Category Archives: Words

Whereabouts

Thoughts by Jhumpa Lahiri, Alfred A. Knopf 2021, 163 pages

Translated from Italian.

Challenge: 20 Books of Summer, TOB Summer Camp

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit, Woman Thinking About Life

Type/Source: Hardcover, Library

What It’s About: Our unnamed main character narrates these vignettes of her days and the places these days take her. She excels at solitude.

“The tenderness he sets aside for me is enough.“

Her father was stingy, stingy at love and felt his family was a burden. Her mother never found her footing and took it out on the daughter. Each chapter seemed to have powerful last lines.

I mourned those wasted tickets, and that trip never taken, more than I mourned for you.

Thoughts: Provocatively written. Is provocative too strong a word? I could not stop reading; it was an insistent little book. It “evok[ed my] interest, attention, or and admiration in a powerfully irresistible way.” (the definition of compelling.)

Disoriented, lost, at sea, at odds, astray, bewildered, confused, uprooted, turned around.

I’m related to these related terms. These words are my abode, my only foothold.

(from Nowhere, page 153)

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned. However, there is a chapter that mentions pastry often and another had me searching for cat’s tongue cookies.

We say goodbye, separate. Then we, too, become two shadows projected onto the wall: a routine spectacle, impossible to capture.

 

 

Copyright © 2007-2021. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

A Tale for the Time Being

Thoughts by Ruth Ozeki, Viking 2013, 433 pages

Challenge: TOB Favorites

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit / Time Travel

Type/Source: eBook / Library -Kindle

What It’s About: A fascinating story that interweaves across time and distance and offers up a few mind-benders and reality-suspension moments. A writer named Ruth, experiencing a lack of motivation in her current project, finds a package washed up on the beach of her remote Pacific Canadian island. Inside is a journal, a watch and a collection of letters written in French. I think the language is English essentially, but culturally Japanese ; the journal-ist is a young Japanese girl suffering from a tumultuous change in her standard of living and location. Her father lost his silicon-valley job in California and uprooted Nao to Japan – a foreign world to her. She writes as if she knows the reader, addresses her directly, tells her all about her life, her horrid school and the bullies there and also her great-grandmother, a 104 yo Buddhist nun. Ruth is the reader and takes on the challenge of being Nao’s friend. Across time, across the ocean, across practicality.

For the time being, Words scatter . . . Are they fallen leaves?

Thoughts: It’s a wonder it works. I’m sure for many, it doesn’t; but for me it does. There’s word play, dream movement, thoughts on the precarious nature of our world and the environment. There’s history, there’s violence, brutal brutal violence, and yet there is zen, and hopeful hope. I just adored Jika! I wasn’t so sure about Ruth, but she is going through her own growth spurt through doubt with Nao so it made sense to me. Oliver is a treat.

I keep thinking about this story. I think it will be one of those I remember and think about and grow more fond of as time goes on.

“She wasn’t crying. They were just the memories, leaking out.”

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned. (French pastry, however…)

To grasp this truly, every being that exists in the entire world is linked together as moments in time, and at the same time they exist as individual moments of time. Because all moments are the time being, they are your time being.

—D gen Zenji, Uji

 

Up is down. Down is up.

Copyright © 2007-2021. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Library Book

Thoughts by Susan Orlean, Simon & Schuster 2018, 317 HC pages

Narrated by the author, 12 hours 9 minutes

Challenge: none

Genre/Theme: NonFiction/History – Libraries, LA Library Fire 1986, more

Type/Source: Audiobook/Audible

What It’s About: Orlean talks about libraries in general, a library specific – the fire at the main branch in LA, the people who work there now, the people who worked there then: in 1986, when a fire erupted in the stacks, and her personal memories of using and loving the library. And more! the history of the building itself, the architect, the craziness of some of the former Chief Librarians, the case accusing Harry Peak of arson, the changing landscape of prosecuting the crime of arson, all sorts of good stuff.

Thoughts: I very much enjoyed this. I sped it up to 1.8x because whoa! does Ms. Orlean talk slow. It jumps around, it goes back and forth in time, so in some respects, this is perfect for audio and in others, not great. Very interesting discussion of the male and female in regards to who held the position of LA Librarian over time.

In Senegal, the polite expression for saying someone died is to say his or her library has burned. When I first heard the phrase, I didn’t understand it, but over time I came to realize it was perfect. Our minds and souls contain volumes inscribed by our experiences and emotions; each individual’s consciousness is a collection of memories we’ve cataloged and stored inside us, a private library of a life lived.

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

.“librarians should “read as a drunkard drinks or as a bird sings or a cat sleeps or a dog responds to an invitation to go walking, not from conscience or training, but because they’d rather do it than anything else in the world.”

 

 

Copyright © 2007-2021. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Red Pill

Thoughts by Hari Kunzru, Knopf 2020, 305 pages

Challenge: TOB

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit

Type/Source: Hardcover/Indie bookstore – signed by the author!

What It’s About: A writer suffering from ennui accepts a 6 months sabbatical in Germany to focus on his next project. He finds himself unable to defend his views and ideas; ultimately his sense of identity begins to crumble. Against more powerful and sinister philosophers (and egos) that come onto his path and also attempting to make a friend who provides warnings of a possible future based on a recent past, he both grasps at diversions and falls into inertia and paranoia. It’s a wild ride in his mind.

Thoughts: I was NOT in the mood for this – or what I *thought* this was. I’m not even sure what I wrote above is accurate. Let’s look at the last sentence on the book jacket:

Red Pill is a poignant reckoning, boldly searching for order in a world that frames madness as truth.

So when this book advanced from the Play-In round and was discussed by much more discerning and eloquent thinkers than me, I decided to keep on and give it room to breathe, rather than rush through to get it done. I liked it, I got into it. I let it lead me on through the angst. The East German surveillance state chapter was terrifying. I am glad to have read it.

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

… the whole point of Red Pill was the narrator’s inability to wrestle Anton’s authoritarian bloodlust to the ground and best it. (Quote from TOB Commentariat member @KROConnellNYC)

 

 

Copyright © 2007-2021. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Resisters

Thoughts by Gish Jen, Knopf 2021 (orig 2020), 305 pages

Challenge: TOB

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit, Dystopia, Baseball, YA?

Type/Source: Tradeback/Indie bookstore

What It’s About: A former college professor and his public aid attorney wife have a baby girl who turns out is a baseball prodigy. They live on ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ in this dystopian former United States that have separated people into two groups of have and have not: the “Netted” and the “Surplus”; the land-dwellers and the swamp or boat people.

The narrator is the father, a tinkerer and baseball coach – not because he knows and loves baseball, but to nurture the gifts that his daughter obviously has and wants to develop. His lawyer wife takes on cases against the government proving that actions of the ‘system’ are detrimental to the Surplus population and violation of “FREEDOM”. The Surplus freedom is limited, let’s say. They are constantly under surveillance, receive no educational opportunities, yet are expected to be grateful because they get housing and free food. But is the food tainted?

Daughter grows up, is recruited to join the Netted’s baseball team, is just about as perfect and lovable and talented as she can be – and I loved it!

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I think it was the tone; rather upbeat for a family that is abused more than most for their efforts to “fight the man”. I loved the family dynamic. I loved Grant’s mother’s little pithy sayings. (Grant is the father/narrator), I loved Gwen being so badass and trusting and nice and still a badass. Her mother, too. She was all business yet had a big heart.

I’ve read that some thought this heavy-handed and the characters flat. But I loved it. Very readable, laugh out loud funny sometimes, drama and excitement – especially if you love baseball. Also, I do want to say, that I think the reader who is not a fan of sports could still find much to enjoy in this. I also want to suggest that if you are a reader who sees words, then the audiobook may not be your best avenue. I needed to SEE the words; Ondi and Auntie sound too much alike and the portmanteau words that describe much of “AutoAmerica” (Automatic America) just didn’t register until I saw the letters.

Rating: Five slices of pie. OH! This book has pie!!! LOTS of pie. I hope Instagrammer Pie and Book Phenom @PieLadyBooks reads this one because I would love to see what she would create.

But later she said that she pictured Eleanor sitting at that big table with the apple pie untouched in front of her, and everything came together.”

and why doesn’t my end quote copyright show up in the tiny print I want??

Copyright © 2007-2021. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Tender is the Flesh

Thoughts by Augustina Bazterrica, Scribner 2020, 211 pages

Translated from the Spanish by Sarah Moses

Challenge: TOB

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit, South American Lit, Dystopia, Cannabalism

Type/Source: Tradeback/Indie bookstore

What It’s About: What does cannibalism look like? This book offers imagery and description, a generation after the Transition.

Our protagonist Marcos is skilled at what he does – problem solve. But he hates his job, hates his life, hates the world. He has suffered personal loss – his son has died of what I assume was SIDS, his wife has left — taken her grief home to her mother, his father suffers from dementia in a nursing home. Marcos must work to afford his father’s care and protection.

His job is right hand man to the chief of one of the best of the “special” meat processing plants – humans bred and slaughtered specifically to be a food source. The book explores the language, the conspiracy theories, the adjustment of society to the eradication of diseased animals (or so says the government) to embracing the new protein delicacies, the fear of birds, the need for Scavengers to be a balancing cog in the food chain. It’s all quite revolting.

Thoughts: The author skillfully brings the reader into a sympathy with Marcos; we share his disgust and feelings of being trapped. Will he, can he escape?

Rating: Three slices of pie. Four possibly for story-build but … I just can’t say I enjoyed this one. No pie mentioned.

SO. Possible Spoilers? The other night, we watched an episode of The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, Beyond the Pale, and I reflected on what happens at the end of this book in relation to that story; of a soldier in England who sends for his English wife who cannot have children of her own. The social and cultural entanglements and justifications, surrogate motherhood, acceptance and scandal, bias and deep-seated beliefs concerning classism and race. That’s all, just got me thinking.

and why doesn’t my end quote copyright show up in the tiny print I want??

The Down Days

Thoughts by Ilze Hugo, 2020, 368 pages

Challenge: TOB

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit, South African Lit, Pandemic Dystopia

Type/Source: eBook/Kindle (on sale)

What It’s About: Based on a what-if expounded from a true tale of a unique contagion, this story follows a ragtag group of characters through parallel search and rescues, backdropped against growing angst and society mayhem.

The virus’ main symptom is laughter. Yes, you die from laughing. Thus, laughter is outlawed and comedy clubs are driven underground. This may sound flippant and I don’t mean to be – I think the author did a fabulous job balancing the ridiculous with the sensitivity of this being a deathly disease. She had a deft touch in style and tone. The more I try to describe what I liked about this book, the more I appreciate it.

I was immediately captured by the characters and was instantly rooting for them. Well most of them; I’m not on team-Piper but she comes around, too. Dare I say that this is “fun pandemic adventure?” Sure, people are dying and the government is attempting super control what with scheduled medical check stations around town and requiring a medpass. I enjoyed the mystery and the capers, the race against time, the icky ooey descriptions and especially the words that were explained in the glossary.

Rating: Four slices of pie:

He’s also got fingers in other pies, not always steak and kidney.

and why doesn’t my end quote copyright show up in the tiny print I want??

who to create space?

June 2020 Mini-Reviews of Books and Pie

Thoughts

I read Drawing Down the Moon by Shawn Keller Cooper for an online book club and it was OK. About 3 sorority sisters who meet have 20+ years who failed to keep up with each other, hashed out a few misunderstandings from college, got caught up and supported each other once again. Setup for sequels, for sure. Mostly a reminder that we ladies need our women friends. It was OK. It mentioned pie!

A light pale yellow like the inside of a coconut cream pie.

I was recommended to read Summer of a Thousand Pies; a middle school story of family, new connections AND PIE! and it was terrific. What I didn’t like is that I had to download a unique reading app (Glose?!) to get it read; involving sign up of accounts and new passwords, annoying, time-consuming. Ugh.

So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Read it. (I listened to it but want to reference the print version.) Do I want to talk about race? It’s uncomfortable, it’s scary, I know I have bias and it is troublesome. I usually do NOT want to talk about it and I want to be prepared when I do.

I’ve got less than an hour on my audiobook from the library, How Not To Get Shot And Other Advice From White People and I’m learning more than I expected and reinforcing what I do already know and appreciate. Honestly didn’t realize who the author is — D.L.Hughley — and it was interesting to dissect my own reaction to my own question, “why did I choose this?” Why not?  I think that is why I got it. Because I wanted variety and views from all spectrums. (And it was available first.) I recommend.  And he mentions pie!

A Thousand Mornings is my latest poetry selection that I completed. I admit, I had high expectations and she might have suffered for that. Very good, but not as good as I wanted? No pie.

But how weird that almost half of the books I read this month had THOUSAND in the title?

June means Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!

June 9 actually is Strawberry Rhubarb Pie! Day but the restaurant we went to for dinner was not with the program, apparently. So I had to settle for this amazing Banana Cream Pie:

Get ready for July Pie! We will see a few pie holidays, beginning with Pecan Pie Day on July 12. The Pi Approximation for us math geeks is 22 July and Pie & Beer Day is July 24th.

 

pieratingsml

 

Copyright © 2007-2020. Care’s Online Book Club aka Care’s Books and Pie. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club aka BkClubCare.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Poetry 2020 Edition 3

Poetry Goal 2020:  to read a poem* every day.

 

Collection #5 by Ted Kooser, Copper Canyon Press 2004, 87 pages

SATISFIES the Ampersand Category of What’s in a Name Challenge.

Mother

. . .

You asked me if I would be sad when it happened

and I am sad. But the iris I moved from your house
now hold in the dusty dry fists of their roots
green knives and forks as if waiting for dinner,
as if spring were a feast. I thank you for that.

+ .  .  .

Memory is another poem that I wanted to share but it is longer than appropriate for a post, and yes! it features pie but I couldn’t get that portion to be meaningful without also sharing every stanza.

Basic and powerful, simple images yet evocative of place and time. With “three kinds of pie”!

I hinted for this to be a lovely gift to me to those who might be so inclined to need a suggestion.

Rating: FIVE SLICER


Collection #6 by Susana Gardner, Black Radish Books 2011, 115 pages

untitled?

perhaps there is only gray  in what we

must name experience — in what we

site as meaning or wayward curiology —

yet before this time I only saw  black

as black or   white   as white   though

gray might certainly and often overtake

me — much more often was caught on

the edge of what is so easily nicked —

.  .  .

mere lapsed

feathery happenstance

 

 

 

*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.

pierating

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.