In the Middle of 2020 Tournament of Books

It’s my favorite time of the year!  Tournament of Books…

Welp. I began this post the first week of March with the title “So Begins the TOB” and since that was over two weeks ago, I wish I could say only that Time Sure Flies By.  Wish I could say that I only got distracted.

But then the world turned upside down.

Sure, we can be grateful that the Tournament continues! No need to cancel any online gatherings for this joyful reading event. And it has been lovely, that the discussion has mostly focused on the books. I likely bet that the diversion has been most welcome.

So, why not? let’s talk books.

Q: Care, what are your favorites going in to this event? How are your brackets holding up?

A: Thank you for asking, but to be honest, I didn’t even fill out a bracket. I fill in a blank one as the decisions are cast.  But that is neither here nor there. My favorites from this year’s slate are:

Mary Toft; or, the Rabbit Queen by Dexter Palmer

 Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

 

So the Mary is out and so is Your House. Hopes all hinge on the fire children now. Nothing to See Here zombies back to life; or rather has a chance. We have a few more rounds to get through before we see if NtSH truly makes it to the semi-finals.

I truly do NOT think I could stomach the stress and anxiety of being a judge!  Yikes.  I have really admired the thoughtful decisions this year (I probably say this every year).

Ok, let’s talk GWO and LCA:  the latest round of heavyweights. I did not have a preference, having abandoned Lost Children Archive at the change of perspective because it was due back at the library. (And sadly, was not compelled* to try again at a later date.) I skimmed the last third of Girl, Woman, Other because I couldn’t keep anyone straight and was getting severely impatient wondering what and how it was coming together.

OK,  here’s what I want to talk about and also an example of what a coward I am:  a friend tweeted at me that they didn’t read GWO because, and I quote, “whooooooboy the author has problematic views on nonbinary people.” And I was dumbstruck. I did not know how to ask more or challenge or invite explanation. I could not and still don’t find any evidence that Everisto presented anything disrespectful or problematic, in fact, someone -only one! – praised the author for the representation.

I myself, do not have opinion/knowledge how nonbinary “should be or not” but hope to have an openness and discovery to learning more – and that’s where I don’t know what is or is NOT problematic, I mean, I can sense disrespect, of course, but I personally thought GWO was fabulous at presenting individuals living lives their own truthful way. Applause to that.

Whew. I wanted to bring it up in the TOB commentary but I’m not brave. (and am refraining from comments spurred by liquid courage.) Anyway.

Help me be a better ally and reader.

I love the TOB! NOW, let’s talk about Jade Chang, our judge from yesterday and her list of how to decide the worthy book:

  1. Is it a FAST read?
  2. Is it SURPRISING?
  3. Are the characters INTERESTING?
  4. Is it COZY (“…can just sail forward, knowing that I will reach an exciting port”)
  5. Is it about the WORLD RIGHT NOW?
  6. Did it make me FEEL SOMETHING LASTING?

Friends, this post must come to an end. Thanks for spending a few minutes with my words, questions and thoughts. Be safe out there, be kind; let’s get through this with calm resolve.

HAPPY WORLD POETRY DAY!!!!

 

 

 

*   Having read all the debate discussion from Summer TOB, I felt I got enough of the second half to need not read it myself. #shrug

Poetry 2020 Edition 2

Edition 1 was only a few days ago. When I said the next collections were slim, I didn’t lie.

Poetry Goal 202o:  to read a poem* every day.

 

Collection #3 by Tracy K. Smith, Graywolf Press 2007, 89 pages

Smith was 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States.

Very impressive poems and quite varied. Between referencing an old John Ford movie (The Searchers) to an imagined party crashing by Frank Zappa, Smith takes us on a stimulating journey. Across politics and myths, kidnapping and murder, love and desire.

This is a poem about the itch
That stirs a nation at night

This is a poem about all we’ll do
Not to scratch —

+ .  .  .

I was impressed but I didn’t quite feel it in my heart. All very heady.

 

Collection #4 by David O’Connell, The Providence Athenaeum 2013

Now this was really good! I connected, this had life and grit. This also had mythology  selections (history) plus the terrors of now; some with a touch of wry humor.

Etymology

The bomb will wait forever for its purpose.
Outside my room, she screeches, It’s the bomb!

which means, it’s cool
that men urge calm while earning ribbons
riding bronco bomb.

+ .  .  .

 

 

*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.

Now in November

Thoughts   by Josephine Johnson, Simon and Schuster 1934, 231 pages

Challenge:  Classic Club
and
Back to the Classics Challenge PLACES I HAVE LIVED (Missouri)

BTCC Berlin Booksclassicsclub1

**AND** What’s in a Name 
Challenge 2019Month/Day Category
Genre: Depression Era, Pulitzer Winners
Type/Source: Library
 Why I read this now:  I was trying to find something for this WiaN category – come to end up reading 3 books to satisfy. #whatever #shrug

MOTIVATION for READING: I saw this on my tbr and it fit the category and the library had a copy – possibly a first edition copy? (I was having a hard time finding a copy of One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes which IS in my cc50. This just happens to be a classic; NOT on my cc50…)

Page 144: “When everything was finally dead, I thought that relief from hope would come, but hope’s an obsession that never dies.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A family trying to eke a living out of the ground in the midst of the depression. Older sister is a fish out of water, the youngest sister and mother are inspirations, Dad is wearily lost and angry about it all and our narrator just aches with  feelings and thoughts that only confound.

What gr says: “Brilliant, evocative, poetic, savage, this Pulitzer Prize-winning first novel (1934) written when Josephine Winslow Johnson was only 24, depicts a white, middle-class urban family that is turned into dirt-poor farmers by the Depression and the great drought of the thirties. The novel moves through a single year and, at the same time, a decade of years, from the spring arrival of the family at their mortgaged farm to the winter 10 years later, when the ravages of drought, fire, and personal anguish have led to the deaths of two of the five. Like Ethan Frome, the relatively brief, intense story evokes the torment possible among people isolated and driven by strong feelings of love and hate that, unexpressed, lead inevitably to doom. Reviewers in the thirties praised the novel, calling its prose “profoundly moving music,” expressing incredulity “that this mature style and this mature point of view are those of a young women in her twenties,” comparing the book to “the luminous work of Willa Cather,” and, with prescience, suggesting that it “has that rare quality of timelessness which is the mark of first-rate fiction.””

THOUGHTS:  I would NEVER have compared this to Ethan Frome, but yea. I guess I could go there. (I shudder.)

Such pain. Such loss. I worry about our world now and how much we use and discard, in our disposable society. If I had to live simply and off the land, giving every extra penny to my mortgage, thinking of it as a terrifying weight that could drag me to my death with any next scratch of a pen; … Anyway, it is a sobering look at how people managed, or didn’t, in that awful time.

The descriptions of nature offer some glimmer of love and sunshine. But even the sun gets cursed in this one.

Brilliant, evocative, poetic, savage.

Four slices of pie.

Page 28: “He cut us big slices, firm and wedge-shaped like the tall pieces of a pie, and a bigger one for mother, and then we thought it was time for the presents to be given.”

Page 115: “He did it because he liked pies, he said, and was fearful that M would fall asleep and put away God knows what in the jars.”

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Copyright © 2007-2019. 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.

Bowlaway

Thoughts by Elizabeth McCracken, ecco (Imprint of HarperCollins) 2019, 373 pages

Challenge:  none
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Hardcover / Library
 Why I read this now:  This was mentioned as a terrific read by the TOB commentariat so I looked to see if it was available from the library. It was, so I’m reading it. Plus, the author is a fun Twitter follow. 

MOTIVATION for READING:  See why I read this now above.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A candle pin bowling alley. An unusual woman who built and ran the bowling alley and the subsequent family members who trailed after her.

WHAT’s GOOD: It’s quirky in all the right and wonderful ways. I really enjoyed it.

What’s NOT so good: I have no complaints.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  Has a memorable first sentence/contender for best opening ever.

RATING:  Five slices of pie. LOTS of pie and most pie references are to pie shapes or pie-cut or piebald or . . .

Page 227 – “Sometimes this ghost left the Gearheart to haunt a particular compartment at the Automat, and soured whatever sandwich or soup or slice of pie had been put there.”

Page 240 – “Eskimo Pie.”

 

 

 

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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 BkClubCare aka Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Dud Avocado

A review and a clarification…

First, the response to the comments on the prior post: I did not mean to imply that WordPress is hard and difficult to figure out. I really REALLY do think it much more preferable than Blogger – especially when I do hear that platform has not been updated ever. Yikes. WP is better at spam filtering, if nothing else.

It was only that I didn’t want to deal with any changes. I want my OLD way I’m used to. If I do take the time to relax into it and deal, I’m sure it will be lovely. I just couldn’t do quick because I couldn’t FIND my tags and categories. Not a big deal. I could have taken the time to ask customer service where they are hiding this feature in the latest upgrade, but I was in a hurry.

That said,

I’m right now typing this on the WRITE-NOW button that is available to me and I’m rolling with it.

READY for my REVIEW?

Cool. Here goes.

by Elaine Dundy, 1958, 260 pages, Kindle Edition

I loved the Introduction to The Dud Avocado.
I actually read it first, too, and I don’t remember why. (I never read the Intro to a classic if I’ve yet to read the story!! What has happened to me?!)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish The Dud Avocado. I did enjoy the breezy style in the beginning and I chuckled in amusement with her observations and challenges of living in Paris as a young lady in the 50s.

But then I put it down and left it a few days and when I did come back to it, I couldn’t figure out where it was going. I put it down again and then, then,

oops. The book expired and I wasn’t able to read on. It was a library eBook and Too-Much-Time-Passed… POOF! It was gone.

DNF and I’m not that sorry. I can always check it out again.

I’m still going to count it for the What’s in a Name Challenge

Fruit or Vegetable Category 

 

And it is on my Classics Club 50 list so WOO HOO!

 

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.

The Animators

Thoughts tabykrw by Kayla Rae Whitaker, Random House 2016, 372 pages

Challenge:  Tournament of Books 2018
Genre: Contemporary Fiction – I hate that this is a genre! Wait… IS “contemporary fiction’ actually a GENRE? Surely a better response would be ‘fiction that involves creative arts’, perhaps maybe  ‘fiction relating to dysfunctional families impact on friendships/partnerships’, then there could be this ‘fiction that features lots of drug use into adulthood’. Surely I am missing many many more subgenres…
Type/Source: Hardback / Library
 Why I read this now: The library called. My hold was available.

MOTIVATION for READING: Have I got a story to tell! Well, ok. It’s exciting to me, so…  Bear with me.

Last December, I responded to a tweet suggesting that if you wanted a book recommendation, just respond with the last thing you ate and what you were wearing.

Here’s the exchange:

and she responded with this:

So I put it on my tbr. (I must have known it was on the long list for TOB. right?)

THEN!!!   It made the short list for the TOB. Oh YEA.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Well, this part aint so easy.

I’ve mentioned that it involves creative arts, dysfunctional families and the impact of such on friendships and partnerships – both love and work, then that it features lots of drug use into adulthood?

Sharon Kisses, who considers herself heterosexual, meets Mel Vaughn, a rude crude lesbian who is basically a raging horndog drug addict (or IS she?!), and they form an amazing collaborative creative team for visual story-telling.

Questions pop up. How important is ‘permission’ when another’s life story is part of the “YOUR STORY” you want to share in a very public way? How much of the overlap is your story versus their story?

How much of the story and the subsequent story is MINE, ours, YOURS?

What’s NOT so good: Ah. Ah, yes. . . I’m sorry, can you repeat the question?

I would feel for Sharon and then wonder, “Uh what happened? Crap, she’s an asshole.”  I always liked Mel, but she was always painted as the sympathetic to-be-sympathized-with-nut crazy, so you would forgive her. She was very well-drawn. Sharon, who truly is the primary character, thus PROTAGONIST of this drama life tale, is a slippery one. To me. She would surprise me and usually NOT in a good way. Yet. She was ALMOST empathized with? maybe?

FINAL THOUGHTS: I liked this, I did. And there were a ton of pie mentions so I was often validated in my quest to find a pie mention in my literature (#selfishmaybecertainlystrange). I read some really-not-good reviews and some praising reviews and overall, I liked this very much. So… with all the terrific pie that our characters eat, I give this

RATING: Four slices of pie! I will go with strawberry pie.

I’m glad to have read this. It was different and I learned a lot about lots of things – mostly the creative collaborative animated cartoon concepts and maybe living in NYC. I look forward to spirited debate on this crazy tale.

 

 

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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.

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.

Idaho

Thoughts  by Emily Ruskovich, 2017, _pages

Challenge: Tournament of Books 2018
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: eBook / Library
 Why I read this now: The only ebook available NOW at the library.

MOTIVATION for READING: TOB!

WHAT’s it ABOUT: We have a mountain man (was his name Wes? I’ve already forgotten!) with his second wife who was a music teacher, from England or Scotland – her dad was in Scotland, I do remember that. We have the guy’s first wife who is in prison but before her story we meet the woman that she will be cellmates with and we learn how that all got set up. We find out that the guy is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s. And we get the stories of all sorts of other people:  Wes’ dad’s neighbor? Wes’ kids, and a friend of his eldest daughter’s, a sketch artist, a mountain neighbor.

WHAT’s GOOD: The author can write and she can create a mood, a tension. I wanted to read and not stop! Had to figure it out, what the heck is going on?! 

What’s NOT so good: I didn’t like how it jumped back and forth in time. This doesn’t usually bother me but I didn’t ‘get’ it with this one. I also didn’t get some of the odd perspectives that were thrown in. I had many unresolved questions. Maybe it was me and not the book.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It is a book that catches you and you don’t want to put it down. But it left me frustrated at the end and as time goes on, I like it less and less.  I do think this will be a fun discussion for the Tournament — on that note, I’m very glad to have read this and eager for the conversation.

RATING: Three slices of pie.

 

 

 

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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.

The Idiot

Thoughts by Elif Batuman, Penguin Press March 14, 2017, 423 pages

Challenge: Tournament of Books 2018
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Hardcover / Library
 Why I read this now: It was available at the library (now why I checked this title as opposed to any of the other titles I still have yet to read? no idea…)

MOTIVATION for READING: My reading pal Ruthiella loved it. I saw many other didn’t. I wondered where I would fall on that love/hate divide.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: It’s about Selin who is a freshman at Harvard in the mid 90s, trying to fit in. Or is it? About ‘fitting in’, I mean. She both wonders about it but never obsesses about it (like I did in college.) She’s trying to figure out what to major in, how to achieve what she thinks she wants to ‘do’ in life. She wonders about a lot of stuff. Love, travel, language, words. She has odd thoughts and thinks in a clever witty style.

The author says “part of it (this book) is about discovering email and being really awkward with it.”

Batuman’s bio on goodreads says that her writing has been described as “almost helplessly epigrammatical.” I have to admit, I had to look up epigrammatical to make sure I knew the word correctly and I must say I agree. (I also had to look up parvenu and sinecure; these are words that I have to look up every time I encounter because I have worn pathways in my brain requiring me to mistrust my own definition.)

WHAT’s GOOD: Oh the deadpan humor is fabulous. I would temper that though and say it is MY kind of humor and I know very well that it wouldn’t be many of my friends’ kind of humor. I laughed out loud a lot.

There is a satisfying pie scene. Winner so far of my 2018 Pie in Literature Award. It’s still early, though. Plenty of books to get through yet.

What’s NOT so good: The color of that cover. Yuck.

If you want to read the range of reactions, clicking on that ugly book cover above will take you to goodreads.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Read Roxane Gay’s review. She got it.

 

RATING: Four slices of pie.

“I thought about how wonderful it would be to be eating pie.”

 

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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.

Notorious RBG

Thoughts nrbgbyicsk by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhinik, Dey St imprint of WmMorrow, 227 pages

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Type/Source: Hardback, Library

MOTIVATION for READING: This Supreme Court Justice has always interested me. Everyone is raving about this book.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Apparently, and for perfectly wonderful reasons, RBG has captivated the hearts of many for her groundbreaking work in law and her thoughtful and sharp reasonings on cases appearing before the Highest Court. This short book tells a bit about her whole life – how she started and what she is doing now. It doesn’t go into much depth but just enough to get a sense for her character, her smarts, her sense of humor and her incredible work ethic.

RATING: I rated it 5 pie slices because I truly enjoyed learning more about the background and work of this amazing woman.

 

 

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