Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book a Month Club!

So I haven't read as frequently as I've hoped this year, but nevertheless, as promised, I will review my booklist. (It seems I'm averaging one book per month. I need to pick up the pace!)

The List:
  • Fledgling, Octavia Butler
  • Bossypants, Tina Fey
  • Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
  • Maus I: My Father Bleeds History, Art Spiegelman
  • Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began, Art Spiegelman
Currently Reading: Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Next Read: Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys

Short Reviews:

Fledgling

So a genetically engineered vampire is part black, so she can resist the sunlight, ages at an incredibly slow rate, shows super-human strength, and has lost her memory due to a near fatal attack on her, and her surviving relatives. What is a memory lost vampire girl to do, who is fifty-three years old, stuck in the body of a twelve year old, and can't remember her name? Why, sleep with a grown man and feast on his blood for survival in a symbiotic relationship, of course! Then, she must come to relearn her place in her own "Ina" (vampire) society, whose traditions garner the wisdom of 10,000 years of recorded civilization. She is hated by half of her kind, admired and revered by the other half, and faces constant danger of being hunted down by her enemies, who hope to take her symbiotants with her. There is definitely a lot of action in this book. I get the sense that Butler was envisioning a movie that might come of it some day. This book critiques issues of race, sexuality, political structures, genetic engineering... it's hard to settle down on a main topic. Not as fulfilling as I'd hoped it would be, possibly due to some lack of clarity as to what the author hopes to accomplish, but overall a fun guilty pleasure if you're into the snowball of vampire culture.



Bossypants

Pretty tongue and cheek, but I always appreciate Tina Fey's humour. Don't expect to laugh your way from page to page. However, if you want a comical, self-deprecating account of the life of Tina Fey in short anecdotes, and how she accidentally stumbled upon success despite some humiliating life moments, it's a fun summer read. Admittedly, the back cover had me in stitches, and was the number one reason I bought the book. (Okay, somehow that blurb makes it sound like I didn't enjoy the book, but let me say that I truly enjoyed reading it, I was just hoping for gut-busting laughter. Life's tough for a comedian. Expectations always run abnormally high for comedic writing.)



Of Mice and Men

It's such a short novella, and a classic that is spoken of so often, that it leaves me wondering if there's a way I "ought" to react to it. I definitely wish it were longer. The ending wasn't wholly surprising, but I realize that's not the point of it. I secretly wish to rewrite it so that both main characters have more of an opportunity for growth. By story's end you realize that's the whole point, this one short story is a repetition of every other job, every other move, every other encounter with new people over the course of the character's lives, with minimal differences from place to place. The redundancy, the stasis, the "plight of the working class" leaving little room for growth, progression, or upward movement.



Maus I & II

What can I say other than horrifying, moving, honest and something I feel everyone should read. But truly, granted, I am not well read on holocaust memoirs, I was surprised by the horrors I had never read about or watched in movies of the same genre. And yet both volumes left the reader questioning the father's story on his account of the holocaust, and how much of the father's role in each account may have been exaggerated. I say this not to lessen the severity of abuses that victims the holocaust endured, but to point out what the son (as narrator) points out on a few occasions -- it raises some amount of doubt in his father's perspective on things, and wants the reader to be aware of the vast differences that can come about from different voices in storytelling. Art Speigelman's account of his own tensions, anger, and resentment for his parents, as well as his admiration for them, seem so genuine, it's hard not to appreciate a work written with such honesty.



Jane Eyre

I'm not far enough to say too much about it. Admittedly I'm reading this because it's one of those classic books you "have to read," and because I'm so interested in reading the Wide Sargasso Sea as a "reimagining of Jane Eyre" in a Caribbean, feminist sort of way. I figure I can't do Rhys' work full justice without reading Jane Eyre first. (And I'm not cheating by watching the movie instead...not until after I finish the book). I have the summer, and I have the time for them both.


And then, I will read V for Vendetta ... just because I need to throw another graphic novel in there... and I loved the movie, and Natalie Portman, of course.

Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

Also, if you're a literary nut, go see Midnight in Paris, right now!

I'm not a big fan of Owen Wilson, but how can you not fall in love with his character, who romantically longs to live and breathe the air of the writers, poets, and artists of the 1920s? Plus, he goes back in time and gets Gertrude Stein to read his unfinished novel. Seriously? Oh Woody Allen... you warm my heart.

2 comments:

  1. I loved Midnight in Paris! I did a blog post on it as well!! Great blog!! I will definitely be coming back!! :)

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  2. Thanks Chelsea! I guess I owe you a cookie...


    - Vanessa

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