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review 2016-03-29 06:44
these books people, they're quite excellent
The Story of a New Name - Elena Ferrante

I'm feeling way too lazy to write a review, and this convo pretty much sums it up for me. Special thanks to Lenore for being my review muse.

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review 2015-10-24 20:08
my favorite Tom Mendicino to date
# 2 - Tom Mendicino
Tom Mendicino really has me dialed in. This is one of those American-experience family stories that I just love. It starts out with a very ominous prologue but quickly meanders into a coming-of-age journey where you meet brothers Frankie and Michael growing up with a Italian immigrant father, a true Italian godfather, and a long string of stepmothers. 

The author is quite the master of settings and subplots. It features the city of Philadelphia and the suburbs which really become emblematic of the old and the new and how the old becomes new again, the cycle of life. A good chunk of the story takes place in 2008 during that endless primary season when Hillary and Obama were duking it out for the Democratic presidential nomination. This may sound a bit boring, but it makes me sorry that I don't live in a battleground state. And for those of you are keeping score, this book does feature a little bit of baseball. 

Back to our brothers Frankie and Michael. Frankie is gay, and that plays prominently in the story line, however it's not about him being gay. Michael is the star athlete and scholar, and as an adult, becomes a crime fighter as a deputy district attorney. While each of their story's are interesting, it's their story together that makes the book. At times, the book borders on being a black comedy and there are some very funny parts. But humor is only one component that builds the bond that brothers share. As you are moving along, watching Frankie's and Michael's lives play out, you almost forget about what happens in the prologue. Never fear, it comes back and things get tense and when you see a grown ass man calling his brother Boo because he is stressed out, you know you have something special.
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review 2015-10-03 00:17
a big letdown, and that's starting with deflated hopes
Purity: A Novel - Jonathan Franzen

In the end, it was a good story. Unfortunately, it was overplayed by characters who all had mommy and daddy issues. It turned feminism into a joke which is rather unfortunate because it's fodder for the MRA types out there. It makes me sad because I have really liked reading Franzen in the past and I love a good family story rife with secrets and betrayal. However, I found myself sometimes cringing and simply not enjoying it. I did find myself noting several lines, if for no other reason than to remember why this experience was not so great. Here are a few samples.

Great lines
...her fantasy of being a loving mother, her resentment at the bother of it. OH SNAP!

I don't get it lines
...he was bald and precancerously gray. ah, what does that mean?

Women are catty bitches lines...
A wicked little dictum of Leila's: Blondes don't age well. Leila saw middle age as the revenge of the Brunettes. MEOW!

Lines where the author is afraid of saying the word vagina...
...she trimmed her personal hair for him with a razor.Is this personal hair in the same area where you use a personal massager?

Lines with the overused wooden spoon simile
...like she had her skull opened up and her brains given a vigorous stir with a wooden spoon. this mindfucking wooden spoon shows up at least 10 more times and frankly got a bit tiresome.

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review 2015-07-21 07:30
it is with great relief that that I throw this onto the DNF pile
No Stopping Train - Les Plesko

Apparently this author (RIP) didn't think plot was terribly important.  His writing was lovely and sometimes evocative, but nothing happened.  I stuck with it for about 200 pages, and was curious enough to go discuss it at book club.  Apparently it wasn't just me and I gladly dropped the unfinished book into the return bin on my way out of the library. 

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