Adventures in Reading

More on reviewing the unfinished
November 20, 2008, 11:42 am
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Yesterday I posted an inquiry into people’s opinions on posting reviews, or thoughtful commentary, on why they didn’t finish reading a book. But I thought, “Why not do utilize that dandy poll feature WordPress offers?” And here it is in all of its glory:


Reviewing the unfinished
November 19, 2008, 11:35 am
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For those of you who don’t have secret crushes on film critic Roger Ebert or who don’t want to adopt him, you may be out of the loop on some recent occurences known as Minutegate. In short, Ebert wrote and published a review on the film Tru Loved; a film he notes within the review that he didn’t finish:

Full disclosure. I lifted the words “San Francisco to conservative suburbia with her lesbian mothers” straight from the plot summary on, because I stopped watching the movie at the 00:08.05 point. IMDb is also where I found out about Bruce Vilanch’s dual role. I never did see the lesbian mothers or my friend Bruce. For “Tru Loved,” the handwriting was on the wall. The returns were in. The case was closed. You know I’m right. Or tell me I’m wrong.

Q. How can you give a one-star rating to a movie you didn’t sit through?

A. The rating only applies to the first eight minutes. After that, you’re on your own.

This got me thinking about my own little world of reviews and the times I’ve commented on books I simply couldn’t finish: Branchwater, The Turtle Moves!, I Am A Cat, Snow Falling on Cedars, The Forgery of Venus, and The Witches of Eastwick to name a few. Reasons to not finish a book range from reader’s block to a book just being sucky (in my opinion). But how do people feel about this? Thumbs up or thumbs down on explaining why you couldn’t make your way to the last page of a book?

Books I’ve Read
November 17, 2008, 4:32 pm
Filed under: maintenance | Tags: , , , , ,

Something I’ve always meant to do but never got around to doing has been sorting my reviews and making an easy to read list of them. I’ve had different ideas floating about my head including sorting them chronologically according to publication, sorting them by genre, but I’ve finally come to terms to sorting them in the usual fashion: books I’ve commented on sorted by author. (Still a work in progress!)

WG19: Best of 2008
September 29, 2008, 10:00 am
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I thought this round of Weekly Geeks, picking my 10 favorite books that came out in 2008, would be terribly easy. That’s because I wasn’t aware of exactly how many new books I had read this year. By the end, I had I ended up with 18 +/- (I kept adding and taking some off!) on the list and the following is the result of far too much labor and thought!

My 10 Best of 2008:
The Girl on the Fridge by Etgar Keret
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
A Mercy by Toni Morrison
First Stop in the New World by David Lida
When We Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris
A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam
The Gone Away World by Nick Harkaway
Deportees by Roddy Doyle
Something to Tell You by Hanif Kureishi
City of Widows by Haifa Zangana

And 8 More:

The Sum of Our Days by Isabel Allende
Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
Children’s Literature by Seth Lerer
Slam by Nick Hornby
Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow
Mortal Syntax by June Casagrande
Mexican High by Liza Monroy
My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead edited by Jeffrey Eugenides

I would like to note that I am quite dreadful at doing these sorts of lists and it’s quite likely that if I had compiled the list at any other time it could very well look different.

Viva Las Vegas
September 14, 2008, 1:43 pm
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My search for Las Vegas related literature has been fruitful and I wanted to share some of my finds:

Neon Mirage by Max Allan Collins suggested by Trish

Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff

Coyote Blue by Christpher Moore both suggested by fyreflybooks

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson suggested by Mys Ebrel

Casino by Nicholas Pileggi by Amanda

Bookends: Reading one at a time
September 13, 2008, 12:54 pm
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My last two books (and my current one) I’ve been trying something new: reading only one book at a time. Like many readers, I find myself with a stack of books and the result of over indulging is that I often find myself with three or more books going at once. Fortunately this usually means that I spend more time total reading, but unfortunately I become a competitive reader and do my best to speed-read through the passages. With reading only one book at a time I find myself more strongly focusing on it, but I’m reading more slowly and overall seem to be spending less time reading.

Also, I’ve been cutting down on the length of some of my book comments. The last thing I want is for my reader responses to feel like “homework” and really when I’m reading for enjoyment two or three paragraphs is plenty. Not that I can’t wax poetic from time to time, but I should never feel it’s something I have to do.

Fiction: A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott perhaps best known for her novel Little Women (or the various film adaptations of it), which Alcott referred to as her “moral pap for the young,” much to my surprise had also written a good amount of other works. When I stumbled across A Long Fatal Love Chase at the library book sale, a book espousing on the cover “He stalker her every step—for she had become his obsession….” I couldn’t resist and in my continuing excursion to read the teetering stacks of books I already own I jumped right in.

A Long Fatal Love Chase is extremely different than Little Women. Alcott went to Europe with a friend for a trip much like a Grand Tour and upon returning immediately began writing to help with her family’s financial troubles. Alcott was asked to write 24-chapters for a pulp magazine though A Long Fatal Love Chase was not published until after Alcott’s death. It’s a romantic, dark, and scandalous novel of the fair Rosamond falling in love with the fiendish but dashing Philip Tempest. They marry and lead a gay life until Rosamond discovers that she has been duped: Tempest was already married.

If one of the Brontë sisters had taken it into her head to write a sweeping melodrama that unfolded across various countries of Europe from villas to impoverished apartments to mental asylums, Alcott’s novel would have been a reasonably good comparison. A Long Fatal Love Chase follows the story’s heroine as she attempts to escape Tempest and pursue her own freedom. The editor Kent Bicknell reminds the reader of Alcott’s reoccurring themes of “quest for physical, financial, intellectual, and spiritual independence” running through the novel.

I found the book fairly reminiscent of earlier novels such as Clarissa and the works of Radcliffe. Though Rosamond is not nearly as simpering or delicate as these other heroines, she does succumb to a rather pornographic death finale as if Tempest cannot have her no man will. Alcott is also a bit heavy handed with the symbolism and foreshadowing. Every second chapter of the book is also written as a bit of a cliffhanger and all together Alcott produced quite the sensational and titillating read. A Long Fatal Love Chase is a great contrast novel for anyone who has read her little men and women stories.

This book is available through Bookmooch.

Other opinions: the Book Mine Set.

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