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review 2019-01-16 04:37
Vintage: A Ghost Story
Vintage: A Ghost Story - Berman, Steve,Steve Berman

This was interesting enough to keep my attention, and it thankfully wasn't a ghost love story, because that concept is just weird. What else is weird is that the MC is never named. Not once. So I'll call him Melindo (Gordon) because why not. 

 

Melindo is 17 and lives with his aunt after his parents kicked him out of the home for being gay. He stumbles upon a ghost one night while walking home, only to find out the ghost is his town's very own urban legend. Josh was killed in the 50s on that stretch of road and has been seen walking it ever since. Melindo is actually able to talk to Josh. Josh is hot and Melindo is horny and desperate, so why not see where this goes, right?

 

Um...because Josh is a ghost. That might be a reason. IJS.

 

It was a little strange for Melindo and his best friend Trace to be so blasé about Melindo's ghost whispering abilities. Sure, they're into the macabre and they crash funerals for funsies, but at some point, I'd have expected them to step back and question reality just a little. 

 

I liked that Trace wasn't the overbearing girl friend so typical of M/M (probably helps that this isn't actually M/M) and that the ghost story doesn't go in quite the direction I expected. Melindo's aunt was pretty cool, and I liked Second Mike a lot. Still, I never felt like I connected with any of the characters or really cared about what would happen in the end. It was a quick read though, and the writing flowed well, so it was a nice way to spend a couple of days.

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review 2019-01-11 20:00
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) - Anna Quindlen,Madeleine L'Engle

I decided to reread A Wrinkle in Time again because I am also going to reread the remainder of the Murry/O'Keefe series and I am one of those people who needs to begin at the beginning. I don't have anything to add to this review, except that I remain in awe of Madeleine L'Engle's extraordinary humanity. She was a remarkable woman, and I'm not sure that we deserved her.

 

Rereading the book inspired me to rewatch the movie, as well. Maybe this weekend!

 

Review from 3/24/18:

 

I decided to reread after seeing the new Ava DuVernay adaptation with my daughter. I read the book as a child of the 1970's - probably a bit more than decade or so after the initial 1963 publication, around 1977, when I was 11. I fell in love with the book then, seeing much of myself in Meg Murry, the ordinary, often grumpy, young woman. I revisited L'Engle in 2015, and found that, while some of her books had not held up with reread, many of them did. 

 

This book is part of my personal canon, one of the books that shaped my childhood and had a part in making me who I am today.


A Wrinkle in Time is a bit of a period piece, to be sure. Girls today are stronger, more self-aware, more cognizant of the pressures of an often sexist society, and more willing to buck convention in order to be authentic to themselves. Not all girls, of course, but some girls. Our culture, today, at least struggles to understand these pressures and to acknowledge that they exist, even if we often fail to genuinely confront them.


The DuVernay adaptation succeeds in a way that, after reading alot of L'Engle, and a fair amount about L'Engle, I believe that she would appreciate. Casting Meg Murry as a biracial young woman was an inspired decision, the relocation of the plot to a more diverse location in California, the addition of Charles Wallace as an adopted child, to me really work to illuminate some of the themes that L'Engle was writing about - alienation and dangers of extreme social conformity in particular. 

There are parts of the book that are quite different from the movie, of course. In the book, the Murry's have two additional children, a set of male twins who are effortlessly socially competent. They are capable of fulfilling society's expectations with little work. Meg, on the other hand, is prickly, defensive, occasionally angry, and fearsomely intelligent - all things which 1963 America couldn't really cope with in girls. Heck, we still struggle with girls who are prickly, defensive, occasionally angry and fearsomely intelligent. 

A Wrinkle in Time shines light into dark places. For that alone, it's worth reading.

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text 2019-01-11 19:34
Proposed buddy read
Excellent Women - Barbara Pym

Themis-Athena, Murder By Death & I are planning a Buddy Read of Barbara Pym's Excellent Women to tentatively begin on Friday, January 25.

 

Plot summary: 

 

Excellent Women is one of Barbara Pym's richest and most amusing high comedies. Mildred Lathbury is a clergyman's daughter and a mild-mannered spinster in 1950s England. She is one of those "excellent women," the smart, supportive, repressed women who men take for granted. As Mildred gets embroiled in the lives of her new neighbors--anthropologist Helena Napier and her handsome, dashing husband, Rocky, and Julian Malory, the vicar next door--the novel presents a series of snapshots of human life as actually, and pluckily, lived in a vanishing world of manners and repressed desires.

 

Barbara Pym was born in 1913 and died of breast cancer in 1980 and Excellent Women was originally published in 1952.

 

According to Wikipedia:

 

"several strong themes link the works in the Pym canon, which are more notable for their style and characterisation than for their plots. A superficial reading gives the impression that they are sketches of village or suburban life, and comedies of manners, studying the social activities connected with the Anglican church (Anglo-Catholic parishes in particular.) (Pym attended several churches during her lifetime, including St Michael and All Angels, Barnes, where she served on the Parish Church Council.)

 

Pym closely examines many aspects of women's and men's relations, including unrequited feelings of women for men, based on her own experience. Pym was also one of the first popular novelists to write sympathetically about unambiguously gay characters (most notably in A Glass of Blessings).  She portrayed the layers of community and figures in the church seen through church functions. The dialogue is often deeply ironic. A tragic undercurrent runs through some of the later novels, especially Quartet in Autumn and The Sweet Dove Died."

 

In 2013, The Telegraph published an interesting piece for Pym's centenary, which can be found here.

 

If any of this sounds interesting, feel free to join us!

 

Participants (so far):

 

Moonlight Reader

Themis-Athena

Murder By Death

BrokenTune

Lillelara

The Better To See You My Dear

Person of Interest

Peregrinations

 

Honorary participate: Mike Finn

 

Let's use "pymalong" and "excellent women" to tag our posts!

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text 2019-01-10 19:03
TBR Thursday: January 10, 2019

On my TBR cart for next week

 

A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) - Anna Quindlen,Madeleine L'Engle 

 

A Wrinkle in Time is my current read - I am about 25% finished. This is a reread of a book that I own in paperback, and is a beloved favorite from my childhood. I'm rebooting my L'Engleverse Read for 2019.

 

Excellent Women - Barbara Pym 

 

I have never read Barbara Pym before, although I have been meaning to for a long time. I checked this one out of my local library - it's the Plume edition. Once I finish my reread of A Wrinkle in Time, this is next.

 

 

Murder Must Advertise - Dorothy L. Sayers 

 

This is standing between me and Gaudy Night, so I'm reading it, although the plot summary is less than entrancing, and it apparently contains 100% less Harriet Vane, which is disappointing.

 

Picnic at Hanging Rock - Joan Lindsay 

 

I just picked up this one for my Century of Women reading project. I am also thinking that it will fit into the Back to the Classics challenge, sliding it at just over 50 years old (published in 1967). I need to read something that qualifies as a tragedy, and the disappearance of three young women would seem to qualify. The plot summary and the reviews are intriguing.

 

 

 

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review 2019-01-09 17:23
Welcome to the L'Engleverse: The Young Unicorns
The Young Unicorns - Madeleine L'Engle

A few years ago I started a Madeleine L'Engle project. I read some of her Chronos/Kairos series (which starts with A Wrinkle in Time and focuses on the Murry family) and then I asked for the Austin series for Christmas. I read through this book - so this is a reread for me.

 

The Young Unicorns is set in New York City, and is told from the perspective of a young man, Josiah Davidson, who has become close to the Austin's since their move away from the small town where their house, Thornhill, is located.

 

L'Engles books are difficult to describe and difficult to pigeonhole. There are generally strong religious themes, as well as elements of sci fi. Because they were, typically, written for a YA audience, some of the elements haven't worn well and seem extremely dated. In this book, that's true of both the central element of science - something that L'Engle refers to as a "Micro-Ray," which is basically a laser, and, also, the presence of the least threatening "gang" in the history of literature, the Alphabats, who hang around a church.

 

However, even though those elements of the story are dated, and even laughable at times, I enjoyed The Young Unicorns. I think that L'Engle writes families better than anyone - she perfectly captures the warmth and humanity of a family, but doesn't leave out the conflict. If I had to choose a fictional family to adopt, it would either be a L'Engle family - the Austins and the Murrys are both delightful, or the Weasleys, from Harry Potter. 

 

Reading The Young Unicorns reminded me why I love her books, flawed though they are - and inspired me to restart, and this time complete, my L'Engle project.

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