Sunday, September 30, 2007
Quickie recap: Franny, having survived a bizarre childhood, has quickly become disenchanted with the inauthenticity of those around her. Her solution is to try to find God, even though she can't quite believe in him. Her older brother Zooey, a product of the same strange environment, offers her advice to try to lead her to a different kind of enlightenment.
Quickie review: Salinger is a master of angsty, intellectual prose. This novel is a conversation piece, not just a pathway to spiritual illumination but a statement of belief in itself. Although Franny takes a decidedly Christian approach in her quest for God, it is clear that Salinger is more of a Zen man himself, deftly bringing his protagonist from a state of ignorance, through to confusion, and finally, to peace and wisdom.
Quickie recommendation: Om.
Quickie recap: Ladies like to bitch, and when these 3 ladies get together, their favourite topic is their husbands, otherwise known as the cheater, the mooch, and the never-does-fuck-all.
Quickie review: Oh, I thought the title held such possibilities! The cover itself promises a "hilarious novel" but what I got instead was a book that tries too hard and ends up embarrassing itself. Lette can't stop herself from making cringingly-bad pun after cringingly-bad pun, and the worst part is, you know she thinks she's being clever. It brings the narrative to a screeching halt each time - I just keep picturing a middle aged woman in a fuzzy bathrobe typing away at a novel that she has strung together based on pieces of scrap paper where she has written every little play-on-words she has ever thought up while watching her kid's recital or baking shepherd's pie. The plot went from unconvincing to straight-out unbelievable and there was no sympathy for characters that were too cartoonish to be even remotely relatable.
Quickie recommendation: What, you have to ask? Ugh. No, make that double ugh.
Quickie recap: A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
Quickie review: Bitchy, ranty, witty, brilliant. Never has grammar been so moist before (as in, not dry...not dry at all)! She gives hell to the green grocers, to the civil servants - to basically all us morons who deserve it.
Quickie recommendation: Sticklers unite!
Quickie recap: Harley is a young guy who should be in college, but instead has become a reluctant father to his 3 younger sisters when his mother takes their father's life. A story of longing and misplaced passions morphs into a disturbing psychological revelation.
Quickie review: O'Dell writes characters that are quite simply gripping. She channels hope, desperation and anguish astonishingly well. My heart raced me through the pages, wanting and needing to know, and yet afraid to find out and haunted by the tantalizing possibilities that flit through the paragraphs like ghosts.
Quickie recommendation: Oh yes.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Quickie recap: Hank survives being pushed in front of a subway and reacts like any other Canadian man: he sends for a Russian mail-order bride. But when she arrives - surprise, surprise - he doesn't exactly get what he's bargained for.
Quickie review: I didn't even notice that Hough had sub-titled this novel ' A Love Story ', and I'm glad I read it without being tainted by such an identity. It certainly doesn't read like a love story: the terrorism and tinnitus set it apart from others in the genre. But it does read like a good book - meaty, complex, gritty.
Quickie recommendation: Hough has given me a craving for more.
Quickie recap: Kids from all corners of the globe share their thoughts with God.
Quickie review: Touching, sweet, funny, heart breaking. Some kids think writing to God is futile since he already knows everything, some confuse him with Santa and ask for new toys. But whatever they write, they write from the heart.
Quickie recommendation: It gladdens the heart.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Quickie recap: When Sherman McCoy, Wall Street bigshot, gets into a hit-and-run accident with his mistress, the shit hits the fan, and a young assistant D.A., a desperate journalist and a fervent reverent combine their efforts to make an example of him while quickly forgetting the young victim fighting for his life in hospital and becoming a case of black vs white, rich vs poor.
Quickie review: Wayyyy back in 2004, I read a book by Wolfe called I Am Charlotte Simmons, and my disgust for him was cemented in that moment. Yuck. It was a farce. It was an old man trying to be cool by emulating "street slang", and writing rap lyrics from the heart of the black community which made Vanilla Ice seem gangsta in comparison. It was awful. I think it prompted a couple of monkeys in a scene from the movie Madagascar to comment "I hear Tom Wolfe's speaking at Lincoln Center" (the other monkey signs frantically) and the first monkey responds, "Well, of course we're going to throw poo at him!" I heartily agreed. So I've been afraid to pick up another of his books since. In contrast, Bonfire of the Vanities wasn't that bad - but still not good. It deals with the race issue in a marginally more subtle way, but not with any sensitivity or insight. You feel a little bit dirty reading this book, like Wolfe is trying to impress you with his connections to high society, but it falls flat and dull and utterly un-literature-like. It reminds me of another cartoon-quote (Fry, Futurama): its level of intelligence is lower than Nancy Drew, but higher than The Hardy Boys. Enough said.
Quickie recommendation: Leave it on the shelf.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Quickie recap: Stanley is dying of cancer until suddenly, he isn't. He's cured. And that's not the weirdest thing that's happening, things so unnatural you might even start up a religion based upon them....
Quickie review: MMm social satire. While Buckley plays the clown a bit with his satire, Babiak is a straight man in comparison, but holy cow, he's razor sharp. I wrote recently that my book karma was sparkling, and this book definitely fell into that category. I was blown away by Babiak, who was unknown to me before I picked up Stanley, and now I'd consider myself a devotee. I almost wish I could keep it to myself for self-satisfied savouring, but I won't, I'll tell you about it so you can pick up a copy and see for yourself the rising star that is Todd Babiak.
Quickie recommendation: Keep your eye on Todd.
Quickie redux: check out the Book Lounge for more about this author and others!