Friday, November 27, 2009

Dirt

DIRT: The Quirks, Habits, and Passions of Keeping House DIRT: The Quirks, Habits, and Passions of Keeping House by Mindy Lewis


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I picked this up because I am obsessed with the Idea of keeping house. Which is not to say that I am obsessed with keeping house. Only that after 6 years of college I often wonder how it is that the thing I feel most judged by is my ability to keep house, which despite my continual attempts, I suck at. So I am always interested how people can have spotless homes and still have a life. I didn't gain much insight with this book, but there were some little gems in the rough.
Lewis tells us in "Abhorring a Vacuum" that she hates vacuums. Apparently, she hates editing too. There are about 30 too many essays to begin with--there doesn't need to be 8 essays about how the relationship with cleaning reflects your relationship with your mother, or 8 essays about maids, and most of the ones that are good still need some major editing-- there is a prediliction to share too much about one's junk when one is writing about cleaning.
In fact here is a list of essays worth reading--throw out the rest:
"Windows" by Kathleen Crisci, "A Portrait of Ten Bathrooms" Sonya Huber, "A Clean House, A Sad Home" Michael Hill,"Spring Cleaning" Mira Bartok, "The Walden Pond Cleaning Service" Richard Goodman, "The House We Keep, the Home We Make" Rebecca McClanahan.

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World's Fair

World's Fair World's Fair by E.L. Doctorow


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the sort of book that has you narrating your life in your head after you finish reading a chapter. Doctorow has great descriptive language. He tells the story of a young boy growing up in the 30's, admist the Great Depression and the looming World War. I love how he describes the day to day life, how rich he can make a day in the life of a 9-year-old sound. However, if you are looking for action, this is not the book you want. Nothing very pivotal happens, although since it is a coming of age book there is the "mandatory" sighting of a naked woman. The description of the World's Fair was particularly interesting.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Gum Thief

The Gum Thief: A Novel The Gum Thief: A Novel by Douglas Coupland


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I got this book because it sounded like a Nick Hornby book, and I was in the mood for some comedy. The description I read said something about coworkers at Staples writing diary entries to each other, and one writes his first novel, Glove Pond(a book inside a book). I thought it would be full of clever, witty banter and maybe some sarcasm and black humor. It's ironic that the would-be author of Glove Pond, says that he is trying to write a novel full of clever, witty banter; ironic because niether Glove Pond or The Gum Thief has anything remotely witty or clever in it. The characters are depressed, and though they write long and hard about the pointlessness of life, of how they are too old to do anything great anymore, or about how everyone in their life leaves them eventually, they don't seem to benefit from this cathartic journaling--instead, everything in their life just seems to get worse.
The book inside a book, Glove Pond, follows two absurd characters throwing a dinner party, and while slightly amusing, the characters are ultimately so tragic that all it leaves you with is saddness.
The whole book read like an off-off-off Broadway play. And not one I'd want to watch.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1) The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This got 4 stars solely because it was the first real chapter book my 9 year old finished. That is cause alone to celebrate.
I read it and liked it. I really enjoy mythology, and this was a great way to introduce it to young readers. I liked how Riordan set the gods in modern time--really great stuff. And some of the adventures read just like a modern day Homer quest. Meeting Ares and Medusa were great scenes. Retrieving Ares shield was great, mixing the old myth with new technology. And the Lotus Casino was pretty good re-imagining, too.
However, I couldn't wholly rally behind the book, either. It lacked...gravitas. A monster attacks and he swipes his sword, and the monster dies. Just like that. And a lot of the plot lines are readable a mile away. A lot of the plot lines. And the author is not subtle at all in putting forth his agenda: "America is the best, but Americans don't appreciate or respect the earth and btw, NY is WAAAY better than LA".
But once again, this book is written for tweens and my tween loved it.


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