Thursday, September 29, 2011

American Pastoral: Written by Philip Roth

Well... I faced another challenge with this book. At times I found myself so appalled so drawn in, and then so bored... This book won the Pulitzer Prize. I can completely understand why. It is a very in your face this is life type of book. It is not a work of ghosts, zombies, magic, or anything really supernatural just the American spirit in its basic, beautiful, and horrendous form. One of the reviews given was by the San Francisco Chronicle they said "At once expansive and painstakingly detailed....(I agree with the painstakingly detailed line.) The pages of American Pastoral crackle with the electricity and zest of a first rate mind at work." Really I found the author to just keep going with his thoughts just words after words after words... I became so bored with his explanations and descriptions that I longed for Stephen Kings long drawn out explanations. I did not feel these long run on sentences in both thought and voice helped the plot or story at all. If anything it kind of withered the impact his tale was making. The main character is a real tragedy the book shows that bad things just happen to good people and vice versa. At first I found myself falling in love with this book, and its first narrator. Then I found myself confused as it seemed like a lot of this was imagined and then no.. it was actually the plot happening. Even at the end the main character thinks something profound has happened, well it did, but not in the way he pictured it. Some of the scenes in the book, okay a lot got me thinking and by the end I really did not like any of these main characters they just became more gruesome and beat down as the years went on. I found myself wishing I could just smack every one of them across the back of the head and go "Snap out of it!" There is a character that does this in the book, but even he has his own huge issues to obviously deal with. Overall I am not a huge fan of this book I can see the message and the acute detail the author weaves his tale with, but overall I was not a big fan at all. I sure talked about the book though with my husband, and it even made me wonder "can anyone raise a decent family, or live a decent life?" Or do the fates just keep weaving their webs in like ancient cultures and keep moving our strings for the worlds amusement?" I will not say don't read this book, but if you can really buckle down and handle loooooong I mean it long rambles. Then by all means there are some original aspects to this book that travel throughout the years in a such a way. Especially if you are from NJ.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Heartwishes written by: Jude Deveraux

Well lovely readers, this was fast. I must say after having read so many real,  raw, and quite shocking books. My mind needed a break so I ran out in search of a book that would teach me nothing and not overly have an impact on my thinking concerning life and the human condition. Well, I found all that in Heartwishes. I had trouble finding such a book so many titles and descriptions are “shocking! Unique! Deadly! A life changing experience!” Okay, maybe not that bad, but a lot were very similar in their themes and seriousness, and I was searching for escapism. Heartwishes is not a romance novel in the traditional sense, but it was a love story none the less. Though the author I felt focused on certain things more and didn’t really give a lot of detail or enough dialogue to certain events. Whole stories about other people were going on that only had a passing mention. Never the less I could see the world she created in any small town, and throughout the book thinking.. “I could live in a small town where people know one another, and settle down.” It reminded me of the Peach Keeper which I read over the summer in how quaint and lovable everyone was. I almost found myself going okay when is the shoe going to drop in this book? I mean c’mon they all get along! Maybe some gruesome serial killer will come and ruin it all until the brave men or crafty women of the town can combat this evil But, no it was a story a simple one time story that I found myself laughing at, smiling, and even groaning because I know people who are so like these characters. I must mention one particular scene where a certain Mother in the book demands she be given a shot of tequila not one but two! Then her husband joins in and they continue drinking their wine. They remain pleasant, but that shot takes all the edge off in their life. Which, in my life I have to say I can totally see happening with a certain special lady I know. Overall this book was good, some scenes could have been longer and some shorter, but the way the author bringing the past and present together and the love the main characters have for their certain someone’s/passions is very refreshing. I feel good about the world once more. So what does this mean? It was a happy pill, in a book, which quite frankly sometimes we all just need.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

House of Leaves By: Mark z. Danielewski

My apologies for taking so long to write another book review. I have just come back from a journey that has at times made me feel terrified, paranoid, anxious, and even caused me a person who can sleep anytime, anywhere, in any state sleepless for quite a few nights. All of this was caused by the very thing that I have come to love. A book. Never before has a book so captured, confused, and just plain scared the hell out of me. I read the inside cover of this book before reading it and thought. Huh, that sounds unique. Okay… then I read the opening, and looked at a few of the pictures before the book begins. Odd, but okay….then it just went downhill from there. I am not scared of the dark most of the times, put me in a scary basement or in a middle of nowhere forgotten ghost town, or dark corridor in an abandoned mental hospital (don’t ask) then yes I am going to be a little (a lot) afraid. The house I am currently living in I was afraid of when we first moved in, it was bigger than I was used to, and so empty! Had I read this book when we had first moved into our house… I don’t think I would have survived. I admit I have an overactive imagination, but this book just got to me. It just sucked you in, and by doing so sucked the light around you in. I felt sunny days growing darker and ever darker every time I opened this book. Then I would find myself dazing out reading the book, trying to re-read sentences and foot notes. The book is like a text book, I had to double check a few times to make sure I hadn’t picked up some English text for college. Then, one night I could not sleep I woke up in a cold sweat, I felt like the walls were darkening growing smaller. I saw the book on my dresser and went… ok. Am I going mad like so many mentioned in that book? I had to prevent myself from calling my friend who had loaned me this book from asking if they had personally finished this book, or if they had bought it and never finished, or read it? I didn’t, and luckily the next day I learned my husband’s co-worker had in fact read the very book I was talking about, and well he was still sane. So I kept reading. I found myself wanting to watch happy sunny movies during night, and trying to not read this book at night or in my House. In case somehow the words would wind some eerie spell around my own home. The book itself is so distorting where you can usually find a character or general theme to latch onto while reading and following those certain threads, this book there was no set thread to follow because each person’s story led to pure bedlam and a not so happy story. I cannot give much away about this tale because discovering what is going on is more than half the fun. I read quite a few pages twice and flipped through a lot even researched some of what they were talking about to get a better understanding. Needless to say it was a very long and again DARK journey. I will say this book was fascinating, I kept seeing it in the real world pieces lurking here and there and kept mentioning it to friends. My friend who gave me the book told me to have a flashlight I made sure my phone was charged and I had my little light. The book I am speaking of is Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. I really did enjoy the story and it really was an oddity and an incredibly long story. I am not sure I understood what happened at the very end of one of the characters tales, Johnny, but I do know he was disturbing and horrific in his tales, but in such a way I really liked them. As for the rest of the characters you will just have to read. I don’t think I would ever read this book again, I think the first time is what really sucks you in after you survive I think it’s like a roller coaster it’s never going to be nearly as scary as that first drop and upside down turn. So, I hope you check this book out and read every page I mean every page.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Barell Fever By David Sedaris Stories and Essays

Okay, now, here is a book that I had to push through and yet at the same time it was the same as (forgive the waaaay overused comparison) some horrific accident and I just could not look away. The book itself is not a story, but rather a bunch of short stories and essays. The stories themselves at times I found myself shaking in fear, disgust, and utter disbelief. Mostly because I found myself thinking.. No way, that would never happen, and then pausing to say well… looking at the news and internet news a lot of similar stories I could totally see happening. I’m not sure what David Sedaris was trying to tell the world when he wrote this book, but the critics on the book say he “finds humor in the blackest of scenarios.”  “shrewd, wickedly funny… one of America’s most prickly, and most delicious, young comic talents.” I wonder if I just have the wrong sense of humor to understand the humor in this book. I really don’t fine the stories funny, rather I found myself trying to laugh instead of bursting out in horrified tears at a few of these short stories and what goes through these characters minds as each reveals their tale. I will say the author really, I mean really knew how to make his tale as graphic and real in such a short amount of pages. The internal voices of the characters painted a picture of cheap plastic America, rotted linoleum floors, greenish yellow skin, dirty finger nails, burnt out apartment buildings, desolate oil streaked garages, packed overflowing oil stained garages…and he did not use these descriptions, but just reading and seeing what his characters went through and what they were doing I just saw these images. The tales themselves could become full length real life movies, or be some poor slobs lot in life. Really, this book was like the classic Aristocrat joke without the punch line at the end… was it for me? Not really, would I read it again? Probably not, could I not stop telling my husband about the stories? No, I just had to share the stories because they were just so.. physically existing.