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.


Four Graphic Novels

As eventful goes, this week isn’t winning any prizes. I’ve been enjoying myself, sure, with books and movies and no extraordinary amount of homework. Well, no more than the usual, anyway. This week I had a craving for some graphic novels this week- something short and sweet, with great artwork… I had one in mind, which I had seen in my school library, and when I went there to check it out I snatched another couple, then one came in at the local library for me, and that was yesterday, and now I’ve read them all and am ready to share. Graphic novels are quite quick, you see.

When I showed these books to people (with quite a bit of enthusiasm) I got a pretty universal, “Really? I didn’t know you were into graphic novels.” I don’t read them often, but as I said, this time I was hit with a craving. It was the artwork that I wanted, mostly, and that’s another thing about graphic novels; when I pick one, I do so by opening it and flipping the pages. Reading the summary comes afterward, and sometimes I’ll wake away with a few and then realize that I don’t actually know what they’re about. Such was the case with all three of the books I got from school (patience, I’m getting there). With graphic novels, the illustrations are intended to tell the story in at least equal parts as the words. It was probably Hugo Cabret that put me in the mood for visual novels. Which is actually what this first one prefers to be called.

The Three Incestuous Sisters is a visual novel by Audrey Niffeneger, who wrote The Night Bookmobile, which I reviewed a few weeks ago and greatly enjoyed. This one is sort of like a storybook, and I literally read the entire thing in the car on the way home from the library. It’s about three sisters who live together in a lighthouse until the old lighthouse keeper dies, and then his son comes to take over his job. The son falls in love with one of the sisters and gets her pregnant, while the other sisters are dealing with…. jealousy and magic, respectively. It was a very odd story.

The way I described this book to the librarian when I returned it was, “very, very, very Edward Gorey.” Reading this book was basically an identical experience to reading Gorey. It was in parts repulsing, fascinating, stunning, shocking, frightening… I actually couldn’t believe what was happening at certain points. I sat their going, “Whose…. whose brainchild is this fantastic work of whatisit?” It was completely mystifying.

At the end of the book, she included an “Afterward” that explained her creative process. Audrey Niffeneger is most well-known, probably, for her Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry, but she was an artist first. She spent fourteen years writing, drawing, and creating this book, and did The Night Bookmobile during that time, and I wish I had it on me so I could describe how she actually created the artwork, but it was pretty esoteric. And again, really interesting.

Has anyone here ever actually read an Edward Gorey cartoon? You know how the picture tells the story, with only two or three words, or maybe a sentence to carry the plot? “Her life continued to be quite tedious.” That’s from The Gilded Bat, which I think is my favorite Gorey cartoon from the two books of Gorey cartoons we own. I recommend giving it a shot if you never have- it will definitely broaden your horizons.

This one (I didn’t realize when I picked it up) is actually a true story about a group of Hurricane Katrina survivors who each reacted very differently to the storm. One woman refused to leave her apartment, and ended up going to the hospital later as a refugee. Two storeowners wouldn’t leave their supermarket, to discourage looters. A doctor lived in a house that was over two hundred years old, and he was so confident in it’s ability to weather the storm that he hosted a party there. A married couple leave the city early and go to stay with friends in Houston. A college senior and his family go to stay with his brother in Tallahassee.

This one was shocking and… saddening. I felt somehow naive after reading it; granted, I was only…. eleven? when the hurricane hit New Orleans, and we spent maybe a month in school studying current events and they kept us up on the news, but then it kind of… went away. That’s how things work when you live on the east coast and nothing ever happens to you. Tragedy just sort of…. goes away. It’s not effecting us. It’s terrible, but I was only eleven, and I admit that I’m guilty of not exactly keeping up with the current events now…. Anyway, in this book you see what the hurricane was like, up-close and personal. The characters aren’t just based on real people, they are real people. Denise, Kwame, Doctor Brobson, Leo and Michelle were all real people who told the Josh Neufeld their stories.

You know, I do live on the east coast. It’s not unthinkable (particularly after Katrina) that we might experience some devastating hurricane that puts the entire city out of commission- or more like the entire central part of the state, since my city is only 6,000 people, as opposed to the 200,000 of New Orleans at the time… And now I know, from the personal stories, exactly what it’s like being a refugee in a time like that, and it’s completely horrifying. I can’t imagine it. It’s…. it happens to someone else, you know? That’s how Americans view tragedy. We feel immortal. Even I do.

Garage Band is an Italian graphic novel by the artist Gipi. (Fun fact: if you google “garage band” it will put a squiggly red line under it and suggest “garageband,” the software. I was shocked.) This is one that I’ve had my eyes on for a while because of the really very lovely artwork- watercolor with thin, black linework. I’d actually checked it out once before, but I gave it to my art teacher when I became interested in watercolor, just to show her. This is the first time I’ve actually read the story. It’s about five friends who, well, start a band in their garage. Each of the boys has a thing that makes them more intriguing and defines their character. Then something bad happens and they need to make up for it, and they get themselves in some pretty deep trouble. Meanwhile, one of the boys’ fathers has found a client who owns a music production company (or something) and is willing to listen to them play. They might have a manager. It’s very exciting.

This book was simple. I really liked it for the artwork more than anything. The watercolor is washy and edgy and dark, but it’s bright where there are colors. The character designs are kind of gritty- each design fits the character in an uncanny way that I really liked. There were parts where you could tell that Gipi had put a black line over wet paint, and the line became fuzzy… I enjoy little details like that.

I really, really loved this book.

I Kill Giants is about a young girl named Barbra Thorson who, she says, kills giants. Barbra believes that someday soon an angry, violent giant will show up and will need to be killed, and she is the only one who can do it- with the aid of her magic hammer, Coveleski. Naturally, Barbra’s peers don’t react very kindly to her strangeness, and she particularly attracts the attention of the older Taylor, a rather vicious brand of bully. You start to realize that things aren’t entirely sitting right with Barbra- that something is up with their strange little family unit.

In the nature of all really fantastic books, I can’t explain why I loved this one so much. I clicked with Barbra, though- she was thorny and bold, cute and strange. Her emotions hit me strongly- I was offended when she was, hurt when she was, apologetic and horrified. She was very real, and soon it became apparent that she was just a fascinating kid who had no clue how to deal with a very unusual situation. She wasn’t getting any help, either- people tried, but with Barbra, it’s like you have no idea where to start. People would invariably say the wrong thing. It was very difficult.

At the same time, you see how she interacts with her friends- a gentle girl named Sophia, and also the school psychologist, Mrs. Molle- and realize that she could be a normal child, probably even a sweet one, but things haven’t worked out that way for her.

After I finished this one, I gave it to my sister to read. I expect her to review it soon as well. I just talked to her on the phone about it, and she said she liked it a lot. I look forward to seeing what she has to say. I’ll also be adding this book to my rec list. Yeah, it actually was that good. Go read it. I know some of you could finish a book like this in ten minutes.

So, that’s it for the week of Graphic Novels, I guess. I’ve got something from my school library which the teacher more-or-less shoved in my hands as I was leaving. I have a lot of homework I could be worrying about, but I’ve also got a camcorder waiting for me in a box seventeen miles from here, and I need to get someone to drive me over there to pick it up. Don’t worry, I’m sure it won’t be long before you hear from me again!

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Holy CRAP this week has been so busy, and mostly in the, “Okay, tomorrow I have to do this, this, and this, so why do I still feel like I’m forgetting something?” way. Which is really irritating for me because I’m still afraid I’m forgetting something. But it’s been eventful! At least that much can be said. And things… catch you off guard. I’ve made plans for the middle of this week that I didn’t have on Sunday, and they caused my days to be very packed. But first, let’s talk happiness.

I like kids. I REALLY like kids, and almost always, kids like me just as well. I’m good with kids. So right now I have a long-term volunteer position in a fifth-grade classroom in the school system my dad works for (though he’s not a teacher, he’s a ‘big man on top’). And really if anyone is tired of hearing me talk of this, feel free to scroll past this paragraph and I won’t hold it against you. Anyway, I LOVE this class. We clicked very quickly and now (according to the teacher) the kids look forward to seeing me, and ask about me when I’m not there, and are all-around more energetic when I am there. So I went in on Monday and I got to spend ALL day with the kids one-on-one (though it’s a big class, so I still didn’t get to see EVERYONE). I got about twenty minutes with each kid, and they would read a piece of their book to me and then we would chat loosely for the remaining time, and take a few extra minutes if we wanted. It was a lot of fun to get that personal time with the students.

Yet still the best part of that day was right after lunch when I got to see one particularly bright girl, with no limit on how much time we could take, who was reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Actually, she’d just finished rereading it. So we went back and reread our favorite parts. But we only read for ten minutes or so, and then talked for another forty, and I LOVE this girl. She reminds me so much of me when I was ten. I even had another kid tell me that this girl was always reading, so she’s even got the same reputation I had. Slightly more talkative. It was just incredibly enjoyable to talk to her.

Then I found a completely and utterly heartwarming email from the teacher in my inbox when I returned from my English class (which has kicked my ASS this weekend, good god) and it was like tying a gold ribbon of cotton candy and love around my giant gift-wrapped present of a day. Monday was amazing for me.

Then we came to yesterday, which was art class and sewing a mole. Yeah. And you know, that thing came out damn adorable except for the feet. He wears glasses and a cape with the word “irrelevant” on it.

Today I went BACK to my fifth graders because I can’t get enough of them. After, I did my psychology homework and finished this book, which has definitely taken longer than necessary.

Yes, you might just recognize that author, because she wrote another book I greatly greatly enjoyed and reviewed a few weeks ago- Shanghai Girls. I loved Shanghai Girls so much that I looked up the writer’s other works and this one stuck out to me as so intriguing, so I was very lucky that it happened to be the only other Lisa See book my school library owned.

This book takes place in China in the 1830’s and tells the life story of a girl named Lily, who at a young age develops a laotong (old-same) relationship with a girl named Snow Flower. The special thing about having an old-same (as very few girls actually had them) was that, for women in China in the early 1800’s life was pretty much “obey, obey, obey.” You were born knowing that you should have been a son, as daughters held much less worth, and were raised with practically no love. When you were six, you had your feet painfully bound to an ideal size of 7 centimeters. When you were seventeen, you were married out to a man’s family, where you were of the lowest status in the entire house. It was not a good time to be a woman. When you had an old-same, however, it was like a reprieve from the madness- she was a woman you could tell anything to, things courtesy dictates you never mention. You grow alongside this other woman, and to Lily, Snow Flower became the person she loved more than anyone else in her life.

So that’s BASICALLY it. It’s basically a memoir, though technically fictional. It’s told from the perspective of Lily (yes, first-person), now a woman of 80 years- almost twice as old as women were expected to live back then. The book put a huge amount of emphasis on nu shu writing, a language created for and used exclusively by women to keep secrets from men. Lily and Snow Flower began their laotong relationship be exchanging a fan upon which they wrote the most important details of their lives in nu shu. The shared this fan between themselves to mark with every important detail of their lives, beginning with their acquaintanceship and including such vital dates as their weddings and the births of their children, as well as other events that they deemed important enough to go on the fan.

According to the author’s notes, Lisa See basically wrote this book because she became obsessed with nu shu, but what became of it was an epic life story and rags-to-riches tale about a young woman growing old and living a respectable, pious life alongside her old-same. Of course, if it were that simple the story would be quite boring. No. The two face a huge number of obstacles as they try to live peaceful, happy lives, including issues which ultimately damage their relationship in irreversible ways.

So, I’m going to say that this book is about friendship and love, as what Lily talked about throughout the book (though perhaps lost sight of in some places) was that what she truly wanted in her life was love. In fact, the narrative begins with her explaining that there are different kinds of love, and how mother-love was the most difficult to understand because it involved dealing your daughter an incredible amount of pain and showing very little love. What Lily realizes as she matures is that her laotong-love for Snow Flower is stronger than any love she would ever feel for her husband, children, or natal family. And it was quite powerful. Also rather heartbreaking in places.

Ultimately, while I greatly enjoyed this book, I think I liked Shanghai Girls more. And I know I’ve turned my sister off from reading it by describing the foot-binding scene, and Third Sister’s resulting infection. And it was quite sickening as I read it, but I found it more grotesquely fascinating than nauseating. But. It was still very, very good.

I have three books in my pile right now. One is something my brother has been trying to get me to read for several weeks, but I was busy and he can deal with that. He says it’s a quick read, so maybe I’ll be back on her sooner than usual. Though maybe not- my next few days are very busy. After that is a book I’ve borrowed from my dad, and then after that the one that my dad bought me from Amazon several weeks ago.

Meh, tomorrow doesn’t look like fun…. I’m very tired. I hadn’t actually planned to stay up and do this tonight, I was going to read until the last ten pages or so and then finish it and write this thing before school. But that didn’t pan out. Mostly because I really wanted to finish this book…. And here it is! So I guess I’ll see you in the next-week zone of time, yes? Very nice.

Published in: on December 2, 2010 at 1:00 am  Comments (7)  
Tags: , , ,

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

My life right now is busy, yet most of the time I still feel a little like I’m not doing enough. Like if someone were to ask me what I did today, I wouldn’t actually have much to tell him. Homework takes up hours of my time, but I’ve also done a bit of baking and moviewatching. Music is a constant. Has anyone ever heard of Renaissance? They’re rather hard to find- I have the CDs because my mom had them recorded from the vinyls.

The reason I mention this is that I would like to be able to talk a little bit about my week outside of books before I get into the book, because the book will be the bulk of the post. I have a book cover to design, a paper to write, and a class to go to in an hour and a half. But for now, I would like to give this book a proper goodbye.

So, this is a historical novel which takes place between 1937 and 1957, showing us the bulk of the lives of the Pearl and May Chin, young sisters from Shanghai. When the story begins, Pearl is 21 and May is 18, and both enjoy their well-to-do lives as upper-class beautiful girls.

To say they’re ‘beautiful girls’ doesn’t just mean they’re girls who are beautiful- it’s actually their titles, because both Pearl and May are models whom artists will paint to sell products. They are carefree and happy, and they love the magic of Shanghai and their gifted lives.

Then, things go wrong, because otherwise we wouldn’t have a book.

Their father, a greedy man with little compassion in his heart, has gambled away the family’s wealth and now must pay off a debt to the notorious Green Gang. His only option is to arrange marriages for Pearl and May to the son’s of a Chinese-American man named Old Man Louie, who will then take responsibility for his debts. Pearl and May, however, are modern girls, and don’t wish to follow their husbands from China, their beloved home, to San Francisco, where they are hardly welcome.

Meanwhile, we are constantly absorbing hints that all is not well in the neighborhood- things like dead babies in the street, men starving to death pulling rickshaws for hours every day, and food that must be avoided in case it’s been tampered with. These are all things that Pearl and May see around them and yet refuse to acknowledge, because as upper-class women, it isn’t their concern.

Very suddenly, without any warning, it becomes too dangerous to stay in China, and Pearl and May are forced to go to San Francisco, where they are told their father-in-law has great wealth and will keep them safe.

There were two reasons behind my choosing this novel to read: one is that I absolutely adore culture shock novels, where someone for some reason has to leave their home country and learn how to make due in a new country with new beliefs and expectations that they know nothing about, and how they must grow accustomed to it. I love these books. The other reasons is that it’s a sister book- the most important relationship, in a novel rich with characters and ties and love, was always the one between May and Pearl, two sisters, but completely different. More-or-less similar to sisters from The Summer We Read Gatsby, May is carefree and silly, even once they arrive in America, while Pearl must be the responsible one who, alongside her mother-in-law, must take responsibility for the house, her husband’s happiness, and producing a Louie grandson.

I. Loved. This. Book. THIS BOOK is raw, honest, and tragic. These two sister are forcibly shoved from their comfortable live in Shanghai and after that, it’s just one tragedy on top of the other. Each bitterness they swallow is cushioned by refuge sought in their extended family, whom they love more and more as time passes, and the hard work they must perform to keep their household running.

I don’t even know how to describe the magnificence of this novel- my heart was in my throat the entire time, yet I was never WAITING for the shoe to drop. There were a few shocks, yet only one was truly unexpected- the others had been hinted at through the book, and their final revelation was like a blunt force driven slowly against the foundation the family tries to build.

I was able to read this at a rate of about 50 pages per day, because whenever I had a free moment, THIS is what I wanted to be doing. It’s not a quick read, but so much happens that you don’t notice. There is SO MUCH going on on a single page, you’re never tired, it’s never tedious, and it’s absolutely never boring. You become amazingly attached to each and every one of the characters, even Old Man Loui, grouchy Yen-yen, and the boy-husband Vern. You ache with each sadness they bear, you WANT their happy ending.

All that said, this is absolutely not a happy book. Very little good things happen to Pearl and May, but they each have their blessings to count. Their lives are humble, but they’re as elegant as they could ever have wished for in America. They began with nothing, and by the final page they had much to account for their twenty years as wives and mothers. But, there is some graphic content, a lot of anger, violence, and blood, lies, confusion, shocking revelations, and hurt feelings. The ending isn’t happy. But it is incredible.

I would definitely read this book again if I ever had the chance (yes, I do reread books) when I didn’t have a sizable pile on my table. This week has been magnificent- books have been falling into my lap. I even had one recommended by my brother, who hardly reads. I had a conversation with a substitute teacher about how well I like books with a culture-shock theme, and the next week she leant me a new one. I have another one from the library. And goddammit, I’m still waiting for V’s to arrive in the mail. I’m rather distressed that I don’t have it yet.

I have class in 50 minutes, and my largest responsibility this weekend is an English essay that must be revised and edited. If I have a chance, I would be excited to get my next book started tonight. Either way, it probably won’t take me this long to finish. But but. I’ll see you when I see you, right?

Oh, forgot to say, I’ve added this book to my recommendations page, so you should go check it out and choose a book you haven’t read. Then read it. And let me know what you thought, because remember, those are my favorite books in existence.

Published in: on October 21, 2010 at 4:12 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , ,

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)  
Tags: , , ,