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)?

R.L. Stine – Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Read Him

I recently stumbled across this short, brief interview with children’s horror writer R.L. Stine. These are two excerpts from the interview I want to keep/remember:

When you write, for example, about a hideous mask that the heroine can’t take off, are you writing about some deeper theme?

I didn’t really think of that. When my son was little, he was trying on a green Frankenstein mask and he was pulling it down over his face and he couldn’t get it off. And he was tugging, tugging. I thought, “What a great idea for a story.” I should’ve helped him. I wasn’t a good parent that day.

I love his commentary, “I wasn’t a good parent that day.” We all have those moments.

What do kids say when they write to you?

That’s one of the best parts of writing for kids. I get wonderful mail, tons and tons. Here’s a couple classic letters:

“Dear R.L. Stine, I really love your books but can you answer one question, why don’t the endings make any sense?”

“Dear R.L. Stine, I’m huge fan of your books. Your friends and family are proud of you, no matter what anybody says.”

“Dear R.L. Stine, I’ve read 40 of your books and I think they’re really boring.”

That’s my favorite.

Kids are hilarious.

Psychological Thrilla, Not Plain Vanilla – You Should Read This Book

I just read the review copy I have of How to be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman (fairly late, since the book was released in October 2013), and my initial reaction? Wow. A very good wow.

good wifeHow to be a Good Wife is the title of a nonfiction book Marta was gifted by her mother-in-law on her wedding day. She has lived by the directions in this book for years, and knows every word by heart. But lately, Marta’s not as happy in her marriage as she was at the beginning.

Or was she ever happy in her marriage?

You see, Marta’s been seeing things.

Her husband claims she hallucinates without her pills, and she hasn’t been taking her pills. With her son grown, at his own apartment relatively far away, it’s only Marta and her husband Hector in the house now. & Marta is ready to see what happens when she does not take her pills…

This book was great. I devoured it; if I wasn’t so set on actually passing the courses I’m taking this semester, I might not have stopped reading to come up for air. I like books with unreliable narrators. Can I believe what I’m being told? How objective are the other people interacting with the narrator?

I know what my opinion is of the veracity of Marta’s conclusion about her marriage, but one of the best things about this book is that it could be interpreted in many different ways. Or at least, in two.

I don’t want to give too much detail regarding the book, but I will say I really, really enjoyed it. 4.5 out of 5 stars – and the loss of half a star is really simply because I don’t think I will read it again.

Chapman has a spare style of prose, which I found delightful. I like prose that sparkles in its’ simplicity, that feels like stepping on fresh, crisp snow. This book talked about potential insanity in a way that was easily comprehended, which is a very difficult thing to do. This novel is Chapman’s debut, and it was a great first book. I will definitely be on the lookout for any future work of hers that is released.

You should read this book.

Please, recommend a book you have enjoyed in the comments below!

Please, recommend a book you have enjoyed in the comments below!

Links that I Like, & Think You Might, Too

  • ‘Tis the season for colds and flus! I’m pretty sure I’ve been ill more days than I have been healthy. Ugh. Yet perhaps that is about to change, now that I know about this fun remedy. (It’s worth a try anyway, right?)
  • If you don’t like the Toast, then I’m not sure we can be friends. (In particular, pretty much everything Mallory Ortberg writes makes me chortle.)
  • If Hermione were the main character in “Harry Potter.” (Replete with feminism and gifs, you will not regret reading this article.)
  • What Kristy Thomas (yes, of The Babysitters Club Kristy Thomas) thinks of the Sweet Valley Confidential series.
  • One Dimensional Female Character from a Male-Driven Comedy. (Because sometimes, SNL gets it right.)
  • I’m a sucker for an infograph, and the classics. This link provides both.
  • A guy wrote a mystery novel with teddy bears, and got extremely irritated at what he perceived to be a negative review.
  • Men are from bacon, women are from lemons. Read.

Clarity

grasping @ eternity

 Okay – what is this book about?

Is it an interesting supernatural novel? A run-of-the-mill romance? A combination of the two?

I feel like there is a disparity between the cover and the description. I have nothing against romance, but some of it is not meant to be taken seriously. While most of us will read anything at the beach, the cover is indicative, to me, of what is casually labeled a “beach read” – a fun read. The description, on the other hand, at least indicates melodrama, if not the idea that this novel is meant to keep the reader thinking after the last page has been turned.

There’s something about eternity (vampires? hopefully not – I’m feeling a bit inundated by vampires at the moment). There’s something about “doing the unthinkable,” except that that’s “explained” by some gibberish about past lives. Maybe this is a god/goddess thing?

Is it just me, or do you kind of wish publishers would just issue a blank cover if they can’t come up with a fitting image? Or is this novel’s description better than its’ premise?

Anyway, the person with the best elaborated description of the novel (based, of course, on its’ cover) gets brownie points! & even though you’ll probably never meet me in person, and probably wouldn’t know who I was even if you did, you know you want my approval. 😉

Mrs. Poe probably says “Hell no, don’t read this book”

Probably not even from the grave. It would be fitting for E. Allen Poe’s wife to be a zombie. Desperately craving peaceful rest, but her mind cackles evil-ly and tells her “Never more.” Like an insomniac, but, you know, rotting.

So, yes, I recently read Mrs. Poe, and no, I didn’t like it. Here’s the cover, so you know what to avoid.

Avoid.

Avoid.

Mrs. Poe is not an evil book. It’s not a particularly well written book, but it’s also not particularly poorly written. Instead, it is even worse: It is BORING.

The writer took some interesting concepts – Edgar Allen Poe, appearance vs. reality, imagination vs. reality (done so, so, so, so, so much better in Northanger Abbey. Like – SO  much better. Read that instead. #unbiased), writing – and mushed them together in a very, to me, unappealing way. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I doubt it.

*eyes shifting right & left* No, this is not my favorite Austen book. #ZOMGittotallyis

*eyes shifting right & left* No, this is not my favorite Austen book. #ZOMGittotallyis

So what, exactly, did the Twilight-vampire-named authoress do wrong?

I probably don’t remember everything I disliked about this book. I tend to block out bland, unpleasant memories. But here are a few of them:

  • The narrator is particularly unlikable. Of course, this isn’t always a dealbreaker. Lolita is an amazing book, and if you’re sympathizing with Humbert Humbert, you’re reading it wrong. But I think that the author wanted us to like the narrator (some poet, I forget her name, and honestly, am too lazy to look it up). She is supposedly drop-dead gorgeous (which is fine, I usually prefer to think about handsome people, but will pull this up as a fault if the character annoys me), vain and proud about her poetry (which, frankly, doesn’t strike me as very good), angry that her husband left her for other women (with more money; of course he left you, honey #chaching), lusting after another woman’s husband (hypocrite; also, ew), not spending enough time with her children (which probably wasn’t that uncommon amongst the gentle classes during the time period specified, but still pi$$ed me off), and cannot make up her freakin’ mind. What are you, a thirteen year old? Stop being so indecisive; make up your mind, and stick to it. Making up your mind, only to change it the second some guy in tight pants walks by is not going to make me like you.
  • The unlikable narrator is always going on and on about how sexy Mr. Poe is. Um…ew. Have you seen pictures of E. Allen Poe? Who is attracted to that? Like, seriously.
He's sexy and he knows it? #wait...what

He’s sexy and he knows it? #wait…what

Now, for a moment, I thought it was possible the authoress was going to redeem herself. I thought maybe the narrator was supposed to be unstable, rather than unintelligent, as well as too naive to see what was going on in front of her. I probably shouldn’t explain how I thought this might happen, but I think I’m going to anyway:

MY THOUGHTS that would have completely changed the way this book is read, and also appealed about a million times more to my gothic sensibilities:

E. Allen Poe is a sadistic asshole who can’t even really write. His famous stories, “The Raven” poem, etc., are actually written by his dying wife. Now that his consumptive wife is dying, he’s on the prowl to seduce another “good” writer, whose works he plans to sell as his own. Possibly, in addition, killing this writer after he reaps the literary goods she has sown. (If you have read the book, don’t you agree, this ending would have made the book so much more fun?)

ANYWAY, continuing my list:

  • The protagonist (ew) is frightened of this woman whose husband she is trying to steal. Um, hello? Has anyone seen Fatal Attraction? I think we all agree the protagonist and her “sexy” (#vomit) lover deserve a little torture. Particularly when…
  • Mrs. Poe is dying. DYING. Of consumption. And all her husband and this boring poetess can do is make googly eyes at each other while she withers away? Um, no. Not cool, guys.

Well, I’ve reminded myself of why I don’t like this book. Maybe you will, maybe I’m missing something wonderful about this book. But if so, I genuinely didn’t see it, and so I can’t recommend this book to anyone. Oh, also, I received it as an ARC; thank goodness I didn’t pay for it. *shudder*

& on that dark & stormy note, I bid you adieu. Also - ravens.

& on that dark & stormy note, I bid you adieu. Also – ravens.

Wow.

I really don’t think there is another word that captures my feeling while reading The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club, which is supposed to be a mystery, but by the time the book gets around to the “who? what? where?” questions, you don’t really care, anymore.

I have a feeling this book was self-published, particularly because of the formatting. The author switches viewpoints between characters a lot, but there wasn’t even a paragraph break in the text when this happens, which is both disconcerting and annoying. Also, while I understand why the author switched viewpoints so often, it was not written particularly well.

So – Gordonston is an area in the city of Savannah, Georgia. This fact is completely wasted in this novel, however. If you have been to Savannah, you know that it is a beautiful city, with a lot of different aspects. This book focused on one area of Savannah, but did not really have much discussion of the landscape of the city. There were vague descriptions of a park that everyone takes their dog to, and a couple of mentions of the heat.

oblivious

If you have not been to Savannah, I recommend that you read Midnight in the Garden of Good and EvilMidnight… is such a good book, and does a great job of revealing the feeling of the Georgian city. Reading Midnight… is what made me want to visit the city, which I did after receiving my Bachelor’s Degree. (I highly recommend a visit to the Mercer house, which the Gordonston… book at least mentioned.)

"The Book"

“The Book”

The author tries to make the book interesting by creating “zany” characters. And these characters are pretty screwed up. [Warning: Spoilers are about to follow. Read at your own peril of being annoyed that you already know shit about this book.]

  • There’s the “gorgeous” chick who arranges for a vacation in Paris with the husband she has been dating since high school, without realizing he has a passport.
  • There are the two ridiculous, wealthy older ladies who vie for the attention of a man whose wife dies somewhere within the first 100 pages of the book (I wish I could be more specific, but I just. Can’t. Look through that book for details.)
  • There are numerous Nazi/Hitler references.
  • There is a nephew who pretends to be doing all of this awesome humanitarian work in poor countries, who is actually scamming money from people so he can have crazy adventures in Europe.
  • All of these characters are very (I repeat: VERY) self-involved, yet the reader is supposed to believe that these people have enough wherewithal to keep their dogs alive.
& I didn't even tell you guys all of the crazy shizz that goes on in this book.

& I didn’t even tell you guys all of the crazy shizz that goes on in this book.

That’s actually why I read the book. I was expecting a mystery filled with colorful characters. But while the characters are kind of crazy, it wasn’t really any fun to read about their crazy. Don’t get me wrong – I read the entire book. I wanted to know what the author was going to do next. But rather than I-must-keep-reading-this-book-is-amazing-OMG-how-can-the-author-wrap-this-up reading, I was more interested in continuing to read to see how much carnage the train wreck was going to create.

If train A leaves the station in Grand Rapids at 9 a.m., going 125 mph, and this book continues for another 120 pages, will I feel like chucking this book under the train when it rolls through Ann Arbor?

If train A leaves the station in Grand Rapids at 9 a.m., going 125 mph, and this book continues for another 120 pages, will I feel like chucking this book under the train when it rolls through Ann Arbor?

The mystery ends up consisting of which character is going to be killed, though there are supposed to be a couple of “twists” regarding the identity of the contract killer and the manager of a secret contract-killing business that all of the residents of Savannah know about that can be seen a mile away. And why the character who is killed is killed is also supposed to be a surprise, but isn’t really all that surprising, at all.

The book ended, and I realized that it had been a chore to read. Partially because the story was so forced. Partially because the writing was terrible. Instead of being simple and clear, or detailed and specific, the author chose to go the route of vague and unintentionally hilarious. There are descriptions (that I’m paraphrasing because I refuse to open the book again) like: “Kelly wore her long blonde hair in a very trendy style.” There’s also a line something along the lines of: “Kelly and Tom got plenty of exercise through making love, which was expected with a recently married couple, but because they were so attractive, was expected doubly so.”

But the point when I literally looked up from the book, puzzled expression on my face, and said: “Wow,” was another scene between the recently married couple. Kelly, the attractive blonde who could be a model if she wanted to, but works at the make-up counter at Macy’s, wakes up a few minutes before her husband needs to get up for work he thinks, but she’s going to spring their vacation on him that he can’t join her on because he doesn’t have a passport, which she should know since it seems they’ve been living together for a decent amount of time and also she’s known him since high school. (Run-on intentional; I dare you to read that sentence aloud.) But Kelly doesn’t know this when she wakes up and sees the early time on her alarm clock. Kelly wakes up excited, and full of the spunk that made Tom fall in love with her. She decides to wake him up “in his favorite way.” He wakes up talking about a weird dream, and Kelly “smiles secretly” and there’s some mention of a salty taste in her mouth.

Bitch, please.

Bitch, please.

Um, no.

No. No. No. No. No!

In case anyone was swayed by the author’s misguided attempt to portray how “frisky” and “fun” the young couple is, let me explain that since Tom was sleeping, and could not give consent, he was sexually molested by his wife.

In the same way that it is not okay for a man to have sex with his wife while she is sleeping, it is also not okay to give someone a blow job while they are sleeping. Basically, it is not okay to do anything to a sleeping person other than wake them up, and maybe cuddle. Maybe, depending on your relationship. If a person cannot consent to a sexual act, it is wrong to engage in that sexual act, even if you’re “sure” that person would be cool with it if that person was awake. That person is not awake, therefore, it is not okay to engage in that sexual act. Even if you’re married to that person.

rosemarys-baby-rosemary

I just felt I should be very clear & emphatic about that, because, we all know that not everyone seems to understand the need for consent.

Overall, The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club was a terrible book that I do not recommend to anyone. If you think you want to read it, you are probably wrong. I paid somewhere between $1-2 for it, and feel like I overpaid.

Teenage suicide & reading this book - don't do it!

Teenage suicide & reading this book – don’t do it!