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elisas8

elisas8

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The Fixer
Bernard Malamud, Jonathan Safran Foer
The Wayward Bus
John Steinbeck
The Sound And The Fury - The Corrected Text - William Faulkner

i'm not really sure how to review this.

 

certainly it isn't a pleasure to read this book, at least for most of it. it's a trial to have any idea what is happening for so long; it's the kind of book that really needs (at least for the vast majority of people) to be read in an english literature class, and with a lot of help throughout. i am not opposed to having to do a little work and to have to have extra focus and concentration when reading, but i do think that, in the end, it should be understandable. i'm not sure this qualifies. i do feel like i got a good part of this book, at least in terms of plot, but it wasn't easy. (i read the first two sections slowly and then started the book over, and the second time around understood much more. i also consulted the internet along the way the second time around, so i could see if i missed anything in what i'd just read. this helped quite a bit, even though it still seemed like there was more that i wasn't getting.) i really don't mind doing a little work, but this book seemed to require more than should be asked of readers. especially readers 70 years ago without analysis on the internet at their fingertips. i hesitate to write this, though, because i do believe strongly in a writer writing not for the benefit of their audience, but because they need to write, and because they have a story that needs to be written. or even just because they want to do it a certain way. i think, in the end, for me, it seemed like faulkner didn't 'dumb down' his writing for the general public (as i think he shouldn't), but that he might have intentionally convoluted it (as i think he also shouldn't). he apparently wrote an appendix about 15 years after publishing this book (that my edition didn't include) that explains some of the story. i don't think that a book can be legitimately called such a success when a subsequent published explanation is required of the author to elucidate the original text. frankly i'm more than a bit surprised that this was published at all in the first place. that said, i am tempted to rate this higher because of what he did manage to do for writing and for storytelling. i might not particularly like it or have enjoyed it, but what he did was important and innovative, and changed literature. so that's something. and there are passages that, when they're understood, are quite nice. but it is so hard to read this that i don't think i can rate this any higher, and even feel kind of like that half star is awfully generous of me.

 

i've read 3 of faulkner's books now, and have been wondering what his style is this whole time. he is so very good at writing in the voice of other people, that i don't feel like i know his voice at all. perhaps this is his major talent - writing so truly in the voice of his characters. that said, maybe, just maybe, we see his voice come out in the fourth section of this novel, the only one told in the third person. to me, this section read a lot like a play, without all of the overt stage direction. stylistically, after the struggle of the first two sections, the last two didn't ring true for me. jason's section, the third, felt like an assignment someone else was writing to give jason's perspective, while filling in as many puzzle pieces as possible that were left out from benjy and quentin's sections, the first two. and the play-like narration of the last section didn't fit in well for me, although i was glad to get the point of view it gave.

 

i don't know. as i write this review i realize more and more how much i wanted to appreciate this book but just didn't. i like to think of myself as a lover of literature and that includes the classics, so it's always disappointing when i don't like books that are considered so important to the literature canon. i'm sure i would have liked this book (and understood it far better) had i read it in english class, but foundationally i just don't think that's fair to require of your readers. so i guess that's it then - i wanted to like this book but mostly just didn't, and i'm kind of annoyed at faulkner.

 

some quotes, only one of which was pulled to show how hard it is to read this book:

 

"His hair was parted in the center. The part ran up into the bald spot, like a drained marsh in December."

 

"Hats not unbleached and not hats. In three years I can not wear a hat. I could not. Was. Will there be hats then since I was not and not Harvard then. Where the best of thought Father said clings like dead ivy vines upon old dead brick. Not Harvard then. Not to me, anyway. Again. Sadder than was. Again. Saddest of all. Again."

 

one of the lovely passages that on first pass i didn't really get:

 

"her face looked at the sky it was low so low that all smells and sounds of night seemed to have been crowded down like under a slack tent especially the honeysuckle it has got into my breathing it was on her face and throat like paint her blood pounded against my hand I was leaning on my other arm it began to jerk and jump and I had to pant to get any air at all out of that thick gray honeysuckle"

 

"Then Ben wailed again, hopeless and prolonged. It was nothing. Just sound. It might have been all time and injustice and sorrow become vocal for an instant by a conjunction of planets."

 

and i will take a love of "Caddy smelled like trees." and "honeysuckle all mixed up in it" with me as i go. although i've heard quite enough of the word "hush" to last me a lifetime.

Easter Rising: A Memoir of Roots and Rebellion

Easter Rising: An Irish American Coming Up from Unde - Michael Patrick MacDonald 2.5ish stars. i really liked the last quarter of this book. this, as well as his work in southie and what really brought him back there, was what i was expecting to read about. so i was kind of disappointed to read more about his childhood, although it was nice that he filled in some of the gaps from his first memoir (all souls). still, while this wasn't quite what i wanted it to be, it was an interesting read. i don't know much at all about the music or the movements that came out of the music that he talked about, so it was kind of interesting to read about it. i do wish he said had focused less on that and more on his later experiences. i think what bothers me the most, i'm realizing as i'm writing this, is that he sidesteps most of the depth and the emotional part of the journey that we know he was on. in a memoir like this, i'd like that shared, but maybe that's not fair.

The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation

The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation - Thích Nhất Hạnh how did i get so far from this stuff? this book fell into my hands when i really needed it, as books tend to do. but, that said, while some of it really resonates, a lot of it just didn't. i tried to read this book as slowly as possible (or it would be about an hour's read), and i partially succeeded in that, and even did some of the exercises. others i'll refer back to later. it'll sound funny to say this, but i wish this had a little more depth, or maybe he wouldn't have lost me the few times he did.

NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES ISBN 0670851086

NIGHTMARES & DREAMSCAPES ISBN 0670851086 - Stephen King because this is a book of short stories, this is a bit of a mixed bag. on average, i suppose, somewhere around 2.5-3 stars. i didn't like all of what was in here, although i also didn't actively dislike any of the stories. there were two vampire stories and one zombie story - neither topic interests me at all and i was disappointed when that ended up being the subject matter, but like all of stephen king's stories, it's actually less about that subject matter and more about the feelings and the characters, so even those stories weren't bad. just not my favorites. speaking of favorites, there are a couple of really stand out stories in this volume, that are truly superb. and i really liked how virtually every single story in here references reading and specific authors. i love how often he does that in general, and it was really obvious when seen in this format.

If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!

If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him! - Sheldon B. Kopp parts of this book were good and parts were tough to push through. i like much of his message but not all, and the delivery of parts of it were lacking. definitely just ok for me.

Song of Solomon

Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison wow. i love toni morrison. she makes you work for it, but it is so worth it. i say that knowing that i didn't even understand so much in this book; it's so layered, and the deeper layers i just don't have the background to grasp. as usual, she writes about race, about gender, about society. more than that, i know she's making allusion to the bible, to folklore, to black culture, to things i just don't know about. even so, just reading this at the surface level is beautiful and deep. i wish i had read this in a college english class or something to really get to delve into it, but part of the greatness of this book is that even without all that context, it's still amazing. as an aside, the character of pilate is incredible. i wish she'd write a book about her.

Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies

Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquivel, Carol Christensen, Thomas Christensen 2.5 stars. wow, this is a fast read. it's funny because after all the high-blown language in the last book i read (that i complained about) i felt like there wasn't enough in this one.really, though, i liked this book so much more when i first read it years and years ago. i still love the idea and imagery of feelings and emotions being cooked into food and affecting everyone who eats the meal. but it just wasn't written all that well (or translated all that well, it's hard for me to know).kept me reading and was ok, just not great.

The Book of Salt. A Novel

The Book of Salt - Monique Truong this is a hard one for me to rate. for some reason i had *extremely* low expectations going in, and i'm sure that affected my reading of this book for at least the first 75 pages or so. i did think that this was not easy to get into, to care at all about, and i really had to work on focusing on actually reading the words. i haven't been this distracted while reading in a long while. at the beginning. once i got past my main issues with the book (the language and the story) i ended up quite liking it.but the main issues: the language is so incredibly overblown. it's beautiful, don't get me wrong, but so incongruous to the subject. it ends up making no sense that she's writing the way she does about what she's writing about. which makes it hard to read if you're paying attention to both the language and what she's talking about. if you just want to read for the writing or because words can sound pretty on a page, then this is a great book for you to just pick up and open anywhere to appreciate a page or two at a time. and then the story, if you can even call it that. this isn't a book about anything in particular. i actually don't necessarily need lots of things to happen in a book to like it, but i'd like to be able to pinpoint that it was about something.so i both liked and didn't like this book. the setting isn't something i know anything about (or am much interested in) but did, in the end, find myself enjoying the book for its language. i just wish it had a story worthy of it.the passages below are examples of the overblown language that at first really annoyed me because they just didn't fit in at all, but that, by the end, i really enjoyed:"I see there on my fingertips a landscape that would become as familiar to me as the way home.""If I had your voice, I would never be so terse. I would never stop talking. Why would I if I had a voice like warm fire, not at the crackling and popping early stages but at the moment when all becomes quiet and the embers glow, when heat appears to melt the wood? If I had your voice, I would call out your name from the street, let it pound like a heartbeat at your door, offer it to you as a song. I would never cease."

The Book of Salt: A Novel

this is a hard one for me to rate. for some reason i had *extremely* low expectations going in, and i'm sure that affected my reading of this book for at least the first 75 pages or so. i did think that this was not easy to get into, to care at all about, and i really had to work on focusing on actually reading the words. i haven't been this distracted while reading in a long while. at the beginning. once i got past my main issues with the book (the language and the story) i ended up quite liking it.but the main issues: the language is so incredibly overblown. it's beautiful, don't get me wrong, but so incongruous to the subject. it ends up making no sense that she's writing the way she does about what she's writing about. which makes it hard to read if you're paying attention to both the language and what she's talking about. if you just want to read for the writing or because words can sound pretty on a page, then this is a great book for you to just pick up and open anywhere to appreciate a page or two at a time. and then the story, if you can even call it that. this isn't a book about anything in particular. i actually don't necessarily need lots of things to happen in a book to like it, but i'd like to be able to pinpoint that it was about something.so i both liked and didn't like this book. the setting isn't something i know anything about (or am much interested in) but did, in the end, find myself enjoying the book for its language. i just wish it had a story worthy of it.the passages below are examples of the overblown language that at first really annoyed me because they just didn't fit in at all, but that, by the end, i really enjoyed:"I see there on my fingertips a landscape that would become as familiar to me as the way home.""If I had your voice, I would never be so terse. I would never stop talking. Why would I if I had a voice like warm fire, not at the crackling and popping early stages but at the moment when all becomes quiet and the embers glow, when heat appears to melt the wood? If I had your voice, I would call out your name from the street, let it pound like a heartbeat at your door, offer it to you as a song. I would never cease."

Wide Sargasso Sea: Student Edition (Penguin Modern Classics)

Wide Sargasso Sea (Penguin Modern Classics) - Jean Rhys, Angela Smith, Francis Wyndham under 2 stars, really. unfortunately. i totally love the idea for this book, but just don't appreciate its execution. (also, it's not all that true to jane eyre, which is fine if this is a stand alone book, but it's not.) i liked this a lot better the first time i read it, but this time found myself pretty annoyed with the writing. it seemed forced in her style, and it made it confusing to read from a plot perspective. grammatically, she seemed to be entirely opposed to using semicolons, and so instead had all of these run-on sentences broken up with commas in a way that made it hard to follow.basically, i so want to like this but really didn't. i can't give it 1 star, though, because the idea is so good and because there are moments when it all works. those moments are just too infrequent for me to have really enjoyed this book this time around.

JANE EYRE

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë i guess i have to give this just under 4 stars. it's always hard to revisit an old favorite book that you haven't read in a while. i really enjoyed rereading this, and wasn't disappointed in general. i do think that for modern readers it's a bit slow moving, and obviously the conventions of the time (which the plot hinges on) seem a bit ridiculous today. and then there's the almost inexplicable fact that jane falls in love with mr. rochester at all ( and the truly awful and manipulative way he pretended to intend to marry miss ingram ). but there is just something really nice about this book. it's partly how, for the time, bronte's jane is more outspoken, requires more equality, and demands more respect than women of her position would have been accustomed to (although significantly less than would be expected today). it's partly the mystery, partly the drama. partly how well written it is. all these years later (from her writing of course, but also from my last reading) it's still a really enjoyable read.as an aside, this edition is simply marvelous. i bought it ages ago to adorn my shelf and felt like, reading it, i should be wearing those white gloves that are used to protect photographs or old documents. it's a beautiful edition with a few fun bonuses.one of my favorite lines in all of literature:"Superstition was with me at that moment; but it was not yet her hour for complete victory..."And of course, the famous and gratifying:"Reader, I married him.

Blood Relatives (87th Precinct)

Blood Relatives (87th Precinct, #32) - Ed McBain 2.5 stars. i like ed mcbain and this is a quick, fun read. i only don't give it 3 stars because i thought that some of the writing was a little uneven, and because the killer was a little predictable. not the why of the murder and everything leading up to the motive, but who it was wasn't a surprise for me. overall still fun and still well written (except those couple of parts).

The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

The Amateur Marriage - Anne Tyler 3.5 stars. it's been a while since i've read anne tyler; i only wish i hadn't started reading her years ago, before i was ready. she's really wonderful, but completely understated, and so i didn't appreciate all the books of hers i read when i was much younger. this book is lovely. she (if i remember her others that i've read correctly) often writes about people who unintentionally discover themselves, through 'mundane' living. there's not a lot that this book is 'about' but it's this very real description of these two people's lives through the decades. The issues and feelings that are behind the scenes of everyday living. Communication, unhappiness and how people deal with that differently, self discovery. i liked this book quite a bit, and am very glad to be reacquainted with anne tyler."...So they'd gone to Aronson's Portrait Studio - Michael in his suit, Pauline in her gray silk - and the photographer had arranged them in front of a velvet curtain that puddled in artful folds around their feet. 'A little closer together,' he'd said. 'Mrs., lift your chin a bit...Mr., put your arm around Mrs....' Michael had obeyed, encircling Pauline's waist and clasping her elbow just inside the hem of her sleeve; and something or other - the new sponginess of her bare skin, perhaps, or the unfamiliar scent of the silk - had made him feel for just an instant that he was standing next to a stranger. Who was this woman? What did she have to do with him? How could the be expected to share a house, rear children together, combine their separate lives for all time? The knob of her shoulder pressing into his armpit had felt like an inanimate object.Yet the finished photo on Pauline's bureau showed an ordinary couple: Mr. and Mrs. Perfectly Fine, standing side by side and smiling the same stiff smile. A gilt-framed commercial. An advertisement for marriage.""He wished he had inhabited more of his life, used it better, filled it fuller."

The Bridge Across Forever: A Lovestory

The Bridge Across Forever: A Lovestory - Richard Bach oh, where to begin??? i guess i should start with the fact that an older book by about 7 years of his (illusions) is one of the books that has most impacted me in my life. perhaps it was the timing in my life when i first read it, and each timing i reread it or referred to it. so maybe i had high expectations coming in. i suppose i could give 1.5 stars because the ending of this book starts to approach some of what is good about illusions, but the rest of this book is ... let's just say i kept reading it to see how angry it could make me, how much he could make me want to reach through time and throttle him, and because i've not not finished a book i've started since first grade. he's not a great writer, but that's forgiven because he's got "a message," i guess. maybe. but here's the thing. well, 2 things. firstly, this is a sort-of memoir, and the man writing it is a colossal, monumental douchebag. i don't know that i've ever used that word to describe someone, but wow it fits this guy. and secondly, it's like he learned absolutely nothing at all of the lessons he wrote about in illusions, which is dispiriting, to say the least. reading this, you wonder how in the world it's the same person who wrote that little gem, and you think if even he can go back on those lessons so very easily, and be this terrible person who seemed to remember none of what was good from that book, then what truth is there in it? how could he have written illusions and be the person who wrote this book? how can leslie, who seems an amazing woman, stand to be in the same room with this man? i'm actually okay with selfishness as a life prerogative; i think it makes sense to live for yourself and how you see fit. but to do that at the expense of others? not taking anyone else into account? hurting whoever you want along the way because how they interpret it is on them? asshole. how this is billed (and reviewed!) as a love story is beyond me. he treats people like shit, including the woman he claims to be his soulmate (it doesn't help that we know he's divorced her, and divorced the next woman as well). and because he - after being a truly incredible piece of crap human being for so long - finds love in spite of himself, we call this a love story? i call this a sorry excuse for both a memoir and a human being, and with very little to learn about love in it, other than what to avoid. i can't stand this man. maybe i read this book at a time that i am not open to it or ready to hear it or whatever, but let's face it - we want to learn our lessons from people that we can respect even remotely. maybe that's a shortcoming, and my lesson to learn. i can still learn from this book, especially the ending and from leslie in general, and not just how not to be an asshole, but that's the overwhelming lesson in this book - not to behave like the author.

Chromosome 6

Chromosome 6 - Robin Cook work was much slower than expected yesterday and today and so i had a lot more time to read than i thought i would - still, i flew through this book. it was fun, interesting, and while not great literature, much better than i expected. i liked the science, most of which was simply explained and actually plausible (except, i think, for the rapid evolution of the bonobos, which, even with the chromosomal help, seemed a bit too speeded up). i like that robin cook seems to be one of the only thriller writers that i've read (and i haven't read that many, i suppose) who is completely able to write his books with no sexism, with no gender stereotyping of his characters, with strong, leading, flawed women and equally strong, flawed, and non threatened men. also i really like that what he does with the medical and science stuff is generally make it a moral or ethical issue, wrapped up in the thriller. i last read two of his books probably 15 or 20 years ago (the year of the intern and coma and remember liking them, remember strong women, remember them factoring into my decision (or backing up my decision, i can't remember which) not to go to medical school, but remember thinking they were pretty strong books. in spite of a couple of cheesy parts in this book, and the overuse of the word "quipped," i would be quite happy to read him again.

Creme de la Femme: The Best of Contemporary Women's Humor

Creme de la Femme: The Best of Contemporary Women's Humor - Sybil Adelman, Anne Dalin this is a nice idea - women writers, writing about women's issues in many forms (cartoons, poetry, song, prose, plays) - but falls woefully short of being even remotely well done. generally poorly written, repetitive, and only a very few perks throughout. very disappointing.