Lower East Side librarian
You may recall that I was enthusiastic about Min's first memoir, Red Azalea and her novel Wild Ginger. I expected to like Cooked Seed twice as hard. It starts more or less where Azalea leaves off--at Min's emigration to the US. Somehow, even after the stories of Cultural Revolution privations, cruelties and humiliations in the first part, Seed is harder to take. I guess because you can blame Min's problems on her, or maybe because you have to blame some of her problems on the United States.
Identical twin Cather (sister's name is Wren--get it?) writes popular slash fiction in the world of a Harry Potter like series where the lovers are the Harry-like character Simon Snow and his enemy, a Draco Malfoy stand-in Baz (who is also a vampire). Cath is also an introverted college freshman and virgin from Omaha at college in Lincoln. Her twin sister/best friend is blowing her off, their estranged mother is poking her head into their lives, and their dad is fragile. Plus there are some boy issues, what might be an anxiety disorder and a little schoolwork to worry about.
Fowler's first-person narration is like a lucid dream. The protagonist, Rosemary Cooke, is caught up, but self-aware and conscious of various versions of the past and present. This is kind of a spoiler, but if you read the book jacket you'll find out the same thing--that Rose spent the first five years of her life with a chimp for a sister. The two (two months apart in age) were raised together until the chimp, Fern, was sent away.
Fair warning, as it turned out--kindergarten is all about learning which parts of you are welcome at school and which are not.
I can't believe that being called Fredericka my whole life wouldn't have taken a toll. I can't believe it wouldn't have mind-bent me like a spoon. (Not that I haven't been mind-bent.)
"When I get married," I say, "I want the wedding to be in a car in a car wash."
When I run the world, librarians will be exempt from tragedy. Even their smaller sorrows will last only for as long as you can take out a book.reviewdate: Oct 12 2013 isn: 978-1-101-59568-8
I love all of Tatum O'Neal's child-star movies and her in them--especially Paper Moon (well, yeah, the book was better, but what can you do?), The Bad News Bears and Little Darlings. O'Neal's autobio fills us in on the horror behind her success. The nine-year-old youngest-ever winner of an Academy Award went to the ceremony sans her selfish, druggie parents. If this tell-all is even half-true, O'Neal's parents, stepmother Farrah Fawcett and husband John McEnroe were serious douches to her.
LCSH & SACO Month 8: In which Racially mixed youth are embraced, but Racially mixed college students are given the boot
HAPPY 80th BIRTHDAY SANDY BERMAN! This goofy series wouldn't exist if you didn't exist.
I'm in a bad mood and don't have a descriptive review in me. Basically, Lily (I can call her Lily because she interviewed me for a story once) provides a bio-history of the 1960s and early 70s space program from the point of view of the women married to the astronauts. The wives always had to be perfect and patriotic, and any display of insecurity or anger could threaten a husband's job and what assignments he might get. Indeed one astronaut did get fired after he left his wife for a Susie. (Susie was a popular name for Cape Cookies, it seems.)
In the follow up to Unraveling, teenager Janelle Tenner is once again called upon to race a clock to prevent deaths. I was less into this version and annoyed by the romance angle, which felt thin and inorganic. Upside: Janelle is a powerful badass, taking out adult men with her weapons and even her bare hands.
When the first-ever female werewolf is born, the boys are not excited to share their toys with her. There's even some legend about a female wolf causing the destruction of werekind. Dudes can be so lame!
A San Diego teen gets hit by a car and killed. Then she is brought back to life and learns she has about three weeks to stop the world from being destroyed. Yes. I've hit the point in the academic year, when I can really only handle YA dystopias and novels about werewolves.
You know you're in for something from the very first sentence, "I have been stalking my husband's lover." You can tell that a poet wrote this book. The images she chooses are downright provocative. She describes the lover Yvonne's toothbrush, "I didn't come up with much but at least now I know what kind of toothpaste she uses. I bought it. And a toothbrush the same color as hers. Green with those little silver sparkles. The kind that tapers at the tip to fit easily into your mouth. I like it better than the kind I've been using. The square kind." That sets up this crazy opposition and emulation, and in a playful, sexual way. Also: this book reeks of sex.
You know how I'm always complaining about the uneven writing in anthologies, especially Seal Press anthologies? Well that's not a problem in No Kidding. As promised in the subtitle, the contributors are all writers, most of them currently writing professionally. If anything, I felt that the stories were too even, too alike. Basically, the childfree/childless contributors love their nieces, nephews, dogs, cats and careers.
Why on earth is it stepmothers who have the epic bad rep, when it's stepfathers who are known to be dangerous, especially to girls? Eleanor and Park is a story of teen love where the main thing getting in the way of the kids' bliss is one of the partner's shitty home life. Eleanor lives with her mother, stepfather and four siblings, sharing a bedroom with all four of the sibs.
The intro to Taryn Hipp's "memoir novella" begins, "The first time I decided to write my story of sobriety, I was somewhere around two years sober. I put my story down on paper, copied it and shared it with strangers and friends, even my family." I love that "even my family." It's such a zinester thing to say and feel. I also love that she writes toward the end of the intro "I am a zine maker, not a book writer, and this is a perfect bound zine as much as it is a book." Heavy Hangs the Head does read like an extended-play zine, rather than like a short memoir/memoirvella, but the package is for sure a full-fledged book. Sage of Sweet Candy did a beautiful job with the production and publishing.
Oh, I don't know, I guess I liked this book okay. The depression-era protagonist has been sent to a girls' camp that turns out also to be a boarding school after doing a bad thing. We slowly find out what the bad thing is. As we begin to realize that 15-year-old Thea wasn't really responsible for the bad thing she gets involved with another bad thing, but with more agency this time.
What a disappointment this book is. Great title, great elements--a clairvoyant teenage dancer from the USSR relocated to Brighton Beach--and there's not enough dance, the psychic moments are easy to miss, you don't care about the characters, and the whole spy/traitor thing--whatever. The one good part of the story is 1982-83 Brighton Beach. Also the cover is attractive.
Even though this tale of four women in their late thirties is strictly an extra sexed-up romance novel that's not particularly compelling and has some weird quasi-feminist politics, I stuck with it because I like stories about people who are different from me. One of the characters is Jewish, but of the other three, two are Black and one is Colombian, but what makes their lives even more noticeably different than mine is that they're all filthy rich.
Six years later, she no longer dated snakes; she accessorized with them. She had a brilliant career, her dignity, and a closet full of reptile purses--the spoils of her victory over herself.reviewdate: Aug 28 2013 isn: 978-1-4391-2490-1
Joan Didion's writing is always elegant, haunting and clever, which is true, as ever in Blue Nights. Even so, this memoir about her daughter's death is no Year of Magical Thinking (Didion's memoir about losing her husband, around the same time).
It's a testament to good writing when I enjoy a book despite not caring for its main characters. Identical twins Kate and Violet are an anxious stay-at-home-mom and a thoughtless free spirit, respectively. In addition to looking alike, they also share what they call "senses" or ESP. Married sister Kate has renounced hers, but Violet has gone pro with her gift and publicly predicts an earthquake will hit St. Louis (where they live).