Thursday, May 05, 2011


Spring, O Spring!

One of the benefits of being unemployed (in an official capacity; I’m not saying I have nothing to do) is strolling out to the backyard with your morning coffee and counting up all the treasures: first leaves on the peonies, flowering periwinkle, what looks like domestic strawberry mysteriously appearing where you’ve never planted it, or, even, seen it before... but darn all that garlic mustard. Drastic measures must be taken.

Words That Start with B by Vikki VanSickle: Very nice story, interesting characters, clever use of title/chapter titles. Good read.
Out of Line: Growing Up Soviet by Tina Grimberg: speaking of titles, this was a strange choice, given that the expression used throughout the book was “out of step”. Otherwise, informative and well put together, and will furnish examples for a talk on memoir I somewhat rashly promised to give at the end of the month.
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach: From 2003; compelling, both in content and delivery. Enjoyed it very much. Got a few ideas of my own out of it.

Now, darling friend who recommended Left Neglected by Lisa Genova: Such is my esteem for you that when I saw I was Number 73 in line for it at the library, I bought it for my Kobo instead. So please don’t take what I’m about to write personally; I try to be honest here, and snarky only when I must relieve my feelings. More to the point, maybe due to my work history, it’s so often more interesting to figure out why a book doesn’t work (for me) than why it does. So: it was well-conceived and all the oddities and trials of the condition were intriguing—and it read exactly like a teen problem novel. The choice to tell the story chronologically was a mistake. We go into it knowing the main character has an accident and becomes brain-damaged in a fascinating way; we are naturally impatient, therefore, with everything that happens beforehand. Since the author was using the time to build the character, that impatience meant I couldn’t engage with the character. It might have been better to use a third-person limited PoV, as well: this Type-A (as we are told many times), driven, competitive character isn’t particularly observant or thoughtful and so being in her head wasn’t a particularly rich experience.

Now, of course, I’m going to have to read Still Alice, just for comparison’s sake....

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