Category Archives: I Need To Read This Again

When a book is more interesting to me as a whole so I want to go back and re-read knowing what the whole is.

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

But What Does She Look Like?

November 4, 1936

(HARRIET AT ZERO)

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

What Was I Reading?

Hi!

My name is Nao, and I am a time being. Do you know what a time being is? Well, if you give me a moment, I will tell you.

A Tale For the Time Being A Novel, by Ruth Ozeki

Have you ever picked up a book you’ve been reading a felt like you were reading a completely different story than the one you remembered?

Not like when you’ve put a book down for a long time and don’t remember it clearly, but just a day later.

Not a twist as in Gone Girl or the movie Sixth Sense.

Somewhere in the last 10% of the A Tale For the Time Being there was, for me, a 180 degree shift in the storytelling.

But don’t take that as a criticism as my reaction is that I need to read the book again. With so little time to read I do sometimes let too many days go by between pages, and there are times I fall asleep while reading.

Perhaps there is a shift between the two stories I read in the one book and now that I know where I’m going, I will see that bridge more clearly.

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