Monthly Archives: February 2016

But What Does She Look Like?

November 4, 1936


Here you come, Harriet Nathan, tiny face pinched, eyes squinting fiercely against the glare of surgical lamps, at a newly renovated Swedish hospital, high on Seattle’s First Hill.

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

Once again transcribing the first sentences of a book I just finished shows me something I either missed or forgot while reading the book. It was somewhere around page 8 that I started wondering if the story was taking place in Seattle; specifically, was the store Frederick & Nelson in other places in the country that also had a Fourth Street and Union Street that intersected? But there it was in the very first sentence. Oh well, that is not what I came here to record.

I liked the books’ structure, and the title’s reference to the old TV show was perfect, but I’m a sucker for short chapters and non-linear storytelling. There were a few times that I felt something for the characters and a few times I was surprised by something, but maybe not enough.

Harriet, in my mind’s eye, was a generic “little old lady.” I couldn’t picture her, not at 78, not at 36, not at 18, etc. Mr. Evison gave her a personality, I should have given her a face and maybe then I would have been more invested.

Even in a non-linear story, it helps to have a beginning point – a time the story is moving forward from so that you can watch characters grow or learn, or something. I expect that was supposed to start on page 10, when we first meet Harriet at 78. But, other than getting soundly stepped on a few times, I don’t think Harriet changed between April 6, 2015 (when we first meet her) and August 26, 2015 (when we say goodbye). For me, in the end the entire story felt like something that had already happened, was completely set, and we were just revisiting to find out why Harriet was Harriet.

Rereading that first sentence and the first two chapters, I start to think more about the story. Maybe I should reread it again at some point in the future, perhaps it is the sort of book that once you stop wondering what is going to happen next, you slow down and get something completely different out of it.


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Filed under Books to Read on Planes, I Need To Read This Again, This Book Would Make A Great Movie

The Martian, The Book

Log Entry: Sol 6
I’m pretty much fucked.
That’s my considered opinion.

The Martian by Andy Weir

I missed the meeting yesterday, where this was the book discussed, but I did chat with a neighbor who was there and who told me most people did not particularly enjoy the book. Although I think I agree, it is a 435 page paperback, and I finished it, so there must have been something appealing.

I did skim some of the paragraphs that were overly science based, the ones that made it feel like the book had been written for some other audience, like my retired Nuclear Engineer friend.

It is odd that even with the Log Entries being dated, I didn’t realize how much time was going by until near the end when our hero makes a specific comment about how many days he’d been there. At the end of the story I felt like I knew very little about him in the way of biographical facts but that I understood his spirit quite well; and I liked his spirit.

I’d be surprised if the book would be on any best-seller list if hadn’t been made into a movie, but I bet it makes a good movie.

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Filed under See The Movie, Read The Book

Brooklyn Books 2016 List

February:  The Martian by Andy Weir. Host: Edie

March:  The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Juno Diaz. Host: Deb

April:  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Host: Betsy

May:  The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan. Host: Nancy M.

June:  Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehesi Coates. Host: Sharon

July:  Jazz by Toni Morrison. Host: Sara

August:  Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick. Host: TBD

September:  H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Host: Kathryn

October:  A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnik. Host: Kathleen

November:  When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and Abraham Verghese (Memoir). Host: Adrienne/Vanessa

December:  Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon by Nicole Brossard. Host: Bettie

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Filed under Book Club Reading List