in a series of vignettes, arranged in basically chronological order, about where their life together went during the nine years of the Streak. Their books followed them through Mom leaving, Older Sister traveling to faraway lands, college, and ultimately, Serbia, and Dad’s job transforming into something he no longer wanted to claim. While he was reading aloud to his daughter every night, he was also reading the the underprivileged children who populated the school he worked at, as a librarian. Towards the end of the Streak and afterwards, when Alice was away from home, the principal of the school wanted him to gear his classes away from reading aloud and towards work on the new computers they had forced him to install. They would only allow him one storybook per class, no longer than five to ten minutes of reading. He took his complaints to the school board, only to be turned away, and finally he resigned from his position at the age of sixty-two.

One of the book’s main points is the numerous benefits of reading aloud to children. James and Alice are adamant believers that reading to children is crucial in their growth as readers. I haven’t researched this enough to list the psychological effects, but I imagine it promotes closeness between parent and child and creates a strong positive idea of reading as comforting and fun. By spending this time reading books to children when they’re little, books become lifelong friends and companions for the adults they become. That’s just theory, though.

Interestingly, just a few days after I returned this book, I was on the phone with the local library director, and apparently I had mentioned to someone a few days ago that I enjoy working with children and would like to read to them (this conversation was before I’d even read this book- I remember having it, but not with whom I was talking or where we were), and this person had apparently mentioned it to the library director so, since we were on the phone, he followed up on it, asking if I’d like to participate in storytime. My initial reaction was something akin to stagefright, but I battled it down because I do like children and picture books and this is a prime opportunity to read all the picturebooks I want to children. And after reading this book that was all about reading out loud, how could I refuse? So now I’ve committed to storytime once a month, every second Wednesday, starting in December. I’m looking forward to it!

Published in: on November 24, 2011 at 2:08 pm  Comments (1)  
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Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch

Hi, there. It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. I am as aware and as frustrated by this as you are (probably more so). To be honest, I’ve had an excruciatingly hard time finishing a book for the past two weeks. I don’t know what it is, but I sent about six books back to the library unfinished- a couple unstarted, because I didn’t have the patience. Where I usually try to hang on to a book for 100 pages, I’ve recently only been able to read for 20 before I get fed up with an uninteresting book.

Finally I found one that I actually wanted to finish, but I didn’t have the time. Or energy. I’ve been working a lot recently, and actually doing a lot with people I don’t work with, and I’ve been able to read perhaps a chapter a day since last Wednesday. I’ve also been trying to see movies that people push at me, and I was inspired to be a bit crafty with a pair of jeans.

So this is the book that I was actually able to finish. The copy that I read from didn’t have a cover, so I’m breaking my usual rule about posting the exact copy that I read; mine was just a black hardcover. It’s a very recent publication, though, and I think this might actually be the only cover out there:

I was hoping to break out of my funk by returning to a genre which has, an overwhelming amount of time, served me well: memoir. I found a book which sounded kind of like a dream, and it reminded me of those fantastic, escapist memoirs I’ve been enamored with. It’s not a foodie book, but it does cater to my other favorite hobby: reading. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is about a mother of four boys who decides to read one book a day, for one year.

There’s a lot of backstory to this decision; her beloved older sister has recently perished to cancer. Nina hopes that be indulging heavily in their shared refuge of books, she will be able to accept her sister’s loss and her continued presence. Specifically, she looks for books that she could have shared with Anne-Marie.

Personally (perhaps because I have three of them, one being a twin), I am completely enamored with sisterhood. I love the idea of sisters, and the fact of them, and that even though they know you in and out they’ll still be seen in public with you. I’ve never been in love (and I don’t know if that would actually change anything, but), the most meaningful relationship in my life right now is the one between me and my sisters. So right at the beginning of the book, when Nina is describing life with Anne-Marie’s illness and eventual death, I felt her pain so sharply I couldn’t breathe. I very nearly cried. I don’t know how to explain it except that while I was reading, Anne-Marie was Emma. Or Julia. Or Sarah. I felt for Nina because I could imagine myself in her situation, with my own sister in pain. Dying.

Then there was the reading. Nina Sankovitch is the epitomal bookworm; raised from childhood with books in her life, and then repeating these lessons with her own boys. A woman who actually could read a book a day for a year without ever needing to throw it down and do something else, who could read an entire novel in one day and still have time for a life with her family (admittedly, she didn’t work during this year).

After a few chapters, though, something annoying became very apparent: she would turn every single book into some kind of metaphor for her life. In some way, it would teach her a lesson that would help her move along. To say this was ‘annoying’ is not entirely accurate, but after a while I would come across her, “My year of reading was traveling across the ocean with a tiger,” and I would just kind of roll my eyes. I’m impressed that she could find so much from her books, but it got a little tedious. However, there was quite enough substance in this to keep the reader going. The book was really more an analysis of love, life, and grief than it was a story with a plot.

The flashbacks were the most interesting part of the book. Every few pages, something would relate to something else; a lesson she read in a book would remind her of a lesson her father had learned in Poland during WWII. She would link kindness to kindness; pain to pain; adventure to adventure; this was the most story-like part of the book, since a flashback is a story. If that made any sense at all.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book. Oh, and I found this interesting: she started off her year of reading- the very first day- with The Elegance of the Hedgehog. And I was just like, “Hey, I read that!” I was pleased. She followed up shortly with a Dick Francis book (my mom’s favorite author), and Watership Down (my brother’s favorite book). Small world, I think.

Next, I’m flashing back to middle school. There’s this book I first tried to read- and couldn’t finish- in sixth grade. Then in seventh grade (age eleven, or thereabouts), I borrowed it again, read it through, and loved it. So I borrowed it last week from the library; I hope it’s as good now as it was then.

My Life in France by Julia Child

Oof, I am beyond tired. I finished this book at 11:30 last night and then went straight to bed. I’ve had a long weekend. It wasn’t as restful as I usually like. Even though it was fun, I felt seriously drained at the end of the day.

This weekend there was cake- we made a 12-inch and a 10-inch and stacked them, frosted them, decorated them…. It looked very nice. I was, you know, mostly pleased with how it came out. I’m still annoyed that the frosting coat isn’t coming out smooth, but our cake this week was moist and dense and tasy, and we fed it to a large number of people. The difference this weekend is that, on Saturday, I had friends over to keep me company and observe the process and all the work that goes into Cake Day every week (I’m not actually sure people understand how many hours of sheer labor are put into this project), and they stayed the night so they could watch me complete the decorating the next morning, and then eat cake and join the party later. We had a good time, and it was fun- there were lost of teenagers and youths, so we played games in the yard while the adults (and some of the youths who refused to participate) watched.

Then around five, I was more-or-less ready to be in a completely empty, quiet house and read, but half the crowd was hanging around to watch a movie. So I separated, found someplace quiet to read, and felt tired. They were finally gone by around 7:30, and at that point I just gave up for the night. I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t even migrating to Gardiner, as I usually do on Sundays. It became one of those nights where you just want to sleep in your own bed, you know? I’m sure you know.

Instead, I watched two episodes of Doctor Who and read the last twenty pages of this book.

Then I overslept thirty minutes this morning. Dammit.

My Life in France is Julia Child’s memoir. My third memoir in a row- I never realized how much potential this genre had, but it’s completely fascinating.

Some background. Julia Child was born on August 15th in 1912 and grew up in Pasadena, California with absolutely no interest in cooking. She went to Smith College, and more or less spent the first thirty years of her life being taken care of and with very little direction. Her father was a very devoted Republican who expected her to marry a devoted Republican and continue exactly the life he had expected of her. Instead, she married Paul Child, whom she met while doing government work in China in her early thirties. They were married when she was thirty-five, and then they traveled together, he doing government work, she having fun, looking for projects, and being there for him. This is when she first visited France.

Her love for the cuisine was immediate. Her first meal in France, right off the plane, was sole muniere. It wasn’t long after that first day that she enrolled in the Cordon Bleu cooking school, under the tutelage of chef Max Bugnard. Here’s a picture of them together:

If you’ve seen the movie, you probably just did a double-take. The book is riddled with pictures of all of the main characters (except for Paul, because he was always behind the camera), and it suddenly becomes clear what an effort the casting people put into finding actors who really looked like these historical characters whom they were portraying.

Soon after she graduated from the Cordon Bleu (or perhaps soon before.. hm) Julia met Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, two French cooking enthusiasts who were attempting to write a cookbook for Americans who liked French food. They had had many problems with publishing, though, and finally asked Julia to help them, both with the cooking and developing of recipes, and as a sort of American eye on their French techniques. Delighted, Julia threw herself head-first into what became something like a twelve year project of research, developing, testing, traveling, and writing. She absolutely loved it.

That’s the beginning, anyway. I feel like I can’t spoil you on this because it’s all history, and everyone knows that her book was ridiculously well-received, and that she got a cooking show out of it- right in the early days of television, too. But it was so interesting to read it in her words, to see her reflections on the way things had gone.

As memoirs go, I’ve noticed that they tend one of two ways (note that I’ve read several memoirs, but I haven’t really read a lot of memoirs, and this is just my observation). They can either have a very storylike quality, and read like a novel- Julie & Julia, or Lunch in Paris, for example- or they can read like someone telling their story, which is what this was like. Julia narrated her story as a methodical series of points, this led to this which happened on this date here, etc. Kind of like a history, only to each event she added much description and commentary. It was a colorful, fun, and wonderfully enjoyable read!

Here’s something else: Julia wrote this memoir when she was ninety-one. She wrote it with her great-grand-nephew, actually, and died before she could see it published. But at ninety-one, she was still able to supply an entire book of memories- very specific ones, with dates, locations. She remembered everything on the menu on a particular day. It’s amazing how solid her mind must have stayed. Pictures and letters tell so much, you know, but you couldn’t have created a book like this without real memories behind them.

On the other hand, Julia was literally creating this book at the end of her timeline. In the epilogue, she wrote about how age was coming on them. She said that she and Paul (who was ten years her senior, even) had reached that time of life where people they had known for years were starting to slip off into the “Great Blue Yonder”. She wrote about Simca, who was a fighter, finally succumbing to illness, and her brother- and sister-in-law both dying of cancer. The final passage of the book was very heavy. You could tell how she felt on this matter- she had lived a long, very full life, even without children (which she did lament, in a few places), but now all of her loved ones had passed on, or were too old to visit her. It was sad, but not tragic.

All in all, I found her story very inspirational. Here is a woman who managed to take life and, even starting late, turn it into something with endless joy, adventure, and good food. Rest in peace, Julia Child.

Published in: on May 2, 2011 at 9:42 am  Comments (2)  
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A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

Hi! If you don’t want to read 700 words about my day antiquing, you can skip down right to the first picture.

First though, I want to shout out to my sister, who is kind of ambiently poking me right now (that’s a twin thing), and to whom I was within six feet of for basically this entire day, a large portion of which was spent with her head in my lap, very nearly obstructing my reading material. She keeps telling me sweet flattering things that make me want to hug her and I should really just put it out there that my day wouldn’t have been as awesome without her in it, poking me with ambience.

Oh, today has been tons of fun. You see, a few days ago I was feeling bored with everything and very restless and irritable and aimless because life felt pointless, and it was in this mood that I convinced my mom that a roadtrip was in order. An aimless roadtrip with an unknown destination. Oh, we tossed out some towns we could visit within a few hours of here- Salem, Portsmouth, South Hampton- but ultimately we were just looking for interesting signs. We ended up taking an exit that lead to a “historic waterfront” with a “maritime museum,” and as soon as we got off the exit we stopped at a gas station to ask directions. This was fun because I was kind of hyper and really just sort of flailed at the poor baffled man behind the counter, but we did get directions.

We managed to find our way downtown and locate the museum (the giant bouys out front were helpful in that pursuit), but it turned out to be closed because March in New England doesn’t generally attract tourists. However, also in front of the museum was a sign that said “Oldie’s Marketplace,” and at the other side of the parking lot was this giant, eccentric-looking warehouse with the same title on it, so we decided that that was definitely worth checking out.

Oldie’s turned out to be a huge antique store, kind of. It was giant, for one thing, and everything was beyond nifty. They had old books and housewares, toys and tools, jars of buttons and knick-knacks, figurines and glassware, old records and photos… it was completely thrilling. Vintage hats and clothing (Emma bought a fantastic newsboy cap to which she affixed a golden turtle pin- it looks absolutely smashing on her recently-sheared cranium), but then, folks, but then, Emma found a case filled with old cameras.

It was like Jensen Ackles had come and offered me a piggy-back ride, that’s how excited I was. There were five in the case, ranging in price from eighteen dollars to forty-five, and later we would find a second case with even more expensive cameras and a few old video reel cameras which looked fantastic but about which I know nothing. I picked up and handled each one (with numb, clumsy fingers- this place was frigid) and eventually selected the cheapest camera, which was a Brownie Hawkeye. This camera has to be at least fifty-sixty years old, and since Brownies are actually toy cameras for children to use (you can see Charlie Brown and the gang using them in the really old strips), it’s made of plastic and virtually indestructable, ha! Here’s a picture of it. The flash is removable, and mine doesn’t have a bulb in it. I prefer toting the camera around naked.

After our purchases had been made (I also bought a couple of old matchboxes to add to my collection), we went to lunch at a seafood restaurant, which was much fun and the food was good. Over the meal I somehow (I don’t actually know how I accomplished this) convinced mom to let us go back to Oldie’s and buy me the second-cheapest camera they had, for twenty-five dollars. Keep in mind: I had paid for the Brownie, but mom had paid for Emma’s hat. This probably influenced her decision.

My second camera was a Kodak Retina III c. Pay attention to the door next to the lens- I guess the idea is that it collapses? I can’t get mine to do that, though, but that’s probably just because it’s very old and has been in this position for a very long time. I also can’t open the door where you would insert the film. This one also came with a pretty Indian-style strap, and both had cases.

All in all, it was quite a thrilling find! I collect cameras, even ones that don’t work- I think I have six or seven at this point? Oh, and hey, if you’re interesting in actually seeing my photography, you can go here.

This is going to be a really long entry. That up there? About 700 words already, and I read three books in the car- it was a six-hour roundtrip. Firstly, I finished the novel I’ve been reading, then I read a two quick graphic novels.

I’m on a website called tumblr, and on this website called tumblr I follow a blog called Coverspy, which is based in New York, and the guy who runs the blog goes on subways and such and notices what people are reading, then posts a picture and a short description of the reader. It’s interesting, and that’s how I found out about this book. They showed a (different) picture on Coverspy.

A Gate at the Stairs is about a young college student named Tassie who’s in need of funds, so she goes around trying to find a job as a nanny. After falling flat a few times, she finds Sarah Brink, an eccentric middle-aged woman who owns a restaurant and is soon to adopt a child with her husband, Edward. Working on instinct, Sarah hires Tassie for the job, and Tassie is there from step zero; she goes with Tassie to meet several birth mothers, then to meet the child (a young half-black girl named Mary), and then to bring her home. She starts work the next day.

I don’t know how to explain that there’s really a lot to this novel. Tassie herself was very average- she starts the novel at age nineteen, just kind of hovering, and she feels the same way at the end- just hovering. But it’s a different kind of hover that I can’t explain because everything that’s been set up for the first 260 pages all gets flip-flopped over in the final sixty. It was exciting, but also kind of terrible. What begins as an enlightening, humorous exploration into purposelessness becomes a frightening, nihilistic conclusion.

It was an incredible read, but I’m not sure I would recommend it to everyone because of the uncomfortable ending.

One theme that ran strong throughout the entire book was that of race. This story takes place in the southern USA, in a place where a white couple adopting a half-black baby was shocking and uncommon. Sarah forms a group for biracial families that meets on Wednesdays. Tassie takes care of the children in an upstairs room while listening to bits of the conversation drifting through the floorboards.

A good book- but perhaps not one that I would read again.

The second book I read on the trip- a very quick read. The Night Bookmobile is a graphic novel by Audrey Niffeneger (whose work I’m a fan of- she wrote The Time-Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry) about a girl named Alexandra who, at a time in her youth, wanders upon a Winnebago inside which resides a library of every book she’s ever read. The Library closes at dawn, however, and so she has to leave. Once the bookmobile drives away, however, she can’t locate it again for another nine years!

The bookmobile becomes an obsession for Alexandra, who asks the librarian to take her with him, only to be told that there is no position for her in the Library. Her life slowly loses meaning, though she decides to become a regular librarian and spends all of her free time adding to the bookmobile.

I really enjoyed this book and intend to buy a copy of it. Since it’s so quick, I gave it to my mom and brother to read as well, but they seemed dubious as to it’s merits, particularly in light of the ending. Max asks me what does it mean, and I am very bad at answering that question. I can read books with messages- Gate at the Stairs certainly had a message- but I can’t tell you what it was. In my opinion, The Night Bookmobile was meant to say, to bookworms like me, that the books you read are more important that the time it takes you to read them. For Alexandra, that library became a better representation of her than she was.

This is the final book I read today- The Man Who Grew Young, by Daniel Quinn (author of Ishmael), is about a universe where time progresses in reverse, the idea being that once the universe completes it’s journey forward, it yo-yos back again to the beginning. So every person’s life begins when they’re taken from the ground, and ends with them, as infants, returning to their mothers’ bodies. The main character is a man named Adam Taylor, who- doesn’t seem to have a mother.

Rather than regress through adolescence and childhood, as everyone around him does, Adam remains perpetually youthful, a man of no more than thirty years, living backwards through time. Across his journey, he searches for his mother and answers. He thinks he’ll find them in the same place.

This book takes effort- I had to continue reminding myself that time is not progressing in the line we imagine it does. I was also constantly thinking, “Why, why are they doing this?” with the answer being “well, obviously because they did that the first time around,” and that’s a thinking trap because they were unaware that time had originally moved differently; they didn’t do anything to undo what they had done the first time, to unravel the yarn. It was especially interesting, as industrialization and history reversed, how they justified giving up luxuries and going “primitive.”

The most interesting part for me was right at the end, when Adam was with an old man who was unpainting artwork in caves. The man tells Adam that these paintings don’t belong on the cave wall, they belong inside him, and that he is the only person in the world who could do this. I had to imagine Van Gogh unpainting Starry Night, Monet unpainting his countless waterlilies. All artwork belongs inside someone, and when they see it, they’ll know. There was even a part closer to the beginning where Adam fed a photo into the slot of a Polaroid camera, then “untook” the picture.

It’s a completely bizarre concept, though, and it comes with questions Daniel Quinn probably knows the answers to but can’t explain? But it left me with a feeling of “well, that doesn’t work.” It’s what made the timeline so impossible to comprehend. I asked Max what it meant, and he said the idea is that we go to earth when we die, but we’re really born from earth as well- but to me it feels like it can’t possibly be that simple.

I had a very good day. Reading good books, buying good cameras, eating good food (we stopped off for chocolate on the way back home, and I made a caramel tart yesterday which I would really like but I should definitely be making a stronger effort to control my sweettooth- the thing is getting an attitude), and enjoying good company. We took a break from cakemaking this weekend, but I’ve been doing a lot of cooking this week which has really made me feel good. I’ve also been thinking a lot about the next few years, and for once these fantasies were not accompanied with feelings of dread. I don’t really want to share my thoughts, though, because someone will force me to acknowledge that real life is not a chickflick.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

This has been one of the longest weeks in recent memory. Then as soon as the weekend came, I decided to neglect everything I have to do and relax. Yesterday Emma and I made a cake, and then I got to babysit my favorite three year-old on the planet, and it was awesome. I love that child and it completely lifted my spirits. I got home rather late, though, and then, THEN, I finished The Princess Bride. In case math is a little difficult for you, that means that I finished the book sixteen hours before I wrote the review. That means that for the first time since I began this project, I broke my own rule. But I’m not sorry. Because THIS morning, I woke at six to be out the door by six-thirty, to be babysitting again by seven. These were two different children, on the more difficult side, so I brought my sister with me to help me hold down the fort. She was very helpful, but there were a couple of tantrums and one brief collision of skulls that left no permanent damage. For nine hours.

Then we received a very gracious sum of money, and scooted on our way. I’m very tired, but I need to write this review before I procrastinate anymore.

Mother just came in and started talking about cake.

Is there anyone here who hasn’t heard of The Princess Bride, the movie? I feel like less people actually know that it’s available as a book. Well, it was originally a book, and I had it recommended to me by people who also love the movie, so I thought it was worth a shot. For those who aren’t familiar with the basic plot, this is the story of Westley and Buttercup, who fell in love before Westley was killed on sea by the Dread Pirate Roberts and Buttercup was pursued by the evil Prince Humperdinck, then kidnapped by the evil Sicilian Vizzini, the Spaniard Inigo, and the Turk Fezzik. (Fun fact: spell check doesn’t recognize the words Vizzini, Fezzik, or Humperdinck, but it recognizes Inigo.)

The book also used the framing device of the sick son being read to by his heavily-accented father. Remember that one from the movie? The way the book was written, William Goldman has been read The Princess Bride by his father when he was young and ill, and when his son turned eleven, he wanted him to read the book. But when he found it, he realized that his father had done some… abridging. What S. Morgenstern had written when he first published the book was a satirical history of Florin, and Will Goldman’s father had turned it into a classic tale of true love and high adventure.

In case you’re wondering, that original book doesn’t exist; I looked. Will Goldman made it up. So occasionally as you’re reading he’ll interrupt with with red text and leave an aside note to explain something, or tell something interesting.

One interesting thing, which is impossible not to notice, is that the first chapter has been almost completely left out of the movie- it’s the introduction chapter where you meet EVERYONE- but after that, EVERYTHING was in the movie. Most of the dialog can be found in the movie, if slightly modified. There were a few things left out- the backstories of Inigo and Fezzick, and how they met Vizzini; their hardships in finding Westley; the existence of Humperdinck’s Zoo of Death. But basically everything was there.

Here’s what really sold the book for me, though, rather than say, “Well, in this case, I might as well watch the movie.” Goldman writes in such a way as to be simple, yet sincere, but every few pages or so he would include a sentence that knocked me flat. I can’t come up with any examples of them right now, but trust that they’re in there and they make the book about two-hundred times as readable. It was wonderful.

If you’ve never heard of the book, if you love the movie, or if you love true love, give this book a go. It was quite a good time, and a pleasant reprieve from the near-unbearable week I had. I’m not looking forward to this week ahead of me, either, but I can’t wait for Saturday! I’m having my favorite three year-old over at my house as her mom takes on some home-improvement projects. I’m very excited!

The next book (which I’ve already started) is… a classic. My teacher gave it to me because I’m currently studying World War I. I’m about twenty pages in so far (the kids today did have a few quiet moments that allowed for reading) and rather bored. I would rather read the next book from Val’s list, and then the books in my pile that I bought from B&N. And the book I just borrowed from Emma.

Published in: on February 13, 2011 at 4:37 pm  Comments (1)  
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The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

I’m someone who can and does reread books. That’s part of the entire point, for me- to find the books that will be worth reading again. And since I’m a denizen of the library, those are the books that I’m actually willing to spend money on. The week before Christmas, I went to Barnes & Noble with my mom and spotted this book. Giftcards and such were starting to come in, and I was already eager to spend. But it was the week before Christmas. I had to wait, just to make sure that nobody was planning to put this under the tree for me.

And nobody did.

So, December 26th I returned to B&N and went to the K’s. And it wasn’t there. And it wasn’t in the back. And they didn’t have a stock coming in. I had to resign myself to ordering it. And waiting for it. And I didn’t make it a huge deal, because it’s not like I planned to reread it as soon as I laid my fingers on it, but I was really looking forward to having it in my possession.

7-9 days later, it arrived and it was mine!

I first borrowed this book from the library, at the beginning of the summer of 2010. No, it hasn’t been that long at all. I’m not sure what really made me borrow it- perhaps the title- because the summary on the inside flap didn’t really do anything for me, you know? Or I suppose it sort of did- it briefly mentioned an old man and a young girl and a mysterious book that tied them together and all this.

What it’s really about is three different human stories. The first is Leo Gursky, aforementioned old man, who moved from Poland to New York sixty years ago, five years after the girl he loved did the same. When Alma left, Leo was writing a book for her called The History of Love, sending it to her in installments overseas. When he went to America and found her, he also found the son he’d fathered, and the man Alma had married. He removed himself from their lives, and grew old.

Alma Singer is a fifteen year-old girl named after every female character in The History of Love. She lives in New York with her mother and her younger brother, Bird. Her father died of pancreatic cancer years before, and ever since her mother has been tagged by an incurable loneliness. Alma would like to find the cure. Suddenly in the mail, a strange request from a very wealthy man asking her mother to translate The History of Love from Spanish into English.

Zvi Litvinoff has died by the time Alma and Leo cross paths; years ago, when he left Poland for South America, he took with him a manuscript from a friend, promising to hold on to it until they met again.

One of the things I like about this novel is that Nicole Krauss does not go to any efforts to beautify the lives of her characters. She speaks honestly and openly about everything that people generally shy away from in polite conversation, but there’s no accompanying feeling of shame to reading the words. In return, her characters read with a rare honesty- they have nothing to hide. The other thing- something which is important to me in a very giant way- is that her prose is marvelous. She writes in a conscious style that immediately comfortable and places you softly right alongside the character.

When I read Jodi Picoult or Sara Gruen, I go through long paragraphs and come out thinking, “I will never be this good.” With Nicole Krauss, I came out thinking, “THIS is how I would write.” Of course, that’s not to say one is better or worse, Krauss just writes so differently that you read it and realize that, of course, there’s more than one way to write a novel.

There was one part where I very nearly cried- and I don’t know if it affected me last time- but I’ll try to explain it, because it’s really not a spoiler. Leo has a friend named Bruno, whom he knew as a boy but lost for years, and then met again in New York when they were both old. Now Bruno lives in the apartment above him. Leo tells the story of when Bruno got a dog he loved more than anything in the world. He would take this animal for walks in the dog park and praise her even though she couldn’t be house trained. Then one day, the dog ran away, right out the park gate, and Bruno ran after her crying for her to come back. He ran as long as he could, and then he returned home, dejected and heartbroken, and I ached for poor Bruno. And I can’t really explain why- V, you wonder what makes me cry? This almost made me cry. Now go find a movie where someone loses his dog.

That probably wouldn’t work. Sorry.

Vonnegut (I think) once said that to write fiction, everything you do must serve a purpose: to further the plot, or to build the character. Most writers balance this nearly fifty-fifty, or close to. With Krauss, it was closer to 65% character, 35% plot. I like this, because when I read a book, I read it for the characters- they’re people I like to know. Really, that’s why I don’t care for adventure or thriller as much as fiction- when it’s all plot, I get bored. Character is what matters to me.

I’m really very fond of this book. I know I’ve suggested it to friends, and they’ve all pretty much brushed it off because it didn’t sound interesting, but if you’re ever at a loss, it’s definitely worth a read.

Next, I have library books. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. My next review shouldn’t be too far off. Until then!

Published in: on January 26, 2011 at 7:58 pm  Comments (5)  
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Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs

Alright. I have to steady myself to write this, which for me means beginning paragraphs with useless expletives. My mind feels like mush. This book has rendered me incapable of independent thought. I’m not entirely sure how it’s accomplished this. But anyway.

I hope everyone reading this had an awesome holiday, even though it’s actually been less than a week since the last time I updated this, and that was actually after Christmas, but then I didn’t wish anybody anything so I’ll say it now. Especially with people being forced back to school and such. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday that will help you get through the next long months. I had an awesome Christmas, and the thought of going back to school makes me want to weep.

My hope was that my books would arrive from the library last week, so to fill that time I was catching up on some online reading that I’ve been neglecting in favor of books. Fanfictions are my guilty pleasure, though I’ve mostly gotten over how dorky I look mentioning it to very literary folk. Some fanfiction writers are actually incredibly skilled, and if they would just change some names, they could absolutely get published. This is what I would do if I were a very skilled fanfiction writer. Only they would have to get it published as erotica.

Guilty pleasure, like I said.

However, after 150,000 words of fanfiction (I have no idea how many pages that is), my books had still not arrived and I was missing the sensation of paper, the sweet susurration of the flipping pages, and my eyes were tired of the wall of text that represents a fanfiction. So I skipped on ahead and began the next book in my pile, which has actually been in my pile, neglected, for about a month now.

Okay, first of all I feel like I should warn that this book is absolutely not family friendly, but the review should be. Still, if that kind of thing makes you uncomfortable, you can pass this one up entirely. I won’t feel insulted. This book is not for everyone.

Magical Thinking is basically a memoir told in excerpts of the life of Augusten Burroughs. It is darkly humorous and disturbed. I actually chose to read it because I first heard a quote taken from it, which I liked quite a lot: “I like flaws, and am more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” I read that on a tattoo, googled it, and recognized the cover as a book I’d seen lying around my dad’s house, and borrowed it.

I’m really not sure what I was expecting out of this book. I was hoping to like it, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Really, I loved this book. I read it in three days, and that was forcing myself to slow down. The short-story style of writing made it incredibly easy to advance through. His style of writing is something like, “Well, this wasn’t funny at the time, but if you want to laugh at it, that’s okay.” I don’t think any of it was, for me, ‘laugh out loud’ funny, but it was definitely amusing. The places that had me smiling or laughing (if it happened) were mostly because of how he chose to word this event or that to make it sound more ridiculous.

Have you ever read a David Sedaris book? Augusten Burroughs is a lot like him, only much darker. I actually realized this comparison very early in and had trouble articulating the difference between them when talking to my sister about how much I loved this book. You see, I’ve read two or three David Sedaris books (one I listened to on audiobook between Maine and New York, both ways), but it’s been a while. His books were laugh-out-loud funny. He wrote about situations that you can’t stop reading about, but would never want to experience yourself, and that’s just what Augusten Burroughs does. Only his situations are way darker, and you come out feeling sort of sorry for him. He has a lot more issues than David Sedaris.

The thing that makes these books so fascinating is that it really seems like he’s not hiding anything, but he’s at least half-crazy. And he’s going through it all with this startling clarity of having it in the past, having been through it. He’s a very good writer, that is, he definitely knows his way around language. It’s part of what makes it so compelling. He could tell these stories in a much more straight forward way, but he colors them with this fantastic language. And it’s not even just using pretentiously long words. It actually feels like he writes exactly as it comes to his head, which, after the editing process and everything that happens, may or may not be true. But there’s just a very fascinating voice behind his writing which I absolutely could not resist.

But. But. I’ll warn you again. He does talk blatantly about every single one of his issues. He writes two stories about his fascination with transsexuals, a few about his misadventures in the world of gay romance, and then about half of the book is filled with more domestic stories of his life with his boyfriend where he talks a lot about dealing with residual issues from his childhood traumas, interrupted by one funny chapter describing what it’s like to be famous.

I’m tempted to read his other memoir, Running with Scissors, which would be even darker and I might not actually be able to write a review of it. I know the premise. Google it if you’re interested. But I would like to read it at some point, and I just checked my local library’s online catalogue, and they have it.

Anyway, for now, I’ve got two books in my pile. I got B&N gift cards for Christmas, and I used them to buy four books- three books I love but don’t own, and one I have yet to read, by one of my favorite authoresses. So I’ve got that, and another in my pile that my dad bought me, which is quite a short book and should not take very long to read.

I really enjoyed this week. There was a lot of reading. Chocolate. Tumbling. I really don’t want to go back to school. It’s almost back to where it was last week, where the very thought of school just made me feel like melting from the inside out. I hate school more than the average teenager. But anyway.

On a side note: WordPress has a very odd spellchecker. It didn’t recognize ‘susurration’ or ‘catalogue,’ but it recognized ‘authoresses,’ which is a word I thought I made up because I never hear it spoken in conversation to refer to a lady author.

Published in: on January 4, 2011 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  
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The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek

This one I picked up because I have a literary fetish, and anything with an allusion to reading in the title must be read. Backwards and bizarre, I know.

This is made even MORE bizarre by the fact that I’ve never read The Great Gatsby, and I didn’t know anything about it until I looked it up on Sparknotes and read the plot summary.

Good to go.

I really enjoyed this book. I really did. It’s about two sisters (another big thing for me, sister books must be read) who inherit a place called Fool’s House in New York. The Hamptons of New York. I don’t know much about NY, but The Hamptons is apparently “snob hill,” to borrow to Tramp’s vocabulary. This place is populated by horrendously tacky mansions and hilariously gay British-and-Scotsmen, but Fool’s House was sort of…. something once grand, that had fallen into a state of disrepair. It was “ramshackle.”

The sisters (actually half-sisters who technically don’t know each other very well), by declaration of the will, must live in the house together for one month while sorting out the estate of their dead Aunt Lydia, who left them the house. The summary is actually very similar to Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, which I read last summer. But there are big differences between the two which I won’t go into now because that book is not fresh in my mind, whereas I finished this one about seven minutes ago. I do try to hold to my word whenever possible.

I did like this book right away. For the first thirty pages I thought, This is like reading a chick flick. And I have a crippling weakness for chick flicks. It did evolve though, and I’m happy to say that while it was comfortably predictable in some places and glaringly predictable in others, the meat of the book stayed interesting and there never was a dull moment. And the ending WAS unpredictable. I did not see that going down.

The story was narrated by the younger Moriarty sister, named Stella Blue, after the Grateful Dead song, who prefers to be called Cassie, not that her sister cares. Her sister’s name is Pecksland, called Peck. Which I liked. Stella is a writer for a magazine in Switzerland, where she grew up, and an aspiring novelist. Peck is an aspiring actress socialite with a literary fetish. (Yes, I did steal the term for the review, and yes, I do believe it describes me, because guys with books are hot.)

Speaking of literary fetishes- I would like to interject here that I read a short story a time ago which was all about gay boys and Shakespeare (yes, I know, I know), and I don’t even have to go look it up again to remember this conversation verbatim:

“Dude, you have a boner for Shakespeare.”
“….A literary boner.”

I couldn’t not mention that in this post.
Honestly though, one of my favorite things about this book was that it was littered with delicious bits of classic literature and art history, which I should study a bit more but am quite fond of. Aunt Lydia was an English teacher during her life, so there is quite the talk of good books while reminiscing about crazy Aunt Lydia. I also learned quite a bit about Jackson Pollock that I didn’t know. And this is literally like candy to me. I love finding those sorts of things when I read.

So, started out feeling like a chick flick, but that soon dissolved, mostly because romance was a large part of the plot (I mean, Stella, Peck, AND their gay Brit friend all needed to get hitched) but romance wasn’t the point that the plot revolved around. Mostly it was about two very, very different women learning how to live together and love each other and to always drive their life creatively, with a lot of spontaneity, like Aunt Lydia would have wanted.

And there’s some art theft and antique guns involved.

And lots of parties.

Oh, and their gay friend sort of shows up at their house naked.

And fake vomit…

And a dog named Trimalchio.

And breasts called ‘the twins.’

It was a very fun book. I laughed out loud and spent quite a bit of time grinning to myself, which is why the ending was sort of like a stone dropping through my entire being. Rather dark. But that lasted for all of two pages before it was blown away and made light-hearted again.

And the epilogue was narrated by Peck, which I enjoyed because she was VERY different from Stella. Although in all factuality (words, words, words), a large portion of the book was about Stella maturing and budding and learning to party and love like a New Yorker, and she considered herself a much healthier person by the end of the book.

To sum it up, this book is a feel-good novel, and it did make me feel good. I spent a lot of my week wishing that I were reading it. It has a hopeful beginning, an exciting middle, and a happy ending, and a lot of otherness going on in there, too. There was so much going on that I am absolutely and utterly failing to describe it. I should stop now, because this is literally stream-of-consciousness, and I’m typing as the thoughts enter my head.

Anyway. The Summer We Read Gatsby is pure escapism and I guess that’s what I needed right now. I really, really enjoyed it, and I do recommend it. Especially to my own sister. Yes, I think she would like it.

I have two new books sitting on the table by my chair, which I got from the library earlier (I wasn’t INTENDING to, but I’m very glad I did because neither of the books I’ve been waiting for have arrived yet), and I was happily surprised to hear that my Dad decided to buy me a book off of Amazon, which apparently just arrived. It’s an interesting man’s personal reflections on photography, called Camera Lucida, and it looks very interesting. I love photography books. I’ve been neglecting my camera lately.

Ta-ta for now.

Published in: on October 14, 2010 at 11:46 pm  Comments (4)  
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The Anthologist by Nicholas Baker

Books for me are like shiny things. I have book-seeking eyes, and if there are books in a room, I must see them. I scrutinize bookshelves, I invade deskspaces, I go the long way around just because I know there might be books about. That’s how I got this book. See, in the same vein, libraries are like candystores, owned by someone so rich and kindhearted that he just wants to spread the joy of dark chocolate, and never makes you pay. You can’t enter a place like that and not sample the goods, you know?

My library has a great big bookshelf facing out right next to the check out desk, which is right inside the door. So when I enter the library, that’s immediately where my eyes go. And there is ALWAYS something there. That’s how I found books like The History of Love and Girl in Translation, which are both on my recommendations list. And it’s where I found this book.

The Anthologist is about a sort of down-and-out, but not completely unknown, poet putting together an anthology of rhyming poetry, and struggling to write the introduction to it. And it’s generating an entire mess of problems for him, and he wants to finish it but at the same time he sort of doesn’t.

This is a novel, but it’s also trying very hard to inform us about poetry, meter, and history. The narrator/poet, Paul, really does live and breathe poetry. He thinks of everything in terms of rhyme, foot, rhythm, line. More than once he’ll be doing something (and telling us he’s doing it, because this is basically composed in stream-of-consciousness style) and it will remind him of something and he’ll go off on a tangent for several pages, oftentimes about certain poems or lines (he despises iambic pentameter but adores the four-beat line) or poets (he loves Roethke, Louis Bogan, and the weekend fling they had way back when, but thinks that “poetry is still recovering from Swinburne”). And regarding all the legitness poetic stuff- I had a vague understanding of it, but you really don’t need to ‘get’ poetry to enjoy this book. I appreciated his enthusiasm, because he seemed to want very genuinely to pass on what he knew, especially about rhyme itself.

One of the reasons I liked it, I think, is because it’s stream-of-consciousness, and his mind works exactly the same way mine does. Except that, if it’s possible, he probably has a greater attention span. I’m having difficulty thinking back and processing exactly how this review should look.

Ah, I remember. So one of the things about the protagonist is that he’s very HONEST, and he doesn’t talk about himself much, but he talks about the people that he knows, and you get a good impression of…. anyway. He doesn’t TRY to be likeable. He IS, but that’s mostly because he’s sad and pathetic and we feel sorry for him. He’s aware that he’s sad and pathetic, but he doesn’t think that he’s as sad or pathetic (or mentally ill) as it takes to become a famous poet, so he has very real expectations as to his own immortality. It reminds me of another book I read, I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak, because that one actually began by convincing you that the main character was nothing special. And then ended by reminding you that he was nothing special. And throughout the novel, it holds true, that his is nothing special. And that’s how this book feels.

In other words, you know how novels are always written by the amazing ones? “History is written by the winners,” as they say? (Not completely applicable, but it sounds similar, so I’m using it.) And it’s because the amazing ones make the interesting stories. Well, these two books- but especially this one, because it’s the one that I’m writing the review about- take that concept and tip it on its head.

It reminded me of one other book: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which was narrated by an autistic boy who was attempting to solve a crime. It was actually quite a lot like this one; the boy (young adult, whatever) was trying to accomplish something, and he would go off on quite a lot of tangents about math.

That realization led me to wonder if possibly Paul was a bit autistic. Mildly so, like a friend of mine, where you wouldn’t really realize it unless you gave it specific thought. Which I did. It still seems plausible, you know.

Anyway. I can’t give a rating, I’m bad with numbers. And organization. I am not so organized. I will say that I enjoyed this book quite a lot, but not enough to put it on my rec list (which by the way can be found over at the side of the page, it’s fairly self-explanatory). There were several places where I laughed out loud, and I found the SoC narration unusual and refreshing. It seemed like exactly the way a poet would write a novel, if pressed. He spent the entire time testing his limits and questioning the rules of prose. Also, he made up words. A lot. Very descriptive words. The sorts of words I’m tempted to make up on occasion, and on occasion do.

I liked it. I have my next book sitting on the table beside my chair, where it’s been since I got it from the library, which I did at the same time as I got this one (shiny things, I tell you). The really sad part is that I went in to RETURN a book, with no real intention of checking one out, and it only took me about two minutes to choose these two books. Roughly the amount of time it took my brother to park the car. At least he wasn’t impatient.

Also, a wonderful amazing friend of mine has hit upon the way to my heart and mailed me a copy of her favorite book, and that one will definitely be on here within a few weeks. I’m looking forward to it greatly. She was fairly cruel with the excerpts.

And I’ve got a book on hold at my school’s library. Yes, I like to have a nice lineup prepared, and always something to move onto if one fails me (which happens on occasion, it’s tragic but true).

Okay, closing this. I have work to do. You should go look at my rec list and read your way down.

Published in: on October 8, 2010 at 1:52 pm  Comments (5)  
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The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst

My name is Brigid Chapin, and I am a bibliophile.


Today over at her wonderful reader, my good friend V engaged in a self-indulgent exercise which achieved the ambition of getting out what was on her mind and providing a piece of interesting, thoughtful reading material. She posted a movie review. Give it a look, it’s for the film Brick, which was very good, but not quite for me.

V manages to watch an alarming number of movies in a week. As for me, I do really love my movies, but I don’t quite devour them. They’re not such a staple in my life as, say, books. Books I ingest like food, like between the covers their rests a banquet, like ink and paper itself is all the nourishment one needs. I worship books. (If this all sounds over-the-top, well- trust me, it’s not.)

So, I’ve decided to take a cue from V, and, rather than rant on end to her about the books I’m in the middle of, post all of my gush right here, on this page. (This is where I stop being choosy about my words and just write.)

To begin, a little information, I think. My name is Brigid Chapin, I’m sixteen, but not for long. Over the summer I got into the habit of reading two or three books in a week. Summer is over now, but that has an interestingly nonexistent effect on my literary appetite. I’m a bit more laden with classes, and my time is not quite as much my own, but we all manage, right?

Ever since I was young (think third grade- seven or eight years old) I’ve been one of those people who was always in the middle of a book. Even if I wasn’t reading it at that instant (there were not many instants like that) there was some book, of on a table or chair or under a couch, that I was halfway through. When I finish one book, a trip to the library is immediately planned for the next day, or I already have one set aside, or I just went ahead and borrowed four or five at a time to save the effort.

And about 90% of what I read is borrowed from a library. I have a fine number of books, but books are expensive, and for whatever reason I’ve noticed that when I pay for a book, I’m far less likely to love it. When I get a book from the library, it’s nearly always something fantastic. But too many times I’ve paid for a book just to decide halfway through that it’s really not worth finishing (and then I go to the library).

So last week I was at the library, and I borrowed two books. The first one was a small book of short stories, bizarre and not entirely my cup-o-tea, and I finished it in a day. It was called Further Adventures in the Restless Universe in case you’re interested. I’m not going to talk about that one today.

After finishing that, I rounded off a trilogy I’d been reluctant to finish because the first book was about nine hundred kinds of fantastic, and I was very, very worried that the sequels would not live up. They lived up. It had to be one of the best trilogies I’ve ever read and I’m feeling fuzzy just thinking back on it. Those are the Hunger Games books, by the way. Go read them. No, really. You. Go read them. Yes, you.

I’m not going to talk about those books either. (Even though they’re amazing and you should go read them right now.)

Here’s what I had in mind: I read a book, and the instant I finish it, I revisit this blog and punch out my review, unplanned and unedited. Does that sound roughly palatable?

Also, the title of the book is the title of the blog entry, so there’s no point suspending that over your eager heads. The book that I finished, about two and a half hours ago (hush, a blog takes a little while to set up), is The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst.

The Nobodies Album is about a widow-authoress in “the winter of her career” who just finished her latest book, a composite of the final chapters from her last seven novels, revised to remove any flecks of her personal life that may have bled into the writing. The first chapter empowers you with the knowledge that she has a son, named Milo, who is a famous rockstar, lead singer of a band called Pareidolia, whom she has been estranged from for four years. Sometime, way back in Milo’s childhood, something terrible happened, but you don’t learn more about that until chapter two, and you don’t learn what REALLY happened until chapter… fourteen, or fifteen.

As Octavia (our heroine/narrator) is flying into Boston with the completed manuscript for The Nobodies Album, she sees a shocking headline: her son has been arrested on the charge of murdering his girlfriend, Bettina.

That’s our setup. I’ll be honest: for a week or so, in discussing this book with other people, I would often use the phrase, “it’s readable, but not great.” I didn’t think it was a bad book and I wasn’t going to abandon it, but to me, Octavia read as desperate and on the dark side of pathetic concerning her son. Also, it was interspersed with excerpts from her books and chapters from The Nobodies Album, which ordinarily wouldn’t be a problem with me (I handle broken narratives very, very well) except that I didn’t particularly like her writing. Whenever one of those started, I really just wanted to get through it, but it was supposed to be sort of building a picture of what she was like because every writer puts a bit of herself into her writing.

So she went to California.

Then I reached the halfway point. (No, she didn’t spend half of the book getting to California, she flew there and it happened by roughly page 30, if memory serves.) It’s just that the first half wallowed in that not-great-not-terrible grey area. It was when I reached the halfway point- that’s when I got involved.

This is where she was reunited with Milo, and the first time she sees him, he’s near hysterical, because he thinks he might have killed Bettina. He doesn’t know, because he can’t remember anything from that night. There was a lot of evidence against him and he knew that they’d been fighting, and they hug and it’s incredibly tearful and emotional.

This is also where we meet Roland, who was possibly my favorite character. He wasn’t huge, but he wasn’t a bit part, either. He had some very meaningful scenes, and great dialogue. Roland is an older rockstar who enjoyed his fame in the 70s, but is sort of like Paul McCartney- not producing great music anymore, but still famous for what he did. He’s sort of a mentor/skewed father-figure to Milo, and allowing to Milo to stay in his house while the whole everything is happening. Here’s the prediction I made about Roland: he would either get with Octavia, or he would be the murderer. Honestly, they were alone quite often.

Okay. But. Tearful and emotional, a group of friends sharing knowledge and getting comfortable. This is where I started to really like the book.

This book is not about a murder trial; it’s the current that pulls the story along, because Octavia, Roland, Joe, and Chloe all know that Milo is innocent and they’re not entirely sure how to defend him. But that’s really not the important part.

The whole idea behind this book is that nothing is over if you don’t want it to be. This was Octavia’s motivation behind writing The Nobodies Album, and why she thought the idea was so groundbreaking; she had taken her completed books, and finished them again. Her agent and her publisher weren’t quite as enthusiastic about the project, but she knew. She wanted this book to happen.

The other thing that wasn’t over was her relationship with Milo, and the pain they were still feeling from the tragedy they had suffered mutually eighteen years earlier. The slight she has caused him unintentionally, but has to understand if she wants to understand him. (I didn’t like that part- I thought he had every right to feel stung, but I wondered how thoughtless she had to be not to figure it out, it was so transparent.)

My favorite part of the book is from the chapter “Notes on Hamelin- from the notebook of Octavia Frost, November 2010.” Hamelin was the book she’d never published- her first book, the one she’d been working on for ten years, until the tragedy, before she abandoned it and hid it away. “There are some stories nobody wants to read.” Hamelin was inspired by the story of the Pied Piper, and it was about the one child who hadn’t followed the Piper because he was crippled- he couldn’t keep up with the procession. This was not an excerpt from the book, it was notes on the character development of Theodor, the boy, interspersed with memories of Milo from the year following the tragedy. It was powerful. I was doing the entire, cease breathing, constrict throat, suppress tears thing, it was that fantastic.

And the book, Hamelin… I would have borrowed it from the library. It was the only book of hers that I really liked. Imagine being the last child left in a village where everyone else’s children had been stolen. It was dark, heartwrenching, painful, and intelligent. I wish I could read that book.

Alright, that was a lot of flail. Quick conclusion: I liked the book, especially the second half, but I didn’t love Octavia. I didn’t dislike her, and I can’t really pinpoint what it was about her- to say that she was weak, or pathetic by this point, would be unfair. And she was good vessel to carry us through the story. At seemingly-random times she would stop her narrative entirely and spout several pages of very-readable philosophy.

The impending trial I was intrigued by because it was a Whodunnit, but it had it’s weaknesses. After one Big Reveal, I sort of stared at the page for a bit and went.. “Huh? And that didn’t show up in the press? Why doesn’t Octavia know that already? That SO would have been in the newspaper.”

The last chapter was one of those things that spends two pages going through EVERYTHING that happens after the contents of the book, which I find satisfying because the narrator is acknowledging that the story has rounded off. All that’s left are the loose ends, and those don’t need a ton of exposition.

My god, that was spiel-y. I won’t make excuses for why. Next time will be more organized, I promise. The thing is I’m not completely sure when I can start my next book (which I’ve got sitting right in front of me) because tomorrow looks busy with class and being tired.

But, y’know, whenever.

Published in: on September 30, 2010 at 3:09 am  Comments (3)  
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