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.
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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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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 Tsar of Love and Techno

Thoughts tToLaTbyAM by Anthony Marra, Hogart 2015, 352 pages

Challenge: Tournament of Books
Genre: Short Story
Type/Source: Audio first, then switched to hardback / library
 Why I read this now: Really? do you have to ask?

WHAT’s it ABOUT: This is a linked story collection – my favorite kind, in the vein of Olive Kitteridge (which I adored), that Goon Squad book (which I did NOT adore) and The Imperfectionists (which YOU should read because it is really good.)

So, no. I guess I won’t tell you anything. Cover links to goodreads.

WHAT’s GOOD: Everything. The writing, the construction, the descriptions, the wry observations about life and stuff.

What’s NOT so good: The audio was NOT that great. I realized when I switched to print that I missed a LOT, a TON! And I blame it on the narrators – there were three. I probably bear some of that burden, but I don’t claim it. It was the accents. Perhaps it was my prejudice on how I heard the voice – one of the guys just sounded ‘not right’ or ‘not too bright’, if that makes any sense. I apologize. Oh well. Avoid the audiobook, in my opinion.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you like a book that makes you laugh while you cry, this might do it for ya.

RATING: Five slices of pie! Seriously, this may go down as a top 5 favorite over many years.

PIE
p.6 “The coin could have bought a meat pie, a sketch pad, a confectionery, a bar of soap; pressed into someone else’s palm it could have become the bright spot in a dull day, but coins cannot choose their fate.”

71% – ???? – I couldn’t find it. SO hard to bookmark an audio. Especially if driving a car responsibly. IF ANYONE HAS THIS AS eBOOK, please let me know! Thanks.

 

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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.

Death in the Garden

Thoughts dintgbyei by Elizabeth Ironside, Felony & Mayhem Press, 1995, 294 pages

FOR:  Neighborhood Book Club

FIRST Sentence: “Today at half-past two in the afternoon I was acquitted of the murder of my husband.”

What’s it ABOUT:  The story obviously begins with a trial and a murder and probable marital strife; we also get to experience the trauma of the world between and of the two world wars. Here’s what happens and how it is setup:  Diana is having a birthday and she invites a few of her favorite friends – mind you, these friends are not friends of the husband’s. Diana is a very interesting person and it is her husband who is murdered at that birthday party weekend. The year is 1925.

“Fanny herself had no money, no education and only erratic employment, most recently and implausibly in a bookshop. “How can that be?” Diana had once said to her husband. “She doesn’t know how to read.” George’s silence was his habitual response to Diana’s sharpness.”

THEN, we jump to the early 1990s and meet Diana’s great niece, Hannah, a single woman, and thus by default?* hard-working, rising-star attorney in London.

“…those (birthdays with) zeros. Not at 20 perhaps, but at 30 it begins, the casting of accounts, the recalling of doors not opened and roads not taken. Only in noise and distraction, companionship and conversation becoming progressively more sentimental, could it be avoided.”

Diana, referred to as “the Great Aunt”, dies in her 98th year. Hannah inherits the estate, or most of it –Diana has made a point to will lots and lots of money and goodies to all the females in the family. What? She was wealthy?! None of the family members are aware of her fortune and certainly not her past – the fact that she was acquitted of murder. To them, she was just a lovely old lady who tended her garden. It was crazy to think she was once a wild woman who experienced anything dramatic. They decide to find out what really happened.

Hannah has her own secrets…

“He, who had for weeks or days been the peaceful background hum of her existence, suddenly became the only sound in her universe.”

Just like Trish, I am not one to try and guess the whodunnits or even want to spot if any zany twists, forcing any unravelings of plot. I adored this story and how it unfolded! I was, as they say, on the edge of my seat and this was a wonderful way to temper my #SalemAlong reading of ‘Salem’s Lot.

“Edith, she works in order not to think. At home it would be impossible to spend a few days among such people without any discussion of ideas.”

It’s not just the turns, the reveal and the various character studies; it was the analysis of marriage and independence. Of feminism and how women had/have to assert themselves, or not. Of careers and ambition, the balance of power. There is a lot here to admire – in the thoughts expressed and how the author presents all of it in the story.

“For Pia, any weakness or shame, such as that George had inadvertently revealed, filled her with the desire to protect and shelter, to hide the exposed place. George had shown a crack to the base of his soul. He saw himself as a failure. He had married Diana to use her beauty and talent to shore up the gaping fissures in his personality and found that they could not be used.”

What’s GOOD/NOT so good? . . .  SKIP . . .

FINAL Thoughts: I think we will have a LOT to discuss at meeting and I am really hoping that this book charmed the others in club as much as I was charmed.

RATING: There were zero pie mentions (and no lobster ones, either, I’m afraid) but I still give this FIVE slices. Let’s go with MINCE MEAT PIE since Mincemeat Pie Day is October 26.

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Vocab

ha-ha – sunk fence

alpinism – climbing the Alps

soubrette – frivolous young woman in comedies

kedgeree – an Indian dish of seasoned rice, beans, lentils, and sometimes smoked fish

danegeld – an annual tax believe to have been imposed originally to buy off Danish invaders in England

Stakhanovite – a Soviet industrial worker awarded recognition and special privileges for output beyond production norms

charabanc – a sight-seeing motor coach

ukase – a proclamation by a Russian emperor or govt having the force of law, edict

*    default: how can a girl/woman of 30 yo not have a husband or significant other? might as well be good at your job since you have no one to take care of…  sheesh…

PLEASE SEEK OUT THIS BOOK AND TALK TO ME!

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.

Inside the O’Briens

Thoughts itobbylg by Lisa Genova, Gallery Books 2015, 343 pages

“Hope is the thing with feathers that reaches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all. – Emily Dickinson”

RATING: Five slices of pie.

FOR:  My neighborhood book club. Meeting is first week of October 2015.

What’s it ABOUT: I hate to assume but I do know many of my readers are familiar with Lisa Genova. She is the author of Still Alice, recently brought to film and hot in the latest Academy Awards race which culminated in a Best Actress win for Julianne Moore. I have yet to see the movie.

Still Alice was Genova’s debut novel and I had the privilege to meet her at a book reading on Cape Cod in 2009. Shocked, I am, that it was that long ago! But not really, considering that THIS book, Inside the O’Briens, is Genova’s FOURTH book. She is on her way to being and remaining a celebrated author and I expect we will be entertained and educated on more neurological disorders in the future.

“A silence fills the room like a flash flood, and they’re all submerged, breathless.”

Yes, she has a genre; could be considered one of the best of the “disease fiction” novelists (the only one that comes to mind at the moment) — if that is a thing. (There are many shelves in goodreads pertaining to this theme.) In all of her books, Genova tackles an issue, usually based on a little known or rare neuropathology, and humanizes the situation extremely well. She brings it to life where we not only understand the problems, consider the heartaches, but also relate to the fear AND hope. Providing HOPE is especially difficult to do and she manages it somehow. She also reminds me to be compassionate and kind.

Still Alice discusses Early Onset Alzheimers. Left Neglected showcases a disorder known a Left Neglect – in this one, the protagonist suffers a brain injury. Love Anthony tackles autism – this is the only book I have yet to read. All are set in Massachusetts.

Inside the O’Briens brings awareness to the rare genetic Huntington’s Disorder (HD). We meet a Boston cop who lives in Charlestown MA and his family and friends. Yes, I cried. And yet I didn’t cry at the end. Maybe I was all cried out by then, but also, Genova leaves us with a plan to be hopeful and knowledgeable. In the epilogue, she provides an opportunity to support the research to find a cure. In my opinion, the most difficult part of these kinds of books is the balance between providing too much information about the disorder and describing what the people are feeling. I never felt that I was encountering an educational treatise (“Here is a scary fact, now go feel something.”). I never felt manipulated. All of it felt real and skillfully plotted and revealed.

We not only learn about HD, we learn about what it is like to be a police officer in Boston. We learn about yoga, we learn about Charlestown. This author is excellent at creating that sense of place. It helps that I am familiar with this area but I don’t think anyone else who hasn’t visited Boston would feel any setting loss. She is that good. I have to admit that one of my slices of pie is for that skill Genova has to allow me into the lives of fictional people who seem totally real; I am inside fully developed characters and immersed into their thoughts and fears and dreams. This is a successful book.

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HAVE YOU READ A BOOK BY LISA GENOVA? DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE?  This might be mine. I liked Still Alice a bit more than Left Neglected.

*NOTE* – I read Still Alice as a first book when joining a new book club and this will be the first book for a new club, too. I’m beginning to see a connection! It doesn’t take much for me to see connections… What it might mean, I have no clue.

**SECOND NOTE** – I had a status update in goodreads for page 239 that mentions my concern with the last paragraph but I returned the book to the library. Here’s hoping that edition will be at the club meeting so I can refer to it.

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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 Orphans of Race Point

Thoughts toorpbypf The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis, HarperCollins 2014, 524 pages.

Almost epic in scale, this interesting look at love versus romance versus obsession gives the full panorama of emotions, good and bad, and highlights all that is admirable about the human spirit while showing its ugly sides, too.

What’s it ABOUT: A pretty smart 9 yo girl helps a classmate find himself after a devastating tragedy — the effect of which they can never quite outrun. Or maybe, they do? I don’t think I can begin to tell you or figure out how to describe this! I was swept into this and in over my head very quickly.

The kids grow up. Things happen. Actions have consequences. Secrets are found out. Shit happens. Etc. Families are often created by love not blood. There are dogs to love and run the beach with. Who doesn’t like running the beach with a dog?

It didn’t hurt that I lived near this area of Massachusetts and it felt very Massachusettsian. If that isn’t a real word, too bad.

This book is good; the story is riveting and well-paced. It deserves more attention. I’ve read much worse books that got way too much attention; read this to fall in love with the kind of book that you want to tell more people about. I’ve already told Holly and I bet Gail would love this and probably MBR – shoot, I should get ALL of my Mass book club pals to read it!

I read this because another Mass book friend read and recommended but that doesn’t mean that you must be from or need to know about Cape Cod – I’m NOT saying that at all. It just has such a good sense of place, I guess.

Here are a few pictures I took myself of Race Point near Provincetown MA:

IMG_2338 IMG_2344 IMG_2351 IMG_2358  IMG_2364

I’m challenging myself to come up with THREE WORDS for every book. These are the first that popped into my mind. Probably not the best, but the first, so: gritty, sweeping, emotional.

RATING:  fourpie

Other REVIEWs:  Laurie at Bay State Advisory – “It’s literary fiction with a strong story line that touches on big ideas but focuses on the personal.”

SADLY, I only recorded that page 33 has a pie reference. I’ve already returned the book to the library (what was I thinking?!)

Here are two quotes to describe a FIRST KISS:

On page 96: “He took her by the shoulders and kissed her right there in the middle of the street. It was the shortest gentlest kiss imaginable but it pricked her, infected her, forever altered the colors of the landscape where she’d spent her whole life.”

On page 413: “Then he kisses me; even though neither of us have much experience, it’s the kind of perfect knock your bright yellow socks off kiss that changes everything. It happens right there in broad daylight.”

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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 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 Dorothy Parker Portable Library

Thoughts tvplbydp Viking Press 1963 (orig 1926-1944), 544 pages

“A One-Volume Edition of Her Stories & Poems including Here Lies: Laments for the Living, After Such Pleasures; Not so Deep as a Well: Enough Rope, Sunset Gun, Death & Taxes; and 5 Stories Now First Published in Book Form”

tpdpaudio Blackstone Audio 2007, Edited by Marion Meade/Narrated by Lorna Raver, 13 hrs 22 min

 

LOVED.

LOVED THIS SO MUCH.

and yet, I wonder if best in smaller doses which means that I want somebody to buy me this for Christmas so I always have it on hand when I need.

I didn’t just devour this collection, I rolled in it like a dog rolls in mud. I read it higgledy-piggledy, jumping around as I do with short story collections that aren’t themed, and I listened to the audiobook. I read some and then I listened some. I mostly listened to the poetry rather than read and many of the short stories I read and then listened immediately to experience it again.

YES. Dorothy is cleverly snarky and delivers excellent character ‘voice’. And much is NOT flattering. Just the kind of smart bitch that can deliver an insult without the insulted person realizing it because they just don’t get it. GOOD STUFF.

She really sees a situation, every nuance, every discrepancy, all the hypocrisy. Though delightfully funny, it has poison-laced sadness, too.

Highly recommended.

 

 

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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.