Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Seriously Literate, September

Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larssen
For the record, said tattoo is mentioned exactly once (I think), and has no other bearing to the story other than a vague, stereotypical explanation of the kind of girl who would get such a decoration (in this case, a sexually experimental, historically abused hacker). The tattoo-lover in me is not immune to this fact, obviously, but I'll let it go. Resentfully. Because yes, she IS the girl with the dragon tattoo.

Here is my honest summation. This is a well written, plot-filled (and fueled), book. It defies the regular recipe, so to speak, of a suspense novel, which I appreciated, but it took a hell of a long time to get to the damn point. 440 pages, to be exact, before something interesting happened. And that, as someone with an attention span of roughly a half hour, infuriated me. I have eight (EIGHT!) library books needing to be read—three by next week. And so, yeah, I need a book to be engrossed by, not one that makes me pick up my phone and play Angry Birds every 20 minutes.

So to those who told me to stick it out, that it gets better...let me ask you: Were you satisfied with the ending? It makes me wonder what the next two books in the series are all about, but to honest, I don't think I want to read them to find out. I'll wait for the movies. Especially cause Daniel Craig is in this one. And we say...yum.

Overall consensus:

The Liars Club, Mary Karr
I'm starting to feel like I need a love story or something equally happy right about now...I was just telling the hubby today that I think part of the reason I loved Garden Spells so much was that it was overall a happy book. There's enough effed up crap around me, thanks. I appreciate that other peoples' lives are exceedingly worse than mine, but really? No fun. I like to be taken to a happy place now and then.

Ok, that's not a fair intro to this book. I love memoirs, and it's good, really, even besides the cancer and the alcoholic parents and the being raped at age 7. Re-reading that sentence makes my point even less sensical, but it's true. She seems to have a good head on her shoulders, and enough sense to make humor out of what was obviously not your typical/healthy childhood. But, and this is petty...I hated the last paragraph. She should have ended it the paragraph prior. Just saying.

Overall consensus
(Man, I love summing things up, I'm keeping this idea): Read Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls instead.

Weight of Water, Anita Shreve
I loved Shreve's book The Pilot's Wife, so I decided to stick some of her other works on the list. I intended on reading Middlesex next, but I decided after my sad-book bitching I better not, cause y'all gave it such mixed reviews.

Turns out it didn't matter. This one tugs at the heart strings more than a bit. I didn't cry or anything (turns out I only cry during Grey's Anatomy), which is good, cause I hate crying. There's a reason I refuse to watch The Notebook, people.

I really liked this book—it tells two really good, really vivid stories. And even though she jumps back and forth between them without warning, you follow easily. I called one ending about half way in, but the other one surprised me a bit (sorry to be vague, but I'd seriously kill the ending(s) otherwise).

Overall consensus:
Thumbs up. Shreve wins again. It's a fairly quick read, too, which I appreciate.

Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
I put this one off for awhile, as I mentioned, because I got a 'boring' from The Parallel and a 'not good' from someone else (Kate B?). But I also got a LOVE from another of I was torn. And then I read the back of the book and realized the author also wrote Virgin Suicides, which I haven't read, but love the movie oh-so-much...and the balance was tipped.

This book is so freakin' good. I was expecting a sad, depressing tale, and it's just not. Maybe some of my exuberance comes from the fact that I was a Sociology minor and am fascinated by this type of thing—the book examines the family history of a man named Cal...which is short for Calliope, as in, he was born a female. (As a side note for my fellow Grey's fans...what's with the name Calliope and sexual identity??)

The first half is a beautiful (albeit slightly disturbing) look at Cal's extended family and the biological choices they made that eventually led to his being born a hermaphrodite (hint, it's genetic). It's so interesting and so honest...I kept forgetting it was fiction and not a memoir.

The second half, which is more on Cal's childhood, is a bit slower, but still interesting. This is totally a book we should have read (had it been out then) in one of the Gender Identity classes I took in college. It would have been perfect for that.

Overall consensus: If you want an easy read and/or are squeamish about the idea of sexual/gender confusion, this may not be the book for you.

Next up:
Strangers at the Feast, Vanderbes
Fortune's Rocks, Shreve
City of Thieves, Benioff
The Sugar Queen, Allen

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