Memorial

Thoughts by Bryan Washington, 2020, 8 hours 20 minutes

Narrated by the author and Akie Kotabe

Challenge: TOB Short List
Genre: Contemporary Lit, Queer Lit
Type/Source: Audiobook, Audible
 Why I read this now:  I wanted a shorter one from the possibles. This sounded like it might be suitable in audio form? 

MOTIVATION for READING: TOB Shortlist.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  The love affair? living arrangement? of Ben and Mike. They meet, they have sex, they curse, they move in together, Mike flies off to Japan to “be there” for his dad’s last days as he dies of cancer just as his mom flies from Japan to stay with him. Thus, Ben and Mike’s mom are now cohabitating and cooking together. Ben and Mike wonder about their relationship with few attempts to talk it out.  Oh yea, Ben’s father is an alcoholic and Ben is wrestling with that relationship, too.

THOUGHTS:  Aside from the delicate topic of dying parents and the care required to work through the grief, especially when the relationship is strained, I thought this was rather boring. Maybe all the sex and cursing. Which I’m not sure I would have been hyper-aware of the cursing if Ruthiella hadn’t called it out!  LOL.  See? I shouldn’t be laughing at these guys worrying about their fathers.

RATING:  Three slices of pie.   Salted Caramel Pecan Chocolate Pie, perhaps?!  Would have been a 2 slicer if I hadn’t encountered the caramel and pecan pie…

When Mary brought a pie to the table, double-layered in caramel and pecans, she said her daughter and I should share it,…”

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Copyright © 2007-2021. 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.

Transcendent Kingdom

Thoughts by Yaa Gyasi, 2020, 8 hours 40 minutes

Challenge: TOB Short List
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Audiobook, Audible
 Why I read this now:  It was next up in the queue.

MOTIVATION for READING: I enjoyed Gyasi’s debut and this one is getting great reviews. Plus, you know, the T. O. B.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Gifty is a scientist, a daughter of immigrants from Ghana, reflecting on her childhood as the little sister to a brother who died of a heroine overdose, her religious upbringing and how her mother suffers from mental illness, while conducting research on addiction so she can understand her own pain.

THOUGHTS:  This was a time/place of being in Gifty’s head as she explains and sorts through her thoughts and reactions and movement through many years, many relationships. Lots of religion and philosophy, but mostly religion and God and understanding and reconciling faith with science, science versus faith. It was really quite beautiful. NOT pushy at all. I think this could be a valuable reference for any religious study.

I liked Gifty. She was so well presented and fleshed out – her wants, needs, goals, dreams. Was there even a plot?

RATING:  Four slices of pie.   Apple pie mention and a bit about a friend who offers baked goods, including pie. YAY!

Quote lifted from a review in The Dartmouth, America’s Oldest College Newspaper:

Grappling with Gifty’s experiences growing up “sticking out like a sore thumb” in her predominantly-white town and “as Ghanaian as apple pie,” the novel is both accessible and urgent. 

 

 

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Long Bright River

Thoughts by Liz Moore, 2020, 482 pages

Challenge: TOB Long List, Theta Friends Book Read
Genre: Thriller
Type/Source: Hardcover, purchased from an Indie
 Why I read this now:  First Book of 2020 Selection

MOTIVATION for READING: I really like Liz Moore.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Mickey is a cop, a beat cop on the streets of a poor neighborhood in Philly. She comes from impoverished family circumstances. Her sister, same genes + same environment, takes the other turn in life and is a drug addict prostitute.

Young prostitute drug-addicted women start turning up dead and Mickey’s sister goes missing. Mickey is compelled to find out what is happening but gets involved in things beyond her scope and support system. A support system that is questionable, at best.

THOUGHTS: The “something elusive” that makes me really fall hard for a story didn’t happen with this one. But as I now have a few days away to ponder my reactions, I wonder if that is the point of it. Our MC is shyly prickly and doesn’t want to need people. She has no friends and doesn’t even realize it! THAT is what is weird to me, I think? She is heads-down, do the job, do right and don’t call attention. But humans can’t operate well being so alone – we need other people. When she realizes this, she is caught up in her confusion and fear of trust and what it all means, to have any good sense on what to do. It comes across as naiveté and it just seemed so out of sorts for her career as a police officer. Again, it takes all kinds and this is a story that confronts many biases.

RATING:  Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2021. 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.

Lion Cross Point

Thoughts by Masatsugu Ono, Two Lines Press 2018/2013, 121 pages

Translated from Japanese by Angus Turvill

Challenge:  none
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Tradeback, Scuppernongs Bookstore Mystery Purchase
 Why I read this now:  One of the shortest and newest books to my shelf.

MOTIVATION for READING: To honor the selections sent to me in a mystery purchase box to support independent bookstores. A covid purchase.

“… his mother’s face slipped like smoke between the fingers of his memory.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A 4th grader finds himself in his mother’s home town and dreading anyone who asks about her or his brother. We are never told what happened to propel his being in this new situation but we build in our imagination what possibly took place based on his fears and memory flashbacks. This is very much a book about memories and premonitions, spirits and hauntings, guilt and confusion. The past and present merge.

“Any memories that might rise up from the dark depths inside him would be memories of this land between the green hills and dark blue sea, this land that was now sinking into the depths of night.”

THOUGHTS: It ends very abruptly.

Likely a fabulous book to unpack in a literature class.

RATING:  Four slices of pie.

 

From Night, poetry collection by Etel Adnan, 2016:

And night and memory mediate each other. We move in them disoriented, for they often refuse to secure our vision. Avaricious, whimsical, they release things bit by bit.

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2020. 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.

Empty Mansions

Thoughts by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr, Ballantine Books 2013, 459 pages

Challenge:  for an online Facebook book club,  (but it might have been canceled – I can’t find it on our upcoming events)
Genre: Nonfiction, “Lives of the Rich & Famous”
Type/Source: Hardcover, don’t recall where I got it (free/borrow shelf at the apt complex, perhaps)
 Why I read this now:  Nonfiction November

MOTIVATION for READING: I do have a little bit obsession with the turn of the century mansions…

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Huguette lived a very long life as the youngest daughter of a very very rich American tycoon. Her last few decades, she had hidden herself away.

THOUGHTS: I thought this book would make me mad – about spoiled rich people and their eccentricities and the descendants who greedily crave access. But that is too simple. Mostly this made me sad. That she probably would have died 20 years or more earlier by wasting away in her apartment alone before finally seeking medical care. That she truly did enrich those she cared for deeply and many gratefully considered her a friend and benefactor. That I do not doubt at all that those who did manage to access her space and thoughts took advantage of her but glad that she was also a shrewd manager of her self and projects.

I will always wonder about her marriage! Yikes. But very cool that she remained friends with her ex over the subsequent decades.

I have soft spot in my heart for her because she was a Gemini and was fond of my favorite art gallery in DC:  The Corcoran. May she rest in peace.

The full title is Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

RATING:  Four slices of pie.

 

 

 

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Ducks, Newburyport

Thoughts by Lucy Ellman, Biblioasis 2019, 1001 pages

Challenge: Personal
Genre: Literary Fiction
Type/Source: Purchased Online, probably from Amazon :/  Made up for that by buying one from RiffRaff in PVD.
 Why I read this now:  It had to be read.

MOTIVATION for READING: The Main Character – referred to going forward as “MC” (I don’t even know if we get her name) – bakes pies to sell to local restaurants to help the family finances. Her signature dish is Apple Tarte Tatin – something I have yet to attempt. Apparently they can be tricky.

, according to Stephen Hawking the human world will end within 1000 years, but I think it could be a lot sooner, and my response to this is to make more pies and read recipe books,

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  This book is the streaming consciousness of MC, a mother of 4 who has had some serious health challenges and misses her mother who died when her own daughter, her oldest, was a toddler. Her husband is a professor of structural engineering and is a bridge expert. He is the father to the 3 youngest kids, step to the oldest — of course the first husband is not ideal, though she would never speak ill of him in front of their daughter. MC rambles in her head about her memories of which she constantly claims she cannot remember, her siblings, her upbringing, tragedies that happen in the world, her pies, her mothering challenges, politics, her doubts and fears, her grocery lists, the old movies she watches while she bakes, her chickens, her childhood pets, her childhood travels – all the houses and places she lived in. She hates Trump, is anti-gun, is polite to a fault and is shy around people; cripplingly-shy. She loves her husband dearly – he’s a good man. All the kids are cute as a button and have their own wants, needs, interests which she enumerates for pages at a time. That’s a fact! It’s her day to day to day to day in her head ramblings.

Every so often, the story shifts to a mountain lion momma of three and her travels around the state of Ohio. Lots of geography, topography and history of Ohio. Their paths intersect of course and it was tense, I tell ya!  of exactly HOW that might play out!  oh, it’s a thriller, truly. It was maddening trying to imagine where the book was going.

THOUGHTS: This is not a book I would recommend to just anyone. I only know a few people who would like it, love it, as much as I did. I am pretty sure, my IRL friends now know that I’m a really strange reader when I would LOVINGLY describe the book and how long it was taking me to read. They would back up slowly, wide-eyed, quietly muttering, “hmmm, ok, sounds interesting. not.”  I started it in April. I finished near the end of August. I sometimes would let weeks go by without turning a page. Sometimes, I would read one or two pages a day. Then conquer over 100+ in a weekend.

,the fact that I think a lot of people think all I think about is pie, when really it’s my spinal brain doing most of the peeling and caramelizing and baking and flipping, while I just stand there spiraling into a panic about my mom and animal extinctions and the Second Amendment just like everybody else,

RATING:  So why am I only giving this four slices of pie? I fear that sometimes, I give 5 stars to a book as a reward for getting me to read it. I think we (by which I mean “ME”) get brainwashed that we must actually be loving the experience of submerging so much time and energy into a chunkster that we MUST justify it with a high glowing review.

But I had some issues. I had an issue with the dog and probably should research if this is based in fact. (The fact is…) and I had issue that they – the stupid zoo people – that they didn’t realize or WATCH the     (SPOILER ALERT!!!!  hover over to reveal the white colored text so as not to spoil anything: Really?!  they didn’t realize that this momma was the 3 kittens mother and they didn’t watch the reunion? I don’t believe and if I ever read about a review from a big cat zookeeper reading this book – if you do! please share….)

So four stars for a quibble but I did love it. I will never not associate Ducks, Newburyport with the pandemic. That is reason enough not to give it 5 stars. Or maybe that is reason, actually, to anoint it 5 stars? Whatever.

So much pie. So much wonderful pie! so many terrific pie mentions!!! I probably should give Ellman the coveted Pie in Literature award for 2020 and call it done.

I would HATE it if they ever attempt to make a movie from this book. OMG, I would see it day one if they do. It’s a deceptively simple book in plot but wowza finding it! (Are they making movies yet?!)

The fact that it’s important not to despair though when you’ve got pies in the oven, …, the fact that you have to have mercy on your pies, be there for your pies, and in return they will be good dutiful pies and serve you, …

I really hope I reread this book someday.

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Copyright © 2007-2020. 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.

Poetry 2020 Edition 5

Poetry Goal 2020:  to read a poem* every day.

Collection #9 break your glass slippers by Amanda Lovelace, Andrews McMeel 2020, 136 pages

sometimes the only difference between not
being meant for something & being meant for
something is the necessary journey it takes for
you to get there.

—replace your self-doubt with patience.

Rating: 3 slices of pie. No pie mentioned. (I am not the ideal audience, methinks)


Collection #10 by Kieran Furey, Longtooth Books 2011, 120 pages

An Old Routine

Trying not to think
what it might mean,
he goes once a week
unbelievingly to Mass,
and once a week too
disbelievingly to another funeral.

At his age, these things are routine.
With one good ear he’s always listening
For the bells to toll for him.

I found this book in the apartment complex shelves. YAY! and they’re good. Lots of poems about family, ancestry, memories, place. I will have to assume it was the right poetry book for the right time in my 2020 poetry adventure.

I’m finding that I really enjoy poems about words and poems and about writing of poems.

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

*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.

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Copyright © 2007-2020. Care’s Books and Pie aka 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.

Poetry 2020 Edition 4

Poetry Goal 2020:  to read a poem* every day.

 

Collection #7  by Billy Collins, Random House Trade Paperbacks 2002, 173 pages

Budapest

My pen moves along the page
like a snout of a strange animal
shaped like a human arm
and dressed in the sleeve of a loose green sweater.

I watch it sniffing the paper ceaselessly,
intent as any forager that has nothing
on its mind but the grubs and insects
that will allow it to live another day.

It wants only to be here tomorrow,
dressed perhaps in the sleeve of a plaid shirt,
nose pressed against the page,
writing a few more dutiful lines

while I gaze out the window and image Budapest
or some other city where I have never been.

 

SO GOOD. I had misgivings and incorrect assumptions about Billy Collins “the famous poet”; he is too famous. But I had not experienced his work, his poems, with just me sitting with each one. I love his stuff! Mostly, I love the devotion he shows to the time it takes, allows. The time a poem bakes, crafts, comes into being, as if he and he alone, is the messenger, or person only to deliver the package. He sits and waits and plays and writes and then a poem emerges. He makes it seem effortless and yet like he doesn’t really have any choice in the matter. I am grateful that he allows the poems to come to him and then shares them. I very much love his poems about poems.

(Believe it or not, there is a 1-star review on goodreads; very entertaining.)

Rating: FIVE SLICES


Collection #8 by Lisa J. Starr, Beautifully Produced by the Poet 2008, 116 pages

Other People’s Poems

Perhaps I should leave other people’s poems to other people,
but I am afraid that left unsaid, they grow, they thicken,’
never mind how they accumulate.
The poems of others—this one’s my brother’s.

.
.
.

Your poem, then, my brother—the weariness of knowing
that what’s done is done, except that then it’s yours forever.
It takes twenty years sometimes to discover it’s not that your secret
is so dark; it’s that it’s always with you.

 

I am contacting the poet to see what is the best way to purchase a copy of this. (I don’t want to use the big A place… I suppose I should check if the indie bookstore on Block Island has a copy.) I thought this poems impactful, poignant, and relatable to the point that I want to have them to share. Poems about the joys of childhood, and how childhood pain is long-lasting; poems about taking care of parents and old dogs, poems of recognition.

Rating:  Five Slices of Pie. Quiche Lorraine and Pumpkin Pie

 

 

*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.

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Copyright © 2007-2020. Care’s Books and Pie aka 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.

Heartland

Thoughts hbyss by Sarah Smarsh, 2018, 290 pages

Challenge:  N/A
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.

“Canned pie filling in a bowl”

 

 

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The Dutch House

Thoughts by Ann Patchett, HarperAudio 2019, 9 hours 53 minutes

Narrated by Tom Hanks

Why I listened:  Time for me to choose another audiobook and I had just read JoAnn’s endorsement that Hanks does a fab job with this wonderful story. And she was right.

What’s it about: A pair of siblings are kicked out of the house by the evil stepmom when Dad dies. They obsess about their mother, their father, their upbringing, the house and all of it for most of the rest of their lives.

Questions:  I wanted to know about the book cover. Did AP find a painting and was thus inspired? or what. Well, I found her answer!

Favorite things:  That painting! the humor – so many laugh out loud of the kind of humor that delights me, Tom’s announcements of the chapters and parts, all of it.

Rating:  Five slices of cherry pie.

Future goals: I am hereby committing myself to reading all her books.

So far, I’ve read                                                                  Need to read
Bel Canto                                                                        Taft
State of Wonder                                                                Truth & Beauty
Commonwealth                                                                The Autobio of a Face
Run                                                                                  The Patron Saint of Liars
The Dutch House
The Magician’s Assistant
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2019. Care’s Online Book Club aka Care’s Books and Pie. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club aka BkClubCare.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.