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Search tags: i-wish-i-could-write-like-that
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review 2014-02-28 02:09
The Sense of Touch
The Sense of Touch - Ron Parsons

I don't often read books of short stories. Same thing with anthologies. Going into 2014 though, I wanted to try to widen my horizons and to read things I don't read often. I am finding that a lot of the genres that were bringing me joy are starting to feel tired and repetitive. For the most part, this venture has been a success. I started it last year with darker contemporaries. Now I am trying short fiction. First up in that genre is The Sense of Touch. 

This is an odd little collection because the stories are not what I expected at all. The endings are all very ambiguous and open ended. Rather than feeling like conclusions, to me this book felt like little snippets of life. I tend to like my books with a beginning, middle, and end. I know that this is all subjective, and someone else might very well feel that these stories have that, but I was left feeling kind of unsatisfied. 

That doesn't mean that I didn't like them though. Because the fact of the matter is this: they are incredibly well-written. No, seriously. I would give my right arm to be able to right like this. Poetic sentences loaded with imagery that feel full of life and expression. Sometimes that is enough for some readers. This book takes on a very literary quality, and there were parts of it that I did very much enjoy. My favorite stories were "As Her Heart is Navigated" and "Big Blue." The first is about a twenty-something girl who is in a relationship that she is not sure she really wants to be in. A blizzard hits on Halloween and she goes to dig out her car and then meets someone very special, but it's not what you think. The latter is about a big blue wiffle bat, and a man who trips over his memories of his childhood and grandfather. I think I liked these two the best because I could relate to them a bit. 

I'm not sure I would recommend this for everyone. Definitely for fans of literary fiction. Most of the stories are set in Minnesota and the atmosphere is palpable throughout the prose. I just wanted more from the stories themselves. I enjoyed them, but unfortunately not enough to rate this over three stars. It's actually more of a 3.5 though. 

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review 2014-01-21 07:04
No One Else Can Have You
No One Else Can Have You - Kathleen Hale

You've probably read the reviews and heard the complaints. Clearly, No One Else Can Have You is a book that a lot of readers are talking about. Going into reading this, I was aware of how polarizing it was. I wondered which side I would fall on, if any, and how I would respond to the alleged offensive content and the tone of the book. I am happy, and a bit shocked to say, that for the most part, my response is good. 

 

Here's the thing. If you don't connect to Kippy, the protagonist, if you aren't feeling the tone of the book and the humor, I think you ARE going to be offended. But make no mistake. This book is definitely not politically correct. And though I'm stating that I did not have a problem with the content, there is some language here that I could have done with out. 

 

Examples? 3 instances of the R word. Things described as "so gay" twice. Yeah, a character even used the F word (that word we NEVER, EVER call gay people). I wasn't happy. The characters using these words were unlikable and supposed to be that way, but I still think the author could have made them plenty unlikable without using language that pisses off a large portion of the population. I also have to mention the scene where Kippy and Davey sneak into a support group masquerading as a couple dealing with domestic violence. I didn't like it and it kinda pissed me off. It's just not right to make light of domestic violence that way. It's not something to pretend or joke about. I imagine that if I was someone who had been abused by a significant other and I read this, I would be incredibly upset. And it just wasn't necessary in the larger scheme of the plot.

 

I told myself before I started this book that I was going to go into it with an open mind. That I was going to think for myself and form my own opinions. I wanted to read past the offensive content and analyze it for readers who might not be bothered by the previous paragraph. It is not my place to judge what people are/are not offended by, so that is what I did. And that's where we get into the good stuff.

 

I absolutely adored the characterizations. I thought they were brilliantly rendered. I loved Kippy. I thought she was ignorant and naive, but she was also precious and quirky. I loved her internalizations and I loved her voice. I loved her descriptions of small-town life in Wisconsin, and though this book was a caricature of what that was really like (and the humor really proves that as well), I still found it realistic and relatable. That's a really hard thing for a book to do. And aside from the offensive content, I really LOVED the writing too. The rest of the characters were well-developed and loaded with personality. From Kippy's dad (she calls him Dom) who is an eccentric high school counselor to their family friend across the street who is obsessed with video games and collecting random crap, I found the characters detailed and a lot of fun to read. 

 

This is a book loaded with humor (some of it very crude) and I found myself laughing out loud on various occasions. But this is why I say I get that this book is not for everyone. If you aren't relating to the tone as you go along (and honestly, I would say you will know this after the first ten pages), the book is probably not going to work for you. Some people found it forced and unfunny while I felt the complete opposite. I laughed a lot and I couldn't put this book down. There is a lot of talk of hunting and taxidermy and hitting animals with your car with humor related to that, and that's not something everyone is going to laugh about, and I get it. Maybe I was just in the right mood at the right time and I was ready to read this after waiting to be in the right frame of mind. It's a satire, a black comedy, but it also covers some very serious issues. Obviously I am only rating it three stars (it's more of a 3.5) and a lot of that is due to the content I had an issue with (I have to take off for that--personal ethics and all that), but aside from that, I totally adored this book. I do recommend it but I do think you should try a sample first if you can as it is not for everyone.

 

Reading is subjective. And that's the great thing about books. They can make us feel different things and reach us in various ways. This book happened to connect with me and hit on a lot of things I love. The humor was totally my thing. Kippy was someone I would have been friends with in high school. I was a misfit. Her behavior is out there and she's insecure, very real, and definitely not perfect. The characters were all flawed in believable ways. This book worked for me. And that's all I can say.

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