Thoughts. In motion.
Something different. Something fun? More? Maybe NOT? Keep trying?
Thoughts. In motion.
Something different. Something fun? More? Maybe NOT? Keep trying?
Last fall, I discovered that Jenny of Reading the End posted a very good blog idea for Sundays. The idea is to share good things. To Quote Miss Gin-Jenny, “to talk about things that kept me moving forward or gave me some joy.” I’m borrowing a few of her categories for inspiration:
Touched by: I had dinner with a friend last night and she gave me a very sweet compliment. I told her that I very much treasured her friendship. We are going to start a book club together for the summer! I suggested we start with Tayari Jones’ smash bestseller everyone seems to be talking about, An American Marriage.
Proud and Wowed by: All the wit and courage and feistiness of the March For Our Lives citizens. “Guns are not school supplies.”
Sad about: K-State Wildcats lost to Loyola last night. But HEY! We made the Elite Eight!!! WOO HOOOOO
Self-cared for: Uh, does it count in this category that I completed my first 5K yesterday? I had walked in many-a fund-raiser walk but this was the first that I entered that took official times and gave a shirt. I finished in under 1 hour; was 626 our of 636. LOL (Had to set a baseline.)
Itching to tell you: I have missed blogging! But I haven’t finished a book in weeks, it seems. My audiobook (The Zero by Jess Walters) is fascinating but I haven’t had long stretches alone in a car to listen.
Excited by: All the people who have asked me about the TOB! I do occasional Facebook updates on it… AND I think I finally picked my favorite book of the tourney: Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel Khong. It was knocked out by Exit West – a book that I admired but didn’t get charmed by. GV oozed charm. I read so many books that I liked but couldn’t really choose my bestest favoritist until I watched the booktube commentary by @daejin_v2! (Loved it. Impressive – I want to make a book review video…)
FYI – I downloaded Stephen Florida but I don’t think I will read it. I might open it and look at it… I never could get my hands on Dear Cyborg – my library didn’t have it. I put a hold on The Book of Joan but it still hasn’t come to me yet. I’ll probably pass on that, too. Otherwise, I read everything! I think.
Looking forward to: SPRING. Warmer temperatures. Longer days of sunshine. Boat season. Common sense in politics. We can hope, yes?
MOTIVATION for READING: TOB. Today is actually the decision day for this book. It is going against The End of Eddy which I listened to. I’m hurrying to post this before the judgment is announced.
He asked for her story, he wanted to know how she’d arrived on his shores, and what had happened to her on the journey. Soli, without papers and pregnant, and hanging by a thread to this happy, healthy place, considered telling the truth. With a sharp slap to her inner chismosa, she slowed down and shut her mouth.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: Two sides of a story. One, a young illegal immigrant from Mexico who is ‘bio-mom’ of the lucky boy named Ignatio, and the other, a second-generation in America couple (heritage India) who want to adopt the lucky boy whom they call Iggy. Bio-mom Solimar is fierce in her love and dedication to her son and she is trying to survive and adjust to the promises of a life in the U.S. But then she is caught; she is undocumented. Kavya and Rishi have their own expectations of how their lives should be and when they can’t get pregnant, they move to adopt a baby, starting with fostering Ignatio who is now a ‘ward of the state’ while Soli languishes in ‘custody’. Worlds collide. Sort of.
WHAT’s GOOD: Well-researched scenarios and portrayals of true American stories and the immigration policies and systems in place – and are in flux and in the news even more now. Lucky Boy explores parental rights, wealth and poverty, immigration, the courts.
I highlighted a few wonderful sentences, but I never got swept up into any of it.
She’d never had to truly give up on herself before, having always had a trust fund of potential—untapped, hidden, wasted—to fall back on.
What’s NOT so good: I didn’t feel it. Something was off. I didn’t care for Kavya and her petty jealousies. It just didn’t carry the spark it needed.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This book is going to get skewered in the commentary today; I do feel that. I wish I could articulate the unsettling I feel about how the story was constructed and how the plot unfolded. I found it predictable, almost boring. “The U.S. Immigration Policy is bad.” The checks and balances of the systems for handling immigrants is in failure mode. Yep, I get it. How do we fix it?
I read (rēēd) the wonderful insightful pro and con thoughts on all these books and I nod my head, yes! I can see that, or Really?! no, I didn’t get that… but I can’t find those words of my own to reason through my thoughts and feelings. But I do so love the TOB. It’s been a wild ride so far (and I’m actually glad I haven’t found my darling.)
If you read everything – you’ll know why I post this quote: “She ran until the dogs in her head stopped barking. And then she stopped and turned and found that she was alone.“
TOB: I will chose The End of Eddy in this round. I listened to TEoE and I didn’t listen well. But it had a punch and a rawness that was evident as art. They are saying we are in Bizarro-World this year so it is possible that Lucky Boy might take it. But I don’t think so…
RATING: Three slices of apple pie.
Silvia picked up tamales and an apple pie and a liter of fancy-looking soda from the expensive supermarket, the one they never went to.
“Can you smell that apple pie?” Eva Cabral stood and cranked open her window. “They drive me crazy with that apple pie!” She had the spangle-toothed smile of a PTA president.
I am on vacation and today kicks off the Tournament,
(Edited that 3/7 was Play-in Round; Opening Round is 3/8)
I am writing this on my phone so I might be challenged with links and stuff. (No, looks like I managed it, click on “Round 1”.)
I managed to read the first third of Lucky Boy and am enjoying it. Gotta love ✈️ travel for dedicated reading time.
And, sorry Ruthiella – I might (probably) DNF Savage Theories. It’s entertaining in a way but also exhausting. Since it won’t be advancing…
The Idiot moves on!
I managed to read all but Joan, Cyborgs, Steve FLORIDA (where I am right now, escaping Storm Quinn), and DNFing Savage. I’m OK with it. You? Did you read ‘em all and if not, are you OK?
I didn’t fill out a bracket…
See ya in the commentary!
Thoughts by Kayla Rae Whitaker, Random House 2016, 372 pagesChallenge: 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.
Narrated byChallenge: 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.
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
Distance can create longing. It can open up the gap into which all must fall.
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.
Thoughts by Emily Ruskovich, 2017, _pagesChallenge: 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.
Thoughts by Édouard Louis, Brilliance Audio 2017, 4 hours 24 minutes
Translated by Michael Lucey, Narrated by Graham HalsteadChallenge: Tournament of Books 2018 Genre: Coming of Age, LGBTQ Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible Why I read this now: It’s only 4 and 1/2 hours long.
MOTIVATION for READING: I knew I could get it in by the end of January and have my monthly book reading stats LOOK GOOD.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: Eddy is different. He knows it, everyone knows it. Though Eddy’s family does not understand nor support him, his mother and father *do* love him, in small not-overcoming ways. At times, there was a tenderness. Heartbreaking, really.
WHAT’s GOOD: It is startling and raw. I keep coming back to these two words.
What’s NOT so good: How about a warning that it is not shy about describing EVERYTHING. Not for the faint at heart.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I just feel that it was devoid of story. It is just a recounting of his childhood and all the ways he was demeaned by his family, his community, and himself; until he was able to escape. So it has a hopeful ending, which is nice.
RATING: Three slices of pie. No pie mentioned.
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.”