Manhattan Beach

Thoughts  by Jennifer Egan, Simon & Schuster Audio 2017, 15 hours 16 minutes

Narrated by Heather Lind,‎ Vincent Piazza,‎ Norbert Leo Butz

Challenge: Tournament of Books
Genre: Historical Lit? Crime Thriller?
Type/Source: Audio/Audible
 Why I read this now: Free credit time and this was the one I wanted to read next. 

MOTIVATION for READING: I wasn’t as sold on Egan’s Pulitzer winner but this one sounded different in style and the story interested me.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Anna is a young girl when she meets an associate of her father’s. Eddie is the father and Dexter Styles is his employer. Destiny brings Styles  back a few years later as we follow Anna asserting her rights to be a female diver at the Navy Yard and we learn of her father’s disappearance. Does Dexter know what happened to Eddie? Maybe, maybe not.

WHAT’s GOOD: Anna is a great character and I was rooting for her all the way.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Egan as an author intrigues me. She knows her craft. I enjoyed the narration of the audiobook very much. Well done, all the way around.

RATING: Four slices of apple pie. LOTS of pie mentions in this one.

 

 

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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.
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White Tears

Thoughts by Hari Kunzru, Knopf 2017, 288 pages

Distance can create longing. It can open up the gap into which all must fall.

Challenge: Tournament of Books 
Genre: Contemporary Lit, ghost story or time travel or both
Type/Source: eBook/Library to Kindle
 Why I read this now: Available as download

MOTIVATION for READING: Tournament of Books, and Ruthiella being enthusiastic for this title…

Electricity is not digital. It does not come in discrete packets, but floods the air and flows through conductors and shoots from the hands of mad scientists in silent movies. If it is futuristic at all, it is a past version of the future, temperamental, unstable, half-alive.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: This will be hard! I am not good at describing (I usually just do not want to tell) plots of stories. So, copy&paste pieces from the goodreads blurb, I will:

Two ambitious young musicians are drawn into the dark underworld of blues record collecting, haunted by the ghosts of a repressive past. It’s a ghost story, a terrifying murder mystery, a timely meditation on race, and a love letter to all the forgotten geniuses of American music.

I would add that it could also be a tale of obsession and revenge or maybe redemption.

WHAT’s GOOD: It’s tense. It’s unsettling. On that regard, the author got it right.

Marconi was right and certain phenomena persist through time, then secrets are being told continuously at the edge of perception. All secrets, always being told.

What’s NOT so good:  It’s confusing at times, but that is the point. When you blend timeframes of the past with the now; blend emotions and physicalities of past bodies with those here and now, you are going to get some confusion.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I thought it a fun wild thoughtful horrifying ride.

He becomes theatrically still, even his stillness a form of motion.

RATING: Four slices of pie. Porkpie Hats!

He had been staying with friends in California and was sporting—I think that’s the word—a porkpie hat and an army jacket and vintage Nike sneakers and two fistfuls of silver rings.

VOCAB:
roisterselvedgeabseilingdeliquescing, paletasexophthalmic, punctum

 

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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.

October, the Tenth Month, Five More Books

I read books in October. Let me tell ya!

Oct 2017

The Magician’s Assistant / Ann Patchett A (1997,11′) *** 74

Textbook / Amy Krause Rosenthal HB (2016,368) **** 73

Lila / Marilynne Robinson A (2014,9′) **** 72

One Good Turn / Kate Atkinson Tb (2016,448) **** 71

Angle of Repose / Wallace Stegner Tb (1971,569) **** 70

Two audiobooks –  so nice to get back to this medium. My new job often has me traveling so I have some car time. Plus the commute home is 30-40 minutes (which I expect will be on the longer side since I have to traverse the shopping district avenues which get congested this time of year.) With no traffic, I can get TO work in just over 15 minutes!

Let’s start:  I read Angle of Repose because* I so very much enjoyed the first Stegner I treated myself to: (and click on this:  –>  to read my review) Crossing to Safety. AofR won the Pulitzer, doncha know, and as impressive an epic it is, I enjoyed Crossing to Safety more. That said, Angle is impressive. Oh, I said that. It’s full of big ideas and some great fabulous looks into our American History, the western expansion. Recommended if you like amazing writing, complicated characters and sweeping views of history. It was set in the late sixties, yet Stegner writes with a freshness that is … impressive. It felt fresh and not as someone now writing about then. Does that make sense? Hey, it’s my opinion. Golly gee, I miss blogging and putting myself OUT THERE! wee hoo. yee haw. [Rabbit pie and cowpie.]

Stegner is not talked about enough.

*     I also read Angle of Repose because I have an engineering degree and the term suggests ‘engineering‘. Not at all to suggest  to not-engineering geeks (so do not assume!) that this is science-heavy aka boring!! it is not. Please please don’t think that. ugh.

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One Good Turn. I read this because…. LOTS of reasons! I love this author. I really enjoyed her first Brodie book and this is the second with this main character. whoops, maybe only 2 reasons. I found this book at my apartment complex! It was on the community shelf. Had to grab. I returned it (though not to the same spot.)

If you liked Case Histories, I can tell you to go ahead read this, too, if you haven’t  yet. To click on this sentence, you will be transported to my goodreads notes for  Case Histories because I didn’t review it here (on blog.) What a sad blogging summer I had… [I’m counting egg custard as ‘pie’.]

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Lila. Oh Lila! What a fascinating amazing story. This month was chock full of the best author visits; now that I think about it, all return visits to these authors. What a comfortable heart-full reading month I have had this October. If you are like me and appreciate the soul-singing work of Marilynne Robinson (and can I only say to any of you  that don’t have the same kind of spiritual ‘relationship’ that this author might espouse – all cool. I get it. I really don’t either at this moment in my life but wow oh wow do I appreciate what she does in her writing.) I want to put all of MR’s Gilead books on my “to-read-again all-at-once in-order someday list”. I’m mentally creating this list of books to read and probably need to create it in goodreads, right? Right. Will do…

NOT to suggest that listening to Lila‘s side of things was ‘comfortable’. Soul-singing provocative spiritual stuff is never comfortable. [Apple Pie]

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Textbook by Amy Krause.

Dear Reader, do you know of this? Feel free to click on the link just provided and read about it from the goodreads perspective.

I just want to start crying. Whoa.

Thank you Bybee for sending me this. I still have it. I want to send it to SOMEONE but don’t know who. Also, I don’t know if I want it to leave me. It could very well be all gimmick-schmimmick until life(/death) thrusts into the ‘plan’ and shows no guarantees.

Wow.

(sniff, gulp. sob…)

[yes, pie… It was THIS that broke my freakin’ heart.]

Live, people. Don’t watch the crap on the news, hug your loved ones, recognize the humanity in every person, strive to be better and LIVE, goddammit. (talking to myself?)

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The Magician’s Assistant. Ann Patchett you nutty adorable author book-store-owner lovely lady YOU. Love ya. Not your best book but that’s OK, I’m sure you learned much from the experience (of course you did, goofy-me. ha) and so glad you kept after the craft. I am still not sure the narrator captured Nebraska small town, but hey, “Whatever.” This is the author that inspires me, delights me, makes me think and entertains. One of my favorites.

I’ll forgive the no pie thing. This time.

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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.

 

Lincoln in the Bardo

Thoughts  by George Saunders, Random House Audio 2017, 7 hrs 25 mins

Audiobook  narration by a long list of people!

MOTIVATION for READING:  LISTENING:  I couldn’t resist the high praise and curiosity of so many narrators.

Let’s start this nutty review with my suggestions. IF you think you want to do the audio – and I DO suggest you listen to this if you love audiobooks – I must insist on two things,

  1. Read the list of which person reads which character, and
  2. Know what Op. Cit. means. You’ll hear it and if you are like me, you’ll hear the word ‘UPSET’ rather and you’ll be distracted.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Oh, one more thing… KNOW THIS!!! I do think one should KNOW a bit about this book and its format before one embarks. I don’t think going blind or just knowing that it is about Lincoln and his dealing with Willie’s death is enough. I think you might best understand the use of the historical quotes and what/how Mr. Saunders lays out in the telling. Thus, we return to the “Op.Cit.”

I was so wrong to go in blind to this. I think I had read the synopsis way back long time ago and so I was helluva confused at the beginning. I was easily distracted,

so…
If you think attempting to identify which celebrity is speaking which part will be a distraction, I can solve that for you – read on.

I’m sure if I had read this first I would have waded in with more success; do read this from iTunes:

Description

The long-awaited first novel from the author of Tenth of December: a moving and original father-son story featuring none other than Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, living and dead, historical and invented. February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy’s body. From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul. Lincoln in the Bardo is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction’s ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?

The 166-person full cast features award-winning actors and musicians, as well as a number of Saunders’ family, friends, and members of his publishing team, including, in order of their appearance: Nick Offerman as HANS VOLLMAN David Sedaris as ROGER BEVINS III Carrie Brownstein as ISABELLE PERKINS George Saunders as THE REVEREND EVERLY THOMAS Miranda July as MRS. ELIZABETH CRAWFORD Lena Dunham as ELISE TRAYNOR Ben Stiller as JACK MANDERS Julianne Moore as JANE ELLIS Susan Sarandon as MRS. ABIGAIL BLASS Bradley Whitford as LT. CECIL STONE Bill Hader as EDDIE BARON Megan Mullally as BETSY BARON Rainn Wilson as PERCIVAL “DASH” COLLIER Jeff Tweedy as CAPTAIN WILLIAM PRINCE Kat Dennings as MISS TAMARA DOOLITTLE Jeffrey Tambor as PROFESSOR EDMUND BLOOMER Mike O’Brien as LAWRENCE T. DECROIX Keegan-Michael Key as ELSON FARWELL Don Cheadle as THOMAS HAVENS and Patrick Wilson as STANLEY “PERFESSER” LIPPERT with Kirby Heyborne as WILLIE LINCOLN, Mary Karr as MRS. ROSE MILLAND, and Cassandra Campbell as Your Narrator.

The only voice I recognized was Offerman’s in the beginning — I thought he was Abraham Lincoln (nope, just reading his thoughts) but I eventually was able to connect voice to character and get lost into the story. I had Sedaris’ voice as some other actor I cannot name off the top of my head but I eventually connected voice with Bevans. I picked out Susan Sarandon’s voice right away but the rest – couldn’t identify. (I was never any good at picking the callers on Frasier, either). I am SO glad I found this list! (when I was about 3/4 done). I hope it helps you if you think you might need it.

Or read any of the many wonderful reviews and explanations that I’m finding NOW after I attempted the thing…  Audible has a good review or two, Goodreads has some, too.

WHAT’s GOOD:  A lot to admire here. The phrasing, the wording! Poetic, emphatic, bursting with imagery. I guess the best I can say is that this is a work is art. Writing is truly a creative artistic endeavor and Lincoln in the Bardo is one of the best examples of the art of literature that I’ve enjoyed of late. It’s funny at times, shocking at times, so very very sad sometimes. It has rhythm like music and inspires emotion like a beautiful painting.

But was it really that good? Am I adding to a hype that is starting to saturate the lit-osphere? I don’t know. I really wonder about whether I was ‘getting it’ about 1/3 in but by the end of it, I was mesmerized.

I am considering a re-listen and maybe I will buy the print. I suggest you take a long car trip and enjoy. My 10 minute commute to work twice a day didn’t cut it.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I think it might be a masterpiece. If you read the print and loved it, I think you might next want to hear it. It’s lyrical, it’s creative. It’s affecting.

RATING: Five slices of pie.

 

 

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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.

James Joyce’s Odyssey

Thoughts  by Frank Delaney, Paladin Grafton Books 1987, 191 pages

Challenge: I traveled to Dublin for Spring Break! I brought this along…
Genre: Nonfiction/Literary Analysis/Travel
Type/Source: Tradeback/Sent from a friend

MOTIVATION for READING: Let’s back up to when I first had this book in my hands. It was January 2011 when I signed up for the “Jousting with Joyce” readalong. I never finished Ulysses and I have no record of what page/episode I stopped on.

So anyway, dear friend Jeanne sent me THIS book out of the blue back in 2011 and I have been treasuring it ever since, thinking “Some day, I will conquer Ulysses“. Rather, I was able to make a trip to Dublin happen instead.

Now I am even more eager to read it (Ulysses), to be honest.

Portrait of the Author as an Old Man; from Bailey’s Pub, remodeled.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Delaney chats with obvious affection for Joyce and his tale of Ulysses. He organizes his ‘Odyssey’ by the same structure as Joyce does in Ulysses and walks the reader through the story and what it might mean, then and now. This not a step by step walking tour of Dublin. It’s subtle – and it is also 30 years old so many things have changed from 1904 (year the book is set) and 1922 (year Ulysses was published) and 1987.

FYI, Ulysses follows two characters, Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus – not always together, on walkabout through Dublin, basically. Joyce has stated that his book is a blueprint with which to rebuild Dublin if need be. Ready?

A sample of Delany’s words with Joyce’s:
Sandymount Strand, ineluctable as sin, sweeps wide and grey and beige, stippled with gulls and aeroplanes and lighthouses and ships and lone Dedalus-walkers. “Signature of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack the nearing tide, that rusty book.” Most of the thoughts in Stephen’s mind as he walked along Sandymount Strand were triggered by that ineluctable modality of the visible.

So for the ‘now’ of 2017,  many signs and plaques identify Joyce’s locations and landmarks — these are not mentioned in Delaney’s book. Perhaps a map of these IS published by the James Joyce museum which I did not visit. I really let my wanderings and Joyce connections happen rather than seek them out. It was a vacation with the Husband who though sympathetic and/or amused, he did not share my enthusiasm. “He indulged me occasionally” would be the best way to put it. So, it was happenstance and sudden delights, when I found a Joyce marker.

Book pages with little (useless!) map and photos with backdrop of similar photo from a blog post…

WHAT’s GOOD: Photos from turn of the century (late 1800s – early 1900s and some 1987.) Opportunity to consider how Dublin has changed in 30 years and 100+. But the best of the book is the author’s delight in talking about and sharing anecdotes and explanations of what Joyce was attempting with Ulysses.

Another paragraph of Delaney praise for what Joyce attempted in Ulysses:
“The Oxen of the Sun episode is the most difficult to read in Ulysses. All Joyce’s linguistic interests are on exhibition and he gives a foretaste of what was to come in Finnegans Wake. That it exhausted him is certain: in several communications with friends, he referred to “the Oxen of the bloody, bleeding Sun” and he admitted freely that the control of all the ideas, the mathematical nine-part divisions, the embryonic development and the endless parodies were almost as much as he could master. He managed brilliantly.

What’s NOT so good:  Of course, I wanted better maps… LOL.

I failed this book as I do most travel books. Tedious to look at when I can’t relate, and too late for visits once I can. I admit, one of our favorite pub visits was to Bruxelles because it was around during Joyce times and is in a photo of Delaney’s book. I didn’t get any pics of our Guinness nor Irish Whiskey while there, unfortunately.

As typical, I now flip through Delaney’s guide and only want to go back to Dublin and see it all again, find the past anew.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I am more willing to attack Ulysses some day. I do feel that it will require patience and a light touch – not taking it too seriously.

“Joyce said once, not without sadness, to Nora: “The pity is the public will demand and find a moral in my book, or worse, they may take it in some serious way, and on the honor of a gentleman, there is not one serious single line in it.”

I am keeping this book as a guide when I do tackle Ulysses because of the same structure and the explanations, motivations, and landmarks in words.

RATING:  3 slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

Other Resources:  Schmoop / Frank Delaney’s Podcasts

 

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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.

High Dive

 

Thoughts hdbyjl by Jonathan Lee, Knopf 2016, 321 pages

Challenge: Tournament of Books (16 of 18)
Genre: Historical Lit?
Type/Source: Hard Cover/Library
 Why I read this now: next in line (actually shorter of the two I was able to get from the library)

MOTIVATION for READING: TOB… starts March 8… Here’s the link to watch… (aw COOL. They have a countdown clock working. At the moment of my typing this sentence, we have 8 days yet to go.)

WHAT’s it ABOUT: High Dive is about the 1984 bomb that damaged the Grand Hotel, killing 5 and injuring 31. It is a fictional account of Dan who works (volunteers?) for the IRA as an ‘electrician’. He lives with his mother in Belfast Ireland and has two dogs. He has a torturous(-to-read-about) initiation “interview”. He prefers to work on the bomb creation side of the violence. The title High Dive is possibly inferred from the background of the second character we meet, Moose Finch. Mr. Finch used to be a diving instructor and is now Assistant to the General Manager for the fancy Grand Hotel in Brighton UK. He loves working with people, regrets not going to University when he had the chance, and is hoping he will be promoted to GM after the political conference being in October. Mr. Finch has a daughter named Freya. While trying to decide if she should travel the world or go on to Uni, she works the front desk of the Grand.

Dan checks in as a guest of the Grand Hotel three weeks before the conference so that he can plant a bomb under the bathtub in the room that Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, might be staying in. IMG_1665

WHAT’s GOOD: It’s a thoughtful book. It has a melancholy feel. Definitely character-driven not plot-driven.

What’s NOT so good: I kept getting distracted by wanting to look up more about the hotel, the IRA, Belfast, “the troubles”, RUC, maps of Brighton Beach – the Royal Pavilion – the train station. Saracens, Semtex, plimsolls. I slowly, painstakingly dragged myself through these pages at no fault of the book’s but of my distracted scatterbrained lack of ability to concentrate. Once I finally did manage to find focus, I fell into it and loved it.

This quote is on the book jacket:

A bold, astonishingly intimate novel of laughter and heartbreak, High Dive is a moving portrait of clashing loyalties, guilt and regret, and how individuals become the grist of history.

IMG_1659

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’ve been to Brighton. I think this fact kept me dedicated to this book and also could be to blame for the distractedness. I’ve been to the Grand Hotel. I didn’t know it had been the site of an assassination attempt on Thatcher. I only needed find a restroom, as a tourist wandering around the beachfront. My memory of that ‘situation’ is clear; but that it was the Grand Hotel that provided me that sanctuary, I am not entirely positive. I think so, I’m pretty sure (based on location and possible path from the train.) I didn’t take any photos of the place. I remember it was full of people. Full of school-age children. It was a cold brisk but sunny bright day and I have very positive fond thoughts of Brighton. It made me feel off-kilter reading this, knowing I had been there not quite 30 years later. I would have been one year older than Freya in 1984.

Here are a few of my Brighton photos:

IMG_1672    BristolHorseIMG_1668

RATING: Four slices of shepherd’s pie.

“He could reel off the first 200 digits of pi.”  p.142

 

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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.

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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.

Sudden Death

Thoughts sdbyae by Álvaro Enrigue, Riverhead 2016, 264 pages

Translated from Spanish to English by Natasha Wimmer.

Audiobook published by Tantor Audio, narration by Robert Fass, 6 hours 57 minutes.

Challenge: TOB Short List
Genre: Historical Fiction / Tennis Lit
Type/Source: Hardback AND Audio / Library
 Why I read this now: Selected due to shortness of the audiobook, in hopes that I could finish in January to be my 12th book of the month.

MOTIVATION for READING: TOB…

WHAT’s it ABOUT: I’m going to copy and paste one of the goodreads blurbs.

A funny and mind-bending novel about the clash of empires and ideas in the sixteenth century, told over the course of one dazzling tennis match

A brutal tennis match in Rome.

Two formidable opponents: the wild Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and the loutish Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo.

Galileo, Saint Matthew and Mary Magdalene heckle from the sidelines.

In England, Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII execute Anne Boleyn, and her executioner transforms her legendary locks into the most sought-after tennis balls of the time.

Across the ocean in Mexico, the last Aztec emperors play their own games, as Hernán Cortés and his Mayan translator and lover scheme and conquer, fight and fuck, not knowing that their domestic comedy will change the course of history.

Over the course of one dazzling tennis match – through assassinations and executions, carnal liaisons and papal dramas, artistic and religious revolutions, love and war – Sudden Death tells the grand adventure of the clash of empires and the dawn of the modern era.

WHAT’s GOOD: It really is fascinating. And has its funny moments.

What’s NOT so good: It’s also too difficult to keep track of in my current end-of-month scramble to finish a book (impatience) and the wrestling with reading books I feel “I have to” and not what “I want to” — which I realize is messed-up thinking so let’s throw in the current state of the world affairs, my own crazy messy life stuff, and realizing I have a book club book to read by next week.

Allow me to share a few thoughts from my reader friends:

sdbyaegr

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m skimming the rest of this and do not think I will be missing anything (actually, as I miss EVERYTHING!) – in other words, I will be able to follow the upcoming TOB commentary and likely agree with everyone. If you are reading this, let me know if it has any pie.

RATING: Three slices of pie! I liked it, I’m just needing to move on. It does deserve more time and fuller attention than I care to give it at this time. I have my regrets and may I only mutter, someday…

Highly recommended for fans of lively history and TENNIS.

 

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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 Queen of the Night

Thoughts tqotnbyac by Alexander Chee, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2016, 561 pages

Challenge: TOB Long List
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type/Source: Hardback / Library
 Why I read this now: I wasn’t sure I would be able to tackle AND finish by the end of the year, BUT I DID IT! And annoyed my family by having my nose in the book for most of Dec 30 and 31 trying to finish. I DID IT!

MOTIVATION for READING: I am thinking this was highly tauted by Liberty of Litsy and Book Riot fame.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Orphan girl from Minnesota in mid 1800s tries to get herself back to the old country (Switzerland) to find her mother’s family. She ends up singing and being all Annie Oakley on a horse for a circus in Paris, escapes to become a prostitute (not her plan), escapes that into a convent, gets a job attending to the Empress of France, escapes that into a German singing ‘camp’ (hey – you’ll just have to read it), eventually becoming a Diva Opera Star. Go figure. It’s madness and mayhem; obsessions and dastardly deeds!  Good fun if you can roll with it. Eye-rolling strain if you can’t.

WHAT’s GOOD: It really was an interesting look at a time in France that I’m no expert on. If you love Opera, you’ll get plenty.

What’s NOT so good: Here’s a sentence:  “Here was the return of what I had lost, the loss of which had driven me mad, and now his return threatened to drive me just as mad.” Melodrama much?

One might get the impression that Alexander Chee would be one helluva fun guy to hang out with, share a few cocktails.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m glad to have read this and I can actually say I enjoyed it but it won’t be a favorite of the year. Remember, guys and gals, a three star means that I liked it. (I really need to temper my rating enthusiasms and reserve those 5-slicers for the truly over the top gushings of love and joy.)

“It had gotten loose somehow, or the writer had died, it didn’t matter – and no one had shot it for yet for steaks and pies.”

RATING: Three slices of pie. The sentence above refers to a horse. I don’t think you really want me to give this a horse pie rating, though, right?

“It is not love that drives us mad, but all the rest of life around the love.”

 

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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 Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Thoughts taaokacbymc by Michael Chabon, Picador 2000, 639 pages

Narrated by David Colacci audiomcdc 26 hours, 20 minutes

Challenge: Pulitzer Reading Challenge (unofficial)

I’m just going to ramble and don’t feel like following my usual review template. This is one of those books that fell into my life without me remembering how and why or who recommended. I am sure that I read somewhere about it winning the Pulitzer and I am aware the Mr. Chabon is married to author Ayelet Waldman. I haven’t read anything by her, either, though I follow her on Twitter. I really do think her first name is cool. And that’s all I know. Wait! I do know that Chabon wrote Wonder Boys and I liked the movie, I think. Maybe it is really just an admission that my memory is not what it should be!

Kavalier and Clay are comics writers. They were instrumental in the first heady days of the comic book industry of the late 1930s and early 40s. Do I read comic books? No. Do I read graphic novels? No, but I always put the ones everybody talks about on my tbr but I never seem to get to them.

(I do know who Stan Lee is. I do watch The Big Bang Theory.) It could be said that there is a lot to geek out about in this book if you were such a person who geeks out about literature and comics and magic and…  lots of stuff.

Would I have read this book if I had known it was about the comic book industry?! I think I wouldn’t have. I do not remember how I came to be in possession of a print copy nor how/why I also secured the audiobook. Oh well. Committed, I shall be.

I was not disappointed. I really did enjoy reading about Sam Clay and his cousin from Prague, Mr. Joe Kavalier. But especially Rosy and Tommy. The descriptions of NYC; the life and times in that city were fascinating. The city and maybe the Empire State Building could be considered characters. The book is sprawling and epic, back and forth in time somewhat (early days for both Sam and Clay) and I, as a reader, became invested in their goals, dreams, and struggles.

I am pretty sure I wanted to read this because it won the Pulitzer and though I am not obsessed with trying to read every winner, I seem to add them to my tbr and they seem to show up on my ‘read me next’ stack. Perhaps it best not to analyze too much.  I read two this month with little thought about it – “Oh yea, that won the Pulitzer. Huh.”

I learned a  lot about comics, I learned about about Judaism. I came to really appreciate Chabon’s skillful writing. Definitely has humor and amusement to balance against the sad crap of life situations and nastiness of war and the Holocaust. and OMIGOODNESS! The obvious research depth and wonderful creativity! Yowza POW!

I did not, however, find the narration to be as excellent at the story. I didn’t like the voice for Joe Kavalier. Too Dracula-sounding. But I will give credit that he did quite good with Rosy and Tommy and it was easy to tell the differences between characters. I just did NOT like Joe’s voice. At all. I listened to most of the book but ended up reading the last 100 pages.

May I point you to a fabulous review of this novel that really has much more insight? I present –> LitLove’s Tales from the Reading Room <–

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SPOILERY QUESTIONS FOLLOW  – READ ON AT YOUR OWN RISK!  PLEASE CONTINUE if YOU *HAVE* READ THIS BOOK!

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Do you think Sam makes good in Hollywood? Do you think Joe ended up publishing his Golem story at his new company? Does Rosy continue HER career? Did you buy that the casket with the delivered Golem was so very very heavy and all it had inside was ‘soft silted dirt’? or did I read/hear that wrong? Would you read a sequel? Do you think a sequel is necessary (I do not. I just wonder about the answers to my questions; probably not best that the author attempt to answer them…) What do you think of the portrayal of women in this novel? Don’t you think if you were Stan Lee you would THRILLED to all HECK to be mentioned in a book that won the Pulitzer?!

 

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RATING: Four slices of pie.  I don’t think I caught any pie mentions.

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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.