All Consuming

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21 entries have been written about this.

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A review of "Everyman" — 7 years ago


I found I had a deep emotional connection to this book – it was extremely depressing in places, yet I couldn’t put it down. It’s a meandering look at one (dead) man’s life, and it’s really a meditation on the fear of death. Starts out with his concept of death as a child (amorphous), moves through his various bad decisions as an adult, but mostly explores his move from abject fear of death to eventual acceptance.

I loved one of the final scenes – he visits his parents’ graves, and comes upon the cemetary’s gravedigger, who explains to him in concrete terms exactly how graves are dug. I used to work at a cemetary, so I found this awfully familiar and, like the main character, strangely comforting.

It’s not about plot (so don’t expect much of one, and I can see why some have found it boring), but there is some lovely, lovely writing in this book. Well-crafted considering the somewhat shapeless (and huge) subject. I liked the short length/lack of chapters.

There's a lot more to L.H. Oswald — 7 years ago


…than I realized.

I’ve always been fascinated by the Kennedy assassination, so I was somewhat primed to read this book. It’s different from White Noise (the only other DeLillo book I’ve read). I appreciate that the assassination itself was only a small part of this novel. I guess I had never really read much about Oswald as a person. An interesting guy, and it’s pretty interesting how the novel sets him up as a true “scales” – a guy who could have gone either way, good or bad. There are times in the novel when he’s very likeable, and others when he seems completely dispicable.

Overall, I thought it was pretty well done; but it’s not a cheerful book by any means.

A review of "My Sister's Keeper: A Novel" — 7 years ago


I enjoyed this book (it’s a quick read – I read it all in one day), but have some beefs with it. First of all, I think Anna doesn’t read very authentically as a 13 year old. Dialogue is too adult (even for a mature 13 year old). Second, the mom is flatter than she could be. Third, the ending is WAAAAAAAAY too tidy/perfect. It feels contrived to me.

But the plot is interesting and the ethical issues are certainly compelling. Worth a read.

A review of "The Salt Roads" — 7 years ago


Way racier than the other Hopkinson books I have read. I didn’t like it as well as the others. She tried to do the Toni Morrison “several vaguely intertwined stories” thing, and it wasn’t totally successful. I though that some of the weird text things she did were sort of contrived, too. However, the individual stories were pretty compelling. I wish she would have done more storytelling overall and streamlined the metaphysical content some. However, the IDEA for the book was great and interesting – it’s just that the execution was somewhat lacking. Worth a read, though (just be careful – it’s pretty disturbing in places).

A review of "On Beauty" — 7 years ago


This book had some definite flaws (already well-described by previous entries). However, I’m glad I read it, because despite the flaws, I really enjoy Zadie Smith’s style of writing. I’m reading White Teeth now because of it.

A review of "Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam" — 7 years ago

I found this book fascinating because I really didn’t know much about the embassy takeover before reading it. I think this is because it happened just before I was born – that sort of relatively recent history doesn’t show up much in history classes (which is a shame, I think, since it’s so relevant).

I was impressed with how well the author kept my interest all throughout this substantial book (it’s 500+ pages, the standoff lasted over a year). It is definitely biased in favor of the Americans, probably due to the fact that it was somewhat easier for the author to get access to the hostages than to their captors. However, it could have been worse – a lot of the captors are portrayed humanistically, as people who made a mistake in the heat of passion and later regretted it.

What really chilled me about this book (and it’s probably not indended by the author) is the way that the description of Iran at the time reminded me of the US NOW in a lot of ways. The ill-informed populace, the government at the mercy of religious leaders (in the US’s case, business leaders), the willful ignoring of evidence and the adoption of wishful thinking as fact…brrrrr. In the final chapter, the author seems really supportive of the current US administration, or seems to insinuate that despite the stance of the Iranian government, that the people of Iran really love the US. I doubt it’s as simple as that. The author may have just been trying to show the complicated nature of the relationship between the countries, but it comes off as something scarily similar to what we heard before the invasion of Iraq (i.e. “they love the US, we’ll be greeted as liberators!”).

Overall this is worth a read. I’m going to read “All the Shah’s Men” next, I think – this book kind of glossed over all the nasty stuff the US had been up to in Iran prior to the Revolution.

A review of "Brazil (The Criterion Collection 3-Disc Boxed Set)" — 7 years ago


This movie is frighteningly relevant – issues include mechanization, class disparities, intrusive government, convoluted buereacracy, and state-sanctioned torture. Yet it is whimsical, imaginative, and in places, even humorous.

Poor Mr. Buttle…

A story about "Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and Their Son" — 8 years ago


I’m not Catholic, but I’m fascinated by the Catholic Church. I don’t agree with it, and yet I am drawn to it as an idea.

I’m only a few chapters into this book and I’m liking it a lot. It manages to address the sex scandal gently, noting what happened and criticizing the moves that lead to it, but not recoiling in horror, either. The book is about what it says: a priest, a nun, and the events that lead to them having a son.

What I like about this book so far (and what I like about Manseau’s “Killing the Buddha” efforts as well): it treats religious practice with love, while simultaneously critiquing it. I don’t know if it’s a balanced approach, but it’s a complex one. And relatively painless to read, too.

A review of "The Thin Place: A Novel" — 8 years ago


I’m not even sure a review of this would do it justice.

There is definitely an underlying plot of sorts; what I love about this book is not the plot but the way the author puts what seems to be the plot into a much wider context than usual. A truly omniscient narrator – not only do you get the thoughts of humans, but also those of moose, beavers, lichen, cats, dogs, corn, and the wide swath of time before and humanity. This book seems to be all about connection. Spooky, funny, sad, complicated.

I never buy books after having borrowed them from the library and read them. I might buy this one. I want to read it again!

A review of "The Woman Who Cut Off Her Leg at the Maidstone Club and Other Stories" — 8 years ago


I’m going to have to read this one again, because it was enjoyable and perplexing.

Sort of reminds me of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, in that most of these stories seem to be about completely impossible and disturbing physical events. A man’s body falls apart, piece by piece. A woman starts growing teeth all over her body. Another woman has a crush on her teenaged lawnboy, and swallows him whole and alive.

I’m tempted to see deeper meanings in all of these transformations, of course, but the way the stories are written, it’s also tempting to take them at face value. They’re so concrete! I can imagine, physically, what it must feel like to have teeth errupting all over your body. Yet there definitely seems to be a deeper metaphor involved in each.

Fascinating, disturbing, funny, funny, funny.

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