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review 2017-07-31 02:10
Take the Cannoli
Take the Cannoli: Stories From the New World - Sarah Vowell

A collection of Vowell's essays culled from several magazine/newspaper columns and This American Life, this is one of those books that is difficult for me to rate.

 

On the one hand, I found her dry humour entertaining, but on the other, I'm not a fan of cynicism in general, and Vowell's weaponised form often taxed my patience.  

 

She and I are the same age, but our childhoods did not share much in the way of common experiences, and we definitely don't share a common political view.  I was, in fact, incredulous that she referred to perjury on the part of a president as a "fib".  But we do share a deep, abiding love for our country even when it disappoints and horrifies us.

 

The essays I connected with, or enjoyed most were the ones where she was able to put her disaffected persona to the side (or at least mute it) and talk about those experiences common to most everybody: battles with insomnia, her experiences at the rock and roll camp, learning to drive.  There's an essay about Chicago that is brilliant and even though I think she let herself get in her own way, her piece on the Trail of Tears was devastating and moving.

 

So even though I can't say I loved this work, it's only because I was unable to find enough common ground to do so.  But I do think Vowell is an excellent writer and I'd happily read more of her work; she has a book on famous assassinations I've had my eye on for some time now that I'm definitely going to hunt down.

 

I read this book for my final Free Friday read; it was 209 pages.

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review 2017-07-20 21:21
Overwhelmed in a Good Way
Bad Feminist: Essays - Roxane Gay

I don't know what else to say about Roxane Gay besides run and find all of her books and sit down and enjoy. I loved her collection of essays. Some of them were humorous, some sad, and some just made me want to sit in a room by myself all day and not talk to a person. She has a way of drilling down on an issue and just making you realize that someone out there has the same thoughts as you and you don't feel wholly alone.

 

I will say one thing though, the flow of these essays does not go from point A, to point B, etc. seamlessly. Instead it feels like we get dropped in at various times when Gay could be just talking to a friend about a subject she wants to discuss.

 

The book goes from broad topics such as Gender & Sexuality, Race & Entertainment, Politics, Gender, & Race, and then goes back to Gay speaking about herself and what makes her a "bad" feminist. Within these topics she has some essays speaking on things. I will say that if you haven't read some of the books she is discussing (she dislikes Fifty Shades of Grey as much as I do) or watched some of the movies, you may not get what she is talking about. Since I have read the books in question, or at least heard of them, and watched all of the movies, and television shows I was better off than most of the other readers who I saw had comments about that. 

 

I also think that according to the modern day rules I am probably a bad feminist. I don't think my being a woman equals I cannot criticize another woman. If anything, I hope, that most women's comments are more constructive than what most men say about us to our faces and behind our backs. 

 

I also know that even though I am black, I too do not care for Tyler Perry's movies and just like Gay think his messaging needs to be fixed. 


Things I highly encourage potential readers to review:

 

"The Careless Language of Sexual Violence", "Dear Young Ladies Who Love Chris Brown So Much They Would Let Him Beat Them", "The Trouble With Prince Charming, or He Who Trespassed Against Us", and "1960s Mississippi: Thoughts on The Help".  

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review 2017-07-14 22:26
Book 40/100: Women Who Run With the Wolves - Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype - Clarissa Pinkola Estés

So, this book took me forever to read and I had to stop a couple times to read other things for book club, etc. And it's mostly because it took me so long to read that I am now TEN books behind on my reading challenge for the year ... but I'm cool, I told myself that I wouldn't let the challenge be an excuse to not tackle longer or meatier works, so ...

I was relieved when I read the afterward in which Estes recommends reading the book slowly over a long period of time -- I guess I was doing it right! And that is one of the reasons that this book took me so long to read -- it's not the type of book you can dip into, reading a page here or there. It takes some focus and some concentration and is best enjoyed with some uninterrupted time to really sink into.

This does not mean it's a difficult book, necessarily. If you enjoy and have some familiarity with the concepts Estes is riffing on -- the collective unconscious, Jungian psychology, the symbolism and importance of storytelling, etc. -- it's pretty accessible. However, if your mind starts to wander you'll have to read sections again, so it does require some focus. And a focused reading also yields the greatest results, because this is a book that I think is meant to evoke connection to and reflection upon your own life and evolution as a woman.

Some of the chapters were longer than I would have liked, while others were too short, probably reflecting Estes' interest in various developmental stages. But every chapter was interesting and relevant in its own way, allowing new ways to look at both well-known and obscure fairy tales and myths as well as, more importantly, your own life path. I have lots of page flags in this one and will be holding onto it because it's clearly a book that will reward future visits.

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review 2017-06-24 02:45
[REVIEW] A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
A Room of One's Own - Virginia Woolf

My first Virginia Woolf. It was very interesting. That first half though? Good grief. It was a rambling, meandering mess. I fell asleep three times trying to get through it.

The middle portion of the book is excellent. Some of her views sadly still apply today. How women are considered inferior, how they must be a mirror that reflects men's greatness back at them and if they don't fulfill this role, they are mercilessly attacked. It's all very true in this day and age.

She spoke from her perspective but as I read, I couldn't help but wonder about the women of color back then had the shit end of the stick.

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review 2017-05-31 14:26
Take the Cannoli: Stories From the New World - Sarah Vowell  
Take the Cannoli: Stories From the New World - Sarah Vowell

I can already tell I'm going to want to read this again. Essays, I love them. Plus, in my mind, I can hear Vowell as she must have sounded on This American Life, which is where most of these began. There's a few bits of growing-up interspersed throughout, a lot of history, the blackest of humor. Great stuff, perhaps especially on the Trail of Tears and how many different emotions that trip spawned.

So much humor, though.

On the one hand, I think Vowell would be an awesome friend to hang with, laughing at Choo-Choo and working it into every comment because of the way it sounds ("spleen" is a personal fave) on the other, she would someday drag me along on the least appealing road trip ever. Hotspots of the Teapot Dome scandal? Tippecanoe? Some other phrase I only dimly recall from American history, but can't actually place in time or space? She's already done The Hall of Presidents, so I'd be clear of that one. Yet no matter how little the idea would appeal to me, she'd make it fascinating: full of humor and humanity. Maybe we can just get her and Kate Beaton and Bill Bryson to filter all of history for us?

Library copy

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