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review 2018-07-04 23:05
Something Bright, Then Holes
Something Bright, Then Holes - Maggie Nelson

Nelson's collection is divided into three distinct sections, but almost all of the poems included have a sense of vulnerability and melancholy. There is a focus on loss - lost love, lost mobility, lost time - the wreckage of broken relationships, hearts, and bodies. The first section, field journals written about the canal, captures this essence and distills it. She uses minutia to highlight entropy. The tension between beauty and decay, treasure and refuse. A time capsule of a single summer that simultaneously has a timelessness that extends to every summer. The stretch of endless afternoons, summer heat, and isolation. Written mostly in couplets this collection is sparse, raw, observant, and pensive.

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review 2018-06-11 03:01
All The Crooked Saints audiobook
All the Crooked Saints - Maggie Stiefvater

I received a copy of this book from Scholastic Australia in exchange for an honest review, but ended up listening to the audiobook, which I borrowed from my local library.

 

All The Crooked Saints tells the story of a world where miracles are real, and so are the saints that compel them. It takes place in small community on the edge of the Colorado desert, and it switches between the experiences of three Latinx cousins and the people they interact with.

 

The thing about All The Crooked Saints is that it gets better the more you read it. I can distinctly remember the opening pages, where I was honestly a little bit bored by three cousins in a pirate radio truck, but as it developed, and I got to know the Soria family and the pilgrims of Bicho Raro, I enjoyed it more and more. I kind of got an idea that the entire book was built up to the punch line in the very final line, which is kind of awesome. I had a great time listening to this audiobook read by Thom Rivera, who does a decent job of reading in each character’s distinct voice.

 

This book is less about any one, or even three, main characters, and more about the community as a whole. It actually reminded me of The Night Circus in that at first it seemed like a series of vignettes put together describing each character and life in Bicho Raro. Maybe because it’s written in third person omniscient. But the more I read/listened, the more the stories joined together. This really is a masterfully crafted book.

 

Stiefvater holds a place as probably the most lyrical writer I read in YA. Each sentence is a masterpiece and the end effect had a great impact on me. Although I didn’t feel particularly connected to any one character, I did really feel for all of them, especially when Joaquin played Can’t Help Falling In love With You on his pirate radio station. I felt invested in the characters and if it hadn’t turned out the way it did, I probably would have been extraordinarily disappointed. As it is, I feel that this stand alone book was a wonderful investment of my time to read/listen to, and I feel emotionally fulfilled at the end.

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review 2018-06-04 14:25
Interesting Premise, but Essays Fell Short
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death - Maggie O'Farrell

I can honestly say this wasn't a bad book, but it just didn't grab me after the first essay I read by Maggie O'Farrell. I think my main problem was that the book flutters around and we don't stay on a chronological timeline for the author.

 

"I Am, I Am, I Am, Seventeen Brushes of Death" is a memoir by Maggie O'Farrell that goes into 17 separate occasions when she almost and at one point one of her children almost died. The first story really grabbed me, "Neck" 1990. O'Farrell relates a story about a man that she came across that she realized was laying in wait to sexually assault her. The story ends with her getting away from the man, but realizing that he did indeed lie in wait for another young woman and raped and murdered her. The whole story was sobering and definitely had me thinking back to the many times I was around a man that I realized in a split second meant to do me harm.


After that, O'Farrell's memoir jumps around a lot. We go into Lungs 1988, and then spine, legs, etc., then whole body, and back to neck again. O'Farrell links every near death experience she has with her body in some way which was an interesting idea. And I have to say that the chapter headings do make it easier to figure out what period of time we are in while she is describing the story. That said, I had a hard time just finishing this due to the timelines going back and forth and being confused about who certain people were. 

 

For example, she tells a story about her dealing with her first pregnancy that resulted in a C-Section and almost death, to her then almost drowning with a riptide took her out into the ocean, then back again to when she was a small girl and almost hit by a car. And I honestly was confused about O'Farrell's family's make-up. She talks about a couple of relationships, but then mentions her husband, and then we jump back in again to the other guy she was seeing depending on the story. I honestly needed a flow chart after a while. 


And I feel bad for saying this, but some of the stories were not that interesting to me. Sometimes it read like a stretch to me in order for her to allude to some larger point (that I was obviously missing). For example, she tells about a near death experience she doesn't even remember, that her mother tells her about and then that segues into her remembering a garage that she and her sister played into, that then goes into a cat that had kittens in the garage, to the cat finally being too sick for her sister (who is a vet) to heal this time. I felt like I needed to be very alert while reading this book to just even follow everything that was happening. 

 

I am glad I read this, but really happy I just borrowed it from the library. 

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text 2018-06-03 14:20
Reading progress update: I've read 39%.
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death - Maggie O'Farrell

I think I wish there was more information. The short vignette that focus on the author’s brushes with death is an interesting idea. However, I think that just delving into her backstory on a shallow level is what is keeping me from truly loving all of the vignettes. Also it’s hard keeping things straight since sometimes the author isn’t telling things I’m a chronological order.

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text 2018-06-01 20:40
Reading progress update: I've read 1%.
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death - Maggie O'Farrell

Intrigued by the premise of this book.

 

 

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