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review 2018-12-21 00:50
Sass with a side of sober contemplation
Calypso - David Sedaris

Quick note from me: Eagle-eyed readers of the blog will notice that I said I would be covering The Bear and the Nightingale today but actually I'm going to be reviewing Calypso by David Sedaris. I was working off of my memory instead of my notes and that's how that little boo-boo occurred. At any rate, today's book is a real treat! Calypso is an example of dark humor at its best. It's organized into short stories that cover the complete gamut of familial drama coupled with the woes of middle age. Sedaris divides his time between his home in England and a beach-side getaway he purchased for his family to use in Emerald Isle (among other properties briefly mentioned). I loved the parts where he talked about his relationship with his partner Hugh (who I fell in love with immediately) and his fears that he'll poop in his pants and Hugh will leave him for someone else. It also turns out that he's obsessive about tracking his steps and cleaning up every single piece of litter in the English countryside. He's a quirky guy and I strongly identified with him. He also touches on the tragic death of his sister Tiffany and the contentious relationship he has with his father who is in his nineties and stubbornly refusing to accept help at home. It's sharp, witty, shocking, tender, and hilarious. I laughed out loud at quite a few of the anecdotal stories (wait til you read about their visit to Japan). This would make a great gift especially for friends or family who do a lot of travel as this would be excellent to read on a trip. 10/10

 

I also urge you to read this article from Variety which talks not only about the beach-side getaway that Sedaris talks about in Calypso but also about Sedaris in general. It's hilarious! (Read the footnotes.)

 

What's Up Next: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

 

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

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-09-22 20:59
Things A Bright Girl Can Do - Sally Nicholls

Book Blurb: 1914 The worlds stand on the edge of change. But women still have no vote. Evelyn is rich and clever, but she isn’t allowed to go to university. Life is set out for her, but Evelyn wants freedom and choice, even if it means paying the highest price alongside her fellow Suffragettes. Meanwhile, May campaigns tirelessly for women’s votes with other anti-violence suffragists. When she meets Nell, a girl who’s grown up in hardship, she sees a kindred spirit. Together and in love, the two girls start to dream of a world where all kinds of women can find their place. But the fight for freedom will challenge Evelyn, May and Nell more than they ever could imagine. As the Great War looms, just how much are they willing to sacrifice?

 

What I thought: It was a good read. You can tell that the book is well-researched. I did find it, though, a bit PC-ish that the book was trying to represent homosexuality, for example, and still managed to cotton-wrap the issue – I don’t think many people were yet as understanding in 1910s as the author makes it out to be. The book plot also missed the edginess for me with the issues it covers. It is written with YA in mind and yet I was taken aback that Nicholls describes sexual relationship of two fifteen year old girls. As an adult reading the book, it did make me feel somewhat voyeurish. There was no need for that at all in the story line. Overall, the book offers a wide range, perhaps somewhat lighthearted, introduction to subjects of the fight for women’s suffrage, the Great War and homosexuality.  Not bad, give it a go.

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review 2018-08-18 09:14
FUN HOME by Alison Bechdel
Fun Home - Alison Bechdel
Growing up in a small town when you are different is not easy.  Add a father who seems to be so exacting, a mother who is intent on her thesis and her theater productions, and siblings who are into their own things makes it harder.  Alison knows she does not like the feminine clothing her father wants her to wear and their house is, as her mother later calls it, a mausoleum.  At times there are moments when she and her father are close, usually around books.  Coming out in college, she must now come home for her father's funeral.
 
This story resonated with me.  I could identify with Alison.  Though they are a family, there is a disconnect between them.  Each person is into their own thing.  No one seems to be there for one another.  I don't know how this family remained together.  There are memories that come out during the book.  They may provide clues to the father's lifestyle but, for Alison, there is no more to them than the face value at the time.  Later she can see the pattern and realize her father thought she knew about him.  There is so many lost opportunities in this family for them to become closer.  I felt sorry for them all.
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review 2018-05-18 23:38
I'll never look at pickles the same way again
Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything - E. Lockhart

One of the drawbacks of reading so many books is that I have extremely high standards since I've read some truly excellent pieces of literature...and also some major duds. I say all of this because I read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart 2 years ago and so I know she has the capability to write amazing young adult fiction. I chose Fly on the Wall specifically because the review that I heard on BookTube led me to believe that it was a retelling of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis and because I had enjoyed Lockhart's previous book. What I didn't expect was for it to be chock full of really explicit sexual content. Why on earth did she have to describe penises in such revealing detail? And why did she keep referring to them as gherkins?! (And if I ever hear someone call them that or  refer to breasts as biscuits I'm going to slap them across the face.) The main character and the person who we view the story from is named Gretchen Yee and she is the prototypical teenage girl filled with angst. She attends a high school that focuses on the arts and her specialty is drawing comic book style characters (hence the cover imagery). Her obsession with a boy in her school leads her to make a foolhardy wish to be a fly on the wall of the boys locker room so that she can find out how he really thinks about her. (And this is where she begins to ogle the boys as they undress for gym class.)  I guess the story is supposed to be a character study or a revelation that what we think we know about people can be turned on its head if we see them at their most vulnerable. However, for me it was a letdown and vaguely nauseating. This was a 0/10 for me and I'll have to give serious thought to reading anything else from this author in the future.

 

PS There were also a lot of plot holes in the storyline and the ending truly fell flat. 

 

Source: Amazon

 

What's Up Next: The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius

 

What I'm Currently Reading: The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-09-29 17:02
Fear-mongering, transformation, and awakening
Do Not Say We Have Nothing: A Novel - Madeleine Thien

Much like when I read The Historian, I was unable to decide if what I was reading was fiction or nonfiction. (Of course, there were no vampires in this book so maybe this isn't the best comparison except for the way they both made me feel.) I couldn't put down Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien despite how much I sometimes wanted to in order to spare myself further heartbreak. This is the story of those who lived through China's Cultural Revolution and their successors a world away in Canada...at least a tiny little slice. Our main characters rotate between Sparrow, Kai, and Zhuli who lived during Mao Zedong's reign of terror, Ai-Ming who took part in the demonstrations of Tiananmen Square, and Marie who wants to piece everything together in present day Canada. This is also about music and its power to lift the soul or to mire it in secrets. A lot of sensitive topics are touched on in this book including but not limited to torture, public humiliation, and sexual assault. This is not just a work of historical fiction but also a mystery about people, events, and a book that keeps resurfacing. Intricately woven with details which seem to make the story come to life in vivid color right before your eyes this book is one that I think everyone should experience. This is the hallmark of excellent historical fiction. 10/10

 

For a nearly complete list of the classical music mentioned in the book: Spotify.

 

Source: Goodreads

 

 

What's Up Next: Hunger by Roxane Gay

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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