7 Following


Currently reading

The Last Girlfriend on Earth: And Other Love Stories
Simon Rich
The Dog Stars
Peter Heller
You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself - David McRaney In reality, I would give this book three-and-a-half stars. It started off as a blog called "You Are Not So Smart," and Mr. McRaney was convinced to turn his psychology posts into a book. This book then reads as a collection of short essays, each one dealing with a different mind process. The book is filled with interesting information, based on years of research. In fact the book made me want to seek out the original works that the author continually refers to. The snippets contained within are funny, interesting and might even have you rethink the way you think.
Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority - Tim Wise As the author states in the introduction, those who would most benefit from reading this book will never open its pages for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons is white America's wish to cling to a false nostalgic history that whitewashes (pun intended) some of our society's most nefarious deeds done for the purpose of continued white supremacy. I had previously read Tim Wise's "White Like Me," which is his memoir. It opened my eyes to institutionalized racism, and how I have benefited in this society just by virtue of being born white. (For instance, I've never been pulled over for driving-while-black.)Everyone would benefit from reading the works of Tim Wise, because no matter how liberal and open minded you may think your are, there are always other truths to be learned.

This open letter to the "new minority" is a brilliant polemic, told using historical data (notes in the back) and a passion well needed for the cause of anti-racism. Most of us have seen the emails passed around between conservatives, showing President Obama as a witch doctor, or a pimp. Just recently a pastor of a church in Georgia, hung an effigy of our first black president from a gallows built on the front lawn of his church. Ignorance does not die easy. I wish I could put this open letter by Tim Wise into the hands of a few friends and relatives, but -- knowing that it would merely collect dust -- I will instead use the information to be better informed myself, and to face our society a little more clear-eyed.
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn This book was so well written that I couldn't wait to get back to it each night. Part of me wanted a highlighter in one hand, so that I could mark those stand-out lines, which Gone Girl is full of. This is a compelling crime thriller, that is also a peek into the dark side of marriage. What would it take to make you behave like the perfect husband?
Immobility - Brian Evenson Josef Horkai has been awoken from storage after thirty years to aid the community. Only he can safely venture forth into the ruined landscape, and return with an item could mean the future of humanity. Evenson weaves a carefully constructed tale of a dystopian future where trust is a rare commodity and answers are a thing of the past. I was immediately drawn into Evenson's novel, and couldn't wait each day to get back to this book.
The Conversations at Curlow Creek - David Malouf In The Conversations at Curlow Creek, two strangers spend the night talking. One, an outlaw, is to be hanged at dawn. The other is the police officer who has been sent to supervise the hanging. As the night wears on, the two men share memories and uncover unlikely connections between their lives. The story takes place in 1827 in New South Wales, Australia, which gives the novel the feel of an American western. The troopers presence in the colony is to round up outlaws, and keep an eye on the aborigine population.

I was immediately caught up in Malouf's beautiful prose, and the situations that brought these men together. But ultimately, the story centers on the background of trooper Adair, and a love triangle from his past. He has traveled to Australia in the hopes of tracking down Fergus, a childhood friend, who may now be going by the alias Dolan. Adair is head-over-heels in love with Virgilia back home in Ireland, but she has always favored Fergus.

By spending the night with doomed convict Carnery, Adair hopes to find out what has truly become of Fergus, AKA Dolan. He could then travel back home to sweet Virgilia with news that his rival is buried under three feet of dusty ground, and that he, Adair, was the best suitor all along.

When the novel journeys into Adair's privileged past, and his unrequited love that he still pines for, I started to lose interest (i.e., eyelids getting heavy.) The beautiful prose, and interesting characters got lost in the background story for me.
I'll Save You Bobo! - Eileen Rosenthal, Marc Rosenthal An amusing follow-up to I Must Have Bobo! The Bobo books are all about attitude and Earl. Earl is the cat in the story, and he just wants Bobo to himself for a while. Meanwhile, Willy, the boy in the story, is trying to enjoy an afternoon, reading and imagining with his stuffed pet monkey, Bobo. Earl's continued pursuit of Bobo creates a underlying tension that propels the reader through the story, and the reader ends up empathizing with Earl. I did anyway.

My son is six, and he loves the Bobo books almost as much as I do!
Stay Awake - Dan Chaon I was in the middle of the title story when I realized that Dan Chaon had written a collection of horror tales. In these stories, human beings perpetrate horrors such as abandonment, abuse, neglect upon each other. Relatives are left to clean up the emotional refuse after events such as a house fire, or parental suicide. I came across one review that labeled Chaon an "evil puppet master," and I suppose that is because he puts his characters through the wringer. Some stories in this collection are stronger than others, but I gave the overall collection four stars, because Dan Chaon writes fiction that works on me at a very personal level. There is always a line in his work, or a mood that he evokes that rings very true to me, and my own experiences.
Life Story - Virginia Lee Burton Originally released in 1962, the Life Story of our earth is laid out by Burton (Mike Mulligan & His Steam Shovel) as a play in five acts. I had never seen this book until recently, but it’s a gem. This beautifully illustrated book has been updated to reflect the latest in scientific research.
Cell - Stephen King My original rating was three stars, but overnight it dropped to a mere two stars. Why? Well, I figure that during the last 50 pages of a Stephen King book I should be turning pages like a crazy man, but I was bored! Plus, I didn't feel emotionally invested in these characters, even the father/son relationship that is a theme throughout, and ends on the strength of this relationship. If you cannot get me emotionally involved with the characters after 450 pages, then that is a fault in the writing. Oh well...at least it was quick, and fairly painless.
Elegies for the Brokenhearted - Christie Hodgen You can often tell a lot about someone by what they think of others. In Christie Hodgen's novel, there are five elegies written by Mary Murphy about five people who had an influence on her life. The prose is powerful and compelling, as more is revealed about Mary's own difficult life. This book will knock your proverbial socks off!
The Odds: A Love Story - Stewart O'Nan O'Nan is a master at sketching out the details of his characters so flawlessly, that it's sometimes painful to watch them act out their lives. In The Odds, he follows a couple over one weekend at Niagra Falls, as they try to win back their savings, their house and -- at least one of them is hoping -- thier marriage.
Far North - Marcel Theroux This beautifully written post-apocalyptic tale tends to get lost among the tales of cannibals and zombies, but I would rank it right up there with McCarthy's The Road or Crace's The Pesthouse. One refreshing difference in this novel is that the main character, Makepeace -- sheriff of a dead town -- is a woman. Her trials and travails are harsh, but her will to survive and sense of hope brighten an otherwise dark landscape.

The Secret Intensity of Everday Life

The Secret Intensity of Everday Life - William Nicholson The British seem to do family dramas so well. Laura gets a letter from an old boyfriend. He wants to meet after all these years, but Laura is happily married with two children. Why is she even tempted to respond to this letter? There are many other mini-dramas in this small English village and Nicholson expertly draws the reader along as we get to peek in on their secret intensities. This is a compelling read that deals with the real life dramas of everyday people, and is not "chick-litty" in any way.
Eight Million Ways to Die - Lawrence Block The actual murder mystery takes second place to Scudder's struggle with the bottle in 8 Million Ways to Die. When I realized that I was 60 pages in and the murder hadn't been committed yet I knew I was going to like this book. I look forward to reading the earlier books in the series to get more of Matthew Scudder's back story, but I enjoyed the way Lawrence Block lets us truly get inside his character's head, and live his problems along with him. If you like your mysteries with lots of characterization and good dialogue, then the Matthew Scudder series is for you. It's not lighthearted by any means, but it's a poetic darkness.
The Story of a Marriage - Andrew Sean Greer I found this book to be quite silly. The characters, especially the main character Pearlie, an African American woman, are unbelievable. There are some interesting tidbits about San Francisco in the mid-fifties, but the storyline is preposterous. I had read Max Tivoli and liked it, but this book is a groaner. If it was a movie it would qualify for Mystery Science Theater commentary.
The Descendants - Kaui Hart Hemmings The wife of Matt King lies in a coma from a boat racing accident. Meanwhile he must decide on selling off a land inheritance that will effect all his living relatives. The Descendants is both poignant and funny, as Matt wrestles with being the parent-in-charge; carrying out his wife's last wish to be disconnected from life support and dealing with a surprise or two along the way.