Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Can you find a more delightful book? I was reluctant to read this again since we read it to death in high school and then again in college (plus the prolific movie adaptations) so when my book club chose this book to read, I was a less than enthusiastic. I got Pride and Prejudice and Zombiesto spice things up, and read alongside it. That was a dissappointing experiment; but as I re-read P&P, I remembered how thoroughly entertaining it is. In fact, knowing how it all ends makes the moments in between that much sweeter. The characters are fully realized, the conversations zing, and the plot is near perfect. No zombies needed.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

My review

rating: 1 of 5 stars
I hated this book. The first few chapters were charming and the addition of zombies and martial arts were an interesting change of pace. I wasn't particularly impressed and tried to understand the why behind the zombies. Then I tried to just read it as fun. And I can't say it benefited from either interpretation. Finally, about the time that Jane goes to visit Charlotte who is turning into a zombie, I came to the conclusion that the addition of zombies were neither symbolic nor fun, but just sensationalism and the lowest form at that. Grahame-Smith lifts text from the original word for word--and that is the only good part--but then omits parts that might seem boring or old-fashioned and then adds in zombie slaying and eating of hearts (not very well written either I might add--his only imagry of blood is of rubies--again and again). GS omits crucial speeches like the one Darcy makes about once forming an opinion of someone, he doesn't easily change his mind, and yet refers to it in another part of the book. Once while editing an exchange betweeen Elizabeth and Jane, GS edits too much and ends up with Jane speaking to herself. And I just read half of it. I am all for shaking up the classics a bit--The Graveyard Book was a beautiful re-imagining of The Jungle Book, etc. but just adding dead flesh on people's clothes and having people vomit in their hands is a poor excuse for literature. That it is #7 on the trade paper-back list is just sad.

(Of course, I also don't get Borat, Bruno, or Apatow sense of humor. I've never thought boogers, vomit, or poop as funny. So take it is as you will).

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lush life

Lush Life: A Novel Lush Life: A Novel by Richard Price

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
All the reviewers on the back of the book raved about how well Price captures dialogue and I have to whole-heartedly agree. I've never read such real exchanges before--it seemed like you were right there.

The plot revolves around a stick up that resulted in a death, and the detectives who try to sort out what happened. Honestly, there isn't much action, mostly conversations, but like I said, the conversations are amazing--not so much by what they say, but how real they are. I'll have to say at one point 3/4 of the way in, I did wonder if the book was getting anywhere. Ultimately, the book's message, I think, is how important families are, especially fathers, in giving structure and validation to a kid--and how the absence of that can have dire consequences.

This book was set in downtown NY, in the PJ's so there is drugs and swearing and some sex.

Price wrote for The Wire which I heard was based on his book Clockers. I haven't read or watched either but I heard they are both well-written.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lark and Termite

Lark and Termite Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is the story of Lark and Termite, and the mystery of what happened to their mother and respective fathers. Lark is 17 and on the verge of finding her place in the world. Termite is her half-brother who can't walk, doesn't really talk, and can't see well. Phillips lets us peek into his consiousnous however and we realize he may see and know more than most. Lark takes care of her brother with a tenderness and understanding that is at once tender and hoepeful. They both live with their aunt Nonie who has a strength and independence that she passes onto them. When a storm blows through their small town, it becomes a catalyst that changes their lives.

I don't know how I feel about this book. It is well written, with good character development and a plot that feels natural and creates mystery and growth in the characters. The writing is thought provoking and poetic, although it may be too challenging at times. The first chapter especially is hard to muddle through. It is almost too weighed down with symbolism and distracting details. I really liked Lark and Termite but never really understood where Nonie was coming from. There were also too many sexual refrences for me to recommend this book.

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