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review 2019-07-23 22:14
The Nickel Boys - Colson Whitehead

This is the type of book you want to savour even though you can read it all in one sitting.
Colson Whitehead has done it again, The Nickel Boys is a gritty and horrifying story based on real events. Truth and fiction blend seamlessly in Whitehead's prose and the duel narratives force the reader to question their perceptions of the characters and their own preconceived notions about histories malleability.


Longer review to come because I plan to buy, annotate and reread this book many times.
Some of the smaller things I enjoyed:
•The callbacks to events at the very beginning of the book being shown in a new light (but in a way I would never have thought)
•The relationships between the boys
•How realistic the characters were
•The ending
•And that twist. I didn't see it coming...

I received this book as an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2019-06-27 21:53
My Life as a Rat by Joyce Carol Oates
My Life as a Rat - Joyce Carol Oates

This is a complicated book.
It’s as much about Violet Rue as it is about the men that abuse her and the women that allow this abuse to happen. Although the book takes place over a number of years, Violets lack of character growth is reflective of the cycles of abuse that she finds herself in, which I enjoyed as a narrative and structural choice. Moreover, the pieces of flash fiction that are interspaced between the longer chapters do well to add to the sense of growth for the other characters as well as accentuating how stunted Violet has become. This makes her decision at the end of the novel all the more cathartic for the reader.
However, The first 100 pages of this book were very difficult to get through as it lacked anything that would make the reader latch on to the characters and care about Violet (given this is a character-driven novel). Yet once the actual plot of the book got going and Violet began her journey I found the book to be very interesting. But I can say that sadly although I enjoyed the book overall if I hadn’t been intending to review the book and hadn’t been sent it by the publishers then I doubt I would have made it past that first chunk.
The relationships in this book lack the intimacy that a person would expect from a novel like this. There is sexual intimacy but no romantic chemistry for the most part which was a welcome change from what we normally see from books of this genre. And since Violet's loneliness blended well with this theme it is clear that Joyce Carol Oates had clear intentions of what she wanted to say with this book.
Having said that the theme of Racism that runs through this book is also controversial and I implore you to seek out a black reviewer to read about their opinions on its presentation.
Overall, this is an interesting character study on the effects of separation and abuse on a child and if those first 100 pages weren't so difficult to get through this would be a 5 Star read. I will certainly read another book by this author again.
⚠Trigger Warning: Paedophilia, Sexual Assault, Racism, Domestic Violence, Implied Animal Abuse⚠

I was sent this book as an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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review 2019-05-11 05:00
Review: Less Than Zero
Less Than Zero - Bret Easton Ellis

I'm not even sure what to say about this one.

 

It's written in first person, which I hate, and definite trigger warnings for drug abuse, rape, and just everything bad from the 80s.

 

The story follows Clay, a rich kid home from college on winter break.  Clay is a mess.  He is not mentally stable and is self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.  His therapist is a useless dick who is more concerned with writing a screenplay than actually helping his patient.  His family is wrapped up in their own issues and his friends are just as bad off as him--if not worse.

 

This story is truly an ode to the extremely obscene excess of the 80s, 24-hour MTV (actual videos), cocaine, Quaaludes, alcohol, parties, fashion, therapist and eating disorders are trendy, and racism and sexism are just normal everyday occurrences.

 

These kids are extremely privileged.  They have money to throw around to their dealers and have extravagant parties.  They go to clubs and fancy restaurants and think nothing of racist remarks, people od-ing, or even raping 12-year-old girls just for shits and giggles.  All of these kids are fucked up beyond belief even with all their privilege, perhaps because of it.  You actually feel sorry for them because they are all a mess and just trying to feel something.  Especially our protagonist Clay who just goes through life on autopilot.  He can't feel for his former girlfriend Blair who wants to still be with him.  He feels/does nothing for his best friend Julian who is strung-out and now whoring himself to pay off his dealers.  This book is a mess...and I kind of loved it.  Looking forward to see the characters years later in the sequel.

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review 2016-10-24 00:25
Drama, drama, drama
Faithful: A Novel - Alice Hoffman

Arc Provided by Simon & Schuster through Netgalley

 

Release Date: November 1rt

 

Here's the thing, I am starting to realize that Alice Hoffman's writing is like a drug to me: I am addicted to it ( why? Idk. Faulty wiring in the grey cells... depression. Who knows?), but it really messes with me. And not in a good way. Because through imagery and beautiful phrasing the author embellishes ugly scenarios. The worst is that lately, her books seem to be dominated by weak people and by their socially inapt families, and the fact that through some convoluted fairy tale scenarios, most people overcome their issues.

Unless you're killed: Alice Hoffman's characters have a high mortality rate. Mostly due to cancer,(strangely, in some parts of the world, cancer is already seen as a chronic disease, but not in A.H's novels), but there's also drugs, and finicky parrots that suddenly decide to fly (yeah, I still haven't got over that one) leading their owners to death.

 

The writing as always is great... although there was some repetitions that could have been avoided. Like Ben's last name. Over and over... and over.

 

But that is not the main reason why this book left me mad as a wet cat.

These are:

1) Use of trigger warning situations only for the shock value of the thing

A friend who is a comma, is bad enough. Survivor's guilt, is bad enough.

Attempting suicide is already too much. Did the author really had to had a rape scene in a psychiatric ward?

(spoiler show)

So that Shelby got to say "I was fucked" over and over. And for me it wasn't used as a form of dissociation. If "that" was the idea, then the whole thing was poorly done.

 

The whole thing becomes even more problematic, after she tells her mother what happened, and the mother doesn't do anything about it. That's right, for about two years Shelly does whatever she wants, falling into a deep depression.

And like I said the rape is never properly addressed, so yeah for me, that was really badly done.

 

2) At the beginning of this review I use the term "weak people". Let me explain: I am not trying to diminish the character's pain. Thing is, bad things happen in life. People die. Family die and we never get over it. That doesn't mean all of us are going to do drugs. That doesn't mean that we're going to enter a relationship like some sort of parasite. Especially if that person likes you. Most of the times we just go on with our lives.

 

3) Due to the synopsis, I thought this would be more friendship oriented than it ended being. Shelly and Helene are supposed to be best friends, but at beginning, the characterization that the author makes of the two of them felt so heavy handed, "good girl/party girl; good student/couldn't care less about it; reserved/kind of sluty (hopefully this word will be removed from the final story), that I was left completely baffled about what I was reading.

 

4) The use of a physical image associated with cancer to create pity

After the accident, Shelby shaves her head. She even says that people look at her with pity because they think she has cancer. Maybe if the author hadn't said something of the type, I couldn't care less? But she did, and from that moment on, my hatred for Shelby started growing. She wanted to blend in the background? In that case, average appearance normally does the trick.

 

5) Alice Hoffman and romance normally don't walk hand in hand.

Obsession, insta attraction and following disappointment, yes. Thing is I had imagined many roads for Shelby and Ben. For a moment I thought, "okay, the author creates the most wonderful Ben's". Read "Practical Magic".

I was happy, or at least I was hoping for a possibility of happiness. And then the author had to choose a "new adult" approach to ruin things.

 

6) The new adult romance vibe

You know why I mostly can't stand new adult? It is because of the way abusive/toxic relationships are dealt.

Stalkerish vibes?

Away you go.

A guy deciding what is best for you?

Yeah, no.

Dark, brooding, been in prison vibe?

Hell no, Give me a Ben. Even if it started out messy.

 

7) The cancer card

That's right! Who cares if the story line was already fucked up as it was? The story wouldn't be complete without someone dying from cancer... in a few pages.

 

8) Another death, because the death tally in this book still wasn't long enough.

YES I KNOW DOGS DIE! ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO ARE FOURTEEN YEARS OLD! MY DOG IS FOURTEEN AND A HALF AND HE IS DYING! LEAVE THE Fictitious

ANIMALS ALONE!

(spoiler show)

Really, stop with the soap opera!

 

9) No magical realism. There was this supposed "angel" (stupid me was thinking something along the lines of "Turtle Moon") who ended up being a Mr. Know it all, stalkerish type.

Just No.

Truth is, had this been written by any other author ( that not one of my favourites) I probably wouldn't have even finished it. As it is, I feel as if I've read some weird as fuck soap opera. And I hate soap operas.

Guess it is time for me and Alice Hoffman's writing to part ways.

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url 2016-07-09 15:55
Life Is "Triggering." The Best Literature Should Be, Too.

"A few Columbia students want warnings on Ovid. What's next? Here's what Literature Fascism would look like."

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