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text 2019-01-09 23:37
Not to my liking (DNF)
The Sellout: A Novel - Paul Beatty

Besides being on the bestseller list, it came highly recommended to me by a patron at my branch who felt so strongly about it that she went to the shelf, brought it to me at circulation, and insisted I check it out immediately. I hadn't heard anything about this book before she placed it in my hands despite the praise it had received from the literati of the world. This book is a conundrum to me. It has been touted as an uproariously hilarious satirical take on race and culture in America. I'll agree with the latter part of that statement but I didn't find it funny in the least. In fact, I found that the 'jokes' were not at all to my taste. This is probably due to the amount of books on race and culture I've read over the last year but I just couldn't read this book without feeling thoroughly depressed at what felt almost hyper realistic. Now I made it halfway through this book so I feel like I got the overall gist and flavor of the thing. The narrator (name not revealed beyond the nickname BonBon) lives on a farm in the middle of a Californian ghetto called Dickens where you're more likely to see cows on the side of the road than a white person walking their dog. The book starts with him being called before the Supreme Court on an issue of dragging black people's progress back to the time of slavery...because he has a slave of his own. I don't know what this book was but I do know that I didn't like it and I have no intention of finishing it in the future. Progress: 145 out of 289 pages.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2019-01-09 04:57
The Snark Bible: A Reference Guide to Verbal Sparring, Comebacks, Irony, Insults, and So Much More
The Snark Bible: A Reference Guide to Verbal Sparring, Comebacks, Irony, Insults, and So Much More - Lawrence Dorfman

Pretty much what it says on the wrapper.  I love snark and this random gift from a family member is just the sort of thing that makes me chuckle.  It's a great collection, and was heading towards a 5 star rating, but it floundered a bit at the end.  I was willing to overlook a couple of quotes - and really it was only a couple - that were repeated in slightly paraphrased form.  

 

It's a thick book and one or two passing through the keeper is not unexpected.  But at about the 80% mark, specifically the chapter on Motherhood, the quotes stopped being snarky and were just quotes about motherhood, some of them quite endearing and touching.  

 

Then in the last 2-3 chapters, Dorfman lost that fifth star all together when he stopped quoting the greats and started ad libbing his own brand of snark, or at least what he likely considered snark.  It was too acerbic for my tastes; it didn't read snarky nearly as much as it read angry and bitter.  Vitriolic, even.  The dude does NOT like Christmas.  That's fair enough; Christmas can be a trying time for even the most festive feeling of us, but his barbs failed to find that sweet spot of gracious lunacy that can be Christmas.  After that chapter, his further attempts at snarky comebacks to enduring cliches just fell flat.

 

Still, overall it's an excellent compendium of sarcastic and witty quotes that will serve me well as a handy reference when I'm at the end of my rope trying to be polite to the more challenging people in my life.  Mostly time well spent.

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review 2018-12-27 03:25
Boarding school satire
Molesworth - Geoffrey Willans,Ronald Searle

The Compleet Molesworth by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle (co-creator and illustrator) had been on my TRL for ages. I was intrigued by the illustrations that were depicted on the cover and its comparison to my dear Roald Dahl. This is a classic children's series (bound together in its entirety here) about a boy named Nigel Molesworth who narrates his time in a boy's boarding school called St. Custard's. Willans captures the spirit of boyhood in a private boarding school especially well owing to his being a Headmaster himself. (This is even funnier once you get to know Headmaster Grimes who is particularly fond of the cane.) This book is replete with bad spelling (evidenced in the title) and absolutely stunning illustrations by Searle who was a satirical cartoonist (perfect for this series). Molesworth and his buddies get up to many hi-jinks and shenanigans which are generally instigated by our hero. Amidst all of this tomfoolery Willans and Searle have taken jabs at the inequalities of the classes by showcasing the Head Boy Grabber as only being placed in such a prestigious position because his parents shell out lots of money. (The Headmaster is greedy and generally does all he can to cut corners most notably with the selection of food offered to the students.) If you can get used to the bad spelling, grammatical errors, made-up slang, and seemingly arbitrary abbreviations for everything you will see why this has held up as a true children's classic. It's witty, cutting in its bluntness, and in general everything I hoped it would be. 10/10

 

Source: Amazon.co.uk

 

I wanted to give a little taste for the delights that await you.

 

What's Up Next: Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Tales from the Inner City by Shaun Tan

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-12-23 22:01
24 Festive Tasks: My Final Books (Doors 16, 17 and 19 -- Human Rights Day, St. Lucia's Day, and Festivus)
A Christmas Guest - Anne Perry,Terrence Hardiman
Skandinavische Weihnachten: Die schönsten Geschichten von Sven Nordqvist, Hans Christian Andersen, Selma Lagerlöf u.a. - Hans Christian Andersen,Selma Lagerlöf,Various Authors,Sven Nordqvist,Josef Tratnik,Dirk Bach,Jens Wawrczeck
A Woman of No Importance - Full Cast,Oscar Wilde
Model Millionaire - David Timson,Oscar Wilde


Anne Perry: A Christmas Guest

The third book in Anne Perry's series of Christmas novellas, each one of which has as their protagonist one of the supporting characters from Perry's main series (William Monk, and Charlotte & Thomas Pitt).  This installment's starring role goes to Charlotte Pitt's vinegar-tongued grandmother, who -- like another remote relative, recently returned to England after having spent most of her adult life living in the Middle East -- finds herself shunted onto Charlotte and her husband Thomas at short notice, because the family with whom she had been planning to spend the holidays have made other plans.  While Grandma pretends to despise her widely-traveled fellow guest, secretly she develops a considerable amount of respect for her, so when the lady is unexpetedly found dead, grandma takes it upon herself to seek out the people who had unloaded her on the Pitt household; convinced that something untoward is afoot.

 

As Perry's Christmas novellas go, this is one of my favorite installments to date, and i loved seeing it told, for once, not from the point of view of an easily likeable character, but from that of Grandma, who is a major pain in the neck to others (even though you'd have to be blind not to recognize from the word "go" that her acerbic tongue and pretensions are merely part of her personal armour).  I also wondered whether the murder victim's character might have been inspired by pioneering women travelers like Gertrude Bell, even if the story is set a few decades earlier than Bell's actual life.  I had issues with a couple of minor aspects of the plot (and characters / behaviour), but they didn't intrude enough to seriously impinge on my enjoyment of the story.  And since Grandma, for all her overblown pretenses, is certainly a strong woman character -- which she shows, not least, by eventually admitting to her own fallibilities -- I am counting this book towards the Human Rights Day square of 24 Festive Tasks.

 

 

 
Various Authors: Skandinavische Weihnachten

A charming anthology of Christmas short stories and poems from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Finland; chiefly geared towards children, but more than enjoyable by readers and listeners of all ages and generations.  I knew some of the entries (no Scandinavian Christmas anthology without Andersen's Little Match Girl, I suppose), but many of the stories were new to me, and they made for delightful listening on this 4th weekend of Advent. -- Set in Scandinavia, and thus I'm using it as my book for the St. Lucia's Day square.

 

 


Oscar Wilde: A Woman of No Importance

Wilde's second play; an acerbic take on the narrowness of fin de siècle English morality; or more particularly, supremely hypocritical perceptions of women's role in society.  Unlike in Wilde's later plays, the beginning comes across as a bit of an over-indulgence in the author's own clever wit, with a veritable fireworks of sparkling onelines and repartees following in quick succession without greatly advancing the plot (which is what earns the piece the subtractions in my star ratings -- it's the perfect example of too much of a good thing); but once the plot and the dialogue centers on the opposing protagonists, it quickly finds its feet. -- As Festivus books go, it's rather on the dark side, but it's a satire nevertheless, so I'm counting it for that square ... and though (unusually for Wilde) the last line is telegraphed a mile and a half in advance, I nevertheless enjoyed saying it along with the play's heroine from all my heart.

 

 


Oscar Wilde: Model Millionaire

My encore enjoyment to follow up A Woman of No Importance; a story that couldn't be any more different in tone and intent -- the tale of a gentleman who believes he has done a kindness to a raggedy beggar modelling for his artist friend ... only to find that he could not possibly have been any more mistaken, and that in fact it is he who is ultimately at the receiving end of an unexpected kindness.

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review 2018-12-20 00:04
24 Festive Tasks: Door 23 - Hogswatch, Book
Hogfather (Discworld, #20) - Terry Pratchett
Hogfather: Discworld, Book 20 - Nigel Planer,Terry Pratchett

... and another yearly Christmas tradition right here, the annual Hogfather reread.  Or relisten (thank Heaven for Nigel Planer's narration).

 

Much has already been shared (and the whole book is one huge piece of quotable writing, of course), but anyway, this is one of my favorite bits not mentioned by anybody else yet:

     "In the glittering, clattering, chattering atmosphere a head waiter was having a difficult time.  There were a lot of people in, and the staff should have been fully stretched, putting bicarbonate of soda in the white wine to make very expensive bubbles and cutting the vegetables very small to make them cost more.

     Instead they were standing in a dejected group in the kitchen.

     Where did it all go?' screamed the manager. Someone's been through the cellar, too!'

     'William said he felt a cold wind,' said the waiter.  He'd been backed up against a hot plate, and now knew why it was called a hot plate in a way he hadn't fully comprehended before.

     'I'll give him a cold wind!  Haven't we got anything?'

     'There's odds and ends ... '

     'You don't  mean odds and ends, you mean des curieux et des bouts', corrected the manager.

     'Yeah, right, yeah.  And, er, and, er ...'

     'There's nothing else?'

     'Er ... old boots.  Muddy old boots.'

     'Old -- ?'

     'Boots.  Lots of 'em,' said the waiter.  He felt he was beginning to singe.

     'How come we've got ... vintage footwear?'

     'Dunno.  They just turned up, sir.  The oven's full of old boots.  So's the pantry.'

     'There's a hundred poeple booked in!  All the shops'll be shut!  Where's Chef?'

     'William's trying to get him to come out of the privy, sir.  He's locked himself in and is having one of his Moments.'

     'Something's cooking.  What's that I can smell?'

     'Me, sir.'

     'Old boots ...' muttered the manager.  'Old boots ... old boots ... Leather, are they?  Not clogs or rubber or anything?'

     'Looks like ... just boots.  And lots of mud, sir.'

     The manager took off his jacket.  'All right.  Got any cream , have we?  Onions?  Garlic?  Butter?  Some old beef bones?  A bit of pastry?'

     ' Er, yes ...'

     The manager rubbed his hands together.  'Right,' he said, taking an apron off a hook.  'You there, get some water boiling!  Lots of water!  And find a really large hammer!  And you, chop some onions!  The rest of you, start sorting out the boots.  I want the tongues out and the soles off.  We'll do them ... let's see ... Mousse de la Boue dans un Panier de la Pâte de Chaussures ...'

     'Where're we going to get that from, sir?'

     'Mud mousse in a basket of shoe pastry.  Get the idea?  It's not our fault if even Quirmians don't understand restaurant Quirmian.  It's not like lying, after all.'

     'Well, it's a bit like --' the waiter began.  He'd been cursed with honesty at an early stage.

     'Then there's Brodequin rôti Façon Ombres ...'

     The manager sighed at the head waiter's panicky expression.  'Soldier's boot done in the Shades fashion,' he translated.

     'Er ... Shades fashion?'

     'In mud.  But if we cook the tongues separately we can put on Languette braisée, too.'

     'There's some ladies' shoes, sir,' said an under-chef.

     'Right.  Add to the menu ... Let's see now ... Sole d'une Bonne Femme ... and ... yes ... Servis dans un Coulis de Terre en l'Eau.  That's mud, to you.'

     'What about the laces, sir?' said another under-chef.

     'Good thinking.  Dig out the reicpe for Spaghetti Carbonara.'"

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