Once, a potential beau online courted me by sending me a link to Junot Diaz reading “How to Date a Browngirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie”. He knew I had just finished This is How You Lose Her and that I was in love with that man’s words. It almost almost-worked. Lucky for me, I’m also swayed by Back the the Future references, beer snobery, and heckling. That same week, I met Junot Diaz at the National Book Festival. He kissed my face.
A couple of weeks ago, Deanna and I went Busboys and Poets to see Diaz speak on education and the arts. Someone asked how just how autobiographical his fiction is — hoping, I think, that he would own up to some latent assholery. I was surprised when he admitted that Drown was about 80% truth, a remnant of the young man he once was. The novel reads like a time capsule — dozens of disjointed stories threaded together by familiarity.
I don’t even want to try to top Laura’s review of this book. “This is how you write about family! More of this please!” is right, guys. This is definitely the best book I’ve read this year and one of the best pieces of fiction I’ve ever read. (Hint hint: if anyone is thinking of getting me a present…this book. I’ll probably kiss you. Unless you don’t want me to.)
Attenberg is a master storyteller — weaving together generation gaps so tightly that you forget that age was ever a thing. I’m almost envious of her ability to turn the mundane into the fascinating, her talent for sucking me into the fork-on-the-left banality (especially those meals when there wasn’t even a fork involved).
I went into How to be a Woman knowing nothing about Moran, so it felt only appropriate to read this anthology of her columns. When I absolutely love a first book, I’m often disappointed by the second. And yet I keep coming back. While How to be a Woman was clearly the superior text, Moranthology blew it out of the water with one paragraph — excerpted from an obituary of sorts on Elizabeth Taylor (Elizabeth Taylor: Heavy Like Roses):
In a world where women still worry that they are “too much” — too big, too loud, too demanding, too exuberant — Taylor was a reminder of what a delight it can be, for men and women alike, when a woman really does take full possession of her powers. Burton’s nickname for her was “Ocean.” Sometimes, it seemed too small.
If I had given myself some air between The Name of the Star and The Diviners, I might have enjoyed the ride a little bit more. While I appreciated the near-magical realism of the book (several of the characters have hidden powers, but are “normal” for all other intents and purposes), the flapper colloquialisms felt forced (or, rather, over-translated) and the plot was long-winded for the first in a series.
However, The Diviners explores some really fantastic threads about race and sexuality and the temperature of the 1920s in the US in a really subtle and nuanced way. So I’m willing to wade through the excess of words ending in “-sky” and the five hundred synonyms for “alcohol” and the drawn-out plot lines in order to get to those stories.
While this book was fraught with paranormal, it was of a different breed than your run-of-the-mill young adult suspension-of-disbelief undead business. Instead,The Name of the Star focuses on good old fashioned female badassery.
There’s no damsel in distress, no unusual emphasis put on any of the romantic subplots. There’s no self-loathing, no hint of love triangles (or love teepees). In its place is a thrilling and well-crafted story that just might start washing out the bad taste of the paranormal young adult genre.
Gender studies classes, independent research, and incredibly smart friends aren’t going to teach you everything about the transgender community. And neither will this book. But it sure as hell is a start.
Cooper explores every insecurity, every hope, every joy about his FTM identity. He is uncensored in the way he explores how his parents might perceive him, his stories about his wife and step children are beautiful, and his examination of the LGBT community’s need to be more vocal about trans issues is so subtle you don’t even realize you’re being taught. Cooper is brave, yes, but more than that he is unfiltered, honest, and eloquent. And no matter how many times he questions the issue, he is a “real” man.
Put it at the top of your reading list, folks. We can all afford to listen.
It took me a long time to get into this novel. I brought it home back in the summer but quickly returned it because it was hefty and cumbersome and Jesus Christ it was about baseball. I gave it another chance at the beginning of the year, this time actually opening the cover and comforting myself with the reality that at the very least this time around I wouldn’t sweat carrying it. It was touch and go for a while there: the author insisted on using the term “freshperson” in an attempt at politically correctly identification of first year university students, but one of the professors had a Moby Dick tattoo. There was an awful lot of baseball talk, but one of first year athletes was gay. And out. I continued reading, but I was also reading other things.
But let me tell you: that last third of the book was riveting. As the cliche goes, I couldn’t put it down. I was actually late to a date with my boyfriend because I was reading this book on the train, got so involved with the world of these characters, missed my Metro stop, and had to turn around. When I explained the situation, his first question was, “So what was the book?”
In the world of television writers and their memoirs, My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me would rank last. I’m a fan of Community and television writers’ process, so I thought this would be an entertaining read. While it starts on a sour note — Winston’s ex did write a piece of fiction about the intricacies of their failed relationship — I expected her to quickly take the high road, complete with tongue-in-cheek anecdotes. Instead, I was greeted with bitter tales about dating and high school and college and I had no idea there could be so many unrelatable stories about such relatable topics. In short, this wasn’t as funny or as poignant as I hoped it would be. It just kind of was.
It’s impossible to talk about this book without dwelling on the title. Can we just get past the title? Can we imagine that it was something the publisher insisted on, much like the cover of Beauty Queens?
This novel made me happy about the state of young adult fiction. Though I love the genre more than most, I still get really bummed every time a paranormal romance book forces its way onto the shelf and knocks out actual quality YA pieces. I’m incredibly happy about the fact that there’s a book out there that deals with the complications of teenaged love with the added layer of falling for someone who’s in a relationship. Because, hell, if any high school-aged niece/child/fake niece of mine had questions about romantic relationships, I don’t want to have to point her to my journal entries about the drumline boys I was lusting after. I’d rather give her this book.
What I enjoyed most about Anna and the French Kiss were the flaws of the protagonist. There were times when I wanted to punch her in the face, but there have been a lot of times when I’ve wanted to punch myself in the face for the selfish unfiltered things that have come out of my mouth. We’re not human without our flaws and it was refreshing to see this unapologetically portrayed in this novel.
I cannot get over how incredibly interesting the voice of this novel was. Knock me for jumping on the Silver Linings train all you want, this was a quality piece of contemporary fiction. This novel was good. It was take-late-lunches-so-I-can-have-more-time-with-my-book good. I cannot remember the last time I felt like I was actually in the protagonist’s head, seeing every moment from their perspective before looking past their lens and directly into the situation.
When it comes to movies based on books, I like to give myself a lot of air. I have to give myself time to get over the book before I get together with its best friend. But Silver Linings Playbook isgoing to seriously put that rule to the test.