Archive for the The Line Category

Why Hemingway Did it.

Posted in The Line on June 30, 2011 by sherid

Interesting piece from The Independent attempts to explain the reasoning behind Ernest Hemingway’s suicide.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/being-ernest-john-walsh-unravels-the-mystery-behind-hemingways-suicide-2294619.html

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Posted in The Line on December 7, 2010 by sherid

Amazon.com Review

Product Description
On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she’s about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of a psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.

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What I liked:  Well, this was definitely a page turner.  I read this very fast, and stayed up past midnight to finish it which I never do, because sleep is precious people, I mean really.  It has a good build up to a crazy plot twist, and it really delivers on the mystery and suspense level, however I’m not sure I would have passed this off as literary fiction.  Which brings me too…

What I didn’t like:  The dialog in the book is pretty bad, especially the parts in which she is talking to her shrink (whom we never hear one peep from the entire book, she could have been talking to the wall for all we know).  First off, she sounds like some 1950’s police detective…Say Doc, you must think I’m a really screwed up broad eh???  Not a quote but an example, it was almost laughable.  Also, I felt the book teetered on voyeurism at times.  I caught myself wondeing, why do I want to read in such detail about a woman being tortured, beaten, and raped repeatedly?  Am I weird?  I dunno, sometimes it made me feel dirty is all I’m saying.

Recommend?  Sure, it’s a good read that will keep you engrossed, but go into like you might be reading a mass market paperback that someone lent you, don’t expect a Booker Prize winner, but yet still a couple of levels above James Patterson.

 

 

Triple Play – Sedaris, Lippman, and Bennett

Posted in Hot Tip, Score, The Line on November 16, 2010 by sherid

I’ve been reading so much and so fast it’s hard to keep up with the blogging.  Today I’m just gonna do a quick and dirty triple play on three books that I have read recently, starting with Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk:  A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris.

Biased.  That’s what I am when it comes to David Sedaris.  I love, Love, LURVE him.  In his latest book he takes a shot at Aesop’s Fables, Sedaris style.  I read this quickly, mostly while taking a long bath.  I enjoyed it, it was clever but not as laugh out loud funny as I’d expected.  I can’t help thinking that I only liked it because I am such a Sedaris fan girl, otherwise I may have chunked it.

Next up, I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman.  I have read a couple of books by Lippman, and this was far and away my favorite.  It’s about a woman who was abducted for the entire Summer when she was 15 years old.  Now 38, she gets a letter from her abductor who has been living on death row and is about to be executed.   Now, she must decide whether or not to communicate with her abductor.  The novel is interesting because it really is a psychological study into how individuals react in dangerous situations.  This book reminded me of something that happened in my hometown many years ago.  A police officer went on a rampage, pulled over and raped 2 women, and then went into a local bank and shot one teller in the head and held the rest  hostage.  One of them was a girlfriend of a guy I knew, a friend of mine.  They always struck me as a funny pair, he was so charismatic and funny, and she was so quiet, never said a word.  After it was over, and stories from the bank emerged, it turns out she had survived by literally chatting up the officer.  She talked to him, said she had a cousin on the force, offered to get him a soda.  She was the first one released as a hostage.  Weird, but that story kept coming to mind as I was reading this book.  Interesting read.

And finally we come to An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.  The queen has a new hobby and it’s reading!  Unfortunatly, hobbies are rather frowned upon for queens.  I would review this myself, but feel it could only be done properly with a Brittish accent so I leave it in the good hands of Completely Novel’s video blog:  Carry on!

Hope you enjoyed my triple play.  Soon to come are my thoughts on The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Versailles by Kathryn Davis, and Little Bee by Chris Cleave.

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Posted in Hot Tip, Score, The Line on October 14, 2010 by sherid

  

All they now wanted was to stay where they were with the Lotus-eaters, to browse on the lotus, and to forget all thoughts of return.
Homer, The Odyssey as quoted in The Lotus Eaters.

The Lotus Eaters is an extraordinary debut novel by Tatjana Soli.  Helen Adams, the main character, is a young amateur photographer who leaves college early to go to Vietnam to cover the war.  She is met by a male dominated press core, who seem to find her both equally annoying and fascinating.  She quickly befriends Sam Darrow, a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist who is known as the best in Vietnam.  He is reluctant to take her under his wing, but finds her persistence and innocence alluring and soon they are traveling through Nam together following soldiers in combat missions along with Darrow’s Vietnamese helper Linh.  Linh, having fought for both sides in the Vietnamese army before he defected provides a Vietnamese perspective, and contributes to an already beautifully layered story,”We are a people used to grief. Expecting it even.”

Soon, Helen’s tenacity and courage pays off and she soon becomes a noted photographer for Life magazine while covering the war in Vietnam.  Eventually with war as the back drop, Helen and Sam fall in love and try to coax each other into leaving Vietnam and going home, but as more and more time goes by it becomes harder and harder to leave the country they have come to despise and love at the same time.  If war is what you do well, then how do you stop doing it?  After one horrible scene in battle, Helen decides to leave and go back home to San Francisco to live with her mother.  She is there only a few weeks when she realizes that she cannot cope with being home and doing trivial things like going shopping for new clothes when so much of who she is, was still in Vietnam.  Vietnam was at the center of the world, and in her eyes everything worth doing in life was there.

“This is what happened when one left one’s home – pieces of oneself scattered all over the world, no one place ever completely satisfied, always a nostalgia for the place left behind. Pieces of her in Vietnam, some in this place of bone. She brought the letter to her nose. The smell of Vietnam: a mix of jungle and wetness and spices and rot. A smell she hadn’t realized she missed.”
As the war slowly ends , and the fall of Saigon is near, Helen struggles with knowing she will now have to either leave Vietnam voluntarily or risk  being killed in the communist invasion and its aftermath.  Even with that knowledge she still can’t bear to leave the violence and monstrosities behind for a life that which without it, would seem inconsequential, “Clear now that she was as dependent as any addict on the drug of the war. He had underestimated the damage in her.”
 
In Homer’s Odyssey, the Lotus Eaters become addicted to the narcotic plants, and no longer desire to return home.  Soli uses a quote from the story at the beginning of her novel and it serves as a pretense for all the events forthcoming in the book.  A brilliant idea for a title to fit an equally brilliant book.
 
I really loved this book from cover to cover.  It is my favorite read so far of 2010.  The characters were authentic, the writing was sparse and beautiful, no wasted paragraphs or wordiness, everything about it was good in my opinion.  I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys literary fiction.

Ghosts, and Goblins, and Serial Killers, Oh My!

Posted in Hot Tip, Score, The Line on September 29, 2010 by sherid

By Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean – HarperCollins Pub. (2008) – Hardback – 312 pages – ISBN 0060530928

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
A well deserved Newberry Award Winner for outstanding Children’s Literature, The Graveyard Book is a pleasure for all ages.  I enjoyed it immensely and literally tried to bribe my 5th grade son to read it (he doesn’t read enough).  The Graveyard Book was the first book I completed in Carl’s Annual R.I.P. challenge.  Read all about it here.  Carl’s challenge is the only one I participate in every year and I’m hoping my participation will help to re-initiate me into the world of book blogging after my long and unforgivable lapse.  Here is my tentative list for this years challenge:
The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
Will Storr vs. The Supernatural – Will Storr
Ghosts of the McBride House: a true haunting – Cecilia Back
The Bell Witch: An American Haunting – Brent Monahan
Spooky yea?  Happy Reading *insert maniacal laughter.*

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Posted in Hot Tip, Score, The Line on September 23, 2010 by sherid

When I finished reading this book I literally gave it a kiss, a hug and told it thank you.  Sadly, I have to return this precious thing to the library, but I’ll be looking for it at used bookstores and if I ever see it looking all sad and lonely on the shelf I’ll quickly take it home with me and give it a nice place to live forever and ever.

This book centers around Juliet Ashton, a thirtysomething writer in London post World War II.  She is looking for a new project to work on, when she receives a letter from a man in Guernsey, which a Channel Island off the coast of England.  The man has come across a book by Charles Lamb that was once owned by Juliet and he is eager to learn more about it to discuss it with his book group The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Society.  Juliet is intrigued by the letter and they begin a correspondence and Juliet consequently makes Guernsey  her next writing project.  Adding brevity to the story is the fact that Guernsey was occupied by the Germans for 4 years until being freed by allied forces.  The Islanders are still coping with putting their lives back together after the occupation, and Juliet is soon immersed in the lives and stories of all the members of the literary society, and eventually leaves London to research her book on the Island of Guernsey.

 This book is written as a series of letters, which I don’t normally care for but it totally worked this time.  I enjoyed Juliet immensely, and I loved learning about the Island of Guernsey and what it was like to live under German occupation.  I can’t recommend this enough.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle – David Wroblewski

Posted in The Line on September 16, 2010 by sherid

I have literally just finish reading this book, and I’m sort of left feeling like I’m one dish short of a great meal.  Like I was on a really nice drive then got stuck in traffic, and decided just to turn around and go home.  It was like…Ok, Ok, enough with the analogies you get the point.  The book is about Edgar Sawtelle, born the son of a long line of dog breeders, and born without the power of speech.  At a young age, he learns to sign and communicates with his family and the dogs in sign language.  His father teaches him how to care for the dogs, and his mother teaches him to train them.  All is well in the Sawtelle family until long lost Uncle Claude shows up and gives this novel a good ol’ Shakesperian twist.

While this book was a decent read, it was certainly over-hyped by Oprah and company.  It’s easy to see why Oprah liked it so much because she loves her dogs, and this book is very much about dogs being special and having souls and so forth.  For me it was strong in the beginning and sort of fizzled out in the end.  But don’t take my advice too seriously, I’m not a dog person.