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review 2018-05-21 03:28
Based on a True Story: A Memoir - Norm Macdonald


First off, Norm Macdonald did such a great job with this book. In the beginning when he was doing the voices of a young man, an older man, his father - they were all just great. He should really look into doing more audiobook narrations.

And speaking of the beginning of the book. I was feeling so sorry for Norm's family and the family friend with the squirrel. When I started the book I was telling my husband (a huge Norm Macdonald fan), "He's hit rock bottom Danny. He's drinking, doing drugs, has no money, people are tripping him as he gets off stage. It's horrible." Danny said he hadn't heard a thing and he still liked him. Then the next chapters started and I was thinking, "Wait a minute that doesn't sound right." I went online and he wasn't even born where he said he was and he wasn't dirt poor. Norm was interviewed and he said that the only part that was true was when he said there was water in a river. So the next day, I get home and tell Danny it was all a lie - or not really a lie, fiction. 

Norm does use living people in this book especially his friend Adam Eget who according to the book was giving hand jobs under a bridge when Norm made him his ASSistant. The difference between ASSistant and assistant went on a little too long. 

Overall, I loved the book. I'm listening to this book and trying not to smile and laugh like a loon while I'm on the train. The gambling bit went on way too long too but other than that, a real funny book of fiction.

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review 2018-05-20 03:24
BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson
Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline's early childhood told in verse form.  Each poem is a vignette is a memory of someone or her as see leaves Greenville and Ohio and moves to New York City.  It tells of the changes to her and her family.  I enjoyed it.  I felt I knew these people. 

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review 2018-05-12 03:57
Last Black Unicorn
The Last Black Unicorn - Tiffany Haddish

A co-worker of mine recommended this book to me.  I had not previously heard of Tiffany Haddish, but I'm ready to seek out any stand-up specials or movies I can find featuring her.  Haddish recounts stories of an abusive mother, absent father, foster care, ex-boyfriends, abusive ex-husband, and her journey into stand-up comedy.  She is hilarious, compassionate, and original.  Narrated by the author.  Bonus:  Sings a "Last Black Unicorn" song a the very end.  If you listen to the audio version, make sure you do not miss the song.

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review 2018-05-05 20:42
North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail - Scott Jurek

Scott Jurek!  I didn't think it was possible for me to love him more than I already did.  Having read his book Eat and Run and Christopher McDougall's Born to Run, I already considered him a role model and inspiration in the realms of ultrarunning, endurance sport, vegan athletes, and human decency.  When he was making his attempt at a new FKT (fastest known time) for a supported through-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2015, like many people, I was tracking his progress online, reading updates and hoping he'd meet his goal.  Although I'd seen reports about injuries, adverse weather, and other obstacles, I was interested to know more about the 46+-day experience.  When I saw North on a list of recommended books for runners, I was eager to grab the audiobook from my library's e-collection.  The library didn't actually own the edition (yet) when I first searched for it, but I put in a recommendation on the title, and was pleased when I received the notice that the library had obtained it and put me on the list.


The audio edition is narrated by Scott Jurek and Jenny Jurek, in alternating chapters.  I loved getting the two different perspectives on what led to the FKT attempt and the experience of executing it. Before Scott's decision to take on the AT, Jenny had gone through a life-threatening loss of an ectopic pregnancy, and Scott had reached an impasse with his running, where he'd train for ultra races but take a DNF because he wasn't feeling it.  What could he do to regain his old spark?  While on a hike together, Jenny challenged him to figure out how to do just that, and the idea of trying for an AT FKT came to him.  The more he thought about it, the more he liked the idea.


They drove from their Colorado home to the southern start of the AT, in Georgia, in their black van dubbed Castle Black (love the Game of Thrones reference!).  Going north on the trail is known as NoBo (northbound) as opposed to starting in Maine and heading down to Georgia being SoBo (southbound).  Scott had been warned that this way was "backwards" and "harder," but he was undaunted.  


One of the cool things that came through in this book was the awesomeness of the running community and ultra community.  Both Jureks acknowledge that they couldn't have succeeded without the help of friends as well as strangers who jumped in to offer help in the form of food, companionship, advice, and encouragement when it was most needed.  And in that same spirit, Scott was back the next year, supporting Karl "Speedgoat" Melzer in a successful new AT FKT attempt.  


I wholeheartedly recommend this to running enthusiasts, ultra enthusiasts, Jurek enthusiasts, and "challenging endeavors that push a person to their personal edge and make them a better version of themselves" enthusiasts.


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review 2018-05-05 19:18
Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life, by Yiyun Li
Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life - Yiyun Li

Reading Li's memoir was a unique experience, or perhaps one so rare I can't remember the last time I had it. It challenged me to think not only about her as a writer and reader, but about myself as a writer and reader. I highlighted tons of passages, brief and long. I read the book slowly because I frequently needed to pause and evaluate Li's notions of self, writing, and reading, often all essentially the same thing, against what I believe or thought I believed.


Early on, Li notes that she does not like using first person. It is unavoidable in this type of work, but she uses "one" elsewhere, as in, "One hides something for two reasons: either one feels protective of it or one feels ashamed of it. And it is not always the case that the two possibilities can be separated." I found that it functioned much like second person ("you") where it assumes the reader's agreement. Having read the book, I can't think that was Li's intention, but it created an at times adversarial stance from which I judged her obviously personal claims. This isn't a critique, only an observation of the sort I don't make often. In a way, then, it's a compliment.


Because Li in part is writing about writing, I put it on a mental list of texts I'd love to assign in a creative writing workshop. Though my genre is poetry (and fiction after that), its insights apply to any genre. "To write," she says, "betrays one’s instinct to curl up and hide." Upon that I can easily agree.


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