Thursday, December 20, 2012

Top 10(ish) of 2012 (& See Ya Later?)

I've slowed down considerably at the end of this year, and I'm not sure why. Other interests and activities - a lot of crocheting, letterboxing, hiking, and watching of both Bones & Buffy via Netflix. I haven't felt like reading a GD thing since deciding to not finish the terrible Casual Vacancy, which means I didn't at all meet my goal of 44 novels - reaching only 31. Still - I read some quality literature this year and it doesn't all fit neatly into a Top 10.

Top 7 5-Star Reviews

7. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
6. Wonderstruck - Brian Selznick
5. Inside Out & Back Again - Thanhha Lai
4. We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver (and about Adam Lanza)
3. The Climb - Anatoli Boukreev
2. Into Thin Air - Jon Krakauer 
1. Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition - Daniel Okrent

I really love it when my favorite books of the year are non-fiction titles.

#s 8, 9, & 10

There are too many titles that fit the last few numbers on my list. Forced to choose by my own controlling nature, I'd go with:

10. Legend of a Suicide - David Vann
9. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World - Haruki Murakami
8. The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. LeGuin

However, the following titles are all just as incredible and could take the place of any of the above:

Green Hills of Africa - Ernest Hemingway
Kingdom Come - Mark Waid, Alex Ross
The Walking Dead - Robert Kirkman
Babbitt - Sinclair Lewis
The Postmortal - Drew Magary
Lump - Leena Luther

To finalize, I was sitting in my library and staring at my shelves and realized that I'd really like to spend a year reading with abandon. That means reading whatever I please without worrying about posting reviews or maintaining any lists. I've taken leave before and reserve my right to do it again - I'll be stepping away from this for a little while. Posting will be sporadic and few. I have a post set to go up at the end of the year, if we make it beyond the End of the World. Otherwise... radio silence.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling


Rating: 1 star

It's so incredibly rare that I don't finish a book. For one, the sheer pain associated with reading an awful book makes me so mad, I don't want to have toiled so hard for a book I can't count among my yearly numbers. But oh god. Maybe you've noticed I've disappeared for a while. Over a month, I think, without a decent post, tweet or tumblr quote. Part of that is the volume of work I've had to deal with this Fall - our fiscal years don't align with the calendar year and so, September and October are busy, busy planning months. The other part of my silence was this new and godawful book by J.K. Rowling.

It took me the better part of two months to read a little over 100 pages. I finally made the decision to quit on Friday of last week, realizing I was wasting a lot of valuable reading time desperately trying to get through this novel just because J.K. Rowling wrote it.

My complaints mirror the complaints of the masses. Just Google it - you'll find more bad reviews than good ones. What gets me the most is that J.K. made a concentrated effort to have this marketed as an 'adult' novel - the Harry Potter author goes rogue, she can write what she wants, etc - and then reduced every single one of her adult characters (and there are so, so many) to mere caricatures. They might as well all have been named either Vernon or Petunia Dursley. And, surprisingly enough, the only characters with any depth at all are the teens. Unfortunately, their chapters can not carry the burden that is this book.

The book begins with Barry Fairbrother's death, a very well-written chapter that falsely draws you in to the terrible narrative that is to come. As soon as Barry hits the pavement, literally, the section titled Monday launches. In it, each character is given a chapter and a chance to react to the news of Barry Fairbrother's death. Sometimes more than once. Since Barry held a seat on the Parish Council in Pagford and was an instrumental player in the fight to keep The Fields (housing projects) a part of their well-to-do town, the reactions vary from distress to political plotting. And then Tuesday happens and, if you didn't guess it, I'll tell you - each character is given a chapter to talk some more about Barry Fairbrother's death, the reactions varying from distress to political plotting.

I couldn't. I'm sorry - I just couldn't. The plot crept along and the characters were utterly unlikable. J.K - how could you expect me to keep reading?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Behind

I've fallen so far behind on my reading. I blame The Casual Vacancy. Because it's awful.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Co-workers Do Nothing to Help My Obsession


I've still got The Climb sitting on my desk, waiting to be sent back to its owner. I've got several co-workers who do way more exciting and dangerous hikes/climbs than I do, so I guess it's not surprising that leaving something like that out sparks conversation. Anyway, walked in the other day to find these two coffee-table Everest books sitting on my desk. They've got great photos - I can't wait to dive into them. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn



Rating: 5 stars

Listen. I'm aware of the fact that my reviews are somewhat lacking because I never took journalism classes because I never had the interest - even though when people hear reader and writer they immediately think you must have been on the school newspaper. There's a difference. A major difference in all the genres, all the nuances of reading and writing. Journalism is not my shtick. My reviews vary from those I'm super proud of, to those that kind of suck. My main goal, in all of my reviews, is to get to the heart of Did I like it? and Will you like? quickly - for those of us that maybe don't want to spend an hour reading a blog post just for the answer to those two questions.

That being said - I'm not entirely sure where to start with Gone Girl. Yes, I liked it. Loved it, in fact. Gillian Flynn can write. And yes, I think you'll like it, too. Just be prepared for a mind-f*ck beyond any you've ever had before.

Meet Nick and Amy, the unreliable main characters of Gone Girl, who we learn - via Nick's opening narrative - are celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary on the ominously titled "Day of." Day of... what, you ask? The day that Amy disappears, leaving behind a curiously staged crime scene and a diary that, interspersed with Nick's chapters, gives an eerie description of their marriage, oftentimes contradicting what Nick has only just disclosed the previous chapter. And just when you think the book is a classic whodunit, it morphs into a study of character, so intricately woven and perfectly written, you really aren't sure what the hell just happened to you, but you're kind of glad it did.

Review with Spoilers via FullStop (has all the words I don't).
Via The Millions - a discussion on Gillian Flynn and the distinctions of sex, class and identity in her novels. 
Book Magnet's Spoiler Free Review

Purchase Now from Amazon 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Everest


The IMAX team, led by David Breashears and Ed Viesturs, is mentioned several times in both Krakauer's Into Thin Air and Boukreev's The Climb. They had many goals - make Araceli Segarra the first Spanish woman to summit Everest, bring GPS gear up the mountain for geologist Roger Bilham to get information on the formation and movement of the mountains, and film the ascent to give the world the first 360° view from the summit.

I know the team hadn't set out expecting the worst tragedy in Everest history to occur, so I wondered how they'd handle it in this documentary. Would the film be a product of their original intent? Or would they edit it somehow to involve the events on the mountain?

Everest was a pleasing and emotional combination of both. The film starts just as it intended - with introductions to the climbers who were part of the IMAX expedition, a trip to Kathmandu and coverage of the Sherpa's spiritual attention to the mountain,  and familiarizing the audience with the different aspects of the climb, from Base Camp to the treacherous Icefall. For someone who has only read about these things, they were amazing to see - even if just via film.

Araceli Segarra crossing a crevasse in the Icefall

Because the intent was to cover their own team's ascent up the mountain, not much is mentioned of the other teams on the climb in the beginning. The exception is a picture that is shown of Rob Hall and Ed Viesturs, old friends. Later, though, when the unfortunate events begin to unfold, the documentary changes directions. Though unnamed, you see several climbers making their way back slowly, stiffly, through the raging storm. You see Beck Weathers' - a climber in Rob Hall's expedition who was assumed dead - miraculous return to Camp, skin blackened with frostbite. The IMAX team had decided not to summit on the same day as the other teams and spent the night at a lower camp to await their bid. When they heard that Beck Weathers was in serious need of medical attention, the team climbed up to bring him down, saving his life. 

And you hear Rob Hall. Rob, who somehow survived the night of the storm on the Hilary Step had managed to radio down to the IMAX camp. There is a scene in the documentary where Viesturs pleads with Rob Hall to just keep moving. In the background you can hear Hall's croaking, frozen responses. Later, though it isn't shown, Viesturs finds Hall's body on his own summit bid and stops to pay tribute to his fallen friend. 

In the end, the IMAX team makes it. Araceli Segarra becomes the first Spanish woman to summit. Jamling Tenzing Norgay, son of the one of the first two men to climb Everest, summits with her and leaves behind a tribute to his father. The first 360° view of the mountain is captured. 

Is it silly to feel this emotionally attached to a mountain I'll never visit and people I don't know, nor will ever meet? I can't help it.

Purchase Now from Amazon

Monday, September 24, 2012

Book Sleuth - High Exposure


Oh no. Here we go again. Into Thin Air led me to The Climb which has led me to this book, written by David Breashears, the leader of the IMAX Expedition that was on Everest in '96 during that fateful storm. I've got his movie queued up on my Netflix as well. If I thought The Climb was the end for me - I was wrong. Something about this story has a fierce grip on my heart - as all of the authors probably intended. 

From Amazon: 
Breashears has no lack of good material. We follow him through the stunning backdrops of Yosemite, Europe, Nepal, and Tibet, brushing up against triumphs and tragedies along the way. And while the nuts and bolts of his adventures are entertainment enough, his knack for building suspense and employing understated drama makes his autobiography read like a novel: "The morning was sunny and calm, and Rob looked as though he'd lain down on his side and fallen asleep. Around him the undisturbed snow sparkled in the sun. I stared at his bare left hand ... I wondered what a mountaineer with Rob's experience was doing without a glove."

Purchase Now From Amazon

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Climb - Anatoli Boukreev



Rating: 5 stars

Despite the contrary opinions of most other reviewers, I exited Krakauer's Into Thin Air with a brave and stoic impression of Anatoli Boukreev. And it is true - the Anatoli Boukreev represented in Jon's novel is a less villian-y rendition of the Boukreev first represented in Krakauer's article for Outside, published shortly after the '96 Everest excursion. Still, the fear remained for Boukreev and many who knew him that Krakauer's telling of events ruined forever the reputation of an expert climber and hero.

The Climb is Anatoli Boukreev's - with the help of G. Weston DeWalt - version of the events surrounding the Everest tragedy. My first impression of the differences between both accounts was this: Krakauer is a hobby climber who writes extremely well; Boukreev is a professional, well established mountaineer. If Krakauer manages to give readers the emotional aspect of the mountain in '96, Boukreev gives the factual, the carefully considered, the professional view of everything that went wrong that summit day. And Krakauer kind of comes off like a petulant jerk.

Still - there's a pleading note to Boukreev's book that checks my desire to whole-heartedly believe one account over the other. It's as if Boukreev is begging us to see that he made no mistakes at all - that he alone may have had all the answers in avoiding what happened to the people on that mountain. Both books do seem to acknowledge, however, that a series of small mistakes and/or misunderstandings led to the loss of lives. Despite this, the fact remains that because Boukreev descended before the other climbers (as he is criticized for doing in Into Thin Air), he was definitely in a position to go later out into that storm and rescue three people, by himself.

It was very difficult for me to start this book just five months after completing Into Thin Air. Reading again the climbers hopes and expectations prior to reaching Everest, yet already fully knowing the outcome, knowing I was subjecting myself to those emotions again was hard. But I'm really glad I did. I'll never climb Everest but I can keep these people alive in my memory because of men like Krakauer and Boukreev who took the time to make this story known.

Further Reading: Letters from Krakauer, Boukreev & Lopsang

Purchase Now From Amazon

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book Sleuth - The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving



From Amazon: 
Benjamin Benjamin has lost virtually everything—his wife, his family, his home, his livelihood. With few options, Ben enrolls in a night class called The Fundamentals of Caregiving, where he is instructed in the art of inserting catheters and avoiding liability, about professionalism, and on how to keep physical and emotional distance between client and provider.
But when Ben is assigned to tyrannical nineteen-year-old Trevor, who is in the advanced stages of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, he soon discovers that the endless mnemonics and service plan checklists have done little to prepare him for the reality of caring for a fiercely stubborn, sexually frustrated adolescent with an ax to grind with the world at large.
Purchase Now. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Moll Flanders - Daniel DeFoe



Rating: 3 stars

I struggle between not liking this book at all, and liking it a lot. There's much to say about DeFoe's structure, theme and characterization. And what it's lacking (any consequence whatsoever for Moll's many marriages, children and life of crime) helps to bring about DeFoe's main theme - the juxtaposition of Christian morality with ethics and the struggle to survive - which seems pretty heavy and scandalous for the time period.

I loved Robinson Crusoe and so had pretty high hopes for Moll Flanders. What Crusoe and Flanders have in common is their resourcefulness - their ability to make the best of the worst situations and come out not only alive, but better off than before. And even though Moll does this by manipulating many, many people and leaving scores of children behind - you can't help but pity her for the terrible situations that come of her many attempts of "meaning well," and kind of respect her for trying and succeeding in the end.

Purchase Now from Amazon

8/75

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Book Sleuth - Straight: A Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality



It's been an incredibly long time since I've done a Book Sleuth. But I found this one via Reading Rambo (a great blog, bt-dubs) and it sounds so amazing, I had to let you all know about it.

Says RR:


So. You might think from the title that this is one of those liberal books by one of those liberal people trying out some new liberal concept of 'Oh, people were TOTES GAY for most of history. This thing we have now with gentlemen and ladies? Way new. I mean, does it even make SENSE? Have you seen men's bathroom habits? Nast." BUT NO. It is in fact exactly what it says: it's a history of the concept of heterosexuality.
Because who had to name it? It was normal. Everyone did it (*cough*orsotheythought*cough*). We don't need names for those things. She makes the excellent point that we have names like 'prude' and 'slut' but there isn't a name for someone who's into sex "a normal amount." And it's not like we have a scale, so those are arbitrary titles society can cast onto people. Someone's a slut because they're called a slut.


But you should really visit her blog to read the rest of the review. Because it's really thoughtful and thought provoking.

Purchase Now from Amazon.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien



Rating: 4 stars

I started reading this slowly, at the beginning of the year, in the hopes of savoring it until the movie arrived. I have to tell you, it started out all rainbows and nostalgia until someone told me that the movie was going to be split into three parts. I spent the remainder of the book angrily wondering how Peter Jackson planned to successfully pull that off without pissing off fans. It's a small book! Written as a young adult novel! Yes, there are many adventures along the road to the Lonely Mountain, but nothing that packs as much punch as the actual ending of the novel. There aren't any real clear starts and stops that - to my mind - make three separate, yet cohesive movies.

Anyway - film making aside - I first read this book when I was in middle school, so it's been a long, long time. Fifteen years, maybe? Perhaps a bit more. I was surprised by how many details have stuck with me over such a wide span of years. This time - knowing and loving Bilbo well, rather than having just been introduced to him - I was able to imagine that it was Bilbo himself writing the tale. The writing style is so vastly different from the Lord of the Rings trilogy that it isn't difficult at all to replace Tolkien's voice with Bilbo's. It's much more humorous and has the tone of a folk-tale - you can almost imagine Bilbo around a campfire, enacting his tale to a captive audience. Also - there's a lot less walking.

I'd say the 4-star rating of my memory holds up with my current reading of the novel. Middle-earth is a place I wouldn't mind continuing to visit time and time again.

Purchase Now from Amazon. 

7/75

Monday, September 10, 2012

Babbitt - Sinclair Lewis


Rating: 4 stars


While not always the most riveting of reads, Babbitt - a satire on the conformity and hypocrisy of the middle class - is incredibly well written and insightful.

George F. Babbitt is a middle class business man from Zenith, a fictional city located somewhere in middle America. He lives with his wife and three children in the suburbs of Zenith, in a house that looks much like the houses of his neighbors and that is furnished with all of the modern conveniences. He carries on his real-estate business like he is supposed to, attends all the right clubs (Booster, Athletic, Elk), attends church and throws dinner parties for his neighbors - all of whom, like Babbitt, spend their days attempting to climb the social ladder.

But when Babbitt's best and oldest friend gets arrested for eschewing these values, George begins to see his life in a new light. It all seems a fraud to him and so he tries his hardest to really live his life, with his own opinions and thoughts. In response, the good citizens of Zenith begin to shun him.

It isn't until Myra, Babbitt's wife, falls ill that he begins to realize the middle class world he's a part of is one that he helped create. And so, he falls somewhat comfortably back into it - yet, in the end, he tells his son Ted, "I've never done a single thing I've wanted to in my whole life! I don't know's I've accomplished anything anything except just get along." He encourages Ted to make his own way through life, following his dreams and damning those who would try and stop him, thus ending the book with a glimmer of hope for the next generation.

The book was surprisingly resonant, for having been published in 1922. Sure many things have changed, but the core of the novel focuses on a man just gliding through his life, doing everything he thinks he's supposed to do and nothing for himself. By the time he tries to regain that freedom, it's too late. I was fortunate that I knew what I wanted, worked hard to get there, and was supported by incredible parents who, I think, understand how unfulfilling a path you didn't necessarily want to take can be. But, moving through the corporate world, even if it's the precise world that I've chosen, does include its measure of conformity. We just call it "playing the game" now.

Purchase Now from Amazon. 

6/75

Thursday, September 6, 2012

We Need To Talk About The Movie Based On The Book


A majority of the time, I feel like these projects end up with the label - "Good, not Great." No difference for We Need To Talk About Kevin, the movie starring Tilda Swinton based off of the book by the same name by Lionel Shriver. Cut to credits and all I could say was, "Meh."

The most striking issue with this movie has not much to do with the content of the film at all. Which, actually, is part of the problem. There were whole scenes, running 60 seconds or more (an issue, when in film, every second should count) that seemed to be there purely for the sake of style rather than anything which might advance the story or our understanding of the characters. "Look at me and the pretty things I can do with a camera!" doesn't really cut it when the beautiful things that Shriver can do with the written word waste not a moment in her dark and genius novel.

Tilda Swinton does a pretty incredible job with Eva, or takes it as far as the film allows. Without the letters to Franklin which drive the narrative in the book, the viewer doesn't get to know Eva like we know her in the book. While you get a sense that she does try very hard to be the kind of mother she thinks she should be, the viewer misses out on the incredibly selfish side of Eva. It's an important side. John C. Reilly, for his minimal screen time, does a good job of portraying the happy -go-lucky dad. Missing, however, is the spirit and youth of the couples' love before children, which Eva draws on time and time again in the novel. Without ever having a true sense of what they had the viewers aren't as stricken by what the two end up losing.

Kevin is played by several young actors. The oldest and most nihilistic was portrayed by Ezra Miller, whose cold, dark eyes were a dead ringer for the Kevin I imagined in my head. The movie falls short again, in only depicting Kevin and his relationship to Eva, Franklin and his younger sister, Celia. Cut from the movie were the troubles that Kevin got himself into outside of the house, the parents that complained about Kevin, and the resolute way that Franklin insisted Kevin was just being a boy. All of these things together make Kevin's final deed horrific in the novel. In the film he seems... less. Less evil, perhaps. Just a kid who fakes around his dad, is a pain in the ass to his mother, and is mean to his younger sister.

Book beats movie. Hands down.

Purchase Now: Movie, Book

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Classics Club September Meme

I didn't participate in last month's meme because I'd already answered the question as part of my 30-Day Book Challenge (favorite classic) in July. But I'm all ready to participate in this month's topic - highlight another clubber's review on a classic from my own list that has me particularly excited to move it up the TBR.

I finally read my second Hardy novel, Far from the Madding Crowd. I looooooove that title. I've never exactly been a people person and as an introvert, I desperately need quiet alone time. The idea of being "far from the madding crowd" sounds quite pleasant to me. I'm pretty sure Hardy was an introvert and not overly fond of people either as he always makes horrible things happen to his characters. 
The most interesting thing about Hardy to me though is that he creates such vivid female characters who aren't villains. They don't always do the right thing, they get in trouble, and they seem real.

Via Sparks' Notes.

A good portion of her post was spoiler-induced, but it was carefully marked. I was able to read the beginning and the end of the review without spoiling anything for myself, and still managed to get ridiculously excited for this one. I've already read and loved Jude and Tess, so this should be a sure bet.

Monday, September 3, 2012

For the Pin Obessed Book Nerds

I don't know about you guys, but I'm obsessed with Pinterest. I'd been keeping a board I'd first called, Books and Reading and Books. Then I changed the name to Read Me Like a Book. Then I realized, I was starting to pin anything and everything book related to the boards and well - they were getting sloppy. I don't like sloppy. I like organization and... well, control. Yes - I'm controlling. So now, I've set up the Book Nerd Series. Feel free to follow and pin!


Read Me
That Was Good

Libraries and Ladders

Mementos of a Book Nerd



Thursday, August 30, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 30

Day 30 - Your Favorite Book of All Time


Here we are at the end - end of this challenge and nearing the end of summer. I tried to convince myself that I had something ... more... for this last question. My favorite book of all time should be Hemingway or Austen or Dumas or something like that. I mean - come on! I was an English major! But, I looked at my Top Ten on Shelfari and I looked at all of the favorites since then. And I thought - which of these do I know inside and out? Which will I never tire of? And, which would I read right now, without hesitation?


Harry Potter. All of them. My love for this series hasn't wavered since the start. I've read each book more times than I can count, and now that I own each book on audio - I've listened to them all several times as well. I know these books inside and out and yet - the magic of them never fades. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 29

Day 29 - A Book That Makes You Cry



Every. Single. Time. I do also get emotional whenever Cedric Diggory, Sirius Black and Dumbledore die in previous years. But this book - it kills me every time. First there's Snape. I start crying the moment his Patronus shows up as a doe. Then, when he dies and hands his memories over to Harry and we relive all of the years Snape loved Lily, the grief he felt when he lost her,... "Always." And then Lupin and Tonks! Fred Weasley! Right up to the very end when Harry scolds his son - Albus Severus. Oh man - I'm pretty much crying as I write this. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Broken Harbor - Tana French


Rating: 3 stars


While not quite on par with French's first three novels in the series, Broken Harbor still does not disappoint. It follows the brash cop, Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, who makes appearances in French's third novel, Faithful Place. Kennedy hasn't worked a big case for two years, and the deaths of one family in the middle of Brianstown - a failed development in the middle of a place once known as Broken Harbor - gives him and his partner, Richie, the chance to get back on top. But, in true French fashion, Broken Harbor holds much more for Kennedy than this case. It's a place he visited as a child, that holds both happy and painful memories that he'll be forced to face.

As always, French's strength is her characters. Each one has always come alive for me, right off the page. The same is true for Mick Kennedy, his partner Richie and the rest of the minor characters in the novel. But, the first thing that caught me with French's debut novel, In the Woods, was how rich and vivid the language was. It wasn't just some crime novel - it was gorgeous. Even if i wasn't a fan of the main character - there was something beautiful about the way that book was written. Same goes for The Likeness and Faithful Place. But the beauty was missing here.

It makes me wonder if she's through with the Dublin Murder Squad. Will we see another book from her in this series, or will we get something completely new? Though I've loved reading the series and guessing who was coming next - I'd welcome something fresh from Tana with open arms.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 27

Day 27 - The Most Surprising Plot Twist or Ending



The back cover of my edition promised one of the most shocking conclusions in literary history. Given that this book came out in 1895, I was skeptical. What was shocking then would hardly bat an eye now. But - there isn't even anything that I've ever read that comes close to how shocking and disturbing it actually is! This book was my favorite of that year - and one of the most tragic, most controversial and yes - most shocking - books in literary history. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 26

Day 26 - A Book That Changed Your Opinion About Something



I read this book directly after I watched Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Though represented differently and with vastly different opinions on the matter - the discussion is exactly the same. What I found more shocking than Global Warming: Fact or Myth - was my ability to immediately buy in to whatever books or movies are selling. I took An Inconvenient Truth to heart as a complete truth and not at all political/celebrity propaganda. 

And let me just say before the hippies come and kill me in my sleep - State of Fear isn't about being anti-earth, anti-global warming. It's about how many non-facts there are floating around out there in order to instill a fear of global warming. 

There's a chart that Al Gore shows in his movie, of rising CO2 levels. It's completely staggering, when Al Gore references it, how quickly we're killing our planet. That same chart shows up in State of Fear, except this time, we're given the entirety of it. The one Gore shows in the movie is a small section of the chart - chosen because of how extreme it seems out of context. 

State of Fear didn't exactly change my mind about how I think we should treat our planet - as I don't think it was meant to. But it did change the way I think about everything. It's the primary reason I read more non-fiction now than I ever did before. I'm searching for the truth of all things - not just the things that Leonardo DiCaprio wants to talk about. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 25

Day 25 - A Character Who You Can Relate to the Most


Jo March from Little Women. First and foremost, she's a reader and writer. She's smart, strong-willed and kind. But she also has trouble fitting in - with others and even, at times, within her own family. Her big mouth tends to get her into a lot of trouble. She has a ridiculous temper. And, she often feels boxed in and longs to spread her wings and fly. Still, despite these attributes, Jo never stops trying to be her best person.








Monday, August 20, 2012

Kingdom Come - Mark Waid, Alex Ross



Rating: 5 stars


This powerful graphic novel came to being out of two basic ideas: What would the world be like if the children and the grandchildren of superheroes turned out to be schmucks; and an idea raised in the Introduction by Elliot S. Maggin - "Why Must There Be a Superman?" As he explains, his own original idea had been that Superman realizes that in helping humankind, he is in fact hindering it.

The original Justice League has long since disbanded - following Superman into retirement and all but disappearing from the collective conscious. But their children and grandchildren have taken over - a race of metahumans intent on fighting each other with no regard to innocent bystanders or the impending destruction of the world. Sensing doom, Wonder Woman coaxes Superman with "Truth and Justice" and together, they reform the League. But it's clear that - even with the League - superheroes and humans alike have to change their paradigms, work together or face annihilation.

With this storyline and gorgeous artwork, Mark Waid and Alex Ross force us to realize that the ordinary can be extraordinary, and the super can be extremely flawed. We must learn to grow and change, and to offer these lessons to the next generation.

From the introduction: "The heroes of fable and fact to whose virtue we all aspire, are not only colorful people living vivid lives; they traditionally understand the value of human life in all its places and conditions. But real-life heroes, unlike many of the icons we have created, also understand human dignity and human immortality, and these concepts are lacking in, for example, Superman's education. Heroes especially need to understand the value of the things of a life; its artifacts, its ideas, its loves."  And this is exactly what this graphic novel achieves - using the flaws of the super as the extreme, but showing us the paths we might also take for our future outside of this superhuman realm.


Friday, August 17, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 24

Day 24 - A Book You Wish More People Would Read


Definitely Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald.


Book snobs, ignore the O on the cover. This novel is a contemporary classic - in that I mean, it reads like the kind of quality literature produced in the 1800s, but was published in 1996. It is one of my all-time favorites

Purchase Now from Amazon: Fall On Your Knees 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 23

Day 23 - A Book You've Wanted to Read for a Long Time but Still Haven't


Look Me In the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison has been on my bookshelf  and the 'next' book in my TBR for years.


John Elder Robison is the older brother of the more famous writer, Augusten Burroughs. He actually wrote this book at the urging of Burroughs and it - from reading reviews and such - is an amazing inside view to living a life with the disorder. Robison, it seems, didn't know that there was a name for his 'strangeness' until he was diagnosed in later life. It allowed him to find new ways to cope in social situations. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 22

Day 22 - The Book That Made You Fall In Love With Reading


According to my parents, I loved being read to. Even as an infant. My father loves remembering how my eyes would be fixed on him as he read to me in my crib. And then as I got older - on those nights when he was tired and tried to skip a page, I'd be paying such careful attention that I'd know. So, I think I was born loving reading. However, one book that my father read to me really sticks out in my memory.


Wow! I can't even believe I found this photo of it on the webs! Reader's Digest World's Best Fairy Tales. It belonged to my grandfather and he either gave it to me, or I rooted it out of his basement. There were a bunch of Reader's Digest (which I thought said Reader's Diggiest. As in, I dig reading) down there and I used to just pick something out and keep it. Anyway, I'd frequently request that my father read to me out of this lovely collection. 


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition - Daniel Okrent



Rating: 5 stars

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, covers the entirety of the most ridiculous era in American history - that time when suffrage, the income tax and World War I came together to somehow vote the Eighteenth Amendment into being.

Daniel Okrent is amazing. He spans over 100 years of history - from early discussion of temperance to beyond the Great Depression and the Repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment - while maintaining humor and a conversational tone that kept me engaged from start to finish.

I've been reading a lot of non-fiction this year - maybe to make up for last year's rise of the celebrity bios. I do like to read at least two works of non-fiction a year. Keep the old brain noodle working. Keep it a-learnin'. Last Call is definitely one of the best I've ever read - intelligent, thorough, and fun. The book had me researching and discussing a topic I hadn't given much thought of before - besides what remains of the gangsters and bootleggers in Hollywood. So much about our culture today was shaped by those thirteen years... just read it, okay?

Monday, August 13, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 21

Day 21 - Favorite Book From Your Childhood



I didn't actually own this book until college, when my roommate purchased it for me based on me over-telling the story about how much I loved this book and how hard it was to actually get my hands on when I was a kid. Neither the school library nor the public library ever had it on hand - that's how popular it was. But, man - when I finally did get to take it out! What a treasure! There's something so pleasing about lifting the flaps and reading all of the correspondence between fairy-tale characters. 

Purchase Now from Amazon: The Jolly Postman

Thursday, August 9, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 20

Day 20 - Book Turned Into a Movie and Completely Desecrated


The Percy Jackson series is a good group of books. It's the kind of awesome boy adventure series that is a lot of butt-kicking fun, but also teaches kids a thing or two about mythology. Everything in the books is an allusion to Greek mythology.


Then came the movie, which I was really excited for. I mean, it's rare that a truly great series of books comes along. It's not so rare that Hollywood then turns that series into a movie - but I ain't care! And, mind you - I never assume that the movie will be just like the book. In fact, I'd rather the movie and book be different experiences, so that I can hold them in their own regard. All I ask is that the filmmakers maintain the integrity and feeling of the copied work and that some fan-favorite scenes and characters be portrayed accurately. This movie did nothing of the sort. Firstly, it abandoned it's core, already established middle-grade fan base by aging the kids and turning it into a movie for teens - an audience that most likely hadn't read the books. Then, they completely re-wrote the story into something that had not a hint of the original book. And, worst of all, the main mythological element/story was one that ISN'T EVEN A MYTH. Horrible. 


Friday, August 3, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 19

Day 19 - Favorite Book Turned Into a Movie



Of course. The entire film series, from cheesy start to serious finish. 


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Telegraph Avenue - Michael Chabon


Rating: 3 stars


Though the book isn't due out until September 2012, I was granted access to it via a Read Along hosted by Emily at the blog As the Crowe Flies (And Reads!). You'll find my general impressions below, but if you're interested in checking out my posts for the read along (and others) you'll find all the necessary linkage here.

Telegraph Avenue takes place in 2004, on the famous Telegraph Avenue that separates Oakland from Berkeley - two socioeconomically clashing worlds. It follows two families of different color, the Stallings and the Jaffes, as they navigate race gaps, generation gaps, economic gaps and the American Dream to the tune of 1970's jazz. Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are partners at Brokeland, a rapidly failing record store that is about to be put out of business by the big box, Dogpile Thang. Their wives, Gwen and Aviva, are also partners in their midwife business. They also face potential dissolution at the hands of the local hospital. And their sons, Titus Joyner and Julius Jaffe form a partnership of their own, as they navigate  how painful it is to be a teenager while also getting mixed up in old Oakland troubles courtesy of Archy's deadbeat dad, Luther.

That's, honestly, the best I can do as far as a recap goes. There's just so much going on in this book. And, while you find yourself immersed in this world that could have been, with characters that are very well drawn, amidst a million different heavy themes - it's a dense book that requires a lot of work. Chabon's style is lyrical and often mirrors a jazzy-funky-beat, which, at times, lends itself to the narrative. At other times, it slows the reader down. Trips the reader up.

In the end, with a finale that's got a unsatisfactorily neatly tied bow wrapped around it, I'm not sure I can tell you whether or not it was worth all the work. I think so?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 18

Day 18 - A Book That Disappointed You


Ah! Here's where we can use A Lion Among Men.


I am a very big fan of the first two 'volumes' in this Wicked Years series. I wasn't able to purchase and read it right away, but I kept eyeing it, eager with anticipation for the day that I could actually crack its spine. I finally got my hands on it via e-reader and to say it was awful is an understatement. It held none of the magic or purpose of Wicked nor Son of a Witch, seeming to exist only as another way to make a buck. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

III. A Bird of Wide Experience; IV. Return to Forever & V. Brokeland (Telegraph Avenue Read Along)

So - I was behind, but I caught up! I had a fantastic stay-cation with many visitors. My brother came up first with his boyfriend and we hiked Sleeping Beauty (I'm including a photo of the view as an apology to my read alongers who actually posted on time). Then my sister came to visit and we watched a lot of The Guild, then went to the park for a picnic that was ruined by fire ants. Then my good friend from high school came and we nearly finished Downton Abbey. I mean - there was a lot going on. I'm sorry.

Apologetic view:


I'm going to keep the reviews for last week's sections short. I commented on everyone's blogs, so I know the conversation has already been had. 



 III. A Bird of Wide Experience

I think I noticed that it was one long paragraph on the first page. And not because I'm a genius or anything. The opposite - my mind starts to wander to laundry and other things if it isn't given boundaries. So I immediately thought - something isn't right here! That being said - I loved this chapter. It felt like I was taking flight with Fifty-Eight, watching Telegraph Avenue from his point of view. The sweep of the words and the brilliancy of the visuals swept me away. It's definitely the first section of this book that I actually loved. 

IV. Return to Forever

I had a thought during Part III that I thought I'd save until this section. Do you think Quentin Tarantino was given an early copy of this book? What do you think he thinks of it? Are he and Chabon buddies? I base everything off of Kav & Clay, but it seems both Chabon and Tarantino rely on the same eras of pop-culture. 

Another similarity, which seems to shine through to me even more now that we debated whether or not Titus is gay (and then, whether or not Archy, Chan and possibly even Luther harbor homosexual feelings in V) - Tarantino is kind of known for his ambiguous sexuality - I mean, aside from that foot thing that came out recently. That seems to fit in with some sort of theme here. Not to mention... the author. I know he's married with children, but - given the similar themes of both this book and Kav & Clay in regards to homosexuality... where does Chabon fall on the Kinsey scale

Archy grew a little on me this section. Mostly it was Gwen's admission that Archy is - "a man remained undiminished by her reluctance to confront him." That and the fact that all of Archy's inactions and non-decisions seem to be piling up behind him. He's a stupid man, yet somehow, at his core, a good one. He doesn't mean well, but he also doesn't mean ill. He's driven to stay still only by some sort of fear. And when you finally meet Luther, you can't help buy try and understand why Archy is the way he is. 

V. Brokeland

With the exception of the final passage, I thought this was a fitting ending to the book. There was a lot of that I loved - Gwen's departure from midwifery, Archy finally standing up for himself and family, Julie and Mrs. Jew going to get Titus so he could be there for the birth of his brother (and Gwen's desire to have him there), Nat finally accepting chaos and change. 

It was that last passage - even perhaps the last two passages - that kind of threw the ending for me (in such a way that maybe now the book gets a 3 when I do my full review, rather than a 4). It just felt forced, like everything he meant to accomplish was accomplished in the hospital room, but he still was obliged to tell us about Gwen's lawsuit and what Archy and Nat are going to do post-Brokeland. Though, I did love the last line: 

"He eased his foot off the brake, thinking as they rolled away that, after all, perhaps one day a few years from now, he might have recovered enough to feel like he was ready to stop in. Say hi, drop a little lore and history on the man, tell him all about Angelo's, and Spencer's, and the Brokeland years. See how they put the world together, next time around." 

The End

So that's it! It's over. Thank you so much to Emily from As the Crowe Flies (And Reads!) for hosting. It was a lot of fun and I'm going to miss all of the other participants. If you're interested, you can pre-order the book here

Friday, July 27, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 17

Day 17 - Favorite Quote From Your Favorite Book


"Always," said Snape.
                  - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Thursday, July 26, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 16

Day 16 - A Book You Would Recommend To An Ignorant/Close Minded/Racist Person


I don't talk to those kinds of people! But I guess if I had to and I guess if those a-holes asked for a recommendation, I'd recommend To Kill A Mockingbird.


To be completely honest, I couldn't think of a good answer to this one on my own, so I Googled it. The problem is - I've read so many books that I think are extremely important, and that deal with a variety of cultures and race relations within. But they all seemed like something an ignorant/close minded/racist person would twist to fit their own agenda. I mean - that's the problem with those kinds of people. 

Purchase Now from Amazon: To Kill a Mockingbird

Monday, July 23, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 15

Day 15 - Book That Should Be On A Required Reading List



I remember reading The Color Purple in high school. Possessing the Secret of Joy is just as powerful and emotional, and sparks the same amount of discussion. It is a sequel of sorts, the main character, Tashi, is a minor character in The Color Purple. Tashi leaves Africa with her husband Adam, but is plagued by some of the things she endured there - specifically her genital mutilation and the customs that forced her to experience that mutilation. 

Purchase Now from Amazon: Possessing the Secret of Joy: A Novel

Friday, July 20, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 14

Day 14 - Your Favorite Book of Your Favorite Writer



Though The Garden of Eden comes in a close second, The Sun Also Rises is definitely my favorite. My copy is so marked up - it's difficult to read the actual words. 

Purchase Now from Amazon: The Sun Also Rises

Thursday, July 19, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 12

Day 12 - The First Novel You Remember Reading


Maybe, The Secret Garden? I think I read that around 3rd grade? Of course I read a lot of Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume, but I'm not sure if Ralph S. Mouse came before or after. Or if it counts. So - the first true grown-up adult novel that I read was Pride & Prejudice. 



I read it for the first time in 5th grade. I didn't understand a word of it. All I think I got out of it was that the mother wanted to marry off all of her daughters. Everything else.... But, I read it. 

Purchase Now from Amazon: Pride and Prejudice



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 13

Day 13 - Your Favorite Writer



The papa. Ernest Hemingway. Funnily enough, I didn't really care for Hemingway at first. Mostly because I was obsessed with 10 Things I Hate About You and wanted to have all of the same opinions that Kat had. I read For Whom the Bell Tolls, which I really thought was full of Hemingway chauvinism. Then, my senior year of high school my teacher assigned an research paper and presentation - we had to read several books by same author, write about them, and then give a 30 minute presentation on their life and works. I picked Hemingway because I thought I could a serious critical analysis, and learned to love the man. That's the best sort of love. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

II. The Church of Vinyl (Telegraph Avenue Read Along)

I really came down right the wire on this one. It's 10:36 Monday evening - exactly 6 minutes past my normal bedtime and I only just finished. Don't get me wrong - the book is still very good, but also - it's kind of like exercising. I just don't want to do it, but I guess in the end it's rewarding?

II. The Church of Vinyl
"Councilman, you made me realize, thank you, but me and Mr. Jones and Nat Jaffe and our kind of people, we already got a church of our own. You, too, seemed like at one time, up to not too long ago, a member in good standing. And that church is the church of vinyl." 
"...our kind of people..."  - the most interesting line in the quote above. Knowing that Nat is white (finally, officially verified on page 189. Almost 200 freaking pages of confusion on the color of one character's skin) and Archy is black. Our kind of people - the kind that can't live without, can't express who they are without music. Color blind.

I found this section more tedious than the first. My expectation of diving into the conflict and actually getting to know and love the characters fell a little flat. It seemed to be just a continuation of Dream of Cream.

What irritates me the most is Chabon's circular approach to each piece of the story. He drops you in the middle of a situation, teasingly alludes to the point, taunts you with your lack of understanding for a while, before circling back to the beginning and affording the reader some clarity. This approach is not necessarily bad. It's more the abundance of it - the unceasing rhythm. It's like... when a writer doesn't vary their sentence structure and the prose becomes sing-songy and strange, too much of the same.

(By the way, you can join the rest of the read along discussion here, and if you're interested in pre-ordering this not yet released book, go here!)

Some Random Observations (Contains Spoilers!)

- When Nat admits to Archy that he always tacks on an extra thirty-seven minutes for all black people - I laughed so hard. I had a good friend in college, black, who - whenever we discussed what time we had to be at a party or a class, he would ask me, "Is that in CP time?"

- Why is Archy cheating such a non-issue? I know that, by the end of this section, he sort of gets his. But the actual act of him cheating is never addressed. And that bothers me. A lot.

- The insertion of Obama into the narrative was jarring and strange. It took me right out of the story. I was trying to figure out why. I mean, that's a pretty huge choice, to include a "historical" figure that is still in the process of making history. The only thing that I can think of is that - going with the obsolete American Dream theme of the first part - Obama represents the opposite of that? He says to Gwen, "I have seen a lot of people, met a lot of people. The lucky ones are the people like your husband there. The ones who find work that means something to them. That they can really put their heart into, however foolish it might look to other people." I know the point of his campaign was hope, but I kind of forgot how heavily he leaned on the rediscovery of every-man's dream.

- I very deeply related to Aviva in this line, "Only Aviva's long habit of taking the temperature of her own racism, of her biases and stereotypes..." I grew up in a town that was predominately white.  And so, when I went to college and actually made friends of color, I was so conscious of my own racism. That is to say - I am not racist. So instead of acting negatively prejudiced, I had a tendency to show a prejudice in the opposite direction. Acting nicer. Giving more. Forever checking myself to make sure - this isn't racist, right? It wasn't until a friend pointed out that what I was doing was ridiculous that I learned to stop.

- I very much enjoyed the allusion to the 2001 monolith. This Dogpile Thang is something that must come to pass.

- Gibson Goode tells Archy, "I'm not in it for the money." Is that better or worse? To destroy something just because you can?

Monday, July 16, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 11

Day 11 - A Book You Hated


I considered Maguire's A Lion Among Men, because it was god-awful and completely unnecessary. But then I remembered Eat, Pray, Love by the insufferable Elizabeth Gilbert.



In my initial review on Shelfari (before I was blogging), I was kind of nice about it:
Well, I must admit that I actually enjoyed Indonesia. Not enough to raise my opinion of the entire book, Ketut, Wayan, and Felipe were wonderful 'characters'. Gilbert focused more on the culture in this section than in any other.
I was very grossly disappointed with this book. At the risk of being accused of being 'close minded' - it just wasn't what I expected. When I'm told I'm going to read about a woman who went on a spiritual journey through 3 amazing countries/cultures in the course of one year, I want to read about a woman who went on a spiritual journey through 3 amazing countries/cultures in one year. I wanted it to be deep. I wanted to feel something. Hell, with all the shit that's happened in my life this year, I NEEDED to feel something. I thought, maybe this woman can show me how to look for God in the face of personal tragedy. Instead, I got distracting sidebars and unamusing anecdotes that lent nothing to the narrative or the point I thought she was hideously trying to make.
That's not to say that this was a BAD book. Like I mentioned before, I can see why the general population has fallen in love with Elizabeth Gilbert and her sassy journey around the world. It was just entirely too informal for my taste and completely lacking in any true emotion. To me, she'd almost get there, and then very annoyingly tack a couple (parenthesis) stating "I remember something my friend said to me once ten years ago word for word..." I couldn't take it. 
Shortly after that was posted, all hell broke loose. People started telling me off, saying they 'felt sorry for me.' To be honest, I felt completely betrayed by Elizabeth Gilbert's superficial approach to these gorgeous countries/cultures. By her making a dime off of her pretense. I really hate her and this book for it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

30-Day Book Challenge - Day 10

Day 10 - Favorite Classic Book


This one, I think, is a tough competition between Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Alcott's Little Women. I read both pretty frequently - Alcott around Christmastime and Austen whenever I'm caught up by the fervent need for more Austen. So - I'm basically 'catching a piggy by its toe' for this one and choosing....


Also - neither of these are listed in my Top Ten of all Time. I apparently don't know what I'm saying at all. 

Purchase Now from Amazon: Little Women

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I. Dream of Cream (Telegraph Avenue Read Along)


Some Things You Should Know

1. I'm reading as a I write. I'm writing as a read. In other words - I'm sticking to the schedule and I'm not reading ahead. This will cause me to make many assumptions on theme and plot that I reserve the right to change as the read along progresses. I figure it'll be more fun that way. I'll still post my usual review at the end of all this. 

2. There will most likely be spoilers. Though I'll try (as I almost always do) to keep it at essential spoilers - i.e. nothing that would ruin any major surprises or plot twists... anything that would make you feel like, well - now I don't have to read this. Because I do want you to read this. 

Summary (via HarperCollins)

As the summer of 2004 draws to a close, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe are still hanging in there, longtime friends, bandmates, and coregents of Brokeland Records, a kingdom of used vinyl located in the sketchy yet freewheeling borderlands of Berkeley and Oakland, on the quintessential East Bay avenue that gives the book its title. Their wives, Gwen Shanks and Aviva Roth-Jaffe, are the Berkeley Birth Partners, a pair of semilegendary midwives who have welcomed, between them, more than a thousand newly minted little citizens into the dented utopia at whose heart, half tavern, half temple, stands Brokeland Records. Archy and Gwen are expecting their first baby; Nat and Aviva have a teenage son, Julius. Cranky, flawed, and loving each other with all the fierceness we've come to expect of Chabon characters, they have worked to construct lives and livelihoods that have a groove, looking to connect across barriers of race and class, and clinging to a sense of order and security through their stubbornly old-school ways. 

When ex-NFL quarterback Gibson Goode, the fifth-richest black man in the United States announces plans to go forward with the construction of his latest Dogpile megastore on a nearby neglected stretch of Telegraph Avenue, Nat and Archy fear it means certain doom for their vulnerable little enterprise. What they don't know is that Goode's announcement marks the climax of a decades-old secret history, encompassing a forgotten crime of the Black Panther era, the tragedy of Archy's own deadbeat father... and the perpetual shining failure of American optimism about race. 

I. Dream of Cream
A white boy rode flatfoot on a skateboard, towed along, hand to shoulder, by a black boy pedaling a brakeless fixed-gear bike. 
That first line pretty much says it all. I mean, most glaringly - the white boy and the black boy let you know that you're most likely in for a story centered on and structured by race relations. But that image invokes more than that - youth, optimism, connection. A fairly simple image of the dream - be it the American Dream, King's Dream or the Dream of Cream.

What struck me right away was the rhythm of the language. Chabon describes Nat Jaffe: "Nat bulled in with his head down, humming low to himself; humming the interesting chord changes to an otherwise lame contemporary pop song; humming an angry letter... humming the first fragments of a new theory... humming when he wasn't making a sound, even when he was asleep, some wire deep in the bones of Nathaniel Jaffe always resounding." And that's what the novel does. It's got a funky, jazzy sort of beat.

Then, after that, the second chord struck (pun intended) was the depth of Chabon's writing. The layers! We've already established that there's the element of race. So we move on next to the American Dream - the story is set in 2004, against the rise of a big box store referred to as the Thang. Which, I was trying to remember - is that around the time when the big boxes really started to hit it big? I think it was around then, 2000, when Target and Barnes & Noble came to my hometown, so it's a pretty significant period of time for Chabon to have chosen - the symbolic decline of the dream, the decline of the ability to pave your own way on these proverbial streets of gold. I mean, Dream of Cream turns out to be this highly coveted desert sold at a neighborhood bakery that will soon be closing its doors. A slice of cake that's moving quickly toward the obsolete.

There are three generations distinctly represented in the novel, each carrying its own parental/lost boy sort of baggage. Early on in this section, Archy contemplates his impending fatherhood against that of his own father - "... Luther Stallings still came around, paid his child support on time, took Archy to A's games... there was something further required of old Luther that never materialized, some part of him that never showed up, even when he was standing right beside Archy. Fathering imposed an obligation that was more than your money, your body, or your time, a presence neither physical nor measurable by clocks: open-ended, eternal, and invisible, like the commitment of gravity to the stars." Both men - Archy and Nat (though both had vastly different relationships with their fathers) - struggle to break free of the cycle themselves, while also dealing with a new, mysterious and hopeful generation.

Oh! And, like Joseph Kavalier and Sammy Clay, the original Chabon lost boys, I love how Julius Jaffe, a misunderstood homosexual teenager, reveres comic book heroes. Nice touch!

Jump around to the other blogs in the read along here.

A Treat for my Read Along Bloggers: Telegraph Avenue Pandora Station! (That I made, sitting here like a dork, scanning the pages for artists mentioned, while the boy sits on the couch attempting to read A Dance with Dragons... "What are you DOING?" he asks.)

Intrigued? Pre-order your copy here.
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