Saturday, July 30, 2011

A short novel about a difficult situation.

Blindness by Henry Green is one of those literary books. You know the ones. It is really well written and deals with an interesting topic - but it isn't a page turner or anything. This book is about a young man who was blinded on his way home from boarding school and how he and his family members deal with the situation. While it wasn't a gripping story, I thought it was really well written.

The book did get kind of slow, especially in the middle part, where it was kind of like, oh dear, now I am blind, whatever am I going to do? But I felt like the last third of the book or so got more interesting. I particularly liked how intricate and developed the relationships were between the family members.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Books 91-100

Here are the next 10 books on the list.

91. Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates (2000)
92. Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker (1984)
93. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (1970)
94. Blue of Noon by Georges Bataille (1957)
95. The Body Artist by Don DeLillo (2001)
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (1987)
97. Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan (1954)
98. The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow (1971)
99. The Book of Evidence by John Banville (1989)
100. The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster (2002)

I LOVE Bonfire of the Vanities. I've read it several times and I can't wait to read that one again! Some of these others look really good, too!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Loved the book. The main character? Not so much.

The Blind Assassin is a phenomenal book. The characters and the whole story are just so interesting, I couldn't put this book down. I really like Margaret Atwood's writing.

You know what I really didn't like, though? The main character in this book. As I was reading it, Iris mildly annoyed me. I felt like she wasn't standing up for herself and her family and allowing herself to be led along because that was what was easiest for her. However, once I saw how everything turned out at the end, I got really mad at Iris. I think she screwed her family over, both her sister as well as her daughter and granddaughter, for pretty much no reason.

I think Atwood's a fantastic writer and I am sure that she intended for her readers to feel this way about Iris. It was a really interesting experience to read a story that I was really interested in - even though the main character was making me angry!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Where's the rest of the story?

I asked myself that question as I finished Blind Man With a Pistol. This detective story had no resolution. You don't find out who the killer was. Instead, more killings take place in the last chapter.

The unresolved nature of the story is difficult for me to like. It reminded me of the game where one person starts a story, then another person picks it up from there, and so on. Fun, but not how I like my novels. This book is set in Harlem and it is one of those books where the author's goal is not necessarily to tell a story but get a message across. The message about the struggle the residents of the book face came through very clearly. I just would rather read a story, thanks.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Not a good bedtime story.

You know when you are so thoroughly freaked out by something that every little noise in the night wakes you up and you are freaked out that the BOOGEYMAN is going to come in your room and GET YOU that very night? Yes, that was me last night. And yes, I am 32 and stuff still scares the crap out of me. I'm a big scaredy-cat.

What was freaking me out so much last night, you ask? Well, I finished The Black Dahlia last night before I went to bed. This book was so good, so absorbing, that I couldn't put it down and I was reading it at pretty much every available second. This book is very violent and disturbing, dealing with a LA cop's search for the killer of a young woman dubbed "The Black Dahlia" in 1947. (According to Wikipedia, the murder is still unsolved.) The murder itself was horrific and, in addition to that, the whole book is just really gritty and violent. It even scared me more than American Psycho because it is based on a true event and there wasn't the "oh, phew" ending.

Don't get me wrong though. I really, really thought this was an excellent book and I enjoyed reading it very much. Just not great bedtime reading for a scaredy-cat like me!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

By and by, I got to reading Huckleberry Finn

I actually got to listening Huckleberry Finn as I drove to and from my class in Northampton and to and from work. Like Emily, I never had to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in high school or college, and I don't know why. Well by and by, I got to it. I am so glad I finally did-- what a fun story! It was a really good book to listen to because the reader had the dialect and voices down perfect. I think if I physically had to read all the dialect bits with "We would learn Jim how to write on the shirt" instead of "We would teach Jim to write on the shirt" I might get really irritated. Listening to it made those parts blend in. I found the story really funny, especially how Tom is dead set on making everything so hard in order to be "right" and Huck thinks that's ridiculous. I agree with Emily that everything ties up a little too neatly in the end, but I'm glad Jim was freed.

Regarding Twain's use of the word "nigger"-- 60 Minutes did a brilliant segment earlier this year about a publisher replacing every instance of the word with "slave" instead. I linked to the transcript of the show because I found it really interesting. If I were black, I may feel differently, but I find Twain's usage a sign of the times and to change the text in such a way makes it a shadow of the great story it is.


Monday, July 4, 2011

She's a Bleak...House!

I mentioned last entry that Bleak House was next on my list and that I hadn't enjoyed the Dickens I read in the past. Maybe it is growing up a bit, or maybe it is the setting (being on vacation would put anyone in a good mood), but I was amazed by this book. There were so many interconnected subplots, a detective story, social commentary, all set against the backdrop of this criticism of the English legal system: Jarndyce and Jarndyce, the longest-running Chancery case ever.

I'm sure this book has been analyzed very thoughtfully, better than I ever could, so I won't get into all of that. Just a couple of things struck me. A lot of the themes of this book are still relevant 150 years later, no small feat. However, there are major cultural shifts at work also. The female narrator, Esther, stands out as a culturally ideal woman of her time. She never has a negative word to say and is always happy to do whatever people ask of her. While I like Esther (she is impossible not to like) I am glad that society has developed such that women are valued for their thoughts and opinions as well as their appearance and acquiescence to the ideas of the gentlemen around them.

As I write this, I am watching my husband and daughter play in the pool. The book I thought would be a boring, slow vacation read turned out to be anything but!