Monthly Archives: March 2016

Does That Make Her Pretentious?

A thick drizzle from the sky, like a curtain’s sudden sweeping. The seabirds stopped their tuning, the ocean went mute. Houselights over the water dimmed to gray.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Goff

It is easy to find a wide range of reactions to this book. Whether you love it, hate it, or somewhere in between, a quick look at Goodreads or Amazon reviews will take you to someone who agrees completely with you.

I moved around a lot as a child, went to a different school every 6 to 18 months. I missed large chunks of educational basics because they were being taught in different grades at the different schools (I’ve never taken a geometry class something I often mention when playing pool or parallel parking). I was a precocious reader, but never studied Shakespeare, mythology, or many literature classics.

I took a long time for me to make the connection between the title and Greek Tragedy, and while reading the book I encountered many references that I only understood as much as you can get from watching Disney’s animated Hercules a few dozen times. My reaction to this was to be reminded that you might not ever need Algebra once you’ve left school, but a good literature class can stay with you forever.

Apparently other readers encountered references they didn’t completely understand either, but their reaction was to call the writing (or even the author) pretentious. I bet there is a myth or a fable that I could use as an analogy to demonstrate why it is wrong to cast aspersions at something just because you don’t understand it – but, as I’ve already mentioned, I don’t have that base of knowledge. So I’ll just go with, I think that is a cheap shot.

Otherwise, my brief review: I thought the Fates section would never end and came close to quitting a couple of times, but once I started on Furies, I couldn’t put it down. I would like to read an edited version, I’m betting there are complete paragraphs that could be cut that would only improve the reading experience. One of these days, after I’ve got a bit of Greek Tragedy added to my reading history, I think I’ll pick it up and read it again.


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Filed under Educational, I Need To Read This Again, The New York Times Book Review, Writing

Why Haven’t I Finished It?

Today is Book Club. The book we’re reading is well-written, well-reviewed, on David Bowie’s favorite 100 books, is a bestseller, has won awards (right on the cover it says “Winner of the Pulitzer Prize”), and is getting the better of me. I am on page 175 (of 335) of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I started reading it back in January, before I read The Martian and before I even considered reading Born Standing Up. When I sit down to read I am immediately drawn in, but once I set the book aside for the evening I seem to have a difficult time making the time to go back to it.

I think that will be my discussion point at Book Club today: why haven’t I finished this book?

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Filed under Book Club Reading List

A Comic’s Life


I did stand-up comedy for eighteen years. Ten of those years were spent learning, four years were spent refining, and four were spent in wild success.

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

Watching the episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedian’s In Cars Getting Coffee when Steve Martin is the guest, a brief mention of Steve Martin’s writing and this book in particular, and the next thing I know I’ve ordered it for my sister.

The book was published in 2007 but at times it read a bit dated, although the only specific reference was the mention, a couple of times, of Bill Cosby in a positive light. With what we’ve learned about Cosby in recent years, this felt odd. Maybe it seemed dated because of the lack of a troubled young adulthood. It isn’t that Steve Martin tells his life as all sunshine and roses, but it isn’t a memoir that makes you wander how his daughter will feel when she reads it. Maybe that makes it an autobiography instead of a memoir?

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Filed under Memoirs and Autobiographies