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review 2017-10-13 16:36
Body armor
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body - Roxane Gay

Today I'm going to attempt to form some coherent thoughts about my experience reading Roxane Gay's newest book entitled Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. Some of you might have already had this book on your radar because of the huge amount of press that it got right after its release. This is an extremely personal account of Roxane's experiences as an obese woman in our society (which is obsessed with being skinny as you know). However, it's less a commentary on that than a self-exploration of her relationship with food and her body. You might recognize Gay's name from my review of her frank assessment of feminism and how she identifies herself (not just as a feminist but all-around human). I thought that she had pushed the envelope with her openness and willingness to 'go there' with that book but reading Hunger was a whole new experience. For one thing, this isn't a book about the trials and tribulations of being overweight in America and how she's planning on using this book as a tool to get her life back on track. No, this is a cathartic exercise in purging some of the darkness that she has had buried inside for too long. (I'm trying to not give away too much because her writing of the events of her life is kinda the whole point of the book.) This book will make you rethink the way that you look at your own body and how you make assumptions about other people based on their bodies. It is not meant to be preachy or shaming. It's one woman opening up about a horrific experience in her life and how that changed her forever. I think this is the kind of book that everyone should read because it opens your eyes to yourself, to others, and makes you think. 9/10 definitely recommend

 

What's Up Next: The Book That Changed America: How Darwin's Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation by Randall Fuller

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-09-05 09:12
The Password Is Wishpers by Jack Chaucer & Jeanine Henning (Artwork)

This is an easy and quick paced book. I feel like it can be enjoyed by all ages, but is most important for grade school students who might not understand the horrors of a shut down. It would be confusing and scary for an adult, let alone a child! I never had to experience anything like this as a kid; it is sad that it is now common for schools to have these drills.

 



Using your imagination and cherishing your childhood seems to be some of the main themes of this book. I adored how they used their imagination to do all sorts of cool things, while there was a lock down drill.

One of my wishes for this book and the reason this did not have a 5 star rating, is I wish that there was more description instead of telling. Part of me can understand why this does not happen, because perhaps the author wants the child/person reading to use their own imagination. That is a nice thought, but I still like when books have showing over telling.

I know this is meant for children, and it is supposed to be quick and simple, but as an adult, I really wish I knew what caused the lock down, but I suppose I can use my imagination there as well.

The artwork by Jeanine Henning was cute. I wish there were more artwork in this book! I love the colors they went with.

Disclaimer: I received this from Netgally in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the chance to read this!

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review 2017-08-01 22:02
For discerning readers who enjoy books about the human condition
A Horse Walks into a Bar: A novel - David Grossman,Jessica Cohen

Thanks to NetGalley and to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing, Jonathan Cape for providing me with an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This is the first book I’ve read by David Grossman. I hope it won’t be the last.

The description probably gives a fair idea of the plot. Yes, we are in Netanya, Israel, and we are spectators of the act of a stand-up comedian, Dovelah Greenstein (or Dov G.). He is 57 years old (as he repeatedly reminds us through the evening), skinny (almost emaciated), and seems to become increasingly desperate as the night goes. He tells jokes, anecdotes, makes comments about the city, the spectators, Jews (yes, the self-deprecation readers of Philip Roth, for example, will be familiar with), says some politically incorrect things, tells a number of jokes (some really funny, some odd, some quite old), and insists on telling us a story about his childhood, despite the audience’s resistance to listening to it.

The beauty (or one of them) of the novel, is the narrator. Yes, I’m back to my obsession with narrators. The story is told in the first-person by Avishai Lazar, a judge who was unceremoniously removed from his post when he started becoming a bit too vocal and opinionated in his verdicts. The two characters were friends as children, and Dov calls Avishai asking him to attend his performance. His request does not only come completely out of the blue (they hadn’t seen each other since they were in their teens), but it is also quite weird. He does not want a chat, or to catch up on old times. He wants the judge to tell him what he sees when he looks at him. He wants him to tell him what other people see, what essence they perceive when they watch him. Avishai, who is a widower and still grieving, is put-off by this and reacts quite rudely, but eventually, agrees.

Although the novel is about Dov’s performance and his story (his need to let it all hang out, to explain his abuse but also his feeling of guilt about a personal tragedy), that is at times light and funny, but mostly sad and even tragic, he is not the character who changes and grows the most during the performance (his is an act of exorcism, a way of getting rid of his demons). For me, the story, sad and depressing as it can be at times (this is not a book for everybody, and I suspect many readers will empathise with quite a few of the spectators who leave the performance before it ends), is ultimately about redemption. Many narrators have told us in the past (The Great Gatsby, Heart of Darkness) that in telling somebody else’s story, they are also telling their own. This is indeed the case here. The judge (at first we don’t know who is narrating the story, but we get more and more details as the performance advances) is very hostile at first and keeps wondering why he is there, and wanting to leave. But at some point, the rawness, the determination, and the sheer courage of the comedian, who keeps going no matter how difficult it gets, break through his protective shell and he starts to question his own actions and his life. If this might be Dev’s last performance, in a way it is a beginning of sorts, especially for the judge.

Readers become the ersatz club audience, and it is very difficult to stop watching something that is so extreme and desperate, but it is also difficult to keep watching (or reading) as it becomes more and more painful. It is as if we were spectators in a therapy session where somebody is baring his soul. We feel as if we are intruding on an intimate moment, but also that perhaps we are providing him with some comfort and support to help him go through the process. Although other than the two main characters we do not get to know the rest in detail, there are familiar types we might recognise, and there is also a woman who knew the comedian when he was a child and, perhaps, plays the part of the therapist (a straight faced one, but the one he needs).

The book is beautifully written and observed. Grossman shows a great understanding of psychology and also of group interactions. Although I am not an expert on stand-up comedy, the dynamics of the performance rang true to me. I cannot compare it to the original, but the translation is impressive (I find it difficult to imagine anybody could do a better job, and if the original is even better, well…).

As I said before, this is not a book for everybody. Although it is quite short, it is also slow and intense (its rhythm is that of the performance, which ebbs and flows). None of the characters (except, perhaps, the woman) are immediately sympathetic, and they are flawed, not confident enough or too confident and dismissive, over-emotional or frozen and unable to feel, and they might not seem to have much in common with the reader, at first sight. This is not a genre book (literary fiction would be the right label, if we had to try and give it one), there is no romance (or not conventional romance), no action, no heroes or heroines, and not much happens (a whole life happens, but not in the usual sense). If you are interested in characters that are real in their humanity (for better and for worse), don’t mind a challenge, and want to explore something beyond the usual, I recommend you this book.

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review 2017-07-22 22:46
The Poacher's Son
The Poacher's Son - Paul Doiron

Mike Bowditch is a young game warden and also the son of a poacher. He hadn't seen his dad for two years when he got a message from him on his answering machine. Later that day he learns that two men, one a police officer, were gunned down after a heated public meeting in the same area where his dad lives. Then, he gets word that his dad has been arrested and may be charged for the crime. He decides to put his job on the line and go help his dad. His dad is a brawler and has known his fair share of trouble with the law but Mike doesn't believe he would kill someone, especially a police officer.

 

This story is different than the books I usually read in that it is set in the forests of Maine. I was interested in the story but it is definitely slower paced than what I am used to. At one point it almost lost me but I ended up getting hooked into the story. I couldn't be sure which way the story would end. Afterward, I found myself thinking about different details still. I enjoyed the descriptions of the area and can imagine how peaceful it would be even though I've never been there. I think it was a nice change from the usual crime mystery and I'm going to get the next book in this series and see what happens next.

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review 2017-06-24 13:51
Boring!
The Prince of los Cocuyos: A Miami Child... The Prince of los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood - Richard Blanco

Had this book for a few years now and finally got around to reading it. It seemed timely plus it has been popping up on a couple of LGBT reading lists recently. I don't know much about him (other than he's an inaugural poet and is the first Latino and openly gay one) but it seemed like reading about the childhood of a boy whose family left Cuba to move to Florida sounded like an intriguing story.

 

Basically it's a bunch of stories of his childhood. His family, what it's like in school, navigating things like Thanksgiving, wanting to participate in "American" culture, etc. Some of it is really funny (he drops the Thanksgiving turkey as he's trying to bring it home from the store and the family later suffers from food poisoning after the dinner) but most of it is...not really compelling. 

 

It just seems like a retelling of doing X, Y, Z. I wasn't necessarily looking for a compelling, moving saga about what it's like growing up in a place where you don't look like a lot of the other people or necessarily speak the language, etc. And while I don't have much in common with him I just didn't feel his story was really interesting in any way. I haven't read any of his other work so I don't know if that has anything to do with it but it just felt very blah.

 

Maybe it just wasn't for me. Other people seemed to think it got better in the latter parts of the book but it felt the same overall. I regret buying it (as I can see it's available at my library) but maybe it would work if you're a fan or have a similar background to his.

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