Tuesday, March 31, 2009

City of Glass, Cassandra Clare

I finished the conclusion to this trilogy this morning. All 3 of these books were relaxing and fun to read. Even though I often describe books as being Twilight-esque, I mean it more than ever with this series. I was happy with the ending and sad that there won't be more to read about Clary & Jace. I am also feeling ready to read something not written for the YA market or fantasy market.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr

I read a review of Wicked Lovely on the Bookshelves of Doom blog. This is the part of her review that made me know I would really like this book:

"Wicked Lovely beat the pants off Twilight*. I don't think that all Twilight fans will necessarily agree with that -- Wicked Lovely is much darker and it's very gritty. There are no sparkly vampires here. (Keenan, as the Summer King, sometimes does glow, but even that is kind of scary.) I personally liked it a bazillion times more.

Aislinn is tough and determined and smart and yes, scared, but she's also capable. She's able to make decisions. She's protective of her friends. She's not a waffler. She doesn't expect other people to protect her. She's all of the things that Bella is not.

Her best friend, Seth, is... I described him to a patron yesterday by flapping my hands around a lot and saying, "He made my stomach all squishy!" So, yeah. He's a dreamboat. A pierced, black-nail-polish-wearing, tea-drinking dreamboat. But, unlike stupid Edward, he doesn't treat Aislinn like a child. He's protective without being overbearing, and he doesn't try to make her decisions for her. AND HE LIVES IN A TRAIN. How hot is that**?"

*And I loved Twilight. Not the later installments, but the first one.

**I CANNOT believe I just typed that sentence. How embarrassing. Well, I'm leaving it in. And I'm not talking about sleeping on a pile of straw in the corner of a train car, either. He owns it, and it's been converted into a real, livable place -- with electricity and everything. Sah-woon.

The review did not lead to disappointment. I cared so much about Aislinn and Seth and could not stop reading (and worrying) to know what would happen to them. I cannot describe Seth better than Bookshelves of Doom did. I wholeheartedly agree with her! I am so excited to read the next two in this series.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Loaded Potato: Yet More Frankie Landau-Banks

One of my favorite lines in this book was describing Frankie's transformation from "a homely child into a loaded potato" so I thought this was pretty funny to come across on E. Lockhart's blog:

"About a year ago, at the NCTE conference 2006, a bunch of YA authors including Coe Booth, Julie Ann Peters, David Levithan, Jordan Sonnenblick, Gail Giles and I don't even know who all else -- we had lunch at a very big table. And on the menu was a loaded potato.
Actually, it was loaded potato SOUP.
What is a loaded potato? we wondered.

We were in the south. But we were not southerners.

We learned that a loaded potato is a baked potato with lots of cheese, bacon, sour cream etc. on it, and we began to think of all the other MEANINGS the phrase "loaded potato" might have. And we pledged to all put the word "loaded potato" into our next books.

I don't know if any of them did it -- but I did. And my loaded potato book is The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which comes out in March. If any of you spot loaded potatoes as this coming season's books hit the stands, email me so I can tell the world!"

City of Ashes, Cassandra Clare

Cassandra Clare has completely tapped into the "Stephenie Meyeresque-can't-exactly-identify-what-it-is-but-it's-hypnotic" quality of writing. I know as I am reading it that it is silly but I can't stop reading. The books are really long but you can finish them in a few hours. You feel a compulsion to keep reading. And then as soon as you finish one to immediately go to the store and buy the next one. When I purchased City of Ashes this weekend I told myself there was no way I would buy the last book in the series because it was just released and is only available in hardback and that it would just be wrong to pay hardback prices for this series. But now I'm done and I just want to keep reading. So I know what I'll be shopping for tomorrow morning. At least it's Spring Break and I can read without feeling guilty.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

City of Bones, Cassandra Clare

This book was recommended by Stephenie Meyer on her website. I enjoyed it and plan to read the next in the series. It is an entertaining, good to read when you're tired kind of book. It's also pretty silly. More silly in fact than Twilight. This is being posted in the whole "keeping an honest record of every book I read in 2009" thing. Also the book covers in this trilogy are incredibly embarrassing and shiny. I like the shiny part just not the giant torsos so much.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

I feel pretty neutral about this one. If it had been much longer I don't think I would have kept reading. Part of that it is that i just don't relate much to edgy, punk rock, foul mouthed teens.... but I did enjoy the following:

"Hi. I'm Thom. With an h"
I tell him, "I'm Gnorah. With a g. The g is silent. Like gnome."
"Really?" Thom says. (p.35)

And how could I not appreciate the My So-Called Life references like this one:

If Caroline were here, we could dissect Nick via My So-Called Life script/Jordan Catalano moments.

I think part of him is partly interested in you. Definitely. I mean, he's got
other things on his mind.

But that's the part that's so unfair. I have nothing else on my mind. How come
I have to be the one sitting around analyzing him in microscopic detail, and
he gets to be the one with other things on his mind.

That is deep (p.149-150)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Boy Book, E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart is officially my favorite YA author. I loved reading this next Ruby Oliver book and can't wait to read the next two books in the series (I don't think they're out yet). Ruby continues to entertain...

"I like to swim," I said. "And read. And watch movies. But can you imagine a catalog description for that? 'Exploring the Shallow Life: Students will enjoy a double feature of Love Actually and Bridget Jone's Diary, wallowing in the hotness of Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, followed by thrift-store shopping, intensive reading of mystery novels, and a dip in the pool. Evenings will be spent consuming Popsicles and experimenting with cosmetics.'" (p.72)

I wholeheartedly endorse the above activities; just substitute used book store shopping for thrift store shopping.

I also relate to feeling like this about boys:

"Jackson was there in my mind, all the time. Like a tumor." (p.81)

And finally I find myself saying things like this a little too often:

"If this were a movie of my life, I would go on for a couple of weeks in a state of dejection,"

.... followed by the appropriate happy ending.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Boyfriend List., E. Lockhart

Since I loved E. Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks so much I wanted to give some of her other books a try. The Boyfriend List didn't disappoint. I have a hard time imagining enjoying one of her books more than Frankie but this was a very well written, interesting, believable story. One thing I really like about the narrator, Ruby Oliver, is that she sounds like a smart teenage girl not like a smart 25 year old or even a smart 40 year old which you sometimes run into in young adult titles.

I so relate to Ruby's feelings on this note: "So I was keeping quiet about the whole horror that is my life..." (p.5) Sometimes I feel like that is the story of my life as well. Constantly pretending to be a happy, enthusiastic, idealistic teacher who wants nothing more than to spend my days elbow deep in paint, glitter, and snot while singing "The More We Get Together" (although I shouldn't lie I do like to sing repetitive songs). Sometimes I really do like my job but a lot of the time I am just tired and trying to keep my fake smile looking like a real one while pretending that everything is just fine.

Ruby's parents are some of my favorite characters. It is so easy to picture her dad spouting things like this off, "I think that it's important to come to a loving place when people are unkind. I want Roo to see that people act badly out of pain." (p.29) with her angry perfomance artist mother of the one woman show, "Elaine Oliver! Feel the Noise!", threatening to call the mean boy's mother. I love the mom's justification, "If I didn't carry around fury I wouldn't have a career. People pay to come see me have fury. It's productive. It's cathartic." (p.30)

And I also completely relate to this description of Ruby's friend Kim,

"Kim has this quality. It's a great quality- until it's turned against you. She's quiet, she doesn't rock the boat. But if you really make her mad, she goes nuts. It's like she spends all this time being a good person, holding up ideals, getting good grades and being nice- and then when someone else fails to live up to her standards, she goes on a rampage." (p.25)

I am totally Kim when someone is mean or threatening to anyone I feel protective of... I've always been that way and fortunately my crazy anger doesn't surface too often.

Ruby's story definitely ends leaving you wanting more... I'm anxious to pick up the sequel.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

French Milk, Lucy Knisley

I want to be in Paris! Over the past 15 years (how is it possible that I am this old?) I have schemed various plans to get there, all of which have resulted in nothing. 15 years ago I was a 6th grader in Madame Costa's Beginning French course happily memorizing verbs and sure that I would be landing at Charles de Gaulle some upcoming summer or at the very latest on a study abroad program during college. When that didn't happen I planned to just go on a vacation like normal adults with jobs do... but it always seemed like so much money to spend when I might be quitting my job in aggravation, going to grad school, getting a pink slip, or running away to join the circus to escape an army of small germy children....

I've spent the last few years imagining the possibilties of teaching English in the French school system or teaching at an American school in France... I'm still not sure what to do. The longer this goes on the more France, and Paris in particular, becomes this mythical place where everything is beautiful, delicious, and somehow could infuse my whole life with its perfection. As long as I don't actually travel to Paris I can keep up this fantasy.

With this background I am always drawn to books about Americans in Paris. Lucy Knisley's graphic travelogue, French Milk, made me so, so jealous. It's a journal of 6 week trip to Paris taken with her mother full of art, food, and touristing. As I was reading I couldn't stop wanting to know the details of this trip- how on earth did she swing this? .... money, jobs, school, etc
What I really want to know is how can I make this happen in my life?

I love Lucy Knisley's illustrations! This interview has images from the book. I especially like the one with Lucy being comforted by her mother, "This is just what happens in your 20's. Sometimes it's just like this." Since I'm still in my 20's (just the opposite end from Lucy) I'll take that advice as well. I don't know what I'm going to do but someday I'll get to Paris. At the moment I'm stuck with my indecision about life but sometimes it is just like that.

Lucy Knisley's livejournal

Chapbook Entry : Sixpence in Her Shoe

p. 2
...into the hands of women life has dropped its most significant duties.

On us rests the burden (and the glory) of seeing to it that... a light shines in the window after dark and there is refreshment for body and spirit waiting at the day's end.

But what, I wonder, has persuaded her that her husband's job took anything less than him?

It is nerve racking to have to answer the thousand questions of young children. It is more than nerve racking, it is often ulcer producing, to soothe the ruffled feathers of a whimsical employer.

...been taught the dignity of work

[a liberal arts education] is a true and precious stone which can glow just as handsomely on a kitchen table as when it is put on exhibition in a jeweler's window or bartered for bread and butter. Learning is a boon, a personal good. It is a light in the mind, a pleasure for the spirit, an object to be enjoyed. It is refreshment, warmth, illumination, a window from which we get a view of the world. To what barbarian plane are we descending when we demand that it serve only the economy?

see long passage beginning "Surely the ability to enjoy Heine's exquisite melancholy in the original German..."

The whole duty of a wife is to bolster her husband's self-esteem [and vice-versa]

Never grant a favor grudgingly. If you are going to grant it anyway, do it wholeheartedly. Otherwise it's not a favor.

Praise is better than wheat germ for even the least vain of men, and every wife ought to keep a supply in her pocket ready to scatter like manna

What most barbarously frays the martial rope is two natures pulling two opposite ways

winning the last word is a dubious victory

For why should I bother advising any young wife about feeding her man on a diet of pure affection? It is true that husbands, like babies and other people, thrive on love and wither without it. It is the best life preserving medicine in existence. But any woman who can't figure that out for herself will never learn it anyhow.

More on The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

I thought this March Madness Tournament of Books commentary was interesting with one of my favorite young adult titles this year discussed:

Shadow Country vs. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
"To be fair, E. Lockhart does have some interesting things to say about the empowerment of young girls. (Or at least the empowerment of young girls operating inside the waspy insularity of savagely exclusive East Coast prep academies.) She has undeniably sharp insights into boarding school psychology, and renders the shrill, all-consuming concerns of a kid grappling with social status in bright, witty sentences."

Commentary on the match up

"But I’m going to say that I enjoyed the hell out of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. (Is it inappropriate to enjoy the hell out of a YA book?) I’m going to give it to my own kids when they’re older. I’m going to buy it for my nieces and nephews. It’s a terrific novel, and it’s actually kind of about something—self-respect and identity and gender and empowerment—that’s probably as important to teenagers as whatever Shadow Country is about is supposed to be to me."

"I think E. Lockhart deserves more credit for the depth of ideas in Disreputable History than Doerr gives her. Yes, we are in the fairly rarefied territory of the elite prep school, but the exploration of identity and self, particularly as it’s developed in young women struck me as nuanced and plenty deep.

I laughed many times. I eagerly turned the pages toward the end. Plus, any book that name-checks Foucault and has a running metaphor on the Panopticon isn’t spending all its time in the shallow end."

More thoughts at A Chair, A Fireplace, & a Tea Cozy

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Travelling Horn Player, Barbara Trapido

I have a long standing affection for Barbara Trapido's first novel, Brother of the More Famous Jack. It is endlessly quotable, full of funny moments & literary allusions, and several characters get to have a happy ending which I appreciate. I saw this and thought I would have similar feelings for The Travelling Horn Player... I was so wrong.

The Travelling Horn Player was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize and it starts out promisingly. The chapters are each told from a different character's point of view and everything revolves around the accidental death of a young student, Lydia Dent. Everyone is in some way connected back to Lydia. The first chapter is told from Lydia's sister's point of view. Their father dubbed them "gigglers one and two" and treated them like "two halves of the same pantomime horse". The chapter is sad and sweet and believable.

My problems with this book are not with Trapido's writing. She is consistently funny, smart, and entertaining. My problem is with her plot. I just don't buy it in this book.

She lost me as the second chapter opened describing a famous novelist- all of a sudden I realized that the famous novelist is the same (formerly) struggling young writer who was last seen having a happy in love ending with the main character from Brother of the More Famous Jack. I don't like books that don't advertise themselves as sequels revisiting perfectly happy characters and taking them from their "Rosie O'Grady lifestyle" pg. 44 into an amoral-midlife-crisis- casual-adultery territory. It made me mad to see the happy ending of the earlier book cheapened by this book.

I'm not going to list the rest of my grievances with this book: I have plenty. The main one being that I just don't think it is realistic; especially the plot line with Stella and what she does on the last pages of the book. It is seriously lame is all I will say.

Chapbook: all these entries are from the first (& best) chapter when I still thought I was reading a good book...

"I ask no flower,
I ask no star;
I am no gardener
And the stars are too high"

Die sterne stehn zu hoch

-Wilhelm Muller

pg. 3 vergissmeinnicht

pg. 6 Lydia's letter

pg. 8 making the cake for "the novelist"

pg. 9
"Pitted with holes the size of sixpence"
"It must have given the vicar fair gyp"

pg. 10
"This book is NOT literature"

pg. 17
serving suggestions

pg. 25
"a frenzy of specialist consumer activity"

pg. 39
"She was a person who had experienced amputation"

"Dover Beach"
Heart of Darkness
"For I Love Sweet Rosie O'Grady, and Rosie O'Grady loves me."
song at the end of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Lolita deepens our well of compassion and sympathy..."

"Lolita deepens our well of compassion and sympathy, whether we like it or not. The predator is caught, but first Nabokov's novel charms and badgers, irritates and delights us into seeing the world through the eyes of the perp. [A] near-miraculous feat."
-Francine Prose writing in Lapham's Quarterly

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Need, Carrie Jones

I have sunk to a new low in book recommendations. I saw multiple 1 star reviews for this on amazon referring to it as a cheap Twilight knockoff substituting evil pixies for the vampires and my first thought was that I needed to get my hands on a copy immediately.

The plot really is incredibly Twilight-esque. It features an independent dark haired heroine sent to live in a cold remote northern town where she is left to her own devices too often; everyone in the small town knows her name and life story on her first day of school, there's a mysterious stranger staring at her, there's even a beefy werewolf who heals incredibly fast & is always running a fever who wants to keep her safe and far away from the other supernatural beings who want to hurt her....

The main difference to me is that the heroine, I'll just call her Bella, is a Code Pink/moral relativist/Amnesty International/every other liberal cause & cliche cheerleader. That is all. But it was still entertaining and a satisfying bathtub read.

I did appreciate this bit about libraries though:
"There is something about libraries, old libraries, that makes them seem almost sacred. There's a smell of paper and must and binding stuff. It's like all the books are fighting against decay, against turning into dust, and at the same time fighting for attention." pg.93

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, Beth Fantaskey

This book is so much better than I ever imagined possible based on my cover art stereotyping and its location in Barnes and Noble.... it is currently the centerpiece of the Twilight knockoff table near the Books for Goth Girls section.

But I was pleasantly surprised. It's a clever and different twist to the teenage vampire heartthrob genre that it is everywhere currently. It was a perfect book to read in the bathtub after another life-blood draining day teaching first grade.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lolita Links

John Derbyshire, "February Fooled the Forsythia"
"I found myself in a new and very strange imaginative space, like none I had ever visited before, and filled with such wonders and delights that if I experienced any disappointment at not having been titillated, that disappointment was swamped by sheer esthetic pleasure, so much so that I retained no memory of it."

Christopher Hitchens, "Hurricane Lolita"

"But there are other ways in which Lolita is, to annex Nabokov's word, "telescopic." Looking back on it, he cited a critic who "suggested that Lolita was the record of my love affair with the romantic novel," and continued, "The substitution 'English language' for 'romantic novel' would make this elegant formula more correct." That's profoundly true, and constitutes the most strenuous test of the romantic idea that worshipful time will forgive all those who love, and who live by, language."

Stephen Metcalf, "The Disgusting Brilliance of Lolita"

"Its real genius is too easily missed. It lies in what Nabokov called the "nerves of the novel," the "secret points, the subliminal coordinates by means of which the book is plotted." In these, Nabokov has hinted at the life that exceeds the perimeter of Humbert's encompassing obsession—at the inner lives of those others whom he so casually dismisses or destroys. It cost Nabokov, by his own admission, "a month of work" to write one sentence in which Humbert gets his hair cut by a barber who has never stopped mourning his dead son—a fact that scarcely dents Humbert's exquisite consciousness. And one last detail, hidden by Nabokov in the book's sham preface: Mrs. Richard F. Schiller, previously Miss Dolores Haze, aka Lolita, died on Christmas day 1952, giving birth to a stillborn baby girl."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”

How incredibly creepy but what an amazing opening for a novel. If you could take away the fact that you know what Lolita is about before you start reading and imagine Lolita as an adult; perhaps one half of a pair of doomed lovers it would be much easier to just admire the impossible beauty of this language. In fact by the time I came to the end of Lolita I had to admit something I never thought I would: that even though it’s a disgustingly themed book it is most definitely art and beautiful art at that. So Vladimir Nabokov, I guess you are what everyone says you are: an actual artist. Imagine that.

“There are gentle souls who would pronounce Lolita meaningless because it does not teach them anything. I am neither a reader nor a writer of didactic fiction and… Lolita has no moral in tow. For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm.”

-Nabokov in the afterward to Lolita

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fade, Lisa McMann

Even though I’m classifying Lisa McMann’s books as Stephenie Meyer knockoffs and putting them on the “Not My Finest Moment” list, obviously I kept reading. After finishing Wake I checked to see if the library had Fade. No luck. No interlibrary loan option either. So I went out and bought my very own copy (I was in my late night Barnes and Noble “its ok to buy more books” mindset even though it was only 4:00pm).

I can’t be eloquent about these books. I liked this one but not as much as Wake (the Stephenie Meyer comparisons continue: Twilight is so much better than everything that followed it but I still kept reading). Fade had darker themes than Wake but nothing that I hadn’t already seen in a Lifetime television event. Now the only problem is that the 3rd book, Gone, doesn’t come out until Spring 2010…..

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wake, Lisa McMann

It’s hard to read Wake without thinking about Stephenie Meyer. My apologies to Lisa McMann but it really seemed like this story should have been encased in a black shiny cover and be about the size of a phone book. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I was pleasantly surprised by this story and was glad to have found it (I can’t remember where I heard about this one). It’s a quick, easy, suspenseful read written completely in Stephenie Meyer-esque prose. And during report card/pink slip season that’s the kind of book I’m looking for at the end of the day.

Monday, March 9, 2009

How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff

Another book mentioned on MentalMultivitamin (who has yet to lead me astray recommendation wise). This book took me by surprise. I love the blurb on the back cover and it is much more eloquent than I can be:

"That rare, rare thing, a first novel with a sustained, magical and utterly faultless voice. After five pages, I knew she could persuade me to believe anything." -Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I also loved realizing that Meg Rosoff is the author of one of my favorite picture books to read aloud to my students, Meet Wild Boars. It was a very random discovery and made me all the more impressed with her writing to see her versatility.

One of many quotable statements from Daisy, the narrator:

“It would be much easier to tell this story if it were all about a chaste and perfect love between Two Children Against the World at an Extreme Time in History but let’s face it that would be a load of crap.”

I also loved the jacket illustration by Istvan Banyai, especially the back cover which I couldn’t find a picture of online. This is definitely a book to add to the Purchase List.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Silver Kiss, Annette Curtis Klause

I saw this one reviewed on the Reading Rants blog. It was a fun and quick read. It felt more like a short story or novella than a full length novel. Just what I needed after being stuck in The Dud Avocado for a week. This book was suspenseful and I definitely wanted to keep reading and find out what happened but I didn’t get too involved with any of the characters. It has a sad ending; the kind that makes me go “uh…. her life still sucks, what’s that about?” but because I didn’t care that much and the supernatural part of the story was resolved tidily I said “whatever” instead of being irritated and went to sleep.

The Dud Avocado, Elaine Dundy

This took me ages to finish. I was completely prepared to be entertained and I was, at times, by the clever language in the book. The story is full of hilarious one liners but weak on plot. I kept waiting and waiting for something to happen and nothing did. It was just a catalog of Sally Jay’s adventures in the Parisian demimonde sprinkled with moments of hilarity or comments on her desire to really feel alive.

Sally is an aspiring actress and general free spirit who wants to experience life in every possible way. It’s full of descriptions of characters and places in 1950’s Paris. Just when I could hardly keep reading anymore a plot did appear but it was creepy and just reinforced my preconceived notions about why it’s not a good idea to live with no morals and constraints on your behavior (hint: the man you think you are in love with might turn out to be a pimp who steals your passport to trap you). I liked the last 15 pages or so best of all. Sally’s story regains its madcap innocence and almost takes on an Auntie Mame-like quality. She gets her happy ending and it is completely frothy and implausible… which about sums up the book.

Some more quotes to remember:

pg. 53

“Tell me something, tell me exactly how we would live. This isn’t just idle curiosity. It’s difficult to explain, but I just somehow feel that I never really have lived; that I never really will live-exist or whatever- in the sense that other people do. It drives me crazy. I was terribly aware of it all those nights waiting for you in the Ritz bar looking around at what seemed to be real grown-up lives. I just find everybody else’s life surrounded by plate glass. I mean I’d like to break through it just once and actually touch one.”

pg. 55

“I reflected wearily that it was not easy to be a Woman in these stirring times. I said it then and I say it now: it just isn’t our century.”


“Was I fulfilling my childhood dreams? Well I’d certainly stayed out late and eaten what I liked. And I was meeting people I hadn’t been introduced to. That was for sure.”

pg. 105

“I soon realized that one of the most important things to find while working in the theatre was someone to giggle with. To find someone to giggle with I place just below finding someone to flirt with and just above the ability to knit.”

pg. 117

“I am no longer astonished at the lubricity of these old biddies.”

pg. 119

“Faggotry here reaches almost pyrotechnical heights.”

pg. 140

“There’d always seemed to me something so dirty-sweatered and dirndl-skirted about living with a man you’re not married to.”

pg. 149

“I’ve never had such a dazzling effect on anybody, even in my own mind.”


“Hated France when I first got over here. Got on the train at Le Havre and looked out of the window and thought it looked so much like America, I wanted to cry. The scenery flying past, the hills and barns and cows, were just the sort of things you keep coming across through a train window in the States. The Untrained Eye, I told myself, training it enough to see that all the signs were written in French, at the same time letting the untrained nose get its first exotic whiff of garlic from my traveling companions, and the untrained stomach its first attack of French dysentery. But still, these were the only differences. I asked myself finally what did I expect France to look like? No answer.

pg. 160

“Frequently, walking down the streets in Paris alone, I’ve suddenly come upon myself in a store window grinning foolishly away at the thought that no one in the world knew where I was at just that moment.”

top photo from nylonmagazine

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chapbook Entry

I’ve had The Dud Avocado on my To Read list for a long time and am finally getting around to it. How could I not want to read a book with this blurb on the back cover from Groucho Marx:

“I had to tell someone (and it might as well be you since you’re the author) how much I enjoyed The Dud Avocado. It made me laugh, scream, and guffaw (which, incidentally, is a great name for a law firm).”
I haven’t been laughing, screaming, or guffawing yet but I admire Elaine Dundy’s writing. I’ve just been having a hard time getting into the story so far. I am going to keep trying. Meanwhile a few things to remember:


“Why so broody?”

“I am in mourning for my life,” I said, still staring at my shoes, wishing they were black, at least, and wondering if he’d ever read the play. He hadn’t.”

Like Uncle Roger, I’m not so up on my Chekhov but thanks to the internet I’ve now added The Sea Gull to my To Read list. Which is probably a good thing. I’ve never read any Russian plays. And seeing how they are name dropped in certain show tunes that I like to sing it seems like I should give one a try.

pg. 37

“… I was merely a disinterested spectator at the Banquet of Life. The scientist dropping into the zoo at feeding time.”

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Story of a Girl, Sara Zarr

I read this book in 1 hour and if I hadn’t promised myself to record every title I read in 2009 and be honest about it I would not be writing this entry. This book was just bleh. It might be my current state of mind and it also might be the signal to stop my teenage themed book-a-thon but I just have nothing to say on this one. All the blurbs tell me it’s acclaimed but I just don’t feel the need to write, think, talk, or read about this book ever again. So read it if you want to think about a sad family, misunderstood teenagers with sad back stories, and general sadness…followed up by more sadness.

Blog Template by YummyLolly.com