Tag Archives: Book Reviews

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

Live Long Enough to Read These Books, A Continuing Saga

When I decided to add these five books to my List, I didn’t realize there was a theme: all of them have both very poor and very good reviews on Amazon. None is universally praised. Many of the poor reviews reference the writing style not being what the reviewer is used to, that’s somehow unusual; I am always intrigued by something different in writing style. Not always a fan once I’ve read it (or tried to), but if the book captures my attention and then I find out that some people are turned off by the writing style (as opposed to quality) that just guarantees it a place on my List.

What – Gone: The Last Days of The New Yorker
Who – Renata Adler
Why – Short article in New York Magazine about the author makes her and her writing sound interesting.

What – Speedboat
See above

What – Pitch Dark
See above

What – Beautiful Day
Who – Elin Hilderbrand
Why – “Hilderbrand has lived for two decades on Nantucket, where all 12 of her novels are set, and she understands that readers turn to her mainly for glimpses of (quote) East Coast Yankee blue-blood privilege and elitism at it’s very finest (end quote).
PLUS – 12 Novels with a similar setting, and probably theme, means that if I like the first one I read, I’ll have a 11 more to enjoy.

What – Sisterland
Who – Curtis Sittenfeld
Why – Twins with psychic abilities share a devastating secret (the summary on the best seller lists) is only a bit compelling. Seeing this book as a recommended read in almost every magazine means I need to at least try it.

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Filed under Books To Live Long Enough To Read

Where’s the Spoiler Alert, Maria?

Reading a review for Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love by Sarah Butler, written by Maria Russo, I am intrigued and the narrative sounds interesting. Until the 5th paragraph when Ms. Russo gives us a key piece of information. She excuses herself in paragraph 6 by saying “I reveal this…because it’s obvious early on (I figure it out by Page 47).”

Since I haven’t read the book I can’t truly say that the information she gave was a spoiler, but it sure feels like one (which is why I’m not telling you what it is). Maybe I’m not so sharp as Ms. Russo and wouldn’t have figured it out by Page 47, or perhaps I would enjoyed figuring it out myself while reading those first 46 pages. Maybe the author would tell me to relax, that this piece of information isn’t meant to be some big secret.

Until then, however, I am asking Maria Russo to please use a spoiler warning in the future!

And I am adding this to my books to read.

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Filed under Books To Live Long Enough To Read