Posts Tagged ‘orphans’

46. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” JK Rowling

July 14, 2010 Leave a comment

So good.

Page count: 752
Page total: 12,335


9. “A Heart-Breaking Work of Staggering Genius,” Dave Eggers

January 6, 2010 1 comment

Remember all those times I said I liked Dave Eggers?

I was badly mistaken.

Listen, friend, I have a lot of paranoid fantasies, too, but funny as I think they are, I don’t write four-hundred-page “memoirs” populated almost entirely with anecdotes that didn’t happen and maddeningly self-conscious (and repetitive!) monologues.

So this (purported) memoir is begins with both of Eggers’ parents dying of different forms of cancer a few weeks apart. Eggers, at twenty-two, agrees to take over raising his eight-year-old brother Toph and Eggers, Toph, and their older siblings Beth and Bill all move from the Chicago suburb where they grew up to California.

This book mostly follows Eggers adventures in raising Toph while attempting to have a normal social life, not be turned in to CPS, and creating a magazine (Might– “power and potential”), in, as I said, some incredibly self-conscious prose. Several times Eggers, inside of dialogue he is “quoting” will start reflecting on how if course this didn’t happen like that, but this makes for a better metaphor or symbolism or is better-paced this way.

All of this basically has the effect of making me constantly flip back to the front cover and wonder if the bit of text proclaiming that the book was short-listed for a Pulitzer is as tongue-in-cheek as the title itself. (By the way, I kept forgetting the title of this and my latest mangling is “A Heart-Stopping Work of Unstopable Whatever.”)

The first half sort of bothered me, but when I got to page 200 and Eggers says in one of those dialogues that didn’t happen that the second half of the book is even more self-conscious, it was all I could do not to shout “more self-conscious than this!” on the train. Because the book started with “Rules and Suggestions for Enjoyment of This Book.” Which would have been funny. If it were not thirty-five pages long.

My recommendation: skip anything where Eggers pretends to be himself (he can’t possibly actually be this awful) and stick with the short stories, which are often pretty lovely.

Page count: 472
Page total: 2,075

PS, Dave:

“Stop Being So Religious”
by Hafiz

Do sad people have in

It seems
They have all built a shrine
To the past

And often go there
And do a strange wail and

What is the beginning of

It is to stop being
So religious



31. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” JK Rowling

May 5, 2009 Leave a comment

You can tell that I was feeling sort of emotionally vulnerable when I was reading this book because on this reading I was not ticked off by how stupid and teenaged he was being. His life is so hard! His parents are dead! He just saw someone die! Lord Voldemort is back! No one believes him! Poor Harry!

Page count: 870
Page total: 15,943

27. “A Widow for One Year”, John Irving

March 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Took me long enough. I started this around November. It sat on my shelf with a pen in it until this weekend. (I use pens and mechanical pencils as bookmarks. These are my new favorite things. $5 for eight at Barnes and Noble.)

I sort of like how all Irving books are the same. I talked about this before, but if you’re going to read somewhere between 500 and 800 pages, it’s nice to know what about half of them are going to say.

Page count: 668
Page total: 14,707

Next up: “The Hamburger: A History,” “The Phantom Tollbooth,” “Are You There, G-d? It’s Me, Margaret,” and “The Reader”

20. “The Secret Garden”, Frances Hodgson Burnett

March 1, 2009 Leave a comment

What is up with all the books about orphans?

Page count: 227

19. “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, L. Frank Baum

February 20, 2009 1 comment

Hey look, I finally did some required reading. It was a good run I had going there.

Anyway, we’re all familiar with the movie and the book is pretty similar in feeling, though the events are different. The illustrations (which are the original ones by W.W. Denslow) freak me out a little. I kept looking for racialized subtext, a la Roald Dahl’s first version of the Oompa Loompas.

Pages: 240
Total: 13,086
Currently reading: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry; Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity; and The Secret Garden

14. “The Bad begining”, Lemony Snicket

January 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Eh. This book didn’t do much for me. I might check the others out at the Wheelock library, but I wouldn’t bother going all the way to the BPL for them, and I wouldn’t buy them. This was a very quick read (probably a little over an hour), which was a plus. I read it during my usual 3-5am wakefulness.

Snicket does this vocab-building thing that I kept going back and forth on. He’ll use a good vocab word, then say something like “which in this case means blah blah blah.” He plays around with it a little (“Gack!” spoken by a baby means “look at that mysterious figure emerging from the fog!”, “faking” means “feigning”), but I think that if he were interested in helping young readers to build up their vocabs, mindfully using context clues might do them one better.

Page count: 162
Total: 11,454