Thoughts by Kevin Wilson, Harper Luxe 2019, 329 pages
Challenge: Tournament of Books [Bracket]
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Tradeback LP / Library
Why I read this now: Came in off hold and had the next due date
MOTIVATION for READING: It’s that time of year…
WHAT’s it ABOUT: OK, now this is the fun one! A non-motivated 28-yo is invited to a friend’s house and given an odd opportunity – take care of the friend’s stepkids, keep them out of sight from the press, and ensure they don’t set anything on fire. Because these two kids are fire children. They can burst into flame when anxious or upset.
THOUGHTS: I enjoyed this odd tale and its odd apathetic narrator who doesn’t know anything about children. It had a few laugh out loud moments and was heart-warming in the end.
RATING: I might have rated it four slices of pie.,but it is rounded up from 3 1/2.
Edition 1 was only a few days ago. When I said the next collections were slim, I didn’t lie.
Poetry Goal 202o: to read a poem* every day.
Collection #3 by Tracy K. Smith, Graywolf Press 2007, 89 pages
Smith was 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States.
Very impressive poems and quite varied. Between referencing an old John Ford movie (The Searchers) to an imagined party crashing by Frank Zappa, Smith takes us on a stimulating journey. Across politics and myths, kidnapping and murder, love and desire.
This is a poem about the itch
That stirs a nation at night
This is a poem about all we’ll do
Not to scratch —
+ . . .
I was impressed but I didn’t quite feel it in my heart. All very heady.
Collection #4 by David O’Connell, The Providence Athenaeum 2013
Now this was really good! I connected, this had life and grit. This also had mythology selections (history) plus the terrors of now; some with a touch of wry humor.
The bomb will wait forever for its purpose.
Outside my room, she screeches, It’s the bomb!
which means, it’s cool
that men urge calm while earning ribbons
riding bronco bomb.
+ . . .
*Or more. I’m not tracking, I’m just reading. I’m not limiting this experience to one poem a day – that is only the minimum.
I am suffering from “too-many-books-started” paralysis right now so let’s update my January stats, shall we? I combined the results of the poll from previous post. Thanks for playing.
The first book I started to read on January 1, 2020 was Villette. I’m not yet done; put aside for TOB. Gulp. Go ahead and place bets whether or not I ever finish!?
The first book I completed in the new year was Mercy by Toni Morrison – this was part of my Super Rooster catch up. You can read my post here or by clicking on the book cover image. I gave it 4 slices of pie.
I then finished Treasure Island on audio. Again, an so on, click the cover Four slices.
Followed by The Day the World Ends poems (3 slices) and Heartland (3 1/2 slices). Click the book covers to see my posts.
Now for the non-reviewed and my favorites. Jumping from poetry and nonfiction, I enjoyed Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous on eBook. Four slices. It was beautifully evocative. Such imagery! And enjoyed less Normal People by Sally Rooney. Three slices. The characters annoyed me and I just didn’t grasp what everyone seemed to love about this one. I can appreciate the writing but I couldn’t invest in the story. (Book covers do not link…)
I was captivated by the audiobook The Water Dancer by Ta-Nahisi Coates – four slices and was even more enthusiastic for ebook Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha. This was my favorite fiction read and earned 5 slices of pie.
My last read of January was the poetry collection Debt to the Bone-Eating Snotflower because it was whimsical and science-y. The title comes from a celebration of a deep ocean worm called by its Latin name Osedax mucofloris and if you have even less than middling knowledge of Latin you might see the translation, yes?
Hello my dear friends of books and pies, I am here to talk about poetry.
My goal for 202o is to read a poem every day. I’m not tracking, I’m just reading. I’m not limiting this experience to one poem a day – that is the minimum.
And I’m loving it!
I started the year with Joel Coen’s The Day the World End: Poems.
I liked a few of these but overall, not so much.
Next up was this lovely collection:
THIS! was wonderful and fabulous and very very enjoyable!!!!
Ok. So, I’m thinking this post is boring and I’m not wrong. But I don’t know how to talk about poetry. (Not that I really know how to discuss fiction, either). But this collection is fun and smart.
and referenced pie, so of course I would love it. No, even without pie, very good.
NOW is my story of how I came to find the 3rd and 4th poetry collections I will feature in Edition 2 of Poetry 2020.
I went to the library now that I have figured out that slim — I mean, THIN and very slim, as in low page counts — are the way to go to get me to read poetry.
I went to the library and went right up to the first non-busy librarian I could find. (by “not busy”, I meant “not talking to another human”) and asked for directions to where I could find shelves with poetry. I was directed to go to the Reference Desk and ask for D_. Which I immediately did.
Or, rather, I went to the Reference Desk. No one was there. I wandered until I found other suspiciously-librarian-looking humans and asked if I could find D_. One of these luminary beings was D_!
I followed her to a section where another human was already pulling Mary Oliver books off the shelf. This person was asking about poetry and blah blah blah; we chatted, we laughed, we shared, all good… I grabbed the thinnest fewest-page collections I could find and ran.
(Not really.) I went to check out with my TOB holds and am delighted to share that when I got home and looked up the poets I brought home with me, one had been a Poet Laureate!
Genre: Economics Nonfiction
Type/Source: Hardback / Purchased somewhere books are sold
Why I read this now: Finally, it’s time was now.
MOTIVATION for READING: My mom told me that she needed to read this for her book club but the wait list at the library was long. So I bought it for her Mother’s Day present. She read and sent to her sister, who sent it to me. I’ve had it a few months.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: This is Sarah Smarsh’s memoir about working hard and being broke growing up in Kansas. I wanted to read it because Smarsh is from the area of Kansas that I am also from. Or a few miles, anyway. I can’t say I know any of the same people.
THOUGHTS: Wow, I have fallen out of the review-vibe, once again. I don’t know what to say. I cannot bring myself to be critical but I also can’t find it right to say that this was a great read. It was a fine read. What the hell is the word fine mean but that I can’t or won’t say more? I did find the talking to her unborn-child a bit odd, but I also didn’t necessarily hate it. I might even have related to it – I think she explained this part well. Her writing skills are evident. It was very readable – I was never tempted to DNF.
Of course, DNF-ing is not always a case of the book not being ‘good’ but that sometimes the right book isn’t being read at the ‘right’ time. FOR ME.
I knew the landmarks, the physical localities of her life. I recognized her midwestern viewpoints, often. I don’t think I would call her a whiner, like some have accused her of. She wasn’t really a complainer, as such and she really didn’t lay vicious blame at the feet of “corporations/government/capitalism” and yet she did. She didn’t offer solutions nor suggest that there are certain portions of the US economy that is just not catching the breaks. That you HAVE to catch the breaks, is the point, perhaps. She explained that it took real effort and a fish-out-of-water feeling to break out of the cycle she saw in her family circumstances. I admire her. I wonder. I really just don’t know what to think of this.
What this book really did was heighten my interest in reading Hillbilly Elegy. I have heard this book of Smarsh’s is BETTER than HE. Yet, HE got the kudos, the attention, the movie deal. So I want to find out if it is the same or better. Or worse.
Ah, it shouldn’t be a competition. Was that the point? I don’t know what the point is. She worked hard, wanted DIFFERENT for herself and thus on a typical
success rating, she succeeded.
The pros and cons supporting and dissing this book are fascinating. I, again, have not the capacity to figure it out nor explain it here, that’s for sure.
RATING: Three slices of pie.
Her grandmother made a lot of pie and I can respect that.
Gma Teresa was always in charge of the pies since she bested the other women with her meticulous baking skills.
Thoughts by Robt Louis Stevenson, Audible Studios 2017 (orig 1882), 6 hours 23 minutes
Narrated by the Philip Glenister, Daniel Mays, Catherine Tate, Owen Teale.
Challenge: Back to Classics Challenge (Place, 19th C, Nature or Genre?), Classics Club
Type/Source: Audio / Audible
WHAT’s it ABOUT: A coming of age tale on the high seas, battling pirates for buried treasure.
WHAT’s GOOD: Very fast paced, lots of dastardly deeds and swashbuckling. I enjoyed “young Jim”‘s mother who was full of love AND snark. Her only son craves a more adventurous life than running a seaside inn where the clientele is lowlifes and drunks but yay, that’s how they meet The Pirate. Well, the first pirate of many. So First Pirate dies and leaves a map that is discovered by Jim. Second Pirate attempts to steal map and threatens the life of the poor innkeepers but is thwarted. When Jim entrusts ‘gentlemen’ to secure a ship to voyage to the island where said treasure is suspected, we find out that the cook is our Third Pirate who declares mutiny. Jim is often dismissed as too young but then always exceeds expectations in every situation.
What’s NOT so good: Oh, it is perfectly fine if you like pirates and swashbuckling. The audio had long pauses between chapters which were a beat too long.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I missed this in school but I can understand why this is often taught to middle school kids. I am curious why the fast food seafood chain decided to name it Long John Silvers. Took a risk there, donchathink? But maybe not. Well, come to think of it, I don’t even know if they are still in biz. They had a long run, though.
Thoughts by Toni Morrison, Random House Audio 2008, 6 hours 26 minutes
Narrated by the author.
Challenge: For the Tournament of Winners : Tournament of Books
Genre: African-American Lit
WHAT’s it ABOUT: A stream of consciousness by many women and few peripheral characters and the lives they lead. The ‘main’ characters are all connected to Jacob, a Dutch self-made man in the style of the American continent in the 1700s. It explores all variations of “institutions” – slavery, indentured servitude, marriage, religion.
WHAT’s GOOD: It’s powerful, evocative, tragic. Eye-opening to a period of history. Morrison does make it very real, truly makes it come alive.
What’s NOT so good: I had first thought that Morrison was an excellent narrator but as I continued to come back to ‘the listen’, I decided she does have a staccato style that might be irritating. I really didn’t notice it through most of the narrative. However, in story — I got lost a lot. Characters would switch and it was very unsteadying, distracting. The characters blurred together. By the time my mind switched accordingly as to who was talking, I was switched to another. And I would get stuck on who the person was talking TO; mother to child, girl to twin, young woman to lover.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I am very glad to have had this book be presented to me. I wish I had co-listened and read and fortunately, the library had an ebook I could borrow and it helped a lot. I could almost count this as two reads because I practically started at the beginning and scanned to the last part. Read that and then listened. Ended with Morrison’s interview which was very helpful to my appreciation. Recommended.
RATING: Four slices
No pie mentions noted. Unless you consider this, ~10%:
D’Ortega’s wife was a chatterin magpie, asking pointless questions —
My selections here are mostly from my Classics Club 50 (<– Book List 1; I’m working on Book List 2) and are shown in RED.
1. 19th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1800 and 1899.
2. 20th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1900 and 1969.
3. Classic by a Woman Author.
4. Classic in Translation. – The Gateless Gate
5. Classic by a Person of Color. Any classic work by a non-white author. Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
6. A Genre Classic. Any classic novel that falls into a genre category — fantasy, science fiction, Western, romance, crime, horror, etc. The Time Machine
7. Classic with a Person’s Name in the Title. First name, last name or both. – The Picture of Dorian Gray
8. Classic with a Place in the Title. Any classic with the proper name of a place (real or ficitonal) – a country, region, city, town, village, street, building, etc. – Villette by Charlotte Brontë
9. Classic with Nature in the Title. A classic with any element of nature in the title (not including animals). Treasure Island
10. Classic About a Family. This classic should have multiple members of the same family as principal characters, either from the same generation or multiple different generations. They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple.
11. Abandoned Classic. Choose a classic that you started and just never got around to finishing, whether you didn’t like it at or just didn’t get around to it. Now is the time to give it another try. Alice in Wonderland or Tom Sawyer or Cry the Beloved Country
12. Classic Adaptation. Any classic that’s been adapted as a movie or TV series. If you like, you can watch the adaptation and include your thoughts in your book review. It’s not required but it’s always fun to compare. SO MANY CHOICES!
All books must have been written at least 50 years ago to qualify; therefore, books must have been published no later than 1969 for this challenge.