Friday, September 30, 2005

Wednesday I finished We Thought You Would Be Prettier by Laurie Notaro. This is her fourth book of humorous personal essays and, while I have enjoyed all of them, I thought the last one wasn't as good as the first two. Luckily Laurie raised the bar with this book. Not only was it laugh out loud funny at times, but a few of the essays dug deeper and commented on growing up and moving on.

And then yesterday I read Flush by Carl Hiaasen, one of his books for kids. It seemed in this one as if he used his typical central character, but put him a few years down the line from when we usually see him - now married and with kids but still pulling the same stunts, putting strain on his marriage and family. When he is put in jail, his son and daughter decide to do what their dad couldn't and prove that someone is dumping waste into the bay.


Monday, September 26, 2005

I feel like I haven't been able to settle into anything lately. I must've tried 4 or 5 books this weekend and nothing stuck. This morning I even brought back about 12 of my library books unread and I think I might return another couple tomorrow. I suspect maybe it's time to retreat into comfort books for a while. Pull out some sure things. Clear out a little of the backlog from my to-be-read bookcase. The one thing I did manage to get through this weekend was Beware of God by Shalom Auslander, but I suspect that's because the book consists of short, irreverent (if not outright blasphemous), flat-out hysterical stories all involving God in some form or another. Even in the form of a chicken.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

And to round out my Beth Lisick reading, last night I finished This Too Can Be Yours, a collection of short stories. As with the previous book, I missed the longer personal essay format, but quite a few of these stories made me laugh, so I'm glad I read it. It was interesting reading this book after her new one because I noticed several incidents from her life that made it into the fictional stories. I feel like I should write more but I already returned the book and I actually have a lot of work to do today. So that's all you get.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

So I quickly ditched that annoying book from the bus and started Dreamer by Jack Butler because I enjoyed Jujitsu For Christ so much. This one? Not so much. I don't know what it was but I was struggling to get through even the first 50 pages so, after about 4 days of never wanting to pick it up (I resorted to going through a stack of old magazines instead), I gave up.

Yesterday I read Monkey Girl by Beth Lisick, a quick and easy read. It's a short collection of her poems and "storypoems" and, while not as funny or sustained as her latest, it was full of amusing situations and people and I enjoyed it.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

It's still way too hot in here and the book I started this morning on the bus began to annoy me before I'd even finished the first paragraph. It would've been a better morning if I hadn't already finished Everybody Into The Pool by Beth Lisick. Her very funny personal essays have made the last few sweltering office days a lot more bearable. Does it really take a week to fix the air conditioning? Anyway. I loved Lisick's stories of growing up in a normal family, out of step with the times, and her reflections on her rather abnormal adulthood and how the two interact and complement each other. There's an infectious happiness about her writing that made me smile when it wasn't making me laugh out loud.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

So I finished Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies over the weekend. I was pleased to find that the movie actually stuck to the book for the most part, other than the Hollywood ending which, after reading the book, seems entirely too earnest for the tone of the work as a whole. And what a work it is. How is it that something so of its time can seem so applicable to today's celebrity culture? Is it possible we haven't actually sunk as far culturally as it sometimes seems? Let's hope not. Anyway. It's far too hot in my unit right now to try to think so I'm afraid that's going to have to do for now. But I am definitely reading more Waugh as soon as I can.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Last weekend my roommate and I watched Bright Young Things and I enjoyed it so much that I immediately pulled out Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, the book the movie is based on. I bought my copy back when the movie first came out but hadn't gotten to it yet. After reading in the Author's Note, "Vile Bodies is in no sense a sequel to Decline and Fall, though many of the same characters appear in both. I think, however, that some of the minor motives will be clearer to those who have read my first book than to those who have not." I decided Decline and Fall would be a better starting point. So, accordingly, I checked it out when I got to work on Tuesday. I absolutely loved it. It even made me laugh out loud on the bus several times. Paul Pennyfeather is put through any number of trials from getting kicked out of Oxford to teaching at a horrible boy's school, ascending the heights of society as the fiancee of a wealthy widow only to be thrown in prison, before finally ending up right back where he started. Waugh admits that Paul "would never have made a hero, and the only interest about him arises from the unusual series of events of which his shadow was witness." Paul is an innocent to whom things happen, but who doesn't ever act himself. He is the means by which we get the satirical view of the upper class and its complete self-absorption.

I am so looking forward to Vile Bodies!


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

And a weekend roundup:

I needed something light after the heavy week, so I turned to Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson, the listmom of one of my Yahoo Firefly groups. I think this is my first (sorta) chicklit book this year. I actually love the concept - that New York is full of magical creatures but only certain people who are immune to magic can see them, one of whom is hired by a firm specializing in spells. The execution was nice and Shanna has a breezy writing style, light on the cheesy romance aspects and delving more into the magical and business sides of things. She has said she has ideas for sequels if she gets a deal, so here's hoping she gets to write them.

Next I pulled out Twilight Children, Torey Hayden's newest. In this book she's out of the classroom and dealing with two children in a clinical setting, while also consulting on a geriatric patient who can't speak after having a stroke. It's vintage Torey and further reinforced my theory that some people should not have children. Ever.

Before she was so rudely interrupted, Daisy was reading As Simple As Snow by Gregory Galloway. It sounded interesting, so I grabbed that one next. It kind of reminded me of Looking For Alaska, which I read not too long ago. There's a lot more ambiguity in this book though, and it's not as funny. I think I prefer Alaska.

And then, because I've been feeling very, very guilty for keeping so many of Claire's books (I seem to raid her bookshelves every time I see her) I read How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. It's the story of a 15 year old girl sent to live with relatives in England after her father remarries. Unfortunately, right after she arrives, England is invaded and something like WWIII breaks out. She and her 9 year old cousin are separated from the others and have to make their way back to the farm where they hope to meet up with them. I enjoyed the trek through the woods and the disorientation and fear and uncertainty all felt very real, which made the whole mind link / telepathy subplot seem that much more silly. I really could've done without it because it felt gratuitous and unnecessary, given the severity of the action in the book. Overall though I enjoyed it. Thanks, Claire! I'll try and read your others faster.

I actually finished The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia last week but was too overwhelmed by the book and by making sure Daisy and Jeff had made it out of New Orleans okay that I didn't have a chance to write about it. Even now I'm not sure what to say because it eludes simple explanations. Or even convoluted ones. It's an allegory, it's metafiction, it's postmodern... it's ultimately a story about loss and how we react to losing the people we love. I suppose I should give up on coherence. I loved how it played with structure - the blacked out blocks of text, the columns, the cut out name of Liz's new boyfriend, etc. It reminded me a lot of House of Leaves in that sense. I liked the author's story intruding and how we the readers became complicit in the war simply because we were still reading. I felt like it took me a really long time to read but it was actually only a few days. Maybe that reflects the all consuming nature of the story. Anyway. It vaulted into my top 5 of the year and I highly recommend it. Hey! I almost got through the post without mentioning the McSweeney's connection...


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