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review 2017-10-16 00:00
The Witches of Eastwick
The Witches of Eastwick - John Updike DNF about 50 pages in. I just can't with all this BS. Less than 5 pages in, I knew I was probably not going to like it. It is very, very obviously written by a man. Some men do ok with writing women. This is not one of those cases. I have so many problems with this book from just these 50ish pages, I don't even know where to begin.

Let's see... Honestly, if I could just C&P the entire book so far, I would, but I'll try to narrow this down to a few examples.

There's the obsession each of the women seems to have with the other two and their bodies. They're constantly being compared in great detail. At one point, Alexandra's thoughts are something about her "...wish to stroke that long flat stretch from the other woman's breasts to below her waist, the way one longs to dart out a hand and stroke the belly a cat on its back..."

Then there's the trope (or at least I think it's a trope because I'm pretty sure I've seen it a lot, but mostly from men writing women) of how liberated/empowered/feminist women all want to fuck any man who'll sit still. These women are having sex with literally any man, including the husbands of the other two.

Then there's this gem:

"Of plants, tomatoes seemed the most human, eager and fragile and prone to rot. Picking the watery orange-red orbs, Alexandra felt she was cupping a giant lover’s testicles in her hand. She recognized as she labored in her kitchen the something sadly menstrual in all this, the bloodlike sauce to be ladled upon the white spaghetti. the fat white strings would become her own white fat. This female struggle of hers against her own weight: at the age of thirty-eight she found it increasingly unnatural. In order to attract love must she deny her own body, like a neurotic saint of old?"

A bit later, there's more menstrual musing, some racism thrown in for good measure, and so much misogyny I feel like the Orange Menace could have written it. Actually, yeah, the writing in this really reminds me of things he's said either in interviews or on twitter. Only Updike seemed to be trying to show how much he "loves" and "respects" women, but ended up showcasing just how true the opposite is.

There's more, but I don't feel like getting up to retrieve the book from where it landed when I threw it a few minutes ago.

I might have enjoyed this, had I read it when I was much younger. I'm so, so glad it was never in any of the libraries I visited, though. I hate that I wasted $3 on this, instead of spending it on something better, but I'm also glad I didn't read it when I was younger and less aware. I'm finding that the older I get, the less patience I have for BS, especially from men directed at/about women.
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review 2016-10-21 00:00
The Witches of Eastwick
The Witches of Eastwick - John Updike I tried, I really did. I loved this movie and for me the movie was much better than this book. It was over-written (is that a thing?) because that's how it felt to me. I just wanted to read about these three women who are witches living in Eastwick. Instead Updike spends so much time on a lot of minutiae that I just didn't care to finish this.

I have talked to three other people and one had a reaction similar to mine (though she finished, and is still mad she didn't just put it away) one who was meh to the book and the third person who loved it and kept screeching they couldn't believe that I didn't like this since I am such a big reader. Yeah I like to read, not torture myself, this book was feeling mighty painful til I threw up the white flag of surrender.

Besides knowing that the three women are called Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie. I had some True Blood flashbacks cause of the name (same pronunciation, different spelling) and that's about it.

Updike spends so much time overly describing these three women and how their marriages ended (or didn't end, I still don't know) that my eyes started to glaze. I think one of them is a mat? I refuse to go back and read this book again. One of my friends told me that Updike was writing symbolically and that the one husband wasn't turned into anything and my response was I refuse to care about this and they started laughing. So there's that at least.

And I don't even know what to call this writing, purple prose on acid maybe. Cause everything was just too much. I at one point was all can you just get to the point?! The point!

There are just huge blocks of text staring at you because Updike doesn't seem to know how to end thoughts/paragraphs. And then you will have characters having three to five different inner thoughts and you want to scream because once again you just want to say get to the point.

I have never read an Updike before this one and I doubt that I will read any in the future.
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-04-22 17:32
Literarische Weltreise: Sechster Stopp Lateinamerika/ Brasilien
Brasilien - John Updike Brasilien - John Updike

Der schwarze Brasilianer Tristao und die weiße Brasilianerin Isabel lernen sich am Strand kennen und sind voneinander fasziniert. Isabels Familie ist nicht begeistert von der Verbindung und will die beiden auseinander bringen. Daraufhin fliehen beide und ziehen gemeinsam quer durch Brasilien.

Meine Meinung:

Inhaltlich gefällt mir das Buch, soweit es von der gesellschaftlichen Situation von Brasilien berichtet. Ich habe dabei vieles erfahren, das ich von dem Land noch nicht wusste.
Was mir nicht so gefällt ist die derbe Sprache in Verbindung mit dem Sex der beiden Hauptpersonen. Außerdem finde ich manches nicht glaubwürdig, wie z.B.
**** Achtung Spoiler ****
dass sie so einfach ihre Kinder aufgibt. Auch der angebliche Zauber der beide die Hautfarbe wechseln lässt, finde ich nicht wirklich passend.
**** Spoiler Ende****

Daher von mir "nur" 3 Sterne.

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text 2016-01-06 02:21
The Best and Worst of 2015
Cinder - Marissa Meyer
Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian (Audio) - Bob Saget
Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #1 - Zack Whedon,Georges Jeanty,Karl Story,Laura Martin,Michael Heisler
The Witches of Eastwick - John Updike
Pulled - A.L. Jackson,Amy Lichtenhan
Marrying the Master - Chloe Cox

I know I'm a little behind in this, but here is my short list of the best and worst things I read in 2015.


The Best


Cinder: Wow, why did I wait to read this?! It was a great read, well written and so creative. I really appreciate that Cinder wasn't a damsel in distress either. She is a strong leading female.


Dirty Daddy: Finding a great non-fiction read is hard, but this book knocked it out of the park. Bob Saget is great, vulgar and blunt. He knows himself and is not afraid to tell you his worst memories. I think I love real Bob a million times better than Danny Tanner. 


Serenity: Leaves on the Wind: As any red-blooded American nerd, I adore Firefly. And silly me didn't realize there were graphic novels until this past spring. Where the heck was my head? This volume got me bad, since it takes place after the movie and we lost Wash. I cried. 


The Worst


The Witches of Eastwick: Why was this book so popular? The women are horrible with no moral compass. And everyone uses the term "faggot" way too often.


Pulled: I cannot stand a man that calls someone he is clearly willing to bone a bitch. This guy slept with a woman, got her pregnant and then kept referring to her as a bitch. I just cannot tolerate it. 


Marrying the Master: This book was outside my comfort zone. I don't tend to read erotica or anything BDSM. And this book reinforced that. The main guy is a controlling asshole that pushes everyone around to get his way. He even humiliates his "wife" in a Japanese restaurant, making her strip down naked in their tatami room. All the while he eats and talls but she has to just sit there naked and starving. Nope. That is not okay.


I read a ton of great books last year and I hope this year holds more of the same. Now if you will excuse me, I need to take more cough medicine before my lungs become exterior organs.


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review 2015-08-26 22:43
John Updike - Rabbit, Run
Rabbit, Run - John Updike

Writers try to express their meaning not just by their choice of words, but the way they’re used. Raymond Carver wrote about the simple life using simple words and simple structure. Paul Auster’s fiction tends to contain multiple layers, so his sentences tend to drag on, too. As for John Updike, any sentence that is not longer than a line is useless. A few of these survived, but they’re endangered species in Rabbit, Run. It’s unclear why.


There is a pretty big paragraph which describes the planet in the garden Rabbit works in. It’s a horrible piece of writing. It’s literally a list of the plants and a brief descriptions of them. It’s not writing and it’s not typing. It’s lifting up straight from a Beginner’s Guide to Garden Plants. Updike could have at least put in the end the name of the guide he lifted the descriptions from. After wading through the forest that is Updike’s words, I wanted to have some idea of how these plants look like.


There’s no way Updike actually wrote that paragraph. Early on in the novel, Updike describes a basketball game with big sentences and big paragraphs. The shock that someone used all these words and didn’t stumble wears off quickly. It’s that good. It transmits the energy of a basketball game, and this game is an important character building moment. That’s a good reason to linger on it. What did that description of the garden helped? Why were the roofs of the houses were described over, and over, and over?


Updike tells me a simple story using complex language. He’s the antithesis of Raymond Carver, only writing about the same thing. Updike occasionally writes paragraph that are as good as Carver, but then he quickly falls again. This style of writing is just not suited to the subject matter and the themes. Worse, Updike hints that he says the same empathy and insight that makes Carver’s fiction so engrossing.


Updike wants to transmit the dullness of suburban life, but can dull life be described in such an explosive language? Maybe, and Updike sometimes reads like he can do it. Too often, he lingers on irrelevant details. It makes sense when he lingers on the women’s bodies, and even on the golf game even though it ended up being incomprehensible. He can even make a description of a chair important. The problem is, Updike is not selective in what he describes. He describes everything, both things that are irrelevant to the story and themes and things that are.


Descriptions are more than to tell us what the scene looks like. In fact, ‘what the scene looks like’ is not that important. Whether there’s a picture of Hemingway or Steinbeck in the room is irrelevant – until it tells us more than just that the picture is there. If the author tells me there’s a picture of Hemingway on the wall, it should be because he wants to tell me the character is obsessive over Hemingway, is literary, wants to be macho, or something like that. This is called being selective in what you describe. Updike doesn’t fail because he’s bad at describing, but because he’s not selective in what he describes. Even a talented guitarist would be boring somewhere in a sixty-minute jam session.


The story itself crumbles underneath this weight. Rabbit is an asshole, and that’s great. Updike is willing to explore a character that John Green would have turned into a one-dimensional antagonist. He makes Rabbit human and believable enough, but he forgot to show us what made him appealing to other people. It’s to easy to imagine how a once basketball star would be fun to have around, but there aren’t any examples of that. People say they love him a lot, but that’s it. There’s even an instance when one says they can’t describe why. Was that a moment of self awareness?


The asshole aspects of Rabbit are great. Updike knows how to make understand, if not necessarily agree with Rabbit’s actions. As immoral as he is, every action of his makes sense. He’s also not just an asshole. Bad people don’t want to be bad. They just have a different set of values. Rabbit is capable of being moral just as he is capable of being an asshole. Two great moments show these sides. One moment is where Updike nails what “guys entitled to sex” means. It’s a great portrait of the sexual insecurity of males. Another is a big plot moment where Rabbit’s character turns around. It’s easy to make this an out-of-character moment and make the plot go dumb like E-40. Since Updike is wise enough to portray Rabbit is a human first, this sudden burst of good just makes him more real.


Updike is just as good as portraying the other characters. Every character has its own values and worldviews. It’s most apparent when Rabbit visits his parents-in-law and then his own parents, but morose in two scenes. There is one section that centers on Eccles, and another on Janice. In these scenes, Updike follows them in an ordinary day, but by selectively describing some things he gets into these characters’ head. Eccles is interesting to lead his own novel. Janice is more vague, although her scene is more important. Still, he managed to make the ‘who’s guilty’ question of the novel a never-ending debate. He did it not by being too vague, but by creating real, flawed human beings which are the cause of such tragedies.


These great moments though tend to be buried under heaps of words. Rabbit, Run feels like a language exercise, but it shouldn’t be. It’s a simple story about simple people. Even if these simple people go through an epic quest, writing them in a simple language will give them more respect (As in Grapes of Wrath). It’s worth reading for its story and ideas, but it’s a short book that has about 70 extra pages. Updike probably just wanted to avoid writing a novella.


2 rabbits out of 5


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