Archive for July, 2008

The Page 69 Test

Julie aka Bookworm offered a new way to decide on a next book to read.    If you like what you read on page 69, you’ll likely enjoy the whole thing!

I wanted to put this to the test.   I finally got to the library (actually, I went yesterday before realizing they are closed on Mondays…) and now have The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and also, Geek Love by Katherin Dunn.

[not that I want to type in the WHOLE page here; let me just describe the happenings, the style, the action.]

TBWLOW, p. 69:    First off, I am wondering who is going to be telling this story?  I thought it was going to be in Oscar’s voice – perhaps not.   It seems I’ve walked upon a scene of a girl kissing Oscar (it’s the girl narrating) and uh-oh.  So did her mother.   She’s in trouble now and she’s running for it!   But mom has tripped in her fury to smack her daughter, and…     YEP, this is enticing text.

GL, p. 69:  “Lily, there isn’t time!”   Hmmm, another scene involving people rushing around.   I think Lily is the mom and the colors and critters in her hair are vividly described.   There could be an invisible baby in the box but, really, I have no clue what’s going on.   But I want to know.   I’m imagining I’m up on the bunk with Elly and Iphy and who ever is narrating this tale; we are all with ‘bewildered eyes and wide befuddled mouths’.

I wish I could start Geek Love next but TBWLOW is for a book club and we are scheduled to meet August 10th.  I’m not a fast reader - I’ll have to start this next just to make sure I finish it.

Anyway, since I know I wanted to read both of these books, I now am all that more excited to.   Woo hoo!

The Way Life Should Be

Review 

cover art

cover art

The Way Life Should Be  by Christina Baker Kline

This was an enjoyable book and just right for what I needed to read now:    Heartfelt, comic at times, thoughtful at other times, enjoyable and satisfying.   Not a book requiring much analytical thought, just relax and read along.    Girl in mid 30s is itching for something ‘more’, goes online and meets a man in Maine (she’s in NYC), becomes distracted and then blows a big deal at her work thus getting fired, decides to move to Maine, the guy is decidedly not a soul mate, she makes new friends, stays in Maine, lands on her feet and finds exciting possibilities.    With Italian food sprinkled throughout.   And good dialogue.

Four turned down pages and zero vocabulary words written down (that doesn’t necessarly suggest I knew every word encountered – only that I failed to page-note any…)  I might even add that I learned some Italian while reading this!   and a lot more about Italian cooking…    (I’m debating keeping this book for its recipes OR shipping off to my Mainiac relatives.   Decisions, decisions.)

FOUR STARS 

page 31:   I liked the whole paragraph about feeling

“the insidious embrace of cynicism….    Every decision I make is determined solely by the spark and the limitation of my own perspective.”  

page 201:   This section lists a few books that the character has read.   I enjoyed The Glass Castle  but am not familiar with The Liars’ Club  nor Anywhere But Here – and now these will be go on my RECOMMENDATIONS page.  I enjoy the random selection of books just because I read the title somewhere else.     The book Crazy in the Kitchen  by Louise DeSalvo is also strongly(?) encouraged;   the main character read it  ‘…with voracious hunger.’     

page 259:    This sentence gave me pause:  “Close to Worcester I hit rush hour near I-495, but by the time…”    I think the better phrasing would have been, “Just past Worcester, I hit rush hour…”     Minor?  uh, yes.   Distracting?  probably only to me!      Then again, the author/narrator does not tell me which interstate she is driving on - she HAS to be on the Mass Pike at this point, yes?  Why didn’t she take I-95 and then I-93 through Boston? – I’m also not a native Massachusettian and I have to look up where what relates to where on the maps all the time.  I like maps.    And I forget how close to Worcester I-495 is on that swing of the curve west of Boston.     Anyway, I turned the page down so I could go look it up!

I have been to Maine’s Mount Desert Island and this is also part of the charm of the book.   I enjoy reading about places I (sort of) know.   I, too, have laughed at what exactly does the State of Maine’s theme “The Way Life Should Be” mean?   How true that to Mainers and anyone who might live anywhere, life in Maine is just life!    (I almost have authority to say that since I have a cousin who lives in Maine and their kids were BORN in Maine so that almost makes them native.  Plus, I’m almost forgiven for living in Massachusetts ONLY because I’m not a true New Englander.   Being born in the midwest has some slight benefit when in Maine – if they can get beyond my MASS license plate on my car.)

Another Reviews:   Fizzy Beverage’s Review

 *** SPOILER ALERT ***
If Ms. Kline ever reads this, I would love to suggest that IF she ever writes a sequel, that Nonna be the main character. A book that about her traveling back to Italy with Angela in the realtime and flashbacks to her romance with the priest.

This book isn’t quite eccitante!   (Italian)   =   thrilling!    (English)  
And I might not go so far as to use the words:  Tutto bene  =  all good.
But these will work:   it’ niente male di s   = it’s pretty good.

Many Moves Ago…

Softdrink, over at the Fizzy Beverage — whoops!  Excuse me, it’s Fizzy THOUGHTS — has a great post answering questions about lots of stuff and one of her links invited me to learn more…   

Seems that she’s moved a lot.     As someone who has been accused of being the practice run victims for new employees at the Federal Witness Protection Program, I am known for moving a lot.    It’s actually slowed down some (sort of, except for VA) so I’m not breaking any records.    (Beastmomma is one blogger I know that seems to jump huge distances each time she moves…  How many?!)      I’m currently living in my 7th house (since getting married) and have moved 23 times since birth that I can substantiate.     

And here is that substantiation:   Unfortunately, I don’t have many any pictures (BORRRRING!)

1.  Born in Kankakee Illinois.

2.  Family moved to another home in Kankakee.

3.  Moved to Wichita Kansas – one of the coolest houses in my memory!   We lived on a corner – one view was a golf course, the other was a playground park – a big one!   Must have been 30 acres.   Of course, I was a grade schooler.  It might have been 1/2 acre!?  

And the basement?   Imagine a long rectangle room divided into thirds.  The middle was tiled alternating black and white like a checkerboard.  The other two ends had carpet.   One end had a fireplace and a bar, I think – being a kid, I was unimpressed with this.   The other end was just that – a space of carpeting.   THAT is where ALL toys were kept.    But it was the middle!   The tile!!!   I got SOOOO in trouble once;   I baby powdered the heck out of that floor and put on socks.   RUN, run, run on a carpet side -> slide the whole tile expanse!  and stop abruptly on the other carpet side.    Repeat.     My punishment for the cough,cough powder covering everything was to clean it up.    It was worth it.

4.  Moved to Peoria Illinois

5.  Moved back to Kansas – lived at the Residence Inn for about 2 months but it might have been less.  Until we…

6.  Bought a house  – my parents still live there.

7.  Off to college – lived in the freshman girls-only dorm. 

8.  Back home for summer and then spent my sophomore year in the Sorority house.

9.  Repeat  of #8 so I guess this round doesn’t really count…

9.  Off for a summer in Washington DC for a technology and policy internship.  (Jill counted her London move!)  I lived at Francis Scott Key Hall of Geo Washington University – what a great albeit strange experience THAT was.

10.   Shared an apartment with my bff, best friend at the time, KP.

11.  Back home again?!?!  yep.  NO cool internships between my senior year and fifth year…    So, this doesn’t count either? 

11.   Lived in the basement of friend SB for my final year of college. 

12.   After graduation, I was living an alternate of my dream to live in downtown Chicago.  I had gotten engaged and we needed a ‘real’ apartment.   All we could afford was way out in the ‘burbs and it took me 2 hours to get to work one way.    Woo Hoo!  

13.  Which obviously didn’t make for great living conditions so we quit our jobs (we were in love!  we were young!  we had our whole lives ahead of us!) and moved in with a friend in downtown Kansas City. 

14.  Then we moved into a room of another friend who had a 4 bedroom Colonial in Leawood Kansas – ooo la la!    Rent was cheap; we were like the houseparents.   Three other “boys” lived there, the landlord (he got the room with the master bath) and two college kids.   One of the more interesting times in my life, for sure.  Our poor parents were dumbstruck.   AND GLAD! that we didn’t move back with them.   I think.

15.  Hub gets a job!   Off we go to Jefferson City Missouri!   an apartment.

16.   I get a really good job and we buy our first house.   It was a cutie, all brick, story and half, screened in porch, great street.   ahhhh.    Lots of sweat equity.  

17.   But new jobs had us on the move and boy did we move up!  In square footage but not size of town:   Tipton, MO.    (only 30 miles west of Jeff City)

18.   Well, that didn’t last, did it.   I got laid off and it didn’t make sense to live in the sticks anymore.   We move to Sedalia MO.  (Another 30 miles west.)   I liked that house, too.  It had a really cool front porch and a butler’s pantry.

19.  Hub gets job offer he can’t refuse!   We’re off to Omaha Nebraska!     (I’m skipping one of his moves here.   He had a job in Kansas for a bit)  but I stayed in Sedalia trying to sell the house.   It got an offer the same time he got the Omaha job offer.   Timing.  Is everything.  

20.   We get the lay of the land and buy a house in Bellevue Nebraska.

21.   Another job offer takes us to my dream home in Kansas City MO- except the dream home is supposed to be on a lake and that was the only thing lacking.   I loved being back in Missouri.

22.   Job goes kaput, what to do?   New job offer lures us to Virginia – just outside of DC.    We lived in that house only 4 months because –SURPRISE!– he gets transferred to Massachusetts.   Really, we were lucky.

and now, here we are!    Move #23 and it’s been 4 years at this address.     In almost 20 years of marriage but that is only covering MY moves since move #12…

My house

 

Well, that was fun…

Lookie what I Found!

I was out shopping one afternoon and was SO EXCITED to discover these:

Sunglasses that are reading glasses...

Sunglasses that are reading glasses...

Yes, that’s right!  They are reading glasses that are ALSO sunglasses!  I’m quite excited that I don’t now have to uncomfortably wear my sunglasses over my reading glasses…  

And then today?   It’s raining.

On Chesil Beach Some More

Back in April, I read and dismally attempted and scrapped a review of Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach.    (here, and recently updated, like today, but only to say what I’m saying here so there is really no reason to click on this link…)

As part of the Weekly Geek Review Q&A, I found Lightheaded’s review of this gem of a book.   Please read it – it’s quite good.   I believe it captures everything I had hoped to want to write in my own review.  and failed.

Then, in an attempt to link up other reviews in kind fashion, I found all sorts of intellectual reviews that discuss McEwan’s politics, etc, provides la-di-da highbrow analysis and insight into everything that is wrong or almost right about this novel and completely destroyed my enjoyment in all I hold dear about books, discussing books and reviewing books.   Ugh.   GRrrrr.  

It actually reminded me that I watch Poker on TV (crap, even football!) but don’t attempt to understand (calculate possiblities?!) of the hands being played.   I don’t read books to show off how smart I am.   I mean, SURE – I would, ahem, love to have my reviews do that but I really only want to do it for FUN.   Thank you very much.   

I’m logging off now and going back to my book.   (Life of Pi  – I guess, it just shouted the loudest, “Pick ME!”   I might have to write an omg-this-IS-good PREreview post.)

Thank You

I just wanted to say to everyone involved and also to everyone else that this week’s GEEK theme was really fun to participate in.      A big thank you to DEWEY for coordinating this and thank you to those who asked me questions.   I realize that my book reviews are usually not very insightful (and difficult for me to compose);  I have enjoyed the direct Q & A approach.  

With that in mind, please help me select my next book?   This list of my in house tbr choices should be a good indication of the variety of reading I like (or not?):

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao / Junot Diaz – for an IRL book club

 Geek Love / Katherine Dunn – because Chartroose loved it

 Life of Pi / Yann Martel – is this on the 1001 Well Read List?

Gregory Peck – A Charmed Life / Lynn Haney – for the In Their Shoes Challenge
The Soloist / Mark Salzman – a friend gave to me
Thunderstruck / Erik Larson – a regift back to me from my parents
MIdnight’s Children / Salman Rushdie – for the 1% Well Read Challenge

The Center of Everything / Laura Moriarty – gift from Chartroose

Hard City / Clark Howard – another gift from Chartroose (THANK YOU!  and thank you for the bookmarks, too.)

coming soon via BookMooch:  The Blind Assassin  and  Alias Grace / Margaret Atwood – because I enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale

She’s Come Undone / Wally Lamb – I thought Trish rec’d but I think maybe I should have chosen I Know This Much Is True

Mystic River / Dennis Lehane – many recommendations, it’s Boston-based, loved the movie

Books I’ve read by not yet posted a review:  When We Were Orphans / Kazuo Ishiguro – again, THANKS to Chartroose!

The Way Life Should Be / Christina Baker Kline (Thank you Jill aka Softdrink – a giveaway win.)

Books I have started and put aside for now:   Einstein /   Ronald W. Clark

Anna Karenina – / Tolstoy (I know, I know…)

 

I ♥ my bookblogfriends!  Thank you.

Geek 12 Review: Stardust

Stardust   by Neil Gaiman

Allessandra
http://alessandrasplace.blogspot.com/
How did you like Stardust? How do you think it compares to the movie, if you’ve seen it?

Inkdrinker
http://karinlibrarian.wordpress.com/
Okay, so I haven’t read or seen the movie Stardust by Neil Gaiman. So, I was wondering if the book sticks to the movie – have you seen it?

I liked Stardust very much.    I didn’t love it, however.   It was nice.   What I am excited to do here is to answer your NEXT question…

I read this book for a number of reasons.   1.  Nymeth recommended as the best book for introduction to Gaiman.  [and I had just received Stardust in the mail via Netflix - quite timely!!]   As a relatively unaware book lover, I really don’t have any concept in my head of the fantasy genre.    I loved LOTR.  (I only read because they were making the movies)  I love The Chronicles of Narnia.  (read 30+ years ago.)   I just don’t seek out books just because of who wrote them and I don’t stick to genres.   Heck, I don’t even KNOW all the genres or pay much attention.   I’m very much a person who reads a book that falls into my lap and I can rarely tell you how or by which channel it fell there.   Sometimes I wonder how I ever decided what to read before…  until…

book blogging.    I’m learning about book classifications, and authors, and genres and words, etc, that totally escaped my notice.    Ya don’t know what you don’t know, right?    [also, keep in mind, I can't recall taking ANY  English/Lit classes in college which was more years ago than I care to share;  all this academic stuff is FUN to me but I'm extremely rusty on what is what.]

I had never heard of Neil Gaiman until quite recently.   I kept seeing his name bouncing around.    Then I watched Stardust – it featured a few of my favorite actors so I added it to my Netflix queue.   

(I have a feeling this post is going to be long.    Please feel free to search for your name if you only want to read the answer you proposed…   My hub is out of town and I’ve been sitting at my PC all…   day..    long…   My poor dog is giving me that look:  “Come ON mum, let’s DO something.”)

Lightheaded
http://lightheadedbooks.blogspot.com/
As for Stardust, I’m a Gaiman fan so I hope you had a grand time reading that one and would soon read his other books.

I’m going to address Lightheaded’s comment before jumping headfirst into shallow water with my book vs. movie dissertation.     I did enjoy Stardust and I will probably return to Gaiman someday.    I am curious about those graphic Sandman books.   And am willing to consider any sugs, as well.

OOPS!  As I began to write this, I feel I must acknowledge that I read a paperback print version with only illustrations at the beginning of each chapter.   I was not aware until 3 seconds ago when I did a google search for ‘Claire Danes Stardust’ and these words popped up:   Based on the best-selling graphic novel by Neil Gaiman In a countryside town bordering on a magical land, a young man makes a promise…    I did not read a graphic novel.  

Jackie
http://www.literaryescapism.com/
The movie of Stardust intrigued me and I’m interested in seeing it; however, I haven’t read the book yet. Will I still be able to enjoy the novel if I see the movie first? Will I enjoy the movie if I read the novel first? Did the movie stick pretty closely to the novel or are you given two different stories? If there are two different stories, was the movie version well down or a complete hack job?

BOOK Versus MOVIE.   

I enjoyed both the book AND the movie equally!   No, I take that back.  I think I liked the movie better.    As for the question to watch first then read or read then watch; well, I’ve ruined that opportunity to compare the experience.  Anyone else want to provide the read –> watch perspective?  

Jackie – you may not want to read what I have to say next…  However, I don’t think it will diminish the book if you see the movie first, imo.    The movie was NOT a hack job…

Viewing the movie did not ruin the book for me.   But the movie is fuller and richer.   AND, you gain the benefit (or have your own imagination ruined) by having the images of what the Star looks like (Claire Danes) and seeing the village of Wall, etc, ready made in your mind for you.   

It is interesting that Inkdrinker’s question was phrased ‘does the book stick to the movie’?  and not the other way around.   Am I to assume the movie was created first and then the book was published?    That can’t be right.  

No, the movie does not stick to the book.   The book has a nicely wrapped up ending – all sweet and easy.   The movie needed violence and big drama fighting to realize WHO the final ruler of Stormhold would be.    In fact, as I write this, I don’t even remember if the mean witch (Michele Pfeiffer in the movie) character even dies?    I don’t recall what happened to her, now that I think of it…   uh oh.   

And the movie does a very creative fanciful handling of the lightening pirates!   I loved this part!   It’s totally different in the book.    Again, sweet and easy.

Bart
http://www.bartsbookshelf.co.uk/
Tell me about your favourite minor character from Stardust.

My favorite minor characters were the dead brothers!    In the movie, these guys were terrific comedy.   I was also impressed at how well they came alive (so to speak) in the book, too, but less comedy in written form.

Maree
http://justaddbooks.blogspot.com/
I loved Yvaine as a character, she was so unexpected as a falling star. What did you think of her?

Since I saw the movie first, I feel I can’t address this question of her being unexpected.   She was adorable and feisty and quite true to character as written.    I loved the speech to her beloved when he’s a dormouse in the little cage.  Which is NOT IN THE BOOK, darn it.

BookChronicle
http://bookchronicle.wordpress.com/
So I saw the movie for Stardust and I hated it. Have you seen it yet and if so how does it do as an adaptation?

I am curious as to what exactly you hated about the movie.    Just not your taste and style in sweet fantasy love stories, perhaps?    What were you expecting?   I personally had few expectations.    I knew it was supposed to be a sweet fantasy love story adventure and that’s exactly what I got.  The book was also a sweet fantasy love store adventure.   The movie was more so – it had MORE.    More story, more comedy, more.

Trish
http://trishsdiary.wordpress.com/
Do you think people who don’t normally read fantasy will like Stardust?

Tough, tough question.   I think it depends on why they don’t normally read fantasy.   If they don’t read it because they’ve just never gotten to it (like me) and not out of some preconceived prejudice, then YES; they might like Stardust.    It’s really not that meaty of a story – just an enjoyable read.   Nothing too deep, just sweet and easy.   (if it was supposed to be deep, I missed it.)
Finally, ALL of these next Qs were asked by
Joy Renee
http://joystory.blogspot.com/
How was Point-of-View handled? Was there a single POV character or did it alternate among two or more. Was it always clear whose eyes and mind were filtering?

Um, help!   I think it was just third person.   I can’t break it down much more than that – too many years away from school.   I think it was just third person….   I don’t remember even thinking about this while I was reading.   So, at least I can say it wasn’t distracting!   No alternating…

How was language used to set tone and mood?   Was the prose dense or spare? Were sentences generally simple or complex?

Language was light and beautifully descriptive – not too much, always enough.   Not too dense, nor too spare.   I would say it was generally simple.  As for tone and mood, it is an adventure and it never got too dark or menacing even though our heroes do face some menacing characters.    Perhaps, since I had seen the movie and knew how it would play out…

How was metaphor used? Were associations fresh or did they tend toward cliche? Did they add to your understanding of the theme?   What was the central or organizing theme?

Ugh.   I’m skipping this.     (sorry!)

How does the title relate to the story? Was it fitting?   YES!   The title refers to our human understanding of a star and how it can be totally different in other worlds; we need only apply a little magic and imagination and suspend some of that annoying disbelief.   Uh oh – does this answer fit the question I just skipped?  

Re Gaiman: I’ve yet to read even one but I keep seeing his name everywhere online and note he uses themes I gravitate to–mythology for one. Can you say anything that might make my desire to try a Gaiman more urgent.   

Nope.   I have a blank to this one, too.    I suggest you seek out one of the many enthusiastic Gaiman fans.   (I’m not quite there.)

Bart’s Bookshelf has a wonderful ‘what-this-book-is-about’ (which I obviously failed to provide…) post which you can get to by clicking here.

♦ ♦

Geek 12 Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

So everyone seems to want my thoughts on The Handmaid’s Tale.  Well, everyone except those who want me to tell of my love for Stardust!?   I want to address these before this gets too crazy!    Too late – I’ve been working on this all day.   Here we go:   (Question in blue, Answer in red.)

 

Julie

http://bookworm.pilcrow.biz/

Jeez, I haven’t read either of these… okay, would you recommend either of them to others? If you recommend both, which one should I read first, and why?

 

My favorite of the two was Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.   Usually, I prefer NOT to be told, “Oh CARE!  You MUST read this!  You’ll LOVE it!”   Indeed, such was the case with this book.    Why did I finally?   I really don’t know why this happened for me now.    1.  I missed the hype of this book way back when.   2.  I somehow missed the ‘WHAT it’s about’ so I was totally blind to the story and had no clue what I was in for.    3.   It keeps showing up on lists and I only knew it as ‘something I should read.’   Many books fall into that category for me so either it jumped into my hands at the bookstore or… Atwood was alphabetical?   I have no idea.

 

Julie, if points 1 or 2 describe you – read it.   If you prefer the fantasy that Gaiman is known and loved for, you will like Stardust, too.    Ah heck – READ ‘EM BOTH.    It does not matter in which order.   Whatever you are in the mood for.    Stardust is by far, the happier of the two.

 

And, this question alone SAVES ME!  from even a quick outline of plot.   I won’t do it.   Spoiler alert from here on?!

 

Joanne asks…

http://bookzombie.blogspot.com/

Do you think that this vision of the future is possible for us? How do you think women who do not have equal rights feel about this book?

 

Do I think this vision is possible?   I sincerely hope this is NOT part of any future possible to us, but I know not to say never.   Somewhere in the world right now, this is happening in similar form.   After I read Reading Lolita in Tehran, I remember wondering out loud if such could ever happen in America and I was severely disagreed with, “No, never in America!!”   But, I wonder.   Fanaticism is just plain scary.    

 

I had to read the second question quite a few times…    I could even suggest that few if any women anywhere have totally equal rights, to some extent.   Thus the fight continues even when others think no fight is needed.    So, if you want me to put myself in place of women where I  don’t think have equal rights to the men in society…   in Texas?  Or Afghanistan?  Or  Canada?   I can’t speak for them.    Myself, I was terrified, somber, left cold, by this tale.   And I devoured it!   I could not stop reading.

 

Bybee

http://bybeebooks.blogspot.com/

Regarding The Handmaid’s Tale — who do you think was worse at perpetuating this sick society, men or women?    

 

Oh.   I’m trying to answer these as if we are sitting in a book club meeting or face to face over tea…   Let’s switch to wine, shall we?    (I don’t like attempting to be academic, which is what this feels like.  Like school.)    The feminist in me says the men.   Yea – tis the MEN’s fault!    But humans can be evil, regardless of gender.

 

Beastmomma

http://beastmomma.squarespace.com/

For Handmaiden’s Tale, what will stick with you from the book? Will you read other books by the author?

 

I am having such a hard time with this question!   I guess I will touch on my favorite part, the ending.     I thoroughly loved the relief, sort of, of knowing that academia finds this tale in the far far away future and all seems….  Normal?    At least, sane?   Comic even.  That the world didn’t end with fire and brimstone?   Yes, yes, that’s it.  I think.     I know I needed that closure and was thoroughly impressed with Atwood for giving us the epilogue.  Thank you MA!   It was all a dream…   (not really, nope NOT at all, but it did give me a similar sense of relief.)

 

[I wrote this whole post before I received this question from Christine of http://shereadsbooks.wordpress.com/...   What’s your take on the last section of The Handmaid’s Tale (”Historical Notes”)? I’ve heard people completely trash it, and others hail it as the most brilliant part of the entire book. I wrote a paper on it last year arguing that it’s completely necessary to the novel. What did you think of it? How did it change your perception of the events in the rest of the book (or, did it)? Do you think it’s a necessary addition, or should the rest of it have been allowed to stand on its own?]   Yes, Christine, it is necessary.

 

Lightheaded – one of my favorite blog headers, btw – gotta love the fishies!

http://lightheadedbooks.blogspot.com/

Did you notice that the Philippines was mentioned in The Handmaid’s Tale? It’s where I’m from and yes, what Atwood pointed out in the book is correct. But I digress. I’d like to know your thoughts about The Handmaid’s Tale. I haven’t reread it for quite sometime (I think I first read it more than ten years ago) but it’s still a powerful book for me. Do you foresee a future like the one painted by Atwood in that novel?

 

I’m so sorry Lightheaded, but I do not recall the Philippines reference.   And I no longer have the book in my possession or I would be flipping through to find it!    But this reminds me that I thought it really cool that it was based in the Boston area!   Definitely New England…

 

Heather

http://www.age30books.blogspot.com/

I’ve heard that The Handmaid’s Tale would be a perfect intro to “science fiction-esque” books for someone who has never read that genre before. Do you agree/disagree? Have you read sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian books before?

 

YES!   I had NO IDEA that this might be science fiction (reminded me of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro).   Some of us (me included) do tend to jump to conclusions that the science fiction genre and even the term ‘futuristic’ implies space ships and alien beings from other planets, don’t we?     So, if you want to read science fiction that is not about spaceships, sure, read The Handmaid’s Tale and we can discuss.    To answer your second question, I read Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash last year for the sole reason that it was science fiction.  I enjoyed it immensely.    I would read more; it just isn’t my first genre choice.   I don’t know if I have a genre preference, actually…

 

Eva

http://astripedarmchair.wordpress.com/

Have you read any other Margaret Atwood? What did you think of The Handmaid’s Tale compared to her other books?

 

No, Eva, this is my first Atwood.   Which one do you recommend next for me?   I’m thinking Blind Assassin…  no reason, it’s top of mind, is all.    I’m getting vibes that she is not afraid to try the different and unusual; would this be correct?

 

Trish

http://trishsdiary.wordpress.com/

Going off of Joanne’s question: Do you think we’re heading to a society like the one in Handmaid’s Tale? I saw a post today on a non-book blog that linked to an article about a law related to abortion that Bush wanted and instantly the blogger was saying we’re headed to a Handmaid’s Tale-type society. What do you think?

 

No, Trish, I do not think we are headed that way – but let me change my mind after November.    When’s that next seat open on the Supreme Court? – I suppose I should know that.   It does not hurt to have some people consider such a FEAR though, just to keep us all on our toes, maybe…   We must not get complacent.    (But I am… )

 

Dewey

http://www.deweymonster.com

Were you able to identify with the character Offred? I saw Margaret Atwood speak once, and she said that people approach her and tell her it’s like she predicted the future, although she disagrees. Do you think there are any aspects of the novel that seem to reflect today’s political atmosphere?

 

The hardest question of all!   Yes, I was able to identify with Offred.   I loved her power of observation and I AM likely to be one who plays along as well as have a friend who doesn’t.     I am fearful of a moral majority that is neither.   I’m outraged at the little (or huge?) things – like book banning, and forbidding sex ed and the theory of evolution, etc.     But will we ever see SEX like it was formalized in this book?   Egads.   THAT was the strangest part!   I doubt it.    I don’t have any doubts, however, that any sleazeballs in power would have access to some kind of brothel.     Does that answer the question?  Nope.   Today’s political atmosphere…    I think today’s times are showing us that the tool to dumb the masses is DISTRACTION,  too much outrage, too much half details and TOO MUCH controversy and not enough rational discourse and courteous respect.    Since, there was little of that nor its opposite in the novel, I guess that is my answer.    If I was a more skilled and practiced thinker I would distract you with such a grand answer that you would forget what you asked me.   

 

A chilling quote I wrote down (page 56) “Ignoring is not the same as ignorance…”

 

 

Kim

grayskyeyes.wordpress.com

Were there any parts of A Handmaid’s Tale, situations or regulations or problems that you found particularly frustrating or disturbing? Do you think this version of a dystopia is possible?

 

Kim, I am embarrassed to say that I had to look up ‘dystopia’ in the dictionary one of my first weeks book-blogging.   Call me Pollyanna?  I know what utopia is so why my first thought was that dystopia was some kind of eye disease, um – oh well…    I should be embarrassed.  

 

The WHOLE thing was disturbing!  And frustrating!!   From the slow hints of what was coming and then the QUICK taking away of privileges, the fearful attempt to go to Canada, the wondering what they were doing to her daughter, just how nuts the whole thing was.    To wondering how one could sit and do nothing for hours.   Prison would be more fun.   And how sad to have NO ONE to talk to!    Claustrophobia, anyone?   The brilliancy of the author to manipulate me and give me only crumbs of the story…   To the beautiful words to describe the flowers in the garden…    I so loved the unfolding even as my understanding of the horror grew.    How thankful that the sunshine and fresh air came back at the conference at the end.   I could breathe again.

 

“There is something subversive about this garden of Serena’s, a sense of buried things bursting upwards, wordlessly, into the light, as if to point, to say:  whatever is silenced will clamor to be heard, though silently.  A Tennyson garden, heavy with scent, languid, the return of the word swoon. …Rendezvous, it says, terraces; the sibilants rum up my spine, a shiver as if in a fever.”   (page 153)

 

In my journal, I have scant notes, mostly highlighting pages numbers for further reference.  For page 24, I have written ‘freedom to and freedom from – 8th grade.’  This reminds me of my parochial school graduation class ‘theme’ that our teacher picked as the only choice for us to vote on.   I only recall, “For you have freedom.  Not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to do right and serve God.”   I can’t find this verbatim in my Bible nor do I have a clue where my 8th grade scrapbook is, but the closest verse I could find was 1 Peter 2:16  “Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil, but live as servants of God.”    (RSV)     I do remember being very perplexed by this definition of ‘freedom’.   And that we were not given any choice at all of what would be our class theme.  Perhaps, THAT is what made it memorable.  If we had suggested something together, would it have stuck with me?  (I would have recommended 1 John 4:7-8   )   

Movie Review The Other Boleyn Girl

Movie Review  The Other Boleyn Girl  The Other Boleyn Girl  2008

Last November, I read and reviewed and rated the book by Philippa Gregory.    I only assigned it 2 1/2 stars.   (Gotta HATE it when I’m not consistent in my ratings…) I think I was bored with the length and ready for it to be DONE and thus rated it so low. Now, my memory and my feelings toward this have improved, with time. I would give it at least 3 stars.

The movie, however, barely earns two. I think it would have been even less if I had NOT read the book. A very ambitious project to keep this to two hours, thus, not enough time to develop the characters and allow the audience to embrace or have any attachment to them. It felt like the scriptwriter had to cram so much in that as a viewer who knew what was to happen, could have checked off the list, “yep, they got that in.” just to move it forward.

The book is better. If you love historical fiction, this is a GOOD read. Watch the movie ONLY to enjoy tearing it apart.

The costumes were lovely… 
P.S.
Was anyone aware of the TV version of this from 2003?!   I just found out about it from imdb.com.   (Click http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0357392/here for the details.)   PLEASE share if you have seen this, and/or seen both!

Cheese!?

Don’t miss my Geek Week 12 post here – some great questions are being thrown my way!  

In the meantime, I didn’t want to not tell you about the book I will be reading this week:  

  Yes, a business self-help book.

Ugh?  Is that what I heard you say?   Did some boss make you read this about 10 years ago?  Yea, mine, too, but I don’t remember ANYTHING about it.   It’s a quick read – as they SHOULD be – and I have offered to read it as part of my instructional non-plan to help my tutee learn English.   [She had just read it.]   I am helping a young lady improve her English -she actually knows a lot of the language; she only needs to break some bad habits of speech and gain confidence.

So, I’m going to read this and make up some questions so we can discuss.    I call this part of my ‘non-plan’ because our sessions usually have me listening carefully to her babblings (she LOVES to talk!) and I write down things that don’t ‘sound’ right.     Things like, “I shopped some vegetables.”,  when “I BOUGHT some vegetables” would be better phrasing.     Or “I go to the store yesterday”.    No, my dear, you WENT to the store yesterday.      I love when she squints carefully at me as she goes over my suggestions and then asks “WHY?!  you say it like that?”   BECAUSE IT IS RIGHT and I SAID SO!    We are having a grand time and I hope it’s helping…

Any suggestions for a more structured learning experience?   (We have a few books but it gets boring.)  or any good questions on this book?     Feel free to tell me what you REALLY think.


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