A Quote I Like from Fight Club

‘Why should I believe any of this?’

It happens that fast..

I say, because I think I like you.

Marla says, ‘Not love?’

This is a cheesy enough moment, I say. Don’t push it.

Chuck Palahniuk does a great job of writing about subject matter in a way that remains interesting, and never gets too sappy. Some might argue he occasionally goes too far in the other direction (I do not agree with this assessment, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion).

I just finished Fight Club, including the Afterword in my version, and find it interesting that the author considers this book a love story. There are many elements to Fight Club, but if I had to write a paper about themes/meanings/etc. of the novel afterward, I never would have thought to write that it is a romance. Actually, I still wouldn’t, even now that I know it is his intention.

He also mentions that he essentially considers Fight Club a re-write of The Great Gatsby. Also interesting, because I don’t know that I would classify The Great Gatsby as primarily a love story, either.

Thoughts? What do you think of this quote? What do you think of Fight Club (book or movie)?

Dreams & Demons & Other Normal Teen Nonsense

Sappy movies based on fairy tales tell us that our dreams really can come true, if we are very good little boys and girls, and we want them badly enough. But what if you wanted your dreams badly enough to summon a demon? This idea provides the backdrop for Kerstin Gier’s Dream a Little Dream, the first book of the Silver Trilogy.

Personally, I think this is a terrible cover. & why are you showing me the protagonist's face? That's what I have this little thing called "imagination" for...

Personally, I think this is a terrible cover. & why are you showing me the protagonist’s face? That’s what I have this little thing called “imagination” for…

Olivia and her sister are constantly having to move for their somewhat selfish mother, a traveling professor, whose most recent gig is at Oxford. Arriving from the airport to discover their mother has been getting bizz-ay (bom chicka wow-wow) in their absence with an older, balding gentleman, while they’ve been in Switzerland enjoying stinky cheeses with their dad, Olivia and Mia are, to say the least, not happy about it. The book reads quickly and easily, but it’s just a bit bland. Bland The storyline’s actually not that bad. Liv moves to London, and meets a group of super hot upperclassmen who are just normal popular guys. You know, good at basketball, flirting/teasing/ignoring all the girls, and, oh yeah, getting drunk and summoning demons. You know, just boring, normal activities that teenage boys engage in.

...no big thing

…no big thing

Protagonist Liv is really annoying. Although she’s supposed to be a teenager, she often talks like a middle-aged woman. She fits in well with this demon circle because she can access this funky dream hallway and she’s never held hands with a boy, much less had sex with him.

Briefly seen in this other cover version, which I like much better, and hope they use.

The dream hallway: briefly seen in this other cover version, which I like much better, and hope they use.

The virginal aspect, while a common theme in at least literary demonic rites (I’ll be honest, I’m not very knowledgeable about real ones), also really annoyed me. I don’t have a problem with a girl waiting to have sex, but I also don’t have a problem with a girl having sex. This aspect of the book felt a bit slut-shaming to me, which I did not appreciate. Our protagonist is not a “good” girl because she’s never been kissed before; she’s a girl who still pretends boys have cooties. Again, this is fine, it just doesn’t make her a better person than a girl who likes to go on dates and kiss her lipstick off.

Not advocating changing for a guy; just saying that both Sandys are equally lovely.

Not advocating changing for a guy; just saying that both Sandys are equally lovely.

The book picks up in the last twenty pages or so, ending on a cliffhanger that can be seen from a mile away, but resolving the main mystery rather nicely (except for further madonna-whore complex bullshit). The entire book, the protagonist has been fighting the idea of the existence of demons while simultaneously being able to invade the dreams of others via the dream hallway, so how do we reconcile this? Well, it’s not entirely reconciled, because this is a series, after all, and Gier has to keep you reading. Still, the ending was a bit above the rest of the book.

cliffhanger

On my arbitrary scale of book ratings, I give this book: melted ice cream. It’s okay, and I’ll still read it, but it’s not as delicious and far more messy than I would prefer.

Meh. It's okay.

Meh. It’s okay.

Just Sold My Childhood for $5

Remember when I wrote about my odd, embarrassing obsession with Christopher Pike when I was a teenager?

Because I’m, like, growing up and shit, but more because I’m moving across the country at the end of this summer, I sold almost my entire Pike collection.

read it like its 1999

This was the right move.

Yet I couldn’t help but feel a pang of regret as the kid who responded to my ad pulled a five dollar bill out of his wallet, took the box full of books from me, and walked away, all with an exchange of less than 10 words. It would have been ridiculous for me to haul that box across the country with me, but at the same time, how do you say goodbye to a book?

Never-say-goodbye

Part of me wanted to interrogate the kid – make sure he would be a decent foster parent.

ridiculous

Yet true.

Care to share your own rites of passage? The wonderful, the maudlin, the bittersweet – all are welcome!

V-Day

Not all of us want, or can afford, a night filled with lustful advances cleverly disguised as romance. So for those of us who are spending the night alone, why not fill your evening with a book? I stole this idea from the Confessions of a Homebody blog. She listed 10 of her favorite romantic novels. I would like to take this idea a step further. We’re not all in the mood for romance on V-Day (though many of us certainly are). Thus, I present: THE LIST OF BOOKS I MIGHT POSSIBLY WANT TO READ ON VALENTINE’S DAY, DEPENDING ON MY MOOD*:

  • If I want to read a book with a too-cutesy ending that makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit:
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

This book is magical (literally, and figuratively). I love the way that the novel highlights the importance of family and love. I also really like the feeling that the writing gives me – that little shiver, like I am reading a fairy tale story. The only problem, as I mentioned before, is that the ending is a bit too cutesy.

  • If I want to be reminded that there are women infinitely more crazy than I am:
Euripides' Medea

Euripides’ Medea

There are many different versions of this myth, but Euripides picked one of the more disturbing ones. He examines what, exactly, would inspire a woman to kill her own children. Not a pretty story; you will never believe a man who tells you you’re acting crazy again.

  • If I want to read a snarky novel with an awesome hero:
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Of course, Pride and Prejudice is also always a good novel. Yet I have an especial fondness for Northanger Abbey. I love the sarcastic, snarky tone as Austen makes fun of the very popular gothic literature prevalent at the time. And seriously? Henry Tilney might be my favorite of Austen’s leading men. Handsome, charming, and a good guy? Yes, please.

  • If I am feeling abused/neglected (whether those feelings are valid or not – I will feel how I want to, dammit!):
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

I am a huge Sarah Dessen fan (and not merely due to my girth – I was a Dessen fan before my baby boy was born), and this novel is beautiful, as well as sad. It explores a girl’s relationship with her boyfriend, which begins in that sweet, magical way so many of our relationships do, but devolves into one full of abuse. Reading this realistic portrayal makes it hard for me to continue a self-pity party.

  • If I want to read a romance where one of the love interests dies:
Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska by John Green

So far, my favorite of the novels by John Green that I have read. Looking for Alaska is a smart read with a young male protagonist who is completely smitten. The love is realistic, and the novel does not end with the death. We all occasionally want to gasp with horror when one of our favorite characters dies, but it is nice to also read through the handling of that grief.

  • If I want to read a story about obsession:
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Yes, I could read Twilight again, if I want to feel like gouging my eyes out with toothpicks. Or I could read Nabakov, whose writing is fantastic, whose unreliable narrator makes me think, and who is very good at writing very creepy characters & situations. Anyone who thinks Lolita seduced Humbert Humbert is not reading this novel carefully enough. (And even if she did get a little flirty, which is hard to gauge due to the unreliable narrator previously mentioned, she’s TWELVE, and he is over 2 decades older than her. Twilight fans are exempted from understanding this argument, since they approve of a relationship between a teenager and a man over 100. Ew.)

  • If I want to read a story filled with atmosphere:

Rebecca duMaurier’s Rebecca.

I can’t find my copy (Oh no!), which is why there is no picture – a trip to the bookstore is obviously in order.

This novel almost seems like a romance. In reality, though, this marriage is exceedingly unhealthy, particularly when you take into account (SPOILER following) that the narrator is married to a murderer. But he loves her – at least, he says he does. Yay?

  • If I am in the mood for a YA book, and it’s inevitable love triangle:
The Hunter by L.J. Smith

The Hunter by L.J. Smith

As a teen, I read every one of L.J. Smith’s books I could get my hands on (and am, subsequently, still awaiting the conclusion of her “Nightworld” series Strange Fate). The “Forbidden Game” trilogy is one of my favorites. The first book starts right in the action, both of the love interests are dreamy, and the book is a short, quick read.

These books are the ones I will probably feel most inclined to read on February 14th. What are yours?

Books

*Think if I write in all caps frequently enough, Kanye West will want to sing on of my blog posts?

On Books & Movies

I’m probably not alone in my preference to read the book before I see its film adaptation.

-bluepagespecial

This sentence is how bluepagespecial begins the blog post detailing a short review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

I find this sentence interesting mainly because I so strongly disagree with it.

I find that if I read the book/short story/etc. before reading the movie, the movie is almost always a disappointment. In order for a movie to make coherent sense and not be 12 hours long, it cannot contain everything that was loveable or, often, even important that was in a novel.

Furthermore, since a movie is a different form of media, it has different strengths & weaknesses than a book. Since it must rely so heavily on the visual, and simply feels cheesy if it does the voice-over-to-get-in-the-head-of-the-character bit, it is not going to go into the head of the character quite so much. Yet it still needs to convey why a character is so loveable.

I feel that a movie adaptation should be considered a separate entity from the novel.

I love the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” I love Truman Capote’s short story Breakfast at Tiffany’s. But are they the same story? Not even close.

Due to this theory, as well as the fact that it is impossible to view a movie without bias if you have already read the book on which it is based, I actually prefer to watch the movie first.

What about you? Book first? Movie first? Movie at all?

Book Review: A Thousand Pardons

The book is entitled A Thousand Pardons, written by Jonathan Dee.

Awesome cover, mais oui?

Awesome cover, mais oui?

This is Dee’s fifth novel, though I was a Dee-virgin prior to reading this particular work. I have seen him described as “literary” in many places, but don’t know that I agree with that assessment for this particular novel.

What is it about?

A Thousand Pardons looks at the Armstead family – prestigious lawyer Ben, his wife Helen, and their adopted Asian daughter Sara. Ben & Helen have been married for awhile, and their marriage has lost its’ spark. While their daughter Sara thinks they are having a date night, they are actually going to couples’ counseling.

So their date night is not this fun, or hilarious.

So their date night is not this fun, or this hilarious.

Ben is severely depressed and just bored with everything, which results in his entangling himself in an awkward situation with an attractive young female working at his firm – an awkward situation that ends with him being disgraced, losing his job, and even serving some jail time.

Prisoner Holding Cigarette Between Bars

Dun dun duhn!

Suddenly, Helen, who has been out of the workforce for many years, needs to find a job and struggle to keep her daughter Sara feeling safe and at home in their now reduced family (a struggle which is destined to fail, as Sara is a teenager).

The title of the novel comes from the very public struggle that the Armstead family has to endure, since Ben’s thoughtlessness leads to scandal that is covered in all of the media outlets, as well as from the job that Helen procures. Helen finds a job in PR, and becomes “the apology specialist.” She convinces specific people, companies, etc., that when they are suffering a scandal, it is better for them to apologize for any wrongdoings, because the public wants to forgive them.

And this strategy works. She ends up receiving a promotion, and even spends some time around a movie star she was acquainted with in her youth.

Was it any good?

Yes. There were many aspects of this novel I enjoyed. Like I said, however, I would not call this literary fiction, and there were definitely some spots that missed the mark.

The novel begins very strong, and it is this strong beginning that will keep you reading, even when you get to parts of the book that you do not like as much.

The novel receives a gold star for its' beginning.

The novel receives a gold star for its’ beginning.

One of the reasons that the beginning is so strong is the introduction to the characters – but specifically, to Helen. While Dee skips around a little bit with respect to which character he is focusing on, he does seem to focus on Helen the most, making her feel like a protagonist (as your reading progresses, however, it seems that Dee has the idea of the family being the focus all along). Helen is, in general, a pretty likeable & relate-able character. While she does get her job in PR absurdly easily, considering her lack of experience or education specializing in that field, because you want to see Helen succeed, you’ll probably slightly suspend disbelief for this fact.

The writing for this novel was very smooth and readable. Moreover, this novel is more than a frothy beach-read. While it is easy to read, and has many elements of simplicity in it, at the same time, it works to avoid the conventions and cliches that could easily have turned this novel into a predictable pile of romantic schlop.

The novel receives a gold star for not being a predictable pile of romantic schlop.

The novel receives a gold star for not being a predictable pile of romantic schlop.

On the other hand, something which this novel did that I was not particularly fond of was broaden its’ scope. I felt like the author tried to include too many things, leading to some of that simplicity being lost, and resulting in the novel feeling a bit messy at the end. A possible murder appears out of nowhere to muck things up, which just feels ridiculous. The adopted daughter Sara begins dating a boy who makes her question how her race affects how other people view her, and who possibly begins stalking her, a storyline which is not resolved but simply disappears shortly before the novel ends. The husband Ben is reintroduced and seems completely changed and chagrined by his jail time, which is simply not believable. Basically, the novel begins to feel like it is rambling, and rather than making something poignant and touching out of this family portrait, ends up just reminding the reader of how messy family life is (and what a shit the reader probably was as a teenager).

Rating: 2 gold stars

Recommended?

As always, that depends on what you are like as a reader, and what you are looking to read at this particular time. While Dee does write something interesting with an arresting beginning, he does not end the novel quite so coherently, and brings up unnecessary factors to the novel which are disconcerting and often simply ridiculous. The thing which disappointed me most was the introduction of racial tension when that issue was obviously not going to be adequately handled. If you are looking for a read that is slightly above beach-read/romance dribble, then yes. If you are looking for something with depth, I do not recommend this book.

This book is slated to be released March 12, 2013. I received an advanced copy for review, but all opinions, thoughts, etc., are my own.