Stoner

Thoughts  by John Williams, New York Review Book 2003 (orig 1965), 305 pages

Sometimes, immersed in his books, there would come to him the awareness of all that he did not know, of all that he had not read; and the serenity for which he labored was shattered as he realized the little time he had in life to read so much, to learn what he had to know.

H

Challenge: Classics Club 50!
Type/Source: eBook/Kindle

MOTIVATION for READING: I had heard very good things about this book; I had expectations that it would be just the kind of book I love. And it was!

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Stoner is a Professor of Literature at the University of Missouri. This book explores his entire life, start to finish.

WHAT’s GOOD: The writing.

What’s NOT so good: I love contemplative character studies. If you don’t, just skip it. It’s OK.              I LOVED this.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m so glad to finally conquer this one! Yay me.

RATING: Five slices of pie. No pie mentioned. Although, ‘magpie’ is.

“Outside, in the old elm that crowded the back-yard fence, a large black-and-white bird—a magpie—had started to chatter. He listened to the sound of its calling and watched with remote fascination the open beak as it strained out its lonely cry.”

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2018. 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.
Advertisements

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Updated to add links to the TOB:

 

 

 

Thoughts  by Jesmyn Ward, Simon Schuster Audio 2017, 8 hours 22 minutes

Narrated by Kelvin Harrison Jr, Chris Chalk, Rutina Wesley – RECOMMENDED

Challenge: Tournament of Book 2018
Genre: Southern Lit, Magic Realism
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now: Hot book in the TOB that I had heard of more than some of the others. 

MOTIVATION for READING:  I hadn’t read a Jesmyn Ward book. Am eager still to read everything she produced/s, past and future.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  I will provide the official blurb from the ‘official’ reader’s guide on the publisher’s website:

In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones, she brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle.

Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.

Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied Sing is a majestic work that belongs in the canon of American literature.

WHAT’s GOOD: A lot. The writing, the imagery, the connections. Masterful.

What’s NOT so good: Perhaps it was the audio, but it took me a long time to figure out a few things – that is ME, not the fault of the book. (Driving and listening in winter travel conditions might not be the best medium for enjoying a shocking story.) But upon reading other thoughts and reactions, I have come to appreciate what was happening. This is a book that gets better in your mind the more you think about it.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  This would be a great book for wise discussion and I am certain that it could only increase in appreciation. It is a powerful, masterful piece of literature and possibly could be, will be the kind of book taught in high schools for years to come; a classic already.

RATING: Four FIVE slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

 

 

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2018. 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.

Goodbye, Vitamin

Thoughts  by Rachel Khong, 2017, 208 pages

The endive truck is parked there, and the trucker is outside, sitting on the curb, eating a waxed paper–wrapped apple pie.

Challenge: Tournament of Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type/Source: eBook / Kindle
 Why I read this now: It’s Rooster Reading time once again.

MOTIVATION for READING: I selected this one because it was short. What can I say, I want to read as many as I can. Plus it has mostly good reviews.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: I’m going to share the blurb at goodreads.com:

…the wry, beautifully observed story of a woman at a crossroads, as Ruth and her friends attempt to shore up her father’s career; she and her mother obsess over the ambiguous health benefits – in the absence of a cure – of dried jellyfish supplements and vitamin pills; and they all try to forge a new relationship with the brilliant, childlike, irascible man her father has become.

WHAT’s GOOD: I loved the tone; contemplative, searching, kind, honest. I think I might have expected whiny, but it isn’t at all.

FINAL THOUGHTS: All the characters were easy to cheer for. and LOTS of PIE! Actually, lots of food. This is one of those books that maybe nothing huge happens but there is so much going on. Very good story and told in an interesting way.

RATING: Four slices of pie: apple, chicken potpie, pecan with chocolate in it, and just pie.

At the bistro, our server struggled to remember the pie list.

 

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2018. 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.

Something for the First Sunday in December 2017

Jenny of Reading the End has a new blog idea for Sundays. The idea is to share good things.

Touched by: The color blue. I just read Percival Everett’s So Much Blue and gave it 5 stars and question why I rated it so high. Oh, I do know what and why I did, but am not confident I can debate it as ‘reasonable’. Whatever. AND THEN! I was reading an article in The Guardian of authors who share their best reads of 2017; one of the authors cited Bluets – a book of poetry I almost purchased! but didn’t. Why did I not? oh well, I didn’t and now I want it more.

Happy about: That I made it home for Thanksgiving and saw so many loved ones and happy that I made it back home to where home is NOW.

Inspired by: Anyone who can be calm and rational and hopeful.

Proud of: Myself that I didn’t say things to loved ones that I would be sad and shamed to have said and equally sad that I didn’t have the courage to say things I might have should have said. Sigh.

People are so damn complicated.

Enjoyed: Husband cooked so many amazing meals tonight and day before yesterday and for Thanksgiving! such yummy food. MMmmmmm

Charmed by: Chip and Joanna Gaines. I won their book  at a holiday party today. Love their show.

Giggling over: Esther talking in her sleep. I really missed my pups while we were away.

pieratingsml

Copyright © 2007-2017. 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.

Taking a Break

Taking a break from the digital world and all you lovely imaginary friends to explore some new-to-me physical world. Green things! Trees! Flowers! and maybe some old buildings! See you in a few days or longer. I’ll be back for Pi Day. Keep reading, keep learning, keep exploring. Be safe, be fierce.

Blogger-Unplugged-254x300

 

 

pieratingsml

 

Copyright © 2007-2017. 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.

Moonglow

Thoughts mgbymc by Michael Chabon, HarperAudio 2016, 14 hours 46 minutes

Narrated by George Newbern.

Challenge: TOB shortlist
Genre: fiction-memoir, speculative-memoir?
Type/Source: Audio/Audible Credit
 Why I read this now: Finished The Bone Clocks; this was up next.

MOTIVATION for READING: One thing that recommends this besides it being TOB is that it is written by Chabon. I have only read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and want to read more.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: I’m deferring to a few bits of the goodreads blurb because it is excellent. To read the whole blurb, click on the cover above because even though it is the button for the audio and I probably should link to Audible.com, I believe you would prefer access to the goodreads reviews rather than Audible. Am I wrong? Feel free to comment.

 …  the latest feat of legerdemain in the ongoing magic act that is the art of Michael Chabon.

Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession, made to his grandson, of a man the narrator refers to only as “my grandfather.” It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and desire and ordinary love, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at mid-century and, above all, of the destructive impact—and the creative power—of the keeping of secrets and the telling of lies. A gripping, poignant, tragicomic, scrupulously researched and wholly imaginary transcript of a life that spanned the dark heart of the twentieth century, Moonglow is also a tour de force of speculative history. (edited/cut) Chabon devises and reveals, in bits and pieces whose hallucinatory intensity is matched only by their comic vigor and the radiant moonglow of his prose, a secret history of his own imagination.

WHAT’s GOOD:  The unraveling, layering, building. The metaphors, the descriptors, the confident prose. I am almost certain that if you had me read a few pages of a book without identifying the author, I could pick out Chabon’s style and phrasing.

What’s NOT so good:  See above. Unfortunately, I feel like I can dip into and skip around and know that even as am surely ‘missing something’, I won’t miss it.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  If I wasn’t in such a gosh darn hurry to get these books crossed off the list, I would listen to every word and marvel. I would be entertained, enthralled, captivated, etc. I think I’ll just put another or all of Chabon’s books on my tbr and hope to read them someday.

SPECIFIC to TOB:  Due to the narrative structure and question of memoir vs fiction, I really wish this book was slated to compete against Black Wave. What a discussion that could be!  What a syllabus for a college class: these two books, add in A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein and everything by Mary Karr. But what do I know? I haven’t read any of those…

RATING: Four slices of pie. And I did hear a mention (as in, a list of desserts brought to a party) but I failed to capture the specifics.

[Updated, near the end of the book, about an hour left…  TARTE TATIN!  French Apple Pie.]

fourpie

Moonglow collapses an era into a single life and a lifetime into a single week. A lie that tells the truth, a work of fictional non-fiction, an autobiography wrapped in a novel disguised as a memoir, Moonglow is Chabon at his most daring, his most moving, his most Chabonesque.

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2017. 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.

We Love You, Charlie Freeman

Thoughts wlycfbykg by Kaitlyn Greenidge, Algonquin Books Kindle Ed. 2016, 337 pages

Challenge: Rooster TOB Shortlist
Genre: Adult Fiction or Young Adult Fiction…
Type/Source: eBook / Kindle
 Why I read this now: It was offered as a daily deal for $1.99

MOTIVATION for READING: Reading all the TOB Shortlist

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  I refer you to the goodreads blurb:

The Freeman family–Charles, Laurel, and their daughters, teenage Charlotte and nine-year-old Callie–have been invited to the Toneybee Institute in rural Massachusetts to participate in a research experiment. They will live in an apartment on campus with Charlie, a young chimp abandoned by his mother. The Freemans were selected for the experiment because they know sign language; they are supposed to teach it to Charlie and welcome him as a member of their family.

Isolated in their new, nearly all-white community not just by their race but by their strange living situation, the Freemans come undone. And when Charlotte discovers the truth about the Institute’s history of questionable studies, the secrets of the past begin to invade the present.

The power of this novel resides in Kaitlyn Greenidge’s undeniable storytelling talents. What appears to be a story of mothers and daughters, of sisterhood put to the test, of adolescent love and grown-up misconduct, and of history’s long reach, becomes a provocative and compelling exploration of America’s failure to find a language to talk about race.

WHAT’s GOOD:  Surprising, enterprising*, engaging. I am glad to have read it and I don’t know if going totally blind into this was the best idea. But I think it was.

What’s NOT so good: Messy, unwieldy, faltering. (I have a few questions…)

FINAL THOUGHTS: I actually liked this more than I can express and it is the opposite of my feelings for Sweet Lamb of Heaven. In this book I liked it more but found a few faults. With Sweet Lamb, I didn’t like it all that much but couldn’t figure out why. Go figure.

RATING: Three slices of pie. MUD pie!

In his first few days at Courtland County he’d asked, “Y’all do what around here? Fish in ponds? Make mud pies?” and one of them gulped, “We go to the laser show at the CCC’s astronomy lab.” And he’d laughed.

 

∗ enterprise – a project that involves many people and that is often complicated or difficult.

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2017. 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 World According to Garp

Thoughts twatgbyji by John Irving, Random House Audio 2006 (orig 1978), with epilogue read by author dated 1998

Narration by Michael Prichard, 20 hours 26 minutes

Challenge:  Classics Club
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now: Finally, its time had come.

MOTIVATION for READING: I have wanted to read this for a long time. Funny, I can’t really remember why I didn’t read it right away when my occasionally demanding father forbade me to read this book. This book in particular. No other books were included nor was a reason given that I recall. And by ‘occasionally demanding’, I mean that he didn’t often tell me what to “do/not do” but when he did, it always seemed random and interesting in comparison to other similar things he didn’t tell me I couldn’t do.

The funny thing to me, is that I don’t think this book was ever on my radar as a teen or young adult (Odd? I would have been 13 when this book was published and 17 when the movie came out — which I also have yet to see). In fact, for a long time, I thought this book was written by John Updike. So, you see, I really didn’t think it was a book for me anyway and rather than rushing to read it to find out why I wasn’t supposed to like any other normal teenager, I filed it away in my head. Wrongly, but still it sat there waiting for me. In fact, it was Dewey, I think, who corrected or suggested that I was probably not referring to John Updike as an author likely to be the degenerate influence I had presumed. I have never read Updike either. Should I?

I was a kid who seriously believed that lightening bolts would strike if I was deliberately disobedient. I believed in that far longer than I ever believed in Santa Claus, if I ever did.

All this to say that it took me a long time out of respect for my father’s wishes, I suppose, for me to ever decide I should read John Irving. I have read A Prayer for Owen Meany thanks to a readalong – loved it. And thanks to Owen Meany, I eventually came around to knowing I would someday read and love Garp. And boy did I! I did. (Now I want to reread Owen. Sigh…)

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  OK, back to Garp… This book is about an interesting woman wanting to live life on her terms. It’s about her son, Garp. It’s about Garp growing up wanting to be a writer. He gets married, has children. He tries to protect his family from the all that could happen in a scary life in the scary world. (Maybe that is what my father was trying to do.) It’s about family, life and death, and dealing with death.

WHAT’s GOOD: The imagination. The deadpan humor. The absurdity. It feels to me like Irving is a master at making the absurd totally believable. When I see that quote of Neil Gaiman: “Things need not have happened to be true.“ — I tend to think of Irving. And WOW people! this is a timely book. A reminder that feminism is just getting started and still has a long way to go. A reminder that in some things, we were ahead of the times AND that we have slipped in our understandings. Feminism, transsexuals, rape culture, politics, open-mindedness, what is “family”? Garp was an authentic passionate talented guy who loved fiercely.

Books like this remind me that there were no “good ol’ days”; that humans can be vile, have always been vile, will continue to be vile; and yet still, humans can be kind.

What’s NOT so good:  That even though I never saw the movie (yet – maybe even tonight, most likely this weekend), I still kept seeing John Lithgow as Roberta Muldoon. Not all the time, but often enough to hear his voice and see his face, with lipstick and rouge. That really isn’t a criticism and I probably shouldn’t mention it…

No pie was mentioned that was noticed.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Beware the undertoad.

RATING: Five slices of pie.

 

 

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.

March

Thoughts marchbygb by Geraldine Brooks, Penguin Books 2006 (orig 2004), 288 pages

Challenge: What’s in a Name Challenge, Month category wian2016
Genre: Fanfiction
Type/Source: Tradeback/Used Bookstore
 Why I read this now:  To finish up the challenge.

MOTIVATION for READING: I have been interested in this because it explores a missing element or side story to Louisa May Alcott’s classic, Little Women. This won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize. I have enjoyed two books by this author: A Year of Wonders 2001 and People of the Book 2008.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: This explores what happens to the father who goes off to the Civil War leaving his wife and four daughters back home in Concord Mass. I found him to be a very interesting and sympathetic character.

When he first enlisted, March was an idealistic man. He knew, above all else, that fighting this war for the Union cause was right and just. But he had not expected he would begin a journey through hell on earth, where the lines between right and wrong, good and evil, were too often blurred.   – from the Intro

WHAT’s GOOD: I thought it felt extremely authentic and inventive. The language used, descriptions of war and the issues surrounding slavery, the morality questioned made this an excellent experience. The two part structure – first we are given Mr. March’s side of events and in the second, we find out what Mrs. March REALLY thinks and how different her views were from her husband’s impressions was fascinating and lent an interesting light to the subtle difficulties of communication between husband and wife.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I am so more motivated to reread Little Women. I would love to have face-to-face discussions  about what some have mentioned that this ‘ruins Little Women‘ or violates the saintly image of Father. I thought he came across as vibrantly human and admirable in his attempts to be true.

RATING: Five slices of pie.

“Kindly Mr. Brooke had bought me a pie, which he had kept warmed by the fire, and I ate it gratefully,…”  p.249

Coinky-dink Book Link to Big Magic: “We do not have ideas. The idea has us . . . and drives us into the arena to fight for it like gladiators, who combat whether they will or no.”

Also, having read The Good Lord Bird, I enjoyed having another literary view of John Brown, Abolitionist. Just click on the title I just mentioned to read my review of that National Book Winner.

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.

Save

Echoes of Family

Thoughts eofbybcw by Barbara Claypole White, ARC Lake Union Publishing 2016 (expected Sept 27), 440 pages

Challenge: Reading books pub’d in current year. Actually, OFFICIAL PUBLISH date is one month away.
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Tradeback / the author offered me a copy
 Why I read this now: I wanted to.

MOTIVATION for READING:  It seems that I am attempting to read all of BCW’s books as fast a possible.

Sometimes the only way through darkness is to return to where it began.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  We have a strong woman named Marianne who is “bi-polar”and manages to not only run a successful recording studio business but has also created a program to assist young female runaways. She has a big heart. We meet her husband Darius who is fiercely in love with her and her ‘daughter’ Jade who was a ‘rescued’ teen and is now the right-hand more-than-competent “capital A” Assistant in support of all things Marianne. Of course, we meet others of consequence, too: her childhood BFF Gabriel.

However strong Marianne is, she does have lapses and this latest one takes her to England and into her past. In her manic moments, she is “whirlwind action” of turmoil and love — some of it works, some does not. She has to learn to deal with her memories of family gone, her place in the world, and her family now.

WHAT’s GOOD:  Claypole White can write an engaging character. Her descriptions of Marianne’s extremes on that bi-polar spectrum are high-spirited and then turn to low-energy —  just like the mental illness she is capturing. I was amazed how my heart raced through the mania!

Knowing what I do know of this North Carolinian author, I delighted in the places mentioned that I know and many smatterings of native birds and flowers. She is excellent at referencing her known world. I am not as familiar with the English setting but Claypole White has a eye for authentic detail and sharing it with her words.

What’s NOT so good: I thought it took a bit to get into but I was confident I would be in for a well-rounded interesting and lively tale if I stuck with it and I was not disappointed at the end.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  I am excited to continue working through all of BCW’s books; I have in-house The Unfinished Garden on the docket soon. What I might have to consider is that she is only just starting her fifth novel and I might get impatient!

Since God hadn’t listened when she’d asked Him, sweet as pie, to lobotomize the part of her brain that insisted she was in love, Jade had developed a new ploy…

RATING:  Three and one-half slices of pie, rounding up to four.

bcwpie

Oh yes, she may have forgotten about all her pie references, but the reading did not disappoint! We had mini-tarts of bourbon pecan, we had (of course, duh – set in England) steak and kidney pie, and most unexpected but extremely delightful: orange-and-rhubarb pie! I will have to make this. And treacle tart. I am on the search for a bottle of treacle so that I can perfect this treat before the Scuppernong Books’ event promoting Barbara Claypole White’s Echoes of Family.

 

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.