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|Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008|
|my year in books
so everyone seems to be writing new years posts and an resolutions and such. so my version of that has to do with books. most of you probably don't care, but it interests me. some surveys say that 57% of adults don't even read 1 book a year, so i guess this is my way for making up for a few of em, heh.
so i read 78 books this year, which is a few less than the last two years, but still a good chunk of books. i read 4 three star books this year, which is my highest rating. one was wickett's remedy which i would recommend to anyone who has eyes. it was wondful. it takes place partly during the flu pandemic and partly 40 or so years after it. this was actually one of the books i listened to during my commute to and from work, and i think the recording added a lot. there were a good deal of jingles and 50s type music which, clearly, the audio was able to bring out. plus it;s really well written. myla goldberg is the author and she also wrote bee season, which was good but wickett's surpassed it by a lot. this was by far and away the best book i read this year.
the other top 4 were to kill a mocking bird, which i decided to re read since it;d been a while since i read it. so 3 stars sort of goes without say.
i ended up giving the final harry potter book my highest rating, not because it was the best book ever but because for a book that was a DECADE in the making, it lived up to all the hype and was well worth it. for a book to withstand that much anticipation and still be really quite good is a big plus in my book.
the final three starer was jeeves and the old school chum, because who doesn't love jeeves and wooster. p.g. wodehouse is quite possible the funniest man who ever existed. well maybe in the top 10 anyway.
i read a few bad books, 6 got negative marks, but over all it was a good year. nothing was near as bad as twisted or charlotte simmons. i don;'t think i will ever choke down how truly horrible those books were. it's sort of insulting to even give another book as low marks as they got, but i'm biased. the absolute worst book i read this year, and it pains me to say this, was casanegra. it was co written by one of my all time favorite writers, tananarive due, and her husband. the main author is blaire underwood, which may explain why it was so bad. bascailly the plot was as follows "sex sex sex predictable detective moment sex sex predictable clue sex sex sex predictable clue sex sex predictable ending sex. now if you're into soft core sex scenes then this may very well be the book for you, but if you're not then for the love of everything that is holy do not read this book because the sex scenes were the only half well written parts of the book.
i also read two gregory maguire books this year, mirror mirror and confessions of an ugly stepsister. i was hesitant to read more of him cause, frankly, i just couldn't get into wicked. i liked it at first but was annoyed with it by the end. the other two books were fantastic. maguire really has a way with description and character development that i just didn't feel with wicked. maybe i need to give wicked another chance cause these two books were just so much fun. mirror mirror was the better of the two, but both were quite enjoyable.
this was also gthe year i discovered haruki marakami who is a freakin genius. he writes...well...japanese mysteries on acid. i read a wild sheep chase, after dark, norweigan wood and kafka on the shore. i wasn't to keen on norweigan wood, but the other books were fablous, especially kafka. he's a weird fucked up genius and should def be read. i'm not even sure how to go about describing one of his books without either giving away some of the plot or making it sound really stupid. he's a master story teller though, and i look forward to reading more of him. though at one point i read 2 of his books in the same month, this is not recommended.
another fab book this year was rant by chuck palahniuk. yet another brilliant story. think fight club with cars. sort of.
the big disappointment of the year was interview with the vampire. i have been waiting to read it for years, i like vampires and i like the movie. i was into the book for a while but i was just getting sick of it by the end. i think it was because she kept using the word preternatural. i know it sounds stupid, but when you use the same word to describe something 100 times in 100 pages, no matter how apt, it gets really fucking annoying. one thing i was always taught in school was to avoid using the same word to describe something repeatedly, and it's one of those pet peeve things that has stuck with me ever since. i am not a great speller, and probably make a thousand gramatical mistakes but i will be damned if i need to read the same word over and over (and over and over:) ) again. it just keeps taking me aaway from the story and reminding me that i am read a book, and an annoying book at that.
one of the surprise finds of the year was this book called Vamped. ironicially enough, another vampire novel. these were the only 2 vampire novels i read this year, i promise. anyway, vamped takes place in a world where the vampire/human ratio has flipped and there are virtually no humans left. a vampire finds a little girl and intends on eating her but, though a series of odd events, ends up raising her instead. the book actually delves into the effects of long term containment (the girl cannot go outside because she'll be eaten) and self injury and was just very nicely done. it wasn't a fantastic book or anything, but for what it was it was very well done.
i really need to read more non fiction. i only read 9 non fiction books this year, one of which was about veronica mars so shouldn't really count. it was fun though. generation debt was about how our generation is, you guessed it, in a lot of debt, mostly due to credit cards and school lones. it actually ended up making me feel good cause it kept saying how few people actually a. went to college b. had no debt from college and c. had a job, so i sort of felt good. it was some what pedestrian, you can probably guess most of the arguments she makes in the book, but it was still a neat read.
consuming kids, which is about advertising to children, was also pretty good. like with generation debt, you can probably figure out her main arguments, but the author did do some things that you and i can't. for instance, she went to some work shops and such geared towards marketing to kids. we could do that if we felt like spending a few grand, but i doubt most of us would seeing as we're generation debt. anyway, it was interesting to hear what goes on at those conventions and how soulless you sort of have to be to be in advertising to children. even adult advertising, such as fgor cigarettes, are geared towards kids. this is probably obvious, but to see it in black and white is still creepy. she said something like 80 - 90% of people who smoke for life get addicted before age 18.
another fun non fiction boook, though by no means a real non fiction book, was pretending you care: the retail employee handbook. basically it's just talking about all the shit that the retail staffers of the world have to live with. being a retail bitch for 5 years made this book quite amusing. i also wrote to the guy and he wrote back to me in a week or so which was neat. even if you didn't work in retail it's amusing, but sadly everything he points out in the book is only to true.
i also read my boss' book on self injury. it really wouldn't be interesting to anyone not working in the social services type field, but i wanted to mention it cause my boss is cool and, frankly, i can cause i'm writing this, mawh hahahahahhaha.
so i guess that's my year in books. it was overall a decent year, though no bret easton ellis which sort of makes me sad. maybe i'll re read american psycho. i love that book. anyone have any book recommendations? and sally, that book you mentioned in your post, is it something you would want to share? i love reading my friend's work.
did anyone make it this far? if you did congrats. i'll list the really boring stuff below this that nobody except me cares about. which, given that i just ranted for a page or so, must be pretty geeky, but that's okay, i work with numbers all day, i'm suppose to be a geek. oh, and before you think i'm letting my geekieness out a bit to much, i could do this, accurately, for the past 2 years. so i don;t know what the proves other than that i am my fathers daughter and make to many damn lists, but he's creppier than i am, he can tell you how much money i spent and made every year since i was born, now that's fucking creepy
pages read: 25,570 (more than in 06 and less than in 05)
15 of the books were published in 07, 11 from 05, 9 from 06 and 8 from 03. 1925 was the pub date of the oldest book i read, followed by 1930 and then 1962.
26 were published before this decade.
average book length: 327.82 pages
shortest book: 43 pages (a play)
longest book: 870 pages (potter)
average pages a day: 70
|Wednesday, August 1st, 2007|
heh, it's been a while i guess. i've been trying not to knit cause i murdered my hand, worse than before, it was hurting even when i wasn't knitting. so i made it 13 days, but then i had a craptastic day today and needed to do something relaxing, at which point i realized that bob (the reason for my bad day, i'll get to that later) drove me to knit, heh. i swear it's like freaking booze, i tried to stay away but one stressful day and i'm back at it. heh.
so i need some advice, any would be appreciated. i love my job, it's amazing. the woman across the hall from me brings her dog (bob) into work every day. this was fun and cute at first, but now the damn dog barks all day and on top of that every three seconds she's shouting "HEY BOBBY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING BOBBY?!" at the top of her lungs in a baby voice. now i know you all have heard me talk baby talk to my dog, and i'll admit it might have been annoying, but imagine it when you're trying to get your freaking work done. so anyway, i've taken to playing REALLY loud music to block it out (with head phones so as not to annoy other people) but i can only do that when i don't need to concentrate fully on what i'm doing. shutting my door doesn't block him or his mother out either. i'm not sure what to do because she is technically my higher up even though i don't work for her. gah, at least i'm a dog person, i don't know what someone who didn't like dogs in the first place would do
|Thursday, April 26th, 2007|
so it's been a while. so much for reviewing books all the time. well, i guess i'll do some catch up
the job is AMAZING. i'm the outcomes manager at the bridge of central mass if anyone doesn't know. i have an office and there's a puppy in the office across from me. it's nice cause i'll be running some numbers and then suddenly have a little pug at my feet. our gala is tomorrow to raise money for the kids, and i have some scarves on auction, and i sold someone at work a knitted pillow so i'm sort of seeling my knitting too, heh.
i've had this stupid virus for the last two days. think food poisioning that doesn't go away. it's the opposite of fun.
i read this amazing book called The Ax by donald e. Westlake. the plot is that the main character has been out of work for two years and keeps losing jobs to people more qualified, so he gets the resumes of those better qualified than he is and kills them. it's sort of brilliant, and i'm glad i read it after being employed, heh. it's very special
so how are you all doing job and life wise?
|Wednesday, January 31st, 2007|
so it's been a while since i posted. it's been a very very weird few months.
first i got a job and woman some knitting shit and show some awesome authors.
then i lost the job cause my idiot boss didn't secure a grant and got into 2 car accidents, on of which was minor and the other my breaks failed on the highway, for the record it's not fun to come to a stop by going under the car in front of you.
then i got a new job
so life has been flip flopping between the extremes, and i can't say i like it very much. so if it's all right with the powers that be i would like to keep this job and not get into a car accident. i know that's a lot to ask, but come on.
in other news i've gotten some reading in but i haven't blogged any of it cause, well, life has kind of sucked. i'm reading Gospel of Food by barry glassner. he wrote the culture of fear, which i liked, so i picked up one up. it's all right, culture of fear was better though
pale blue eye by Louis Bayard was pretty good. it's pretty much your typical mystery read, but with a better style than most mystery novels, one of the characters is also a fictionalized edgar allan poe which was fun. it was really quite good for most of it, then sagged for about 20 pages and then ended really well, which sort of irks me but that's okay. better than being good all the way through and having a shitty ending *coughcoughuntilifindyoucoughcough*
alas, christopher moore's new book was disappointing. i love chris moore sooooooo much, but alas his new book, you suck, well, sort of sucked. basically he took the story lines from bloodsucking fiends (a good book) and dirty job (good book) and reiterated them into you suck. i guess if you didn't read the other two then you suck would come off as unique and quite funny and smart, but reading it after the other two was just sort of sad
i also finally go around to reading 100 years of solitude. i won't get into it here cause the book isn't really summerizable, but if anyone wants to talk about it i'd be up for that
gah, these reviews suck, sorry, i'm out of practice. i'll should read an awful book, that usually gets me wanting to write a review, heh.
but yes. life is odd
|Friday, January 19th, 2007|
So apparently someone was stabbed and killed
at LS this morning. All the kids are in lock down at the cafeteria. It's sort of weird to think anything bad happens in sudbury, since in our tenure i think the worst thing that happened was you guys stealing doormats.
|Wednesday, January 17th, 2007|
The scrubs musical was written by the avenue q guys, heehee
|Monday, January 1st, 2007|
I did this last year and I figured I’d do it again. So here’s my end 2006/start 2007 recap of books from 2006. Again, this probably won't interest anyone but me, but it entertains me, so ha:)( book listCollapse )( statsCollapse )
seeing as this is the 2nd time I’ve done this, does that make me even dorkier than last year?
|Tuesday, October 10th, 2006|
I have just had the most amazing few weeks ever.
First i met Mark Z Danielewski of House of Leaves fame, which was awesome.
then i had an awesome job interview where i was given a 2nd interview on the spot.
then i met David Rakoff of Fraud fame who is hysterical and wonderful.
then i had my 2nd interview which went really well
then i won 100 bucks of free yarn from the knitting store
then kate and micah took me out of my bday and put up with me while i was in the knitting store for an hour (hehe)
Then i went to king dicks with joanna, aaron and kirsten which was splended.
THEN I GOT THE FREAKIN JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am now the Research Assistant for the Program in nutritutional metabolism at Mass General Hospital where i will be working on two studies that look at people who are infected with HIV to see how various nutrition and exercise effects the disease!
|Saturday, September 23rd, 2006|
what is with everyone being obsessed with incest? by everyone i of course mean authors and movie makers. i don't want to ruin anything for anyone, cause some of the following books/movies are amazing, so i will do an lj cut, but in the last few years ( a lots of stuff has used this notion to further a plotCollapse )
of the 5 movies and 4 books i mentioned in the cut, all 9 were done in the last 11 years, and 7 of them were done in the last 5 years. now maybe it's just conincidence. maybe in the last 2 years (i've read or seen 8 of these for the first time in the last 2 years, one of them i saw more like 4 years ago) i've just happened to stumble on stuff for one reason or another choose to use incest as a plot device.
The other theory, and i think this one is more believable, though no less disturbing, is that people are looking for new ways to shock their audience.
sex in and of itself just doesn't shock the way it used to.
a few decades ago, and to some extent now, gay sex would shock people, but this too has become some what passe. this is not to say that people aren't still biggoted, but i am talking about shock and surprise here, not hatred.
The Crying Game, which came out in 1992, stunned people with it's "huge surprise". my guess is that most if not all of you know what the big secret was, and if you don't i'm not telling cause it's a movie worth seeing, but my point is is that as recently as 1992 people were stunned by certain...oh fuck this, i can't explain this part without giving away the twist, so ( skip this if you don't want spoilersCollapse )
so, what else was left, sexually speaking, to shock audiences? i would think s&m would be some what shocking to main stream audienced, but after that what is left? beastiality and incest come to mind, but i honestly can't think of anything else. the "ass to ass" scene in requiem for a dream was pretty damn shocking. beyond that, i am hardpressed to think of another totally shocking sex scene that doesn't fall into the incest category. so maybe it's a lack of creativity on the author's/movie makers part.
so is this what we've come to? in order to shock our audiences we need to show them incest? there has to be something better out there. i'm not saying that this plot device can't be done well. of the 9 things i mentioned only three are really stomach turning. of course all three of those are in the movie category so maybe it's the visual that is making it harder to stomach. anyway, in two of the books the incest subplot is essential, but i still feel like this plot device has been being used more recently.
I guess the thing that really bothers me is this. i am an only child, and the idea of incest turns my stomach. most families have more then one kid, and i can only imagine what the idea does to people who actually have siblings. part of me wants to say, well hey, maybe i'm just bigoted. maybe in 30 years i'll look back on this and say "wow, i was narrow minded, i was talking like people used to talk about homosexuality and how women aren't suppose to enjoy sex", but then the though of incest being accepted seems ludacris. i can appreciate a good shock, but why does that shock have to be incest? it's better then bestiality, but then again even house has broached that issue.
any thoughts? has anyone else come across this plot device in abundance or is it just me?
|Thursday, September 14th, 2006|
|Fun with updates
it's been a while since i wrote anything, which i could say was due to being busy moving and job hunting, but let's face facts, i could have updated sooner, but i am doing it now so ha:)
We just moved to a lovely new house. Same town, different house. This one has stairs, and my dog has been joyously running up and down them at every chance he can get. as has been pointed out, he is the stair master. the coolest things about the house are that you can get to the art room through a private stair case or through my closet. Jasper has enjoyed running through the closet on many occasions and gets confused when the door is shut and that there is a timed heater in the bathroom so when i gets really cold we can go in there and have hot air blast out through a vent.
i've been doing the job thing like crazy. has a few successes, but we will see. i've been hesitating to say anything and jinx my chances.
In the book and movie world there has been some good stuff. i just finished reading Interpretation of Murder which is a murder mystery set in America in 1909 when Freud was coming here to do some lectures. the main characters who existed in real life are freud, jung, ferenczi and a bunch of non real life characters. obviously it's a work of fiction, but it's really fun and if you know anything about psych is really amusing to read. the only odd thing is that Rubenfeld (the author) never has Freud doing coke. He does have Freud run off to the bathroom frequently, which at first i assumed was really him doing coke in the bathroom, but when he had Freud wet himself i figured it was him actually needing to go. so unless coke can lead to urinary tract infections, there does not seem to be mention of cocaine in the book. Jeff, do you know if Freud had a bladder problem?
Anyway, i reread Jonathan Lethem's Wall of the Sky, Wall of the eye, which starts with a great story and the rest are so so. which is sad cause i love jonathan lethem.
Carly got me interested in Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeffrey Lindsay which is basically about a serial killer who kills other serial killers. it was fun, and they are making a show out of it on Showtime with Michael C Hall, who was David on Six Feet Under. should be interesting. the book was really fun.
Jasper Fforde also has a new book out called the Fourth Bear which i had to get the day it came out. It's part of his nursery crime series, and of course concerns goldilocks and the three bears. it's highly entertaining.
I finally got my hands on Why by Tilly, which was pretty terrible. it saddened me cause i was looking so forward to it. i also read my sisters keeper by jodi picoult, which contrary to my presumptions was actually pretty good.
currently my big problem is that i have three books that i want to read right now, but must read one at a time. i'm about 120 pages into Stranger in a Strange Land which i don't think really needs any introduction other then being a classic in the world of sci fi. i also got America's boy from the library (see, i can be smart and get books for free!) which is a biography and the thirteenth tale which is suppose to be like shadow of the wind, which is one of my favorite books.
and now i have hot cocoa and mini marshmallows, mmmm....
so what is up with all of you?
|Thursday, August 31st, 2006|
Hey all, this is mostly for Joanna cause i can't find her e-mail addy, but really open to anyone who is interested, so anyone up for king richards faire? it opens sept 2nd and is open till oct 22nd.
yes, I'm a dork, so sue me, i like it:)
|Monday, July 10th, 2006|
|Moonlight and Vines
So i just finished reading Moonlight and Vines by charles de lint.
i told you i was behind!
moonlight and vines is a series of short stories, but characters show up in multiple stories and from other books he has written. now let me preface my feelings towards the book with this, i don't like short stories. a lot of the time i find them boring and annoying cause i don't feel like the main character is fully developed. and a lot of the time they're not because it's more about an idea then a character. so trust me when i say that De Lint is fucking amazing. i have never been this into a book of short stories. maybe it was because the characters did reoccur so i felt like i knew them, but even with characters that were never introduced before, i felt like they were fully developed. by the end of every story i felt like i knew the character, i didn't necessarily like them, but i knew why they did what they did.
For the previous two books of his i read i said that i didn't enjoy them that much, but i felt like he was a really good writer. now i know why i had that feeling. he's an amazing short fiction writer. he knows how to fill 15 -30 pages of a book brilliantly. when he has an entire novel, i think he gets overwhelmed with the length and so adds superflous stuff that is poorly written because he knows he needs to make his novel a certain length. the man has an amazing grasp on people, and that simply did not come out through the previous two books i read. i read the long fiction first because i, as a rule, do not like short fiction, but then i was told that his short fiction was his best stuff, so i chanced it, and they were right. short fiction is de lints forte, much in the same way that augusten burroughs is much better at autobiography than fiction.
one scene felt like it could be in coupling, the episode "the woman with two breasts" he writes "'silicone,' jenny informs me. ' even her lips. and besides, her forehead's way too high. or maybe it's just that her head's to long.'"
he also uses the term "laughing wild" to describe someone which brought me back to my theater days and made me very happy.
i also wonder if Carlos Ruiz Zafon ever read him. i'm not suggesting that Zafon stole any ideas, Zafon is amazing, but de lint does start one story with "I'm fifteeen when i realize that i don't remember my mother anymore." which is much the same way that Shadow of the Wind begins, only Shadow is more eloquent. it was just an odd conincidence.
also, by law, i must love any man who writes this "it's like it's really late at night and i know i have to get up for school the next day, but i still have to finish the book first. i can't go to sleep, not knowing how it ends" (332) i can't recall the number of times i've had to do that.
De Lint knows how to capture a moment and make it shine. he also knows how to flesh out a character in 20 pages or less, which i think a lot (but certainly not all) short fiction writers do not know how to do. so i i will amend my past suggestions on him, and suggest reading some of his short fiction, of which there are about 43578475894665458495 books worth.
|the never ending story
so i haven't done a book update in a while because i am a loser and a whore.
so here we go!
I finished The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende. it was highly disappointing. it started out really strong, but felll fast. maybe its cause it's a childrens book, though many childrens books are very well written (i.e. america, freak the mighty, etc.)
the thing that has been bothering me since i finished it was this sentence "There were goat-legged fauns and gigantic night - hobs, there were elves and kobolds, beetle riders and three legses, a man sized rooster in jack boots, a stag with golden antlers who walked erect and wore a Prince Albert
now being a 23 year old female my first thought was "HOLY SHIT, WHAT THE FUCK, THIS IS A KIDS BOOK" quickly followed by there has to be SOME other connotation for the Prince Albert other than This
so i asked around, but nobody knew. then i finally asked mcwonthelottery
because she knows everything, and she sent me to dict.org where it turns out a Prince Albert also refers to "a man's double breasted frock coat". now the book was published in 1979, and according to wikipedia the prince albert piercing was known in popular culture in the late 70's, so it's possible Ende didn't know about this 2nd definition, but he also uses the word erect to describe the creature so my guess would be that he was trying to make a sexual joke for those older readers. he's also German and and the book was translated by one ralph manheim so it's also possible that he's to blame. either way it amused me.
i also need to give ende props for havign his main character ask if jesus went to the bathroom, but he loses major points for reiterating himself a million times, and making a whole stink about the riddle of the sphinx and then having his main character simply sidestep the sphnix and never get asked a question
the thing that gets me about ende, and i felt this way about the movie too, is that he uses very childish language and literary tricks, but then hits you over the head with a really dramatic and scary moment. for instance, bastian in a battle and the discription reads "and then suddenly, in the midst of a frantic gallop, bastian's metal steed burst into pieces. bastian lay stunned by the violence of the fall. when he finally picked himself up and rubbed his bruised limbs, he found himselfin the middle of a juniper bush. he crawled out into the open. the fragments of the horse lay scattered all about, as though an equestrian monument had exploded." i don't have a problem with violence in kids books, hiding the world from kids is silly, but to make his book so silly and childish, and then to throw stuff like that in seems counterintuitive. i expect either the entire book to be written at the adult level (with violence and drama and such, like in America) or for it to be childish and be vague about drama and violence. just seemed sort of odd to me, but whatever.
so i wasn't to impressed, but i think someone who was 12 or 13 would really like it. it was just to simply and straight forward for me. though i do hear tell that it's mentioned in the new pirates movie, which amuses me greatly
|Sunday, July 9th, 2006|
Ariana was bad...
Ariana should not be allowed to go into used book stores...
no matter how pretty they are...
but sooooooooooooooooooooooo much fun was had
but i got a really good deal on a lot of books. plus a signed copy of Which Brings me to You that says "Please read naked. (i do) Steve Almond" which totally made my day
|Friday, June 23rd, 2006|
so the other day i finished Blue Girl by Charles De Lint. i read the steve almond book cause i wanted to cleanse my pallet before reading another De Lint book. when i got deep into my Bret Easton Ellis obsession i read 3 or 4 of his books in a row, which was amazing, but then for a while after every time i picked up a book i was confused why nobody was being killed or raped. so i've decided that i need to put at least one book in between books by the same author unless they build on each other (i. e. harry potter). the upshot is, i'm still not overly impressed, but this may have been my fault again. this book was actually in the young adult section, which i didn't think much about because a lot of times when books end up there it isn't because they are simpler books but because the main character is a teenager. this is why harry potter is in the young adult section even though they could easily fit into sci fi. anyway, i felt like the book would have been amazing, if i was 15. it was definitely more of a young adult book then the precious book i read by him, which is fine but it's not the sort of writing i usually like. he brought up a lot of issues that kids face, like bullying, homophobia etc. and showed the different ways people can react to these things and how best to deal with them. by the end he writes "it seems odd that such Unseelie creatures would obey what are really nothing more than social mores - albeit from a different social structure than our own" which i thought was great, get some sociology in there, yay.
I think what really disappointed me is that the beginning, like with angel of darkness, started so strong and was so well written. the character dialogue was spot on at first, and was really quite brilliant, but by the end it felt like another teen biopic, which i guess it sort of was suppose to be. form the view point of a young adult book it was brilliant all the way through. at the beginning there is this line "Imogene,' he says. His voice is a husky rasp and harmonizes with the faint calliope music. 'i miss you sideways.'" the description is wonderful, it really does give you a chill, and what he says is interesting. i wasn't sure what this phrase meant, but was excited to find out, and the main character, imogene, mentions how weird the phrase is as well. but it is never explained, other then the reader assuming it was just a cute way to say i missed you which is much more boring then it could be.
he actually makes the point i made in my previous post about him, with book words vs real life words. he says "it's weird how certain words are really just book words and hardly ever get used in regular conversations" that's a good point, and it's true and interesting, but he fails to use those book words in the text, except occasionally when he'll put in a larger word and all i can think is "he's trying to prep his readers for the SAT" preparing kids for the SAT is great, but as a 20something that knows all of this, it was sort of irksome. but again, as a young adult book it was spot on. though he does use the line "how very the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe, of you", which made me very happy
Imogene is relatable though, which is nice. she actually reminded me of a lot of people i went to high school with. she makes her one good friend by telling her (Maxine) that she (maxine) looks like her (imogene) child hood imaginary friend. i though that was cute and quirky and reminded me of my friends. she says early on "i'd just always rather meet a talking spoon than an elf" which again, is cute and quriky, but it's as though de lint gets really excited about his own quirkiness to the point where it ceases being quriky and just becomes repetitive.
I was very amused by Imogene's brother, jared, who insists that harry potter is based on one of neil gaiman's graphic novels. later on he introduces two characters named crawford and vanderspank, which reminded me of Croup and Vandemar from gaiman's books, because of the previous reference i was wondering if this was another shout out to gaiman. the book also, in a way, reminds me of some of America, which is a young adult book about a boy who (if i remember correctly) was sexually abused by his uncle, the boy eventually sets the uncle's house and the uncle on fire and ends up in a mental institution. it was a fabulous book and looked at the dark side of teenage hood. this book does the same thing, imogene is trying to become good, but has a past where she had sex at 13 and used to run in a gang. i think showing kids that sort of thing can help them when trying to make certain decisions in life. america might be to graphic, but this book does a good job of showing kids and pros and cons of different life choices.
another interesting tidbit was the use of the internet. its become so ingrained that authors can use acronyms without even needing to explain them. one character writes "lol" and the use of aim or whatever program they are writing in is assumed to be understood. i just find it fascinating. this book could not have been written 10 years ago. or if it was all the internet stuff would have had to be explained. i'm sure you'll find this in tons of other books, but it's the first time it really struck me how much our literature can change in such a brief amount of time. although getting e-mail is not nearly as sexy as a love affair conducted by mail, it's just wrong and seems sort of stupid.
another interesting point was how de lint dealt with halloween. i've read/watched a fair amount of things that discuss creatures that may or may not haunt on halloween. in buffy halloween is suppose to be a time when nothing happens because all the evil creatures think it's stupid and fake. in dead like me halloween was once a day off and later it was explained that you took your former form on halloween so the dead had to wear masks so as not to be recognized. in this book halloween is the time where the walls between this realm and the other realm become thinnest. i find this fascinating actually, the different ways people who write about ghouls and such choose to deal with halloween, cause really all the explanations are just as feasible as any of the others. maybe i'll do some research....
so the upshot is, blue girl is an awesome young adult fiction book. i would highly recommend it to anyone who was/is an outcast in high school and jr high. i still want to check him out again, i think i need a mix of the darkness of angel of darkness and the smooth dialogue of blue girl. i think for now i'm going to put him down till i get a recommendation for a specific book. which is good cause i need to read books i already own, heh
|Wednesday, June 21st, 2006|
|The Evil B.B.Chow
so the other day i finished The Evil B.B. Chow by Steve Almond and now i'm really sort of miffed. i read CandyFreak by Steve Almond a while ago and loved it. i thought he was adorable and had a very good writing style. because of this i was stoked to read B.B. Chow, assuming it would be equally brilliant, but fiction instead of non fiction. alas i was very disappointed. the book lacked character and, frankly, wasn't interesting. it is a collection of 12 short stories, one of which is really damn funny (the one i quote three times below) and the rest of which were okay but forgettable. then there was the one with skull fucking which i more or less skipped cause of the eye stuff. the ny times book review, which usually is pretty hard on books said it was "always enjoyable, often hysterical" so maybe it's just not my sense of humor, but frankly, i wasn't impressed.
though there were some interesting bits, like one story he wrote about Lincoln in which he and Douglass have a pseudo sexual relationship, and i have to give him credit for lines like "he smiled, shyly, as if embarrassed by the size of his teeth" (152)
he has one story where one man is reading another mans novel, and the novel is awful. there actually are some pretty brilliant lines from the bad novel, reminded me of the stuff we were reading at Joanna's house after the party
here's a great one "But the only answer he received was the slamming of his door, like a crack of thunder inside the eardrum of his heart" (198) you gotta love those heart eardrums
and a critic says the bad novel "is surely a labor of love, mr. larsen. so, too, was the Third Reich" (201)
he also managed to use the word masticate in the bad novel, which reminded me of Everything is Illuminated which made me happy.
i do have to give him some credit. the stories were the proper length, he didn't try to drag them out or cut them to short. he kept it interesting enough that i finished the novel. it's a short book, only about 230 pages, which i read in two days, which is faster then i read books i dislike, but i think i read quickly so that i could start another book so who knows. i still want to read Which Brings me to You, which he wrote with julianna baggott, and, if i have it correct, it's a series of letters that he and julianna wrote to each other as fictional characters. it sounded very promising.
so in the end the book was well written, it just wasn't my cup to tea. i'd check out CandyFreak before reading this one, but it did have its moments. and maybe the skull fucking story was really good, to bad i missed out, heh.
|Monday, June 19th, 2006|
|The book whore is back
and long live her reign. or something like that. Recently I haven't been reading as much, I think it had something to do with Borders eating my soul. or I should say, I was doing a good deal of reading but a lot of it was being done via CD in my car to and back from borders, which is fine but doesn't have the same effect as curling up with a good book. Obviously. So now that I no longer work for them I've been able to do some real reading.
The other day I finished Angel of Darkness by Charles De Lint. I read the entire book in 2 days, which says something about how much I enjoyed it. The more I like a book the faster I read it, as can be seen by it taking me something on the order of 3 weeks to get through the first 100 pages of The Overnight. Anyway, De Lint reminds me of Neil Gaiman, in that both authors have this ability to create fascinating worlds and ideas, but seem to have a harder time creating equally as interesting characters. In fact, now that I think of it, their major down fall may be that the worlds they make are so interesting that no normal character could possibly be interesting when put into it.
Basically, a very evil man accidentally opens a portal to a world that has been ruined and lets a very pissed off creature out. The people of this world must stop it. The book is more complicated then that, but I don't want to give anything away.
The book actually reminded me of a mix of house of leaves and Neil Gaimans style, which was neat. The content wasn't like house of leaves, but you had the same horror novel as good literature vibe going on.
Angel of Darkness starts in much the same way as Tananarive Due's My Soul to Keep begins, which is to say you're introduced to this gruesome scene, which is then abruptly ended without being explained. After this you're lead into the current world, with the expectation that the beginning will be explained throughout. I tend to like that kind of writing, you get so excited about the characters you just met and then you have to wait to have it explained which, as a result, makes the text in between more interesting.
De Lint gets major points for a. talking about lucid dreaming, which apparently he does a lot and b. having a character see a hot guy and then say "knowing my luck he'll be gay"; of course I read that right after telling Kate I fell in love with yet another gay man (Rupert Everett).
I really did like this book a lot, but the reason the gripes will take up so much space is that these two things prevented me from experiencing the book which really pissed me off cause without them it could have been really good. A while ago I wrote about my top 10 (8 actually) favorite books, and as an explanation of how they became my favorites I said "I don't think I can even explain what gets a book into the top 10, it's just a feeling I get while/after I read it. a top 10, for me, is a book that prevents me from putting it down while I read it and causes something in me to change when I am done. a book in my top 10 will leave me with a truly exhilarated feeling." Even books that don't make it into my top 10 have some (but not all) of these qualities, which sometimes makes it hard for me to directly talk about things I like because it's more of a feeling then a specific thing. Part of the reason that Angel of Darkness wouldn't make it to a top 10 (other then me being really fucking picky) is that the two negatives prevented any of the above experiences. Which actually really pissed me off because I love this type of book. it's sci fi, but it's much more fi then sci. the world is fascinating and the ideas are clever. in fact, the reason i plan on reading something else of his is that i could tell from his style that he's the type of author i could love, but we simply met at a bad time. it'd be like if i read the virgin suicides before middlesex, or the good house before my soul to keep or, worse yet, extremely loud and incredibly close (puke) before everything is illuminated (fucking brilliant). i have faith in you mr. De Lint, don't fail me next time.
okay, now onto the bitching
My two problems with it were a. the casual dialogue and b. how the bad characters had no redeeming qualities.
His descriptions are wonderful, and his explanation of the characters thought patterns are as well. When the characters speak to further the plot along he does pretty well, but when he just has people chatting idly he seems to get bored and just tries to get it over with without making it flow properly. I don't know how to say this without sounding moronic, but he makes his characters speak as they really would in a given situation if they were 20somethings, but when you're reading something that is going to be set in stone you need something more substantial then what we hear every day. If I say to you "that's awesome!" it sounds fine, in part because the words will quickly pass and you'll just be left with the knowledge of my impression. There will be no reason to harp on how I expressed my enjoyment, especially if you can see how the rest of me is reacting as well. When that same phrase is put into writing, it sounds juvenile and all it tells me as a reader is that the person is either 13 or is acting
In Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, the main characters father describes the graveyard of lost books. he says, "This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul." Nobody talks like this, but the dialogue is interesting, it makes me want to know more. He could have written, "The graveyard is amazing. It's a sanctuary for books. Every book has it's own unique tale". Both sentences get the same point across, but, frankly, I wouldn't want to read the book with that 2nd sentence because it's to mundane, it doesn't excite me and it definitely does not pull me into the authors world. The first sentence makes me want to sit down and read the entire book in a day.
Which is the problem for De Lint. Everything in his novel minus the dialogue makes me want to read the book in one sitting. To dive into that world and see what makes it tick. But every time I get to a patch of dialogue I'm pulled out, and that was discouraging.
The other problem was with the use of evil. All of his bad characters are simply evil, which is far too black and white. Nobody is purely evil or purely good. The odd thing is he makes this point with his good characters. He keeps saying how even the best of us have done shitty things, but he doesn't apply this the other way around. It just seemed misguided to me. Honestly, I didn't want to like the bad characters because they were really fucking evil, but it would have made them much more interesting if I had cared about them at all. For instance, and I am being vague on purpose so as not to ruin a really good book, there is a character in a book who attempts to kill its spouse and child, but this character is so well developed and so good in so many other ways that you still like this person after the attempted murder. Look at Crash; I do have my issues with the movie, but that aside, they did a good job at making the vial characters good and the good characters vial. Conflict it a part of human nature, we wouldn't have tons of studies on cognitive dissonance if it wasn't. Frankly, a character dealing with their own cognitive dissonance is what makes them interesting to us. When there's no conflict within a character they become boring. Thus having a character that is only evil with no dissonant qualities makes him or her boring.
Wow, fun with ranting. This wasn't one of my better reviews, sorry. I think they were much better when I was still in school and my mind wasn't rotting away. But the ol'noggin is starting to come back and with any luck I'll be back to form.
End result: check out de lint, but maybe not angel of darkness per say. He's written approx. 385846574365439756435 books, so there are many others out there.
|Thursday, June 15th, 2006|
So i just finished Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. it was really quite good, but i liked American Gods and Good Omens better. there's was something...the word that keeps coming to mind is sweet, though that's not quite accurate. By sweet what i mean is that it was a well done, but typical, adventure story that had some really really interesting ideas, but overall was not as complex as his other books. Compared to other books in his genre (sci fi) Neverwhere is freakin amazing, but compared to his other stuff i didn't like it as much. the idea of a london underground is really cool though, and his explanations of ordinary things in an extraordinary way was really quite wonderful.
i think my overall feeling was that it started really strong, but then at the end sort of gave up and didn't continue with the wit and grace that it started with. for instance, these two quotes are from the first third of the book:
"'nice in a bodyguard...is about as useful as the ability to regurgitate whole lobsters.'"
"'Mr. Croup turned out the lights. 'oh, mister vandemar,' he said, enjoing the sound of the words, as he enjoyed the sound of all words, 'if you cut us, do we not bleed?'
mr. vandemar pondered this for a moment, in the dark. then he said, with perfect accuracy, 'no.'"
they are really good lines and most of the first third is like that, but as the book wore on the good lines and interesting ideas diminished. it was like he had this brilliant idea for how to begin a novel, but then wasn't sure how to finish it with the same florish.
overall, i'd say if you like gaiman, as you should, you'll enjoy the book, but it's not the first one of his i'd read. American Gods was much stronger throughout and Good Omens, while having a weak middle, begins and ends on high notes.
|Tuesday, June 13th, 2006|
So I'm watching this movie called KM.0 or kilometer zero. it's pretty bad, but amusing. anyway, one of the characters sings a song from Cabaret called Maybe this time, which is an awesome song (if you like showtunes...). the movie is in spanish so the song was translated into spanish, which is fine, but whoever did the subtitles either didn't know it was origionally an english song or just didn't care. either way they clearly only listened to the song in spanish to translate it because the words are completely wrong even though the tune of the song is right. it highly amused me in an annoying kind of way
|Thursday, June 8th, 2006|
|The House of Paper
So I just finished reading The House of Paper by Carlos Maria Dominguez. It's only 100 pages so you can just sit down with it and read the whole thing in an hour. But it's a lot more then that. It's a book about books when you boil it down. And so much of it reminds me of, well, of me. Not to be completely narcissistic, but it captures how books make me (and i hope other people....) feel so exactly, it's sort of amazing.
these are some of my favorite passages:
"...i still cannot avoid putting in another double row of shelves; the books are advancing silently, innocently through my house. there is no way i can stop them" (12)
"i have often asked myself why i keep books that could only ever be of any use in a distant future, titles remote from my usual concerns, those i have read once and will not open again for many years, if ever! But how could i throw away the call of the wild
, for example, without destroying one of the building bricks of my childhood, or zorba the greek
, which brought my adolescence to a tear stained end, the twenty-fith hour
and all those other volumes consigned to the topmost shelves, where they lie untouched and silent in that sacred trust of which we are so proud. It is often much harder to get rid of books than it is to aquire them. they stick to us in that pact of need and oblivion we make with them, witnesses to a moment in our lives we will never see again. While they are still there, it is part of us, i have noticed that many people make a note of the day, months, and year they read a bookl they build up a secret calander...nobody wants to mislay a book. we prefer to lose a ring, a watch, our umbrella, rather than a book whose pages we will never read again, but which retain, just in the sound of its title, a remote and perhaps long - lost emotion." (12-14)
"to build a library is to create a life. it's never just a random collection of books...you go on adding them to the shelves, and they seem to constitute a collection, but i would say that's an illusion. we pursue topics, and at the end of a certain length of time we find ourselves defining worlds, or if you prefer, we are tracing the steps of a journey, the advantage being that we can conserve its traces. it's not a simple matter. it's a process by which we complete bibliographies: we start with a reference to a book we don't have, then when we have acquired that one, it leads us on to another." (35)
There is also a scene later on where they discuss a character who was desiging his library so that instead of being alphabetical, it was structured through connections. authors who fought were far away from each other, while people who infuenced each otehr were placed next to each other. that reminds me of how i structure my DVD collections, which, for those of you who have seen it, can really only be deciphered by me, heh.
anyway, it's a really cute and fun book. if you love reading i highly recommend it, if you don't but enjoy a fun story you may enjoy it as well