I’ve been slackin’. We can all see that. I went from two-digits to single digits.
I’ve actually been researching the Holocaust because I’m going to start teaching Night in one week and I’m pumped up, like cheerleader pumped up, top of the pyramid cheerleader, BE AGGRESSIVE, B-E AGGRESSIVE cheerleader pumped up.
In order for me to catch up, it’s another round of the quick & dirty.
1. Tiger Lily – Jodi Lynn Anderson
Do you realize how many times I went into Barnes & Noble just to feel the green leather cover of the new Annotated Peter Pan? If a cow was covered in peter pan memorabilia I would pet those Pan spots until the cow and I flew off to Neverland. I have a deep love of Peter Pan, he’s like the classic version of Harry Potter. I requested this book as an advanced reader from Harper Collins twice. I literally had to e-mail beg the second time with a proud picture of my photobooth sad face. (I know I have issues). However, this was a dud. I badly wanted Tiger Lily to not turn into the pouting girlfriend when Wendy came. They made Peter Pan seem like some high school heart throb who made out with mermaids one minute and eskimo kissed Tiger Lily (how dare she ruin her morals like that) the next. I did like that the mermaids were these half shark, half scaled, half Disney creatures though because it seems like the Blue Lagoon would breed some strange epiphany of an animal. BUT, Tiger Lily is just another love sick “native” in another young adult book where the girl gets broken-hearted and sits alone to daydream about when the right man will come along.
TIGER LILY IS SUPPOSED TO BE A BEAST WHO DOESN’T GIVE PETER THE TIME OF DAY.
She uses him, okay. She uses him.
“Sometimes I think that maybe we are just stories. Like we may as well just be words on a page, because we’re only what we’ve done and what we are going to do.
2. Mister Pip – Lloyd Jones
This book was another slight adventure into New Zealand literature. I’m not sure anything could ever approach the greatness that is Bone People, but this was good. However, if you’re going to write a book that twists off from the rock of a great classic piece of literature at least make the climax worth my time. I was desperately involved with Mister Pip, the school teacher and his white suit, his love of Dickens. I can imagine him wrapping his voice around the cocktail shrill of Miss Havisham, her wet broom hair, and dusty white lace. I wanted to hear him cough like Magwitch, imagine the sounds of the sewer river near Pip’s home. Magwitch threatened someone’s life, he must have a deep growl somewhere in the pit of his stomach.
It took this author two sentences to ruin the climax. Two full sentences and the entire book was a sham.
I wanted to hurl my body into a wall and leave a hole for the place where this story should have went. Maybe it’ll grow like a wildflower from the blank space.
“I had found a new friend. The surprising thing is where I’d found him – not up a tree or sulking in the shade, or splashing around in one of the hill streams, but in a book. No one had told us kids to look there for a friend. Or that you could slip inside the skin of another. Or travel to another place with marshes, and where, to our ears, the bad people spoke like pirates. ”
3. The Dove Keepers – Alice Hoffman
If you want me to read a 500 and so page book, then you need to make it thrilling.
If you are writing about women made of magic and homemade ink and they aren’t fascinating gypsy spirits…
I can’t even review this.
4. Vaclav & Lena – Haley Tanner
I enjoyed this book. It has birds on the cover. It was a healthy dose of love story and corny plot line that I needed during commercials of NFL football. I hate when authors I love write blurbs on the back of books I don’t gush madly, deeply, truly (sorry Backstreet Boys interrupted me there) about. This book was okay. It wasn’t a golden ringer and I was okay with that because I just borrowed it from the library. I had to borrow it anonymously because I owe the librarian ten cents for a misunderstanding (Yea, sorry, I’m that person) but I gave it back in a quick turnaround.
The characters in this story are interesting. It’s a bit too “written in the stars” for me. I don’t like stories where the lovers are laid out in the beginning and the reader has to accept that whatever horrible things happen to them in the middle, they will come back together in the end, holding hands, or singing a lullaby, or just off somewhere looking at the sky, sitting close to one another. (I take that back because I pretty much just described Twilight).
Vaclav is a magician and Lena is his lovely sidekick. They are both Russian immigrants who YOU GUESSED IT lose each other on the cusp of adulthood and find each other again when they’re both much taller, lacking braces, and smell funny.
“. . . and Vaclav’s special new shoes with the lights on the heels and the Velcro everywhere, because in America no one, not even small children, has time to tie his own shoes, and everything must have flashing lights.”
5. Black Boy – Richard Wright
I think this is one of the most brilliant memoirs to happen in the 20th century. While everyone argues in their head for Year of Magical Thinking (which I thought was a bit of a bleh) please hear me out.
Richard Wright is so ahead of his time, it’s ridiculous. Instead of being a writer who hits the Jackpot exactly at the right moment in time (50 Shades of Grey COUGH COUGH – came out just when everyone was trying to make women have these probing ultrasounds if they wanted to have an abortion and half of the population wanted to riot over the rights of women. Everyone in porn is having a serious round of high-fives) (that was a long parenthesis), Richard Wright comes about when it’s the complete wrong part of time. He grows up black when anything else is more acceptable. He tells the true story of black boys, and to be honest, I read this book because I teach a lot of black boys and I wanted to understand them better. What better way than by reading a book? (Gateway drug).
I was awed by Richard Wright’s struggle, but not only that, the way he spoke about books made my chest open up and all the red flush drained out. It’s like a black boy in “No Colored Allowed” South, knew me. This is when books are meeting their true calling, when they find the pocket of opportunity to introduce a 24-year-old white girl to a sixteen-year-old black boy who is fighting every impossibility of life while she types a blog on her macbook. This book found me in a place I didn’t yet know I had. We read because we need to show the world color.
Thank you, Richard Wright, for just living and writing it down.
“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of the hunger for life that gnaws in us all.”
6. American Pastoral – Philip Roth
I think this is a five.
Much like my favorite book ever, Lark & Termite, this is one of those books that you must finish and well-out before you are able to fully grasp the magnitude. (I mean sit in a well and ponder the possibilities of life). I think I’m so in awe of this book because I could never, ever, ever write it. The way Roth describes how you make a glove should be printed into short stories and given to amateur writers everywhere. I’ve never been so interested in industrialization and the way a factory processes goods than I was in those gloved moments. Philip Roth wrote down to every single stitch that a glove maker does by hand. I learned parts of a glove that I never cared to learn. It made me want to go out and dress like a lady.
I’m just not sure how to recommend this book. I think if you can deeply feel a book for it’s style and content, then read this book. If you get bored easily and can’t push yourself to finish books that dawdle, then don’t read this book. Well….just….actually…please read this book. I think it may be one of the greatest books in American literature. And here I am, not even having gotten to the characters and how I felt about them, and I want to pull my pinky finger from the soft leather pinch with my teeth.
This book is just a marathon of awesome writing. I hate using the word awesome in this blog because I think it’s an excuse of a word. It’s like cussing, there’s no point when the English language – or any language for that matter – has so many great words for how you’re feeling when you cuss. Awesome is the good word version of a cuss word in a paragraph. It has a cool sound, but it isn’t actually a word.
7. A Day, A Night, Another Day, Summer – Christine Schutt
I think she likes to hear the sound of her own voice. I think I worked way too hard to read this book. It was incredibly hard to be moved by these characters or to connect series of events. If she wrote a novel, it would come out with a big “discard” stamp in the front flap. (That may be a little too harsh. There were good word moments).
8. Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbury
I found this book pretentious. I was expecting Matilda and I got philosopher concierge and pretentious little girl. The best part of this book was the Japanese man who takes philosopher to dinner and discussions. (I’m so sorry my dear Aussie friend. I know you love it. You can defend it to the death in a dual in the comments if you want).
9. Buddha in the Attic – Julie Otsuka
Don’t read this book. It has a “we” as the narrator and it’s horrendous. Who chose to write this as a chorus. This is not a Greek tragedy. We needed one character for the reader to connect to, to make this novel work. Instead we get the gallows of women who sound like a long train of dead voices. If you can write a novel in the second person that’s beautiful, I will bow down, but the “we,” really? Did WE really expect that one to work?
I’m a harsh critic tonight.
This must be why that book snob said that book bloggers are ruining the book culture. (Sorry, I’m not sorry).
“We lost weight and grew thin. We stopped bleeding. We stopped dreaming. We stopped wanting.”