Thursday, June 19, 2008

confessions of a slacker mom by Muffy Mead-ferro

I didn't like this book. I liked the idea, I thought it would be relatable and at least humorous.

Instead I think it was self-gratifying and arrogant. I think the author probably has some good ideas, but her examples and her reference point were extreme and stupid.

I don't know one person who has a TV in each of their kids rooms. I don't know one person who wants their kids to be years ahead in school, but not be able to catch a ball. Maybe she was exaggerating to be funny, but if so her arguments kind of lose their power. But actually I don't think they had much power to start with.

I'll admit that half-way through the book I was done with it. It's short so I finished, hoping to find something more redeemable or valuable. I don't think there are any new ideas here. NONE. There were things I agreed with and things I didn't, but it didn't open up my eyes to anything, nor provide me with any new ideas.

I do think she has enough ideas and funny things to say that she could have written an at least partially entertaining magazine article. Really not enough substance for a whole book.

One more gripe:  I think her kids are a little young for her to think she has it all figured out.

I could rant some more, and I apologize for not taking better notes and being more specific with my complaints. I guess I'm a slacker.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Room With A View by E.M.Forster

I've never seen this cover before, but it's the best I could find!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book. After raving about it at book club I came home and started reading it again for two reasons. 1) To make sure I did still love it, and 2) to see if it stands alone with out the great Merchant Ivory film I fell in love with in college.

So I know that the answer to 1) is yes. But I'm still not sure about the 2). I'm sad my blockbuster doesn't carry it because I'm really in the mood to see the movie now that I've re-read the story. The two are so intwined in my mind that I can't figure out which one I would recommend you read/see first. Just be warned that there is nudity, humorous--not suggestive, but full.
What I Love:

This story is a comedy. The characters are hilarious. Miss Bartlett must be the most annoying person ever created, but she even makes you laugh. I think we all are reminded of people that have similiar personalities. Her lines kill me. And then when Mrs. Honeychurch tells Lucy she is just like her, I felt like laughing even though I could feel the absolute horror that Lucy was feeling. I hate it when people compare me to someone who I'm convinced I'm nothing like.

I love the chapter titles. Like, "Possibilities of a Pleasant Outing," and "Lying to Mr. Beebe, Mrs. Honeychurch, Freddy, and the Servants."

I love that Forster doesn't bother with physical descriptions. He describes the views a couple of times I guess, but no lengthy list of adjectives introducing characters, no long descriptions of the monuments they see abroad. I appreciate that. I get annoyed when writers feel the need to paint every detail for us. I think it works really well with this story. Leave out the unneccessary.

Lastly, I love the story. I think it is original. It may be a little cliche that the character doesn't know who she loves, or what she should do, when it seems obvious to the reader. But it's so short and so witty. You don't spend much time being frusterated or irritated with characters. I guess I've felt that way too many times in books.

I also love the smartness of Forster's writing. The subtle and not so subtle symbolism. The Emerson's provide Lucy with a "view" throughout the story. Who provides the "spiritual guidance." The forshadowing, all of it.

Is it like Jane Austen?

So I was also trying to answer this question, 3rd reason I guess. I'm also not sure of the answer. I haven't read an Austen novel in a while. I think Forster writes more humorously. Class distinction and "properness" are kind of mocked in this novel.

What I don't love:

The only thing is that some of the book still goes over my head. Because this was written 100 years ago, there are things Forester refers to that I just don't understand. I also haven't been to Europe, which I think adds to that. There are the obvious things like Italian phrases, and words like "shibboleth." (Which I looked up, and it wasn't the intended meaning) But there are less obvious references that lose their meaning on me. None of these, however, affect the book's effect on me.

Great Quotes:

"Then the pernicious charm of Italy worked on her, and, instead of acquiring information, she began to be happy."

"I think that you are repeating what you have heard older people say. You are pretending to be touchy; but you are not really."

"Perhaps anything that he did would have pleased Lucy, but his awkwardness went straight to her heart"

"My brain has gone to pieces. Part of it lives three minutes back, when I was sure that you loved me."

"It was unladylike? Why? Why were most big things unladylike?"

Friday, June 6, 2008

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

I have to say that I just don't get into this style of writing. Or maybe I mean form. I haven't read this author before, so I don't know if this is typically how he writes his books.

Here's what I mean. The book begins with a family, two sisters their father and a farm hand that has basically been raised by the father. So you read several chapters about the family and how a tragic event affects them. It flashes to different times in the future and what the characters are doing. Then there is a section that follows a character from one of the girl's stories, there is one more flash forward to her sister, then the next section goes way back in time in the life of one of the other characters. Nothing more about the original story.

I honestly didn't want to finish it when I realized that I had about 30 pages left and it was all going to be about Segura the writer. I just felt more emotionally attached to the first family and their stories. Not even an ounce of resolution. The story just ends and you think it will come back and it doesn't.

I liked the way the stories were written, and I like the characters. There's a little too much violence, and a little forced romanticism. Really, people carry herbs in their pockets so they can just pick veggies from the wild and with a loaf of bread make a meal. This happens in more than one instance. Then again I've never been to France.

I know this isn't much of a review, but my feelings were all over the place and I thought the book was too. I won't be rushing to read his other books.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Dream When You're Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg

Overall Recommendation: Sure. I think this is a nice story. Its not going to change your life, but I enjoyed it.

What I liked: This is the story of three sisters during WWII. They are young adults living at home. I liked the sisterly interactions, I think they could have been more developed as individuals, but they were believable characters.

I liked the interaction of their family. I liked all the letter writing and the routine of their lives.

What bugged me: It seemed to me that Elizabeth Berg had a list of all the 1940's research she did, and she made sure to cram in every little reference to the era, pop culture, figure of speeches, propoganda. It felt forced. We know its 1943 already. It felt like she wanted to keep pointing out what was going on around the characters. But the story is so entwined with the war, you don't forget what year it is. All the references to clothing trends, rations, war posters, bonds, it just got a little distracting.

I also didn't like the ending. I don't want to "give it away," but I just thought it was a little disappointing.