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.

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.

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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.

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Is It Me? Or the Books?

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I don’t know if this is a reading slump or I am just reading three unappealing-to-me books all at the same time?

I suppose I would/should like a couple of these if I was in a better frame of mind or perhaps three books all at the same time of this competition is only making them all unpalatable?

Should I power through or give up and start something else?

Let’s chat, shall we?  and please advise.

The current three:  ptlbytc  qbysc hiapwdbysjg

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Prologue To Love is a paperback printed before I was born. The font is tiny, it has the slightly yellowed brittle paper feel and lovely old book scent. I had to tape the cover back on. There are over 750 pages. I’m told that this is loosely based on the true life story of Hetty Green, once the world’s richest woman – I’ve read a book on her and found it fascinating. One of those tales that reinforces the idea that lots of money can’t buy happiness. HUZZAH!

I’m just too turned off by the father of the main character; he is miserly, judgmental, obsessed with the creation of wealth but abhors the idea of spending ANY of it. (He lets his daughter live in a run down house with no heat nor extra blankets and lousy inadequate quantity of food?) I don’t have enough sympathy for him – I don’t get his quick critical thoughts about why he doesn’t like his nephew nor why he doesn’t like his own daughter and I don’t really care to find out. I’m sorry Bybee!

Prologue To Love! –> I declare you DNF’d.

Quiet just isn’t capturing my attention. I decide to go read, sit in a comfy chair or go out to the lounge area of my lovely backyard, and end up playing with Litsy, IG and Facebook on my phone. I’ll probably carry it around the house and misplace it a few more times before I give up on it. However, I’m thinking the reviews I have read have probably given me enough information on the subject.

Quiet! (With a Chainsaw?) –> Vote is still out…

Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress is supposed to be a funny feminist book guaranteed to entertain. I’m not entertained. I’m bored. Maybe the narrator’s voice just isn’t quite right? No, she’s doing a fabulous job, but like coconut — you like it or you don’t. It’s possible that I’m still too early into it?  So far, it is still her childhood (the current essay is about her obsession with the Rolling Stones when she was 15.) I don’t know; it’s just not working.

Hypocrite! –> Playing in the background but I’m not listening.

The problem with audiobooked essay collections is that you can’t flip and skip around. Can I suggest that audiobook chapters start showing titles? Which bits of this book are the ones I shouldn’t miss? Should I save it for print? Yea, maybe I should get the book from the library and return this to Audible…

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While these three books are jockeying for some love, I am stalled… Release the guilt, release the books back into the wild or back to the shelf, move on.

Ok, NOW what should I read?!

 

 

 

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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.

Go Tell It on the Mountain

Thoughts gtiotmbyjb by James Baldwin, Blackstone Audio 2013 (orig 1953), 8 hours 45 minutes

Narrated by Adam Lazarre-White.

Challenge: Personal
Genre: American classic, coming of age
Type/Source: Audio/Audible
 Why I read this now: This was the only audiobook I had on my phone at the moment I was ready to listen to a new one.

MOTIVATION for READING: I am curious. Baldwin is mentioned as an important writer and I had yet to read any of his work.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Not at all what I expected. I thought it was a going to be an essay on race relations in America. It’s fiction! I did not know it was fiction. I did not know it was semi-autobiographical. I was not prepared at all for this.

It is a story of a family and an individual family member grappling with his destiny against family history and expectations and cultural storms. It captures a certain place and time but the theme is universal.

WHAT’s GOOD: The writing blew me away. Here’s the blurb from goodreads; bold red font emphasis is mine:

Go Tell It on the Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin’s first major work, a semi-autobiographical novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Powerful.

RATING: Four slices of pie. The narration is excellent.

“after dinner, they brought up the pie and coffee and cream…”

 

 

 

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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.

The Sympathizer

Thoughts tsbyvtn by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Audible Audio 2015, 13 hours 53 minutes

Narrated by François Chau – excellent!

Challenge: for my personal challenge to read as many of the Rooster short list as possible.
Genre: Pulitzer Prize Winner!  (though this is a recent distinction – very exciting!)
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible Credit
 Why I read this now: Stars aligned, I guess. I do believe that the Rooster commentary mentions this as a good audio so when it was time for me to use a credit, this is what got selected.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  The fictionalized first-person account of a North Vietnamese communist spy who works for the South Vietnamese military, trained by the CIA, educated in America, son of a French priest and his South Vietnamese housekeeper? or paramour? (I forget; both?) at the time of the Fall of Saigon and after. It is set in Vietnam, America/California and has a brief interlude in the Philippines.

WHAT’s GOOD:  It is historical fiction with all the cool things that push my buttons – lush descriptions, witty repertoire, cutting insights into human nature, philosophy, action and thrilling suspense, conflict of conscience, love of sorts and falling in love or not, HISTORY, etc. I really wouldn’t call myself a spy-novel reader but I thought this quite fascinating.

What’s NOT so good: At times, I wonder if it had all the stereotypical elements a spy novel should have but I haven’t read very many and maybe a spy-novel is supposed to. Truly, I didn’t know what to expect but this delivers well on things I like in a story. ON THE OTHER HAND, I thought at times that it was too long and needed to get on with but I’m sure that was my mood and what was going on in ‘real life’ conflicting with time and interest to keep invested. But I pushed through and ended up liking the book overall.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This is often stated to be satire and of course, I can only recognize this from being told and not really of my own recognition. But I find that I am a big fan of satire even when I don’t quite get it. 

I am thrilled that this won the Pulitzer for Fiction 2016 only because 1) I just read it (validation?), 2) I somehow have unknowingly embarked on a Personal Pulitzer Challenge, and 3) the surprise and timing made it fun.

RATING: Four slices of pie. Pie actually was mentioned a lot – there is an entire sequence about eating humble pie that because in audio, I will either have to go hunt or skip…

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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.

The Aviator’s Wife

Thoughts tawbymb The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin, Bantam Books 2013, 402 pages

The blurb from the back of the book (with my thoughts in parenthesis):

When Anne Morrow, a shy college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family, she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’ assurance and fame, Anne is certain the aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong. Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer and her world will be changed forever. (Not really, what he sees is a competent brood mare of ‘good’ stock.) The two marry in a headline-making wedding. In the years that follow, Anne becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States. But despite this and other major achievements, she is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desires for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness.

Despite admiring Anne for keeping up with everything her husband gave her to do and then finally realizing a dream of her own to truly write (which I do hope to read more someday), this book fell flat for me. For one, Charles was NOT a great guy. Two, this book suffers from the “tell rather than show” problem, in my humble opinion. I spent most of the book feeling sorry for Anne – for the way her husband treated her and how the paparazzi hassled her.

So, though this book is not my cup of tea and lacks pie references, I expect that many people will enjoy this book very much.

I missed the book club meeting so I have no idea what the others thought of this. I do think it has much to discuss so I do give it a recommendation as a good club selection.

Rating:  Three slices of pie.

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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.

The Good Lord Bird

Thoughts tglbbyjm The Good Lord Bird by James McBride, (2013,417 pages)

Do you like HISTORICAL FICTION?

Do you appreciate National Book Award Winners?

Did you ever read The Color of Water (and liked it)?

Do you appreciate wry humor and satire?

I recommend this book. Everyone in our club enjoyed it (though our discussion* was a bit boring comparatively.)

This is a fascinating rollicking-good time read that will make you laugh and learn a lot about an interesting event and personality in U.S. History: The Raid on Harpers Ferry by John Brown. You also get cameos of Harriet Tubman (vote for her to be on the $20 bill?) and Frederick Douglass.

I know of John Brown because of this raid but also because he was known for fighting for Kansas’ right to NOT have slaves in the border wars with Missouri before the Civil War. My club asked me if I studied John Brown in my Kansas schooling years but I can’t remember. How/why do I know of John Brown? Not sure.

I do think of a mural in the Kansas State House so maybe I saw it first on a tour? I really don’t remember if I did a school field trip to Topeka while in grade school, but I know I have seen this:

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The narrator of the story is a very young black slave, possibly age ~10, that is “freed” by Brown in one of the Kansas raids and he stays with Brown because he really has no place else to go. The odd thing is, the Brown is confused at the beginning, thinking that our boy named Henry is actually a girl named Henrietta. So Henry keeps up the ruse for a variety of reasons. In fact, one of the themes explored in this, in addition to race and slavery, is identity. McBride is a brilliant author on many levels, in my opinion, and I will now read everything he writes. Or, I want to; he’s now on the list.     image

Do know, I am one of those that laughs when most inappropriate, I see the absurd in the sad situations to thus avoid the crying. So it’s not that I love laughing at serious subjects, but. I do, I guess. I think that is why I like satire. (when I get it!)

If you want something a little different, something historical (researching this, it seems the author was quite attune to many of the true facts while having a creative imagination for the rest of it.) READ this book!

Rating: Five slices of Buttered Apple Pie.

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Other reviews:  Naomi’s at Consumed by Ink and Rory’s at Fourth Street Review.

* Factoid that I didn’t know until book club:  a few of the ladies (of a generation (or two) prior to mine) started to sing a song “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave” to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Apparently Julia Ward Howe wrote the lyrics to the Battle Hymn after hearing the John Brown version. Our book club leader passed out paperwork of her research and had us sing a few verses! Too funny.

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.

The Invention of Wings

Thoughts tiowbysmk The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, Viking 2014, 373 pages

“She took a lavender ribbon from the top of the pie safe and circled it round my neck, tying a bow, while Aunt-Sister peeled the black off my cheeks with her rag.” p.13

Sue Monk Kidd has brought to life the story of two of America’s heroines, sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimke, who helped to kick off the Abolition movement and also lit the early sparks of the women’s rights movement. Fascinating stuff!

Along with Sarah’s (mostly, but Angelina is a spitfire), the author imagines a parallel upbringing of a young slave girl named Handful. She was given as a birthday present to Sarah when she turned 11. Sarah was appalled and wouldn’t buy into the family tradition and tried to give Handful back.  Or free her. Or…  She couldn’t quite figure out how to deal with this quandary but she knew somehow that slavery wasn’t right.

Handful and her mother Charlotte are fierce and determined and patient. They are bright and dream for better.

“My body might be a slave, but not my mind. For you, it’s the other way round.”

I loved the Charleston SC setting. I love historical fiction. I really wonder why I don’t read more of it.

“… it came to me that what I feared most was not (the) speaking. That fear was old and tired. What I feared was the immensity of it all – a female abolition agent traveling the country with a national  mandate. I wanted to say Who am I to do this, a woman? But that voice was not mine. It was Father’s voice. It was Thomas’. It belonged to Israel, to Catherine, and to Mother. It belonged to the church in Charleston and the Quakers in Philadelphia. It would not, if I could help it, belong to me.” p.320

RATING: fourpie

One question. I either missed or it wasn’t given – I’m not sure – but I was confused what happened to the father. He had to fight an impeachment for something and I just didn’t get what happened there. TELL if you remember or know! Thanks.

And one more question:  Can anyone explain “woof and warp”?

“The house, the slaves, Charleston, Mother, the Presbyterians – they were the woof and warp of everything.”

I have NEVER heard this expression, have you?  Per the Dictonary.com site:

The underlying structure or foundation of something, as in He foresaw great changes in the warp and woof of the nation’s economy. This expression, used figuratively since the second half of the 1500s, alludes to the threads that run lengthwise (warp) and crosswise (woof) in a woven fabric.

Finally, another pie quote:

Tomfry, Snow, and Eli served, wearing their dark green livery hauling, in trays of crab pies, buttered shrimps, veal, fried whiting, and omelet soufflé.

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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.

Preview: All the Light We Cannot See

Preview:  atlwcsbyad by Anthony Doerr, Scribner 2014, HB 531 pages, WhisperSync:

Our book club chose this for November’s read and I am so hoping I can carve some time out to get it read before Nov 18. But this is my stomach-clenching sweat-producing finger-chilling anxiety-producing month of finishing up grad school. OK – QUITcher BITCHin’.

I know I saw Joann of Lakeside Musing speak highly of this and I am covering my bases by buying both the Kindle AND audiobook version. We’ll see.

Thought I would share since I kinda miss my blog…  Thanks! (Back to my ELL Google Drive Lesson Plan for Middle Schoolers….)

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PS…  Here’s my view today. I am studying at the Middleboro Library: mdbolibr I think I should make it my header photo.

East of Eden

Thoughts eoebyjs by John Steinbeck, Penguin Books 2002 (orig 1952), 601 pages, Tradeback AND Audiobook (narrated by Richard Poe, 25’28”)

So GOOD. Amazing work of fiction. Thank you Estella for suggesting I read along! EastofEdenReadalong-1024x1024

Page 255 – “What is there to understand? Just read it. If the Lord God wanted you to understand it He’d have given you to understand or He’d have set it down different.” (Amen Liz!)

Five slices of pie.

Five juicy perfectly-pastried slices of plum pie. With home-made vanilla ice cream from a hand-crank ice cream maker. Why plum? because something about this book reminds me of sandhill plums. I couldn’t find any reference to the possibility of these kinds of plums being found in Salinas Valley CA but who cares. I apparently found (or recorded) only one reference to pie in this amazing work of fiction. (TSBOOToTaOBtRBYDB!)

Page 494 – “I am so cowardly. I will not put my finger in any human pie.” (Lee – one of the BEST characters EVER. Samuel is close second.)

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Page 509 – “That smart little son of a bitch – wrong word – must not call him that.” (Cathy – one of the most despicable characters EVER. Just whoa.)

If you like epics and stories of good versus evil with some startlingly clear and wise statements about humanity that don’t beat you on the head but just suggest, then you will appreciate this story. It has everything and Steinbeck achieves this masterfully.

Thoroughly enjoyable on all of my what-I-love-about-fiction buttons.

NOT intimidating. In fact, I am not sure what symbols I missed. Steinbeck LOVES his symbolism, doesn’t he? Oh well.

What I love about reading, especially with historical glimpses into the human condition, is that I get to realize that times have always been NUTS, people have always had its crazies and its wonders, and NOW isn’t anything special or more crazy worse or whatever. Olden days weren’t nicer or better or anything. Life is messy. And we’ve been on this path for a long, long time.

Page 494 – “Laughter comes later, like wisdom teeth, and laughter at yourself comes last of all in a mad race with death,…”

TSBOOToTaOBtRBYDB = This Should Be One of the One Thousand and One Books to Read Before You Die Books.

BEST WORDS EVER!  “Bumptiousness” – page 215

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I still have no interest in reading The Grapes of Wrath even though it won the Pulitzer. You can’t make me.

But I’ll agree to think about it.

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Copyright © 2007-2014. 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.