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Posts Tagged ‘300-349 pages’

33. “The Road,” Cormac McCarthy

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

A father must protect his son as they try to scrape together a life in this sparse post-apocalyptic tale.

I think it is pretty well established that I get a little too involved with dystopic novels and might sometimes get confused about whether or not they are really happening. But I read most of this book in the cold on my front stoop while I was locked out of my house and smoking to keep warm, and, yeah, I kept thinking I was the only person carrying the fire. Even as parents with toddlers and small dogs strolled past me.

Page count: 287
Total pages: 10,452

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32. “Room,” Emma Donoghue

October 30, 2011 Leave a comment

I would seriously read a book of every moment of Ma’s and Jack’s life from kidnapping to death.

Page count: 321
Total pages: 10,165

19. “Spider Bones,” Kathy Reichs

July 1, 2011 Leave a comment

I don’t know why I keep reading these books. The prose style does nothing for me, and the Temperance Brennen of these books is nothing like those of the television show.

Page count: 302
Page total: 5,386

14. “Ender’s Game,” Orson Scott Card

May 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Six-year-old Ender Wiggins has already been identified as the last hope of human kind in the final waves of the wars against the Buggers. Will he complete his training in time? And, with the jealous and competitive students around him, will he even survive it?

Page count: 324
Page total: 3,837

12. “White Tiger,” Aravind Adiga

April 14, 2011 1 comment

Took me a while to get into it because it is “tricky.” The narrator is slick and dances around things a lot. Suddenly at around eighty pages, I was completely engrossed and I don’t know how it happened.

Page count: 304

Page total: 3,305

7. “Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void,” Mary Roach

December 24, 2010 1 comment

Mary Roach looks at the history of the US (and Russia’s) space program to feel out the feasibility of a future peopled mission to Mars.

This is the sort of thing Mary Roach does well: exhaustive Googling paired with access to important people and a willingness to ask questions that embarrass both of them. Poop factoids abound and it is a fun and quick read.

Note to self: Read Mike Mullane’s biography. Apparently he is one of the astronauts most willing to make a good poop joke.

Page count: 321
Page total: 1,865

2. “Thirteen Reasons Why,” Jay Asher

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment

A few weeks after Hannah Baker kills herself, Clay Jensen comes home to find a shoebox fill of cassettes on his from porch. It’s addressed to him– with no return address. And when he starts playing them, he hears Hannah’s voice, promising to name the thirteen reasons– and thirteen people– who drove her to suicide.

This book made me so, so angry for the first thirty or so pages. It! is! not! right! to! blame! others! for! your! suicide! Especially not when then things you are naming are so run-of-the-mill. Her tone moves between gloating, goading, and blase (which, as we all know, is not the right tone for a suicidal person to take, and not the right reasons for killing yourself). I figured that she would have to have been raped, because that’s pretty much the only “good” reason I could think of for a suicide in a YA book. And pretty soon the book starts to voice a pretty excellent analysis of rape culture, which was way more than I would have hoped for.

Hannah is extremely explicit about the fact that a kiss is not groping, and that rumors that she was “easy” are a problem not only because she’s not, but because the stigma associated with being easy means that she is not able to give full consent once that rumor starts. (See Yes Means Yes, please!!) She begins with her first kiss, a sweet, beautiful kiss she had been literally dreaming about. But shortly after the kiss, rumors begin to swirl that she took off her shirt (right there in the park) and let him put his hands under her bra which, we all all know, makes her a slut, which makes her disposable.

When Hannah tells one boy that she “just looked over every name– every story– that completes these tapes. And guess what. Every single event documented here may never have happened had you, Alex, not written my name on that list [of the best asses in the grade],” (41), it felt horrifyingly unfair. Because, Hannah, my friend, the world will do so many worse things to you than tell you you have a nice ass. There are so many more battles to fight. Hell, there is precisely that battle to fight. I read this book for my class on ghosts in US literature, and one of the critical articles we read that has really stuck in my craw has been Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock’s “Scare Tactics,” which argues that there is a US American tradition of women writers of ghost stories and that these stories represent an avenue of increased agency for women writers (and, perhaps, the women characters who usually star in their writings).

The problem is, this implies that a woman gains agency in fiction only by being dead. And that was just the problem I had with Hannah Baker. Hannah seems like a strong, insightful, smart, passionate, all-around awesome woman. But she cannot speak her power. She gains power only though haunting people with tapes after her death. And even as a haunting, that is a fairly limited one, for it depends fully on the listener’s doing just that– in other words, Hannah could not speak if people would not listen, if they refused to press play. Asher’s answer to this is to have Hannah explain that there is a second set of tapes and that if the first one is not passed on, that one will be made public. By a man. The man who gave her the tape recorder that she used to record her ghostly missive.

I kept imagining what an amazing world this would be if we did not have to wait until the Hannahs of the world were dead to care what they had to say.

This book was published in 2007, before the recent, well-publicized spate of gay suicides, but it preaches the lesson that we are all responsible to one another, and that our actions have snowball effects. “I guess that’s the point of it all. No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push [the snowball] just the same,” Hannah high schools (156).

I think the message that “it gets better” is condescending at best, and I don’t blame Hannah for not wanting to fight to make it better, but in literature, where anything is possible, it’s so depressing that this is the best we can do.

Realistic, but depressing.

I may have more thoughts after my class talks about this next month.

Pages: 304
Page total: 749