Llew's Reviews

Archive for June, 2006

Book #38 Put The Book Back On The Shelf: A Belle & Sebastian Anthology

Thursday, June 29th, 2006 by Miss Laura

Don’t bother. Seriously, don’t.

Book #37 Refuge by Dot Jackson

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006 by Miss Laura

Can anyone explain to me why they would have use a photograph of a scene from the Rocky Mountains as the cover art for a book which takes place and romanticizes the Blue Ridge?

This was actually a fantastic novel until it came to the end which happened about 100 pages before the last page. That’s never a good sign.

Book #36 Towelhead by Alicia Erian

Saturday, June 24th, 2006 by Miss Laura

“This is perhaps one of the best books I’ve read about the teenage experience. It’s a brilliant, ruthlessly honest depiction of a young girl just growing into her adult body while dealing with an angry father and a jealous and self-involved mother. It will break your heart and make you flinch. I literally could not put this one down.”– Jarek Steele, Left Bank Books, St. Louis, MO

This is exactly how I feel as well. Well, if you replace “ruthlessly honest” with “explicitly provocative” and then substitute “raging abusive racist” in place of “angry”. Then add on “horrifyingly immature selfish terrifyingly bad mother” after “jealous and self-involved”. Also, instead of “I literally could not put this one down” a “When I was not throwing it across the room, I was slamming this one down only to return to it like a forlorn lover” might work a bit better.

Book #35 The Autobiography Of An Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson

Saturday, June 24th, 2006 by Miss Laura

“My love for my children makes me glad that I am what I am, and keeps me from desiring to be otherwise; and yet, when I sometimes open a little box in which I still keep my fast yellowing manuscripts, the only tangible remnants of a vanished dream, a dead ambition, a sacrificed talent, I cannot repress the thought, that, after all, I have chosen the lesser part, that I have sold my birthright for a mess of pottage.”

Nothing like a novel full of shame for being embarassed about who you are to kick start a weekend!

Book #34 The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

Friday, June 23rd, 2006 by Miss Laura

“The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life… To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.”

I’ve been meaning to read this novel for around seven years when it was first recommended to me as being quite excellent. However, you can’t just rush into a book with a main character by the name of Binx Bolling, you know.

I’m quite thankful I waited as well because I connect much more to a 29 year old Binxy boy much more now than I could have when I was 22. Although I suppose the wayward ennui and the dalliances with secretaries are things I could ALWAYS relate to. Such is the southern life.

Do I even need to say that I adored this book? I loved the descriptions of the long drives in fear that malaise would somehow seep out of the car into the atmosphere and narrator. Of course, the uncaring desperation and detached shiftlessness of Binx is exactly the kind of thing I would have smitten with seven years ago. Good thing I waited – otherwise I would have had to develop one of those terminally unrequited crushes on it that I was so fond of at the time.

Book #33 One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006 by Miss Laura

“As you have seen, I am a writer who came of a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.”

This is the third, and the last, of the local summer reading list book which I wanted to dive into this season. I remember this volume had gone out of print until Eudora Welty’s death rekindled an interest in her work. After having wanted to read it for quite some time, I rather enjoyed myself with this one. Welty focused more on her family, specifically her parents, than on writing but the way she wove how the elements of her childhood into the end product of her work was intriguing.

I also noticed that both she and Harper Lee were quite well educated. Lee was almost a law school graduate when she dropped out to pursue writing, and Welty attended graduate school at Columbia for her business degree. There goes my damned daydreams of being able to write undereducated masterpieces from a damp room in the back of a rural post office.

Overall, I was quite smitten with it – much more so than Dillard’s “The Writing Life” which one teacher chose to replace this one. (No matter how similar they might seem on the surface I would never compare them to each other otherwise.) Such sadness!

Book #32 Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles Shields

Saturday, June 10th, 2006 by Miss Laura

“When we seek to replace family in new environs, we seek to reestablish trust, and love, and comfort. But too often we end up establishing difference instead of love. We like to have all our comforts and familiars about us, and tend to push away that which is different and worrisome. That is what happened to Boo Radley, and to Tom Robinson. They were not set apart by evil men, or evil women, or evil thoughts. They were set apart by an evil past, which good people in the present were ill equipped to change. The irony is, if we divide ourselves for our own comfort, no one will have comfort. It means we must bury our pasts by seeing them, and destroy our differences through learning another way.” — Harper Lee to a freshman class at West Point

Isn’t it a shame Miss Lee wasn’t ever into giving talks and public speeches?

Book #31 The White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006 by Miss Laura

This is the second title which I’ve taken from the Lit List in the past month, and it was just the luck of the draw as to which arrived to me first that I read it before Bulgakov’s “Master and Margarita”.

First off, I have absolutely no knowledge about the background of this story which is the Russian Civil War between the White and Red. Evidently, it was a brief time immediately following WWI and before the Bolshevik Revolution. The main characters are a middle class doctor’s family in Kiev who join the White Guard to help defend their home.

It was good, although I find the book description on the used marketplace where I bought it which said it was, “lovely” quite laughable. It’s your typical war horror novel with all of the bloody horrors and disturbing leaders so how “lovely” fits in there is beyond me. Calling The White Guard “lovely” would be like describing a hunting trip with Dick Cheney as “delightful and heart warming.”

Book #30 The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Saturday, June 3rd, 2006 by Miss Laura

My second summer reading list book was assigned to students who also have to read “The Scarlet Letter” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

It’s quite different than those two as it is a coming of age novel of a young Mexican woman in Chicago that is told in short little literary sketches rather than chapters. It’s quite well written, and I’m definitely happy that I picked this one up. Plus, like all Mexican related things it’s a shorty!

(I’m going to hell for that, aren’t I?)

Book #29 The Writing LIfe by Annie Dillard

Saturday, June 3rd, 2006 by Miss Laura

I always try to at least try to keep up with the local schools’ summer reading list books which students buy here at the bookstore. Most I’ve already read, but every once in a while a teacher will be daring and sway from the normal “Scarlet Letter” and “1984” choices. This summer I have three on my own personal list, and this was the first. It was assigned to an AP Language and Composition class along with, “Into The Wild” by Jon Krakauer. Interesting choices, yes?

I adored Dillard’s “Pilgrim At Tinker Creek” and in this book she goes into a little of where she was (both physically and what kind of state of mind) when she wrote it. She also delves into other writers in sometimes amusing and in sometimes insightful ways. It’s at times both inspiring and discouraging.

An example of a paragraph that both encourages and discourages me:
“Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying in six weeks; he claimed he knocked it off in his spare time from a twelve-hour-a-day job performing manual labor. There are other examples from other continents and centuries, just as albinos, assassins, saints, big people, and little people show up from time to time in large populations. Out of a human population on earth of four and a half billion, perhaps twenty people can write a serious book in a year. Some people lift cars, too. Some people enter week-long sled-dog races, go over Niagara Falls in barrels, fly planes through the Arc de Triomphe. Some people feel no pain in childbirth. Some people eat cats. There is no call to take human extremes as norms.”

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