The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

Thoughts tsloajfbygz by Gabrielle Zevin, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 2014, 258 pages

Genre: Dunno…   “Book Lover Lit”?
Type/Source: Tradeback, Purchased from local indie bookstore
 Why I read this now: Neighborhood Book Club

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  An owner of a bookstore on small New England island is grieving his dead wife when a stranger leaves a baby among the bookshelves. He somehow is allowed to adopt her and the little girl saves his life. He eventually marries and lives happily ever after. NOT! A sweet unlikely tale that actually brings up dark issues like suicide, infidelity, and cancer and yet all is just lovely because we get to “talk” books.

WHAT’s GOOD: OK, I loved it. I loved the New England setting and of course, I loved all the books. I had read most of the ones mentioned, I think.

What’s NOT so good: Full of cliches and could be accused of just being a checklist of what should be in a book about people who love books and yet SO WHAT!?

FINAL THOUGHTS: I enjoyed it. A fast read. Good palate changer when you need something light and quick. I really did not mind –SPOILER ALERT!– I did not mind that wham-bam the guy gets brain cancer and oh well, book over. [Wow, that doesn’t read quite right. What exactly am I trying to say?] That the author didn’t melodramatize anything even if throwing the guy into the situation could be considered melodramatic?

And I liked the police captain. He was cool.

RATING:  Four slices of cherry pie.

p.255 “The waitress asks if they want dessert. Ismay says she doesn’t want anything, but Lambiase knows she’ll always share a little of his. He orders a slice of cherry pie, two forks.”

 

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Bookseller of Kabul

Thoughts tbokbyas The Bookseller of Kabul by Åsne Seierstad, Back Bay Books 2002, 288 pages, tB

“The most intimate description of an Afghan household ever produced by a Western journalist… Seierstad is a sharp and often lyrical observer.” -New York Time Book Review

MOTIVATION for reading: This month’s selection for my local library fiction club – – which is wonderful! (not sure if the library just gives to us or we choose. AND, I’m not sure I will be able to attend the meeting if I find a sub job.)

What’s in a Name Challenge 8 – CITY category

FIRST Sentence: “When Sultan Khan thought the time had come to find himself a new wife, no one wanted to help him.”

What’s it ABOUT: The author is a Norwegian journalist who met Mr. Khan at his book store the month after Sept 11, 2001. She struck up a friendship, found him ‘interesting’ and pitched the idea of living with his family to write this book. He had no objections. She writes about the family dynamic and the goals and dreams of the ones she has most conversations with – the ones who can speak English but she also puts together the mosaic of all the family members; each chapter is presented as a vignette with an event or a person.

WHAT’s GOOD: Ms Seierstad is a talented journalist – an observer and reporter able to convey the emotions involved AND appropriate distance in what appears to be the daily lives of her subjects, because as she explains in the Foreword, she is “regarded as some sort of bi-gendered creature”. She traveled and ate with the men as well as took part in female-only activities. She was “able to circulate freely between the groups”. THIS was the most fascinating piece overlaying the entire book. I kept wondering how she accomplished it and why they accepted the arrangement.

What’s NOT so good: I have no complaints with the story-telling. Truly, the world these women inhabit is heart-breaking, unless they are lucky? Even the ‘lucky’ ones have zero to little freedom.

Sultan Khan is a business man and he manages to do well despite the politics of who is in power. He has sons. He has two wives. He is in control. We meet his sons – his oldest speaks English but his youngest is made to work in the shops and is NOT sent to school. We do manage to see slices of life that occupy people of any culture – cooking and feasting, weddings and babies, carving a living in an uncertain economy, hopes and dreams. We meet a variety of personalities; we wonder. I wonder. I wonder if people just suck. Why can’t we all just get along?

FINAL THOUGHTS: I felt for Leila. She is/was the capable and bright youngest sister of Sultan who waited hand and foot  on the men of the family. Her mother was elderly and her other sister was just … well, we might assume she was of limited capacity, intellectually and physically. Leila was educated and knew English. She had dreams to be a teacher, to have something of her own, an outlet of expression and worth, an opportunity to have some kind of independence.

It is hard to imagine that in the 80s, Afghanistan women lived lives of ambition and movement and fashion. To look at photos then and now, is astonishing. And even as the Taliban was pushed out of power just before the time Seierstad wrote this book (~2002) and thus women were no longer restricted to live their public lives hidden under a burka, they don’t quite feel comfortable without it, for reasons understandable and better explained by this review at Rhapsody in Books. And I really have no idea what might have happened since then and even if it is possible to figure it out. My American privilege and ignorance is showing.

RATING: Four slices of pie-in-the-sky*.

Fascinating, heart-breaking, devastating.

 

pieratingsml

 

* pie-in-the-sky was the only pie reference I ran across in this text.

 

Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Dueling Monsters

I am participating in this year’s Dueling Monsters event, sponsored by The Estella Society and hosted by Softdrink and @TriniCapini. You all know that I’m bad about explaining this stuff when the source is usually the best route to learn more. Just click from the button above or the last two underlined links…

Hannibal Lector vs Patrick Bateman

I have already read Red Dragon which makes me a #monstermash (that’s the Twitter hashtag for this year’s event) overachiever. YAY ME!

And am just about to spend September’s Audible credit on American Psycho and listen while I mow the lawn today.

If AP didn’t happen to be on the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die, I probably would skip. And I do believe AP has appeared on a few BANNED BOOKS lists, yes? Of course, both are RIP worthy. I told my husband we might have to schedule a horrorfest-movie-night and watch these. He said, ‘Sure, ok. whatever.’

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HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Everything Beautiful Began After

Thoughts    Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy, Harper Perennial 2011, 402 pages

MOTIVATION for READING:  Oh boy. I can blame all of this on my good friend Nancy the Bookfool. She’s the one who first told me about SVB and I think she may have even sent my the story collection which I fell hard in love with (for?) and gave a whopping big 5 stars to. AND THEN?! Why she tells me that our SVB will be in Boston in September! OH JOY! So I suggested that she should just come and go WITH me to see Mr. Van Booy at the Boston Public Library and lo-and-behold, she bit. She will be my guest that week as I drop her off in the center of old towns to take millions of pictures of buildings and flowers (and dogs since I don’t have any cats), make her run errands with me, be a taste tester for my wonderful husband’s creative cooking, and who knows what else.

But WAIT!  There’s MORE!

Since all the stuff is being planned to go SEE the author, I suggested to my book club that we READ the book for our September choice (it was my month to pick and since I had to read it anyway…)  I was hoping to invite any/all of my sister-clubbers to attend with us but alas, it is first week of school so I don’t think anyone has the energy to blip in something like this that week. Of course, they are still invited to meet us there. Nancy and I have to take a little detour to Boston College that morning and hurry in for lunch plans.

AND? Yep, more. My parents will be visiting during the week of my book club meeting so I will make Mom read the book and bring her along! My mother is a hit at these things. Should be a quite fun. Right, Mom?  🙂

Which brings me to the part about this book. In one word, EVOCATIVE.

evocative |iˈväkətiv|adjective – bringing strong images, memories, or feelings to mind : powerfully evocative lyrics| the building’s cramped interiors are highly evocative of past centuries.

Quickly, it is about a girl who goes to Athens because Athens is a city with a personality that calls to lost souls.  She befriends one man who falls for her and yet she falls for another man and in the meantime, these two gentlemen become friends and don’t realize their connection and then stuff happens and time goes on and there is MUCH traveling which was one of my favorite parts even though the style of writing was different. Overall? It is short by epic. It is emotional, beautiful, philosophical, quiet and powerful. Then POW!  We are back at the beginning and the urge to start reading it again right away is huge.

I’m now going to pull Nancy’s words off her post first mentioning this novel:

It seems to be a love triangle, at first, and it begins a little slowly. Apart from the beauty of his writing, you may even be tempted to think it’s not going to be anything special. And, then Simon yanks the rug out from you and turns the story on its head. Suddenly, what you thought was a love triangle becomes a story of grief and hope. It’s almost a tapestry — about love and death and friendship, the fleeting nature of life and how much every single moment counts. Everything Beautiful Began After is awe-inspiring, uplifting, authentic, hopeful, beautiful. It’s everything I hoped Simon’s first novel would be. Prepare to have your heart broken and then put back together with sparkles and rainbows. Everything Beautiful Began After is a book you simply must read.

Also, I must bring you to Literate Housewife’s words AND photos her experience reading this book.   Any blogger that brings up John Cusack in a review is tops with me.   So click on the link and read what she has to say.    My favorite?   When she says the important theme is “The hope of love returning.”    Yes.

Sigh…

and finally, I must say again that I am VERY excited to meet Simon Van Booy.  

For my review of SVB’s Love Begins in Winter, click here.

It is likely that I will not post between now and then.   I’ll be back, don’t worry.    Happy Back to School!  Happy September!   Happy Labor Day!   Happy Happy Happy.

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Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

tHoL Part 1

This is preliminary post for preparation of a review of The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. A Part 1, you could say.

,

Dear Book Blogging,

I must thank you for the steps put into play from my earliest book blogging days that lead me to the latest book I have just finished.

I recall those early days…  a lot of memes involving lists of books and I had such fun crossing off titles I had read and noting which ones I hadn’t.

One of those was The Little Prince by (a French guy with a name that sadly I cannot type from memory – I always have to look it up probably because I am clueless at pronunciation) Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I hadn’t read The Little Prince as a kid or I had forgotten, so I searched for it. Then I went on to read his memoir Wind, Sand and Stars (and have committed to reading it again because right after I read it, I wanted to start again, but haven’t yet.  It’s THAT good.)

AND,

I thank you, Book Blogging, for enticing me to attempt Ulysses.   I didn’t finish in a timely manner (ok, I didn’t finish) but keep thinking I might return to it someday.   I got enough to now get some of the cultural references that pop up here and there.

AND,

I thank you for suggesting I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safran Foer which I didn’t recommend but DID second in a vote for a book club read last year.   I loved it.  (It was my third time to attempt but once I committed, I was WOWed.)

I also had placed The History of Love on my tbr somehow along the way.     One day, while at the library perusing their book sale shelf, I saw this and knew immediately that the $2 price was not an obstacle.    I could NOT have told you ANYTHING about the plot.  In fact, I was constantly getting this book confused with Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.

and then BAM!

Last week, on a blog somewhere* in the interwebs, I see a mention that the authors of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close AND The History of Love are married.    Huh.   AND that these novels in particular can be seen as companions or related or something – I forget now exactly what connection.

All I remember is “I didn’t know that.”

Off I march, up the stairs to look at the scattered piles of unread books on the floor of my craft room.   I search and find The History of Love, dust it off, peel the $2 sticker off that reminds me where I got it (and then wish I hadn’t peeled off the sticker) and begin to read.

It took a few days due to life interruptions, but by page 100, I don’t want to put the book down.  Saturday I was at an all day Memorial Day Weekend party wishing I could just escape and go back home and read.    Sunday morning, at 5:30 am, I start in and never stop.

By page 198, I start to sniffle.  “This is SOOOOoooo good!”

I SHOULD.   Get out more, join some clubs.  I should buy some new clothes, dye my hair blue, let Herman Cooper take me on a ride in his father’s car, kiss me, and possibly even feel my nonexistent breasts.  I should develop some useful skills like public speaking, electric cello, or welding, see a doctor about my stomachaches, find a hero that is not a man who wrote a children’s book and crashed his plane, stop trying to set up my father’s tent in record time, throw away my notebooks, stand up straight, and cut this habit of answering any questions regarding my well-being with a reply fit for a prim English schoolgirl who believes life is nothing but a long preparation for a few finger sandwiches with the Queen.

By page 202, the water works are really going.

I took a few steps into the room.  There was so much I wanted to say.
“I need you to be–” I said, and then I started to cry.
“Be what?” she said, opening her arms.

By the end, I’m a complete mess.    I just sit and hold the damn book; wondering why books can have so much power over my emotions.   (Which I LOVE.)

I tweet a few twitterings, “OMG!!  JUST FINISHED tHoL and LOOOOOOVVVVEEDDDD it!”

I sent an email to one of my bookclubbers telling her she HAS to read this and I will loan it to her.

Finally, dear Book Blogging, in total fear this post might turn people off to this book, I want to say that you do not need to read Wind, Sand and Stars, Ulysses nor Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close to be moved by this story.  Not at all.   They are minor mentions, really, but ones that smacked ME with meaning because I *knew* something.     I was awed by the layering of my own experiences to make this book even more meaningful to me.

NOW.   Now I begin to write my review post.

* the lovely kiss a cloud blog’s review of ELaIC

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HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Zeitoun

Thoughts Zeitoun by Dave Eggers*, McSweeney’s Books 2009, 335 pages. Nonfiction.

MOTIVATION for READING: Our August pick for my In Real Life book club, the Bookies.   We meet Thursday, August 19th.   [Library book.]

FIRST SENTENCE**: “On moonless nights the men and boys of Jableh, a dusty fishing town on the coast of Syria, would gather their lanterns and set out in their quietest boats.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT: This book is about one particular American family living in New Orleans and their experiences with Hurricane Katrina 2005. That’s all I knew going into it and that’s all I will tell you here.

WHAT’s GOOD/NOT so good: Even knowing (safely, only from watching TV!) how devastating Hurricane Katrina was, I had no idea how far the pendulum of response swung to deal with all that was needing to be addressed. I was shocked and saddened and appalled. I was caught up in wondering the hows and whys. I still find myself having the pendulum of reaction swinging back and forth, pro and con to what I really think about this book. Well written, but …. what?    It was presented as this family’s experiences and so I cannot accuse it of being one-sided.  In fact, Eggers’ notes at the end discuss his fact-checking and cross-interviewing so we are not sold going in that it would be more –  it IS accurate for Zeitoun as he shares it.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS:      One more reminder that the world is full of good and bad and the range of perspective is all over the map.  We can all see the same thing but the interpretation can vary wildly.  What I take away from this is how uncommon common decency can be and how I personally desire to be more kind, considerate, respectful and calm in the face of situations out of my control or understanding.

RATING: My initial reaction was to rate this a four slice of pie: and I think I’ll stand by that for now. I admire Eggers and wish the Zeitoun family all the best.  What a horrific ordeal.

OTHER REVIEWS: I was quite impressed by Asylum’s review. Both Eyes Book Blog listed this in her top 500 but sadly, no review. From a blogger who wouldn’t/couldn’t finish the book: Citizen Reader. For a questioning look at the stories told and how: One Minute Book Reviews. For all the rest and more: Fyrefly’s Book Blog Search Engine Results.

* I’ll admit that I have attempted and failed to get through Egger’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.   I’m baffled, really, why I didn’t love AHWOSG a because I thought it sounded awesome.    I’m a Gemini – I always blame these crazy misunderstandings with myself on the fact that I was born in June.

** I love coming back to the first sentences when I write these THOUGHTS posts because sometimes they really tie a theme together:    In this instance, the quietness of paddling a canoe allows Zeitoun to hear calls of people requiring assistance that would never have been heard by powerboats…

*** Again, I love the random connections that link books I read. This one features a captain of large international ships, our main character Abulrahman Zeitoun’s older brother Ahmad Zeton and the most recent book I read also features a non-American tanker ship captain who helps rescue a man lost at sea in a crazy storm in 2005.

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Copyright © 2010. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Mixed Magics

Thoughts   Mixed Magics:  Four Tales of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones, Harper Trophy 2000, 193 pages

MOTIVATION for READING:  Diana Wynne Jones Week is was the First Week of August!    Thank you to Jenny of Jenny’s Books for her contagious enthusiasm and encouragement.

When the announcement of DWJ Week broke and I had never heard of the author, I asked for a recommendation.   I liked the suggestion of Eight Days of Luke being an influencer of Neil Gaiman (rock star) to write American Gods.   Unfortunately, I was asleep at the wheel when I was IN the library, the book was waiting for me, I failed to realize it!   I also didn’t have my library card* with me and it’s a fiasco to attempt to check out anything without it.   So the book was returned to wherever and I didn’t have it in time to participate in DWJ Week.   (*sniff*)

So, in the very middle of DWJ Week and I’m hyperventilating because I don’t have a DWJ book in hand and my brother and SIL are visiting (very rude, you know, to say, um-we have to go to the library and I really need to be reading…), I realize that my town’s library IS a TOURIST ATTRACTION!!!!     Hurray!   So I shove my Bro and SIL into the library to admire the paintings of General Tom Thumb and his lovely wife Minnie Bump as I scour the shelves for the shortest DWJ book:   Mixed Magics wins.    A collection; a variety of short stories with a range of subject manner all featuring Chrestomanci (doh.)

Have I bored you yet?   Oh well, that’s how I came to this book.

It’s charming.  If I had to choose one word to describe this collection, I would say ‘lively’.   It’s got beautifully drawn characters; from bad guys to kids with magic talents to the revered Chrestomanci.    I loved the humor and intelligence.    And now I need to read more Diana Wynne Jones and will likely buy for a few of my N&Ns.**

Please go to Jenny’s blog and see how successful her campaign was to get so many to read Ms Jones!   and I also must call attention to Villa Negativa’s excellent essay, The Hotties of Diana Wynne Jones, or Why Are All These Grown Women Reading Children’s Books?

“Very well. Thasper, son of Imperion, I reluctantly give you my blessing to go forth and preach Dissolution.  Go in peace.” (golly, I hope that isn’t a spoiler.)

RATING:    Three slices of pie.   Only because they were too short and I wanted a bit more.

* How do I go to the library without my card!??!   I don’t know.  #hangsheadinshame

** N&Ns = Nieces and Nephews

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Copyright © 2010. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Dykes To Watch Out For

Thoughts     Dykes To Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel, Firebrand Books 1986, 78 pages.

MOTIVATION for READING:     I had read so many great reviews of various titles by Alison Bechdel and so was testing my area’s InterLibraryLoan system;  this one popped up.    I reserved it for my GLBT Challenge and my OPEN category in the Twenty in Ten Challenge:  Graphic Novel.     I’m going to say that this book picked me.

Don’t you love books that are SMART FUNNY?   This one is.    And I howled at the 80s references (see the published date of 1986) – so spot on.

I have to admit I was delighted (in hopes of reading 100 books this year and I’m off that mark) at the page count of 77 – I am seriously taking more time to write this review than it did to flip through every panel!      Little humorous vignettes that are obviously about lesbian relationships but have universal themes.     Truly, it is a look at the craziness of relationships, ANY relationships – beginnings, middles, and ends, etc.

One of my favorite things was the smattering of panels for each letter of the alphabet that showcase a type of lesbian.   I love the alphabet!   I love to read books, blog posts, anything that features the alphabet.     And then – surprise!!!    The last pages has “the Amazon’s Bedside Companion:  A Sophisticated Alphabet and Subliminal Picture Quiz” which had me breezing through once again from the beginning!   For example, the Z page featured a Zinnia and I totally missed it.   So clever and fun.

Nymeth recently reviewed one of Bechdel’s latest (as I understand it, an extension/compilation of what she started in the book I’m reviewing here); I must quote her:

“the main appeal of The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For is actually how very universal and how human it is.”

Yes.

RATING:   Four slices of pie.

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2010. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Friday Free For All

Hello.   How long has it been since I treated you to a random spouting of whatever is on my mind?    I think I could yap for many words this morning AND still keep it about books.     Got LOTS to say, it seems, and of course, all my sentence/thoughts are TOO LONG for Twitter.  😛   Besides, sometimes yelling into the Twitter void is loneliness-inducing.    I’ll say something and no one reacts.   So I just fell silly.   Like I’m in a room full of people shouting something (not) profound; everyone keeps right on talking.    Even worse, is the feeling that everyone stops for just a silent second to glance at me and then resumes talking.   Twitter CAN be intimidating, admit it. (yes, I do know that I should just jump in and react to someone else’s tweet – gotta be a friend to have a friend…)

See?  I’ve already rambled on and have barely even started.

I am now reading Night by Elie Wiesel;  inspired by my finishing The Book Thief (and the fact that Night is less than 200 pages, who am I kidding?!)       I have a confession.   Of course, I knew this book was about his time in the Nazi concentration camps but I didn’t realize it was about his crisis of faith.    I don’t know why this gives me pause, but it is sobering and somber and quietly dread-full.       I think I might have to seek out Viktor Frankel’s Man’s Search for Meaning as a counterpoint/companion read next.   How did I get on a Holocaust themed book run?

On a lighter note, I decided I could very well pop in an audio book to help Jen celebrate her Audio Week Extravaganza!    So I’m halfway through listening to Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson and I am IN LOVE with the setting!    What a wonderful NYC book!   I’m fond of this book already; fond of the main character and her family.

Which brings me to a question that you may want to address in a comment if you so wish:     Does it intimidate you to see the HOURS of LISTENING on an audio book case as compared to a book’s page count?     It does me.      So, when I saw that Suite Scarlett is NINE hours, I thought “OK, quite do-able.”    and yet, I *know* that I can read about 50-60 pages an hour and could if I wanted to convert a book reading time to hours, but I never do.

On similar note (maybe), I downloaded the audio of The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace and the key-card doesn’t tell me how many hours it is.   WHY do you think I assume it is many?   Many like is LOTS?    I’m scared to look up the page count…    I was about to write another sentence with a form of the word ‘intimidation’ in it and that’s just silly.   I have to get over what that word means!

Which reminds me of that quote by Eleanor Roosevelt:

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

I am hoping to put together a pre-discussion post of  questions for Franny & Zooey – I suppose, I should write a review, too – and just wanted to let you know that I ended up liking it very much.    Not what I was expecting to after the first 40 pages.   In fact, I may have to re-read the Franny section.    I didn’t do a good job of taking notes so I might have to re-read the whole thing…   oh well.

I’m also reminded that I need a button.  and a note in my sidebar.   And I want to thank Florinda for sharing the link to the kickoff in one of her announcement posts!

AND.     For August 10, I hereby announce the book will be Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.

Maree is hosting a discussion/readalong of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods on July 10th, too.   I got the book! I’ve been saying I need to read some NG for years now.

Jenny over at Jenny’s Books will be celebrating Diana Wynne Jones (an author I had never heard of until I started to read Jenny’s blog which you should read, too) – check out her announcement of that special week here.   I want to read Howl’s Moving Castle or Eight Days of Luke.

Have I also shared that we are planning on vacation for July 10th (the F&Z discussion) and it is extremely possible that I won’t have internet access on that date?!?!??!?!?     I’m sticking my head in the sand and refusing to acknowledge this possibility.   DRAT IT ALL.    I can’t go and tell the Hub to cancel vacation because I screwed up and scheduled an internet chat, now can I?     Well, I wish I could but he’ll just turn around and ask me how much money I’m making on this blog-thing and ha-ha…   I’ll see what I can do.   Maybe I can get that I-Pad thingy figured out by then?   It’s on my list of to-do’s before July 4th.

What else, what else?    I had a brain full of topics to address!  Where did they go?

I received Making the Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa, MD from my new-friend-from-BEA Esme at Chocolate & Croissants (thank you!) which she was so wonderfully generous to send me because I was complaining that I couldn’t find this book in LARGE PRINT.    (The one she sent isn’t in large print, either – I don’t think they printed an LP edition.)   My desire was that I wanted to get this for the library at the HOME FOR THE AGED where I volunteer and the residents prefer Large Print.     (It’s the largest Large Print library on the southcoast of Massachusetts!)

Finally, I leave you with a photo of a DOG named Oscar.

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2010. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Ethan Frome

Thoughts   Ethan Frome, First pub’d 1911/Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition 2009, 99 pages

MOTIVATION for READING:    I had not yet read any Edith Wharton.    Just hadn’t gotten to her yet.      Awhile back on one of the lists/memes where people highlight books that impacted in some way, I saw Ethan Frome and didn’t recognize the title.     I believe it was Lisa of Books on the Brain (yes, found the post:  a Sticky Books meme from a year ago.)   Anyway, I got pulled to purchase this on an excursion to Borders; I was seduced by the cover.

Before anyone protests that I have in the past stated that I *NEVER* buy books for the cover, tis true.   I have said that and I rarely do buy books for a pretty cover.   But this one is so colorful and metallic and of cool paper.    It FEELS good and it has those bookmark flap things that I find really cool.

I can also count this as a book OLDER THAN ME for the Twenty in Ten Challenge.  

WHAT’s it ABOUT:    This is a mystery about what possibly could have happened in poor Ethan’s past to make him such a sad withered old man.    It’s a morality tale about dreams and happiness and these being totally denied.     It’s about life in brutally cold New England way back in the day.

Now that I reflect, I’m thinking this could also be counted for the Women Unbound Challenge – what happens to a poor girl whose father has come to ruination.   What choices does she have?      In that regard, not much has changed to describe the feelings of being trapped by a lack of cash…    And THAT is not necessarily gender-specific.    But what an interesting study in hypochondria and any/all ailments women suffered but never got specific about.

What choices does poor Ethan Frome have?    The silly idiot.   For marrying that woman because he felt desperate and she could be his way to push off loneliness.    And he thought he was rescuing her. Guffaw!

The suffocation of a life with no means of escape.     The grasping at tiny sparks of joy and happiness, the SCRAPs of a dream of a vibrant life!     oh, the suffering.

Honestly?     I don’t know why they all didn’t drink poison and end it all decades before.

WHAT’s GOOD:   I thought the writing spot on.    Spare, cold and yet vivid.     There is FEELING in this book; it’s an uneasiness and just barely noticeable unpleasantness.     Besides the damn cold and the back-breaking chores and the hard scrabble for a dollar.

and TENSION*!      tremulous, pit-in-the-stomach (gobnabbit, just kiss her already!   You haven’t done anything wrong except WANT A BETTER LIFE!    Except, unless, you count ‘thinking’ about sinning the same or worse as the sinning and I’m not here to get all technical about sin or anything…   It’s not (thank you!) MY morality tale – what a whopper this is, though, even as I wonder what I was supposed to learn besides be careful who you marry.)

WHAT’s NOT so GOOD:    (with ME, not the book.) OK, so I wish I had gone into this with a wee bit more preparation.    I noticed stuff like the red scarf but missed the red color of the pickle dish.   Sure, I recognized the weight of that darn important pickle dish but realized I wasn’t paying attention like I should.   So I stopped half-way through and read this online article on Ethan Frome’s Symbolism, Imagery and Allegory. I was much better prepared for the end of the book and no, I didn’t cry.    I was amused.    (I also read a hilarious snarky review on goodreads that had me laughing which also relieved my being overly emotional about it all.)

Thank you Christine of stacked (who mentioned Ethan Frome at the BBC panel – oh yes, I noticed it) for offering this link to a fun video retelling of Ethan Frome (~6 minutes).

RATING:    Four slices of Pie  

I’m very glad I read this.    Now I know what it’s all about.   Sometimes that’s wonderful regardless of liking or enjoying or not.

*  I read the Introduction AFTER writing this post.   Written by Elizabeth Ammons:   “stylistic elegance”, “perfectly calibrated mood of impending doom”. LOVE all the bio on EW – what a woman! Must. Read. More.

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

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