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5 entries have been written about this.

A review of "The Shipping News" — 8 years ago


If your only familiarity with the title “The Shipping News” is the film of the same name, starring Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore and Dame Judi Dench, then you do not know this story.

The film, which sincerely disappointed Ms. Proulx (and nearly scuttled the film adaptation of her fantastic short story Brokeback Mountain) is not faithful to the emotional thread which runs through the story as presented in the novel. This book is a Pulitzer Prize winner, and quite deservingly so. Whereas the film is almost a series of unrelated vignettes in a year (or so) in the life of Quoyle, the book actually provides real meaning to the life of this sad man. There is a cohesive, linear story here which will take your breath away, leave you gasping, leave you in tears and leave you puzzled.

Ms. Proulx absolutely deserved better than what Hollywood gave her, and The Shipping News absolutely deserves your time.

A review of "Trace" — 8 years ago

The only way to review this book without spoiling anything (not that it isn’t spoiled in and of itself) is to say: been there, done that.

Having already driven a stake through the heart of her long-term characters in the previous novel in the Scarpetta series (Blow Fly) Cornwell came back and handed her readers a heaping helping of rehashed story ideas – the killer hiding in plain sight in someone else’s home being the biggie – a horrifically illogical digression involving Lucy that provided important insight to Scarpetta’s case that was altogether too pat and a truly broken and dysfunctional relationship between the MD/JD forensive pathology genius and an important man in her life.

For some reason, Ms. Cornwell seems bound and determined to kill this series, book by book. If you’ve been a longtime Scarpetta fan, skip Trace, so that Cornwell doesn’t take you down with her.

A review of "Blow Fly (A Scarpetta Novel)" — 8 years ago


The Kay Scarpetta series has included some of the best selling and best written novels in the forensic pathology/mystery genre.

Then Patricia Cornwell had some kind of breakdown of focus.

That’s the only way to explain why she took the otherwise inexplicable turn with the series that began with Blow Fly. Up to this point, this series was written in the first person narrative voice. In Blow Fly, it is no longer Kay telling her stories to the world, instead, a nameless, faceless omniscient third person narrator intones soullessly about “Scarpetta” and introduces new characters who disappear in the last chapters of this book without the least bit of explanation. On one page they’re there, on the next, gone.

Key characters, particularly Kay’s niece, Lucy, are taken in striking new directions which are simply hostile to the development of their personas from the inception of the series.

And then there are the last chapters. Oy. What a muddled, abrupt, illogical mess! Yes, two key matters are resolved in truly unquestionable fashion but there is no pleasure in those resolutions at all. The key action occurs “off-screen” and our heretofore omniscient – and extremely wordy – narrator is somehow struck blind and silent about the particulars of how these crucial scenarios unfold.

This book came after a considerable wait while Cornwell digressed into vanity projects, outside interests and romantic controversies. The faithful readers who walked with Kay, Pete and Lucy from the days of Postmortem (and want proper vindication of Benton Wesley and a realistic explanation and conclusion to the vast criminal conspiracy story that was revealed in Black Notice) were let down in the worst way. We deserved better — but more importantly, the characters in the Scarpetta universe deserved better too.

A review of "The Good House : A Novel" — 8 years ago


Scary, freaky, dark, creepy, chilling, intense beyond words and occasionally confusing but it pays off in the end, big time. A major roller coaster ride – fasten your seatbelts!

A review of "Paula Deen & Friends: Living It Up, Southern Style" — 8 years ago

Two major gaffes in this book:

First, in the soup party, we’re told that some of the soups are suitable for vegetarians because they include no meat. But all of the soups are based on a meat broth or stock, and one of the “suitable” soups contains seafood. Vegetarians do not consume meat broths or seafood.

Second, and perhaps somewhat more egregious, is the Shabbos dinner, which is wholly unkosher. Meat and dairy are mixed and the challah recipe given isn’t pareve. While that may fly for non-observant Jews, it was really jarring to see the meal portrayed as a special Jewish sabbath feast when it flew so hard in the face of the traditions surrounding Jewish food.

Paula Deen is the queen of hearty, homey, southern cooking with loads of cream and butter and eggs and frying and sour cream and mayonnaise and other things that aren’t terribly good for your health while appealing strongly to your palate. In this book, she’s lost that focus in favor of attempting to pander to far too wide a variety of people and entertaining situations. The recipes are all fine and good and the book is worth reading for the recipes, certainly, but the framework and the stories and the scenarios just don’t cut it.

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