writereaderly

writing of readerly reviews of writings

Tag: ::better’n good::

Review: Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortés’ “Go the Fuck to Sleep”

mansbach, cortes go the fuck to sleepI’d seen the Noni Hazelhurst reading of this book – which she defended so fabulously on Q&A against that idiot Quadrant editor – but had never had the printed pleasure. I read it between customers, and between musings as to where to shelve such a title – in picture books? The illustrations are quite cool, the rhymes are a bit average, but really, we’re all reading it for the authorised swearing at children. Entertaining and recommended.

PS: 300th and final post. Here endeth writereaderly.

Where it came from: Work
Time and manner of reading:
An in-between customer read
Where it went: Home
Best line of the book: You can work that out for yourself
Reminds me of/that:
Who I’d recommend it to:
Parents and unsuccessful babysitters
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; Returning the Gift edited by Joseph Bruchac; The Pea-Pickers by Eve Langley; Through the Language Glass by Guy Deutscher; La sombra del viento de Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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Review: Lauren Groff’s “Arcadia”

lauren groff arcadiaIn which we follow the fate of Bit, first-born on the back-to-the-land community of Arcadia, through the community’s rise, downfall and afterlife. Transcendent. Has hit me too hard to say anymore.

Where it came from: Library
Time and manner of reading:
A few too-tempting samples, then an evening bath-and-bed mission
Where it went: Home, but I need to get myself a copy
Best line of the book: “It seems a give-and-take, you know? Freedom or community, community or freedom. One must decide the way one wants to live. I chose community.” (p.268)
Reminds me of/that: The farm
Who I’d recommend it to:
Dreamers
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; Returning the Gift edited by Joseph Bruchac; The Pea-Pickers by Eve Langley; When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön

Review: Agnès Desarthe’s “Five Photos of My Wife”

agnes desarthe five photos of my wifeElderly widower Max Opass commissions a portrait of his dead wife Telma – in fact, he commissions four in the end, and meets five very diverse artists of the Thirteenth Arrondissement along the way. A lovely novel, poised and subtle. Calm and impacting, but with tact. Well recommended.

Where it came from: Mega-opshop-books
Time and manner of reading:
A few days of bed and workroom reads
Where it went: D
Best line of the book:
Reminds me of/that: Mitch Albom’s pop-spiritual The Five People You Meet in Heaven – but thank goodness, this one was actually worth reading
Who I’d recommend it to:
Readers looking for good stuff
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; Returning the Gift edited by Joseph Bruchac; The Pea-Pickers by Eve Langley; When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön

Review: Elizabeth Gilbert’s “The Signature of All Things”

elizabeth gilbert signature of all thingsI was entirely gripped by this novel, and I confess that I had the faith to try another EG because a) Eat, Pray, Love was considerably less offensive than I had feared and b) The Last American Man showed what an excellent writer – and more interesting human – she was than her EPL persona. Plot basics: Alma Whittaker, 19th century female botanist (or bryologist, moss specialist, to be exact), grows up in excessive wealth in Pennsylvania, studies plants on the vast estate, falls in love, exiles herself to Tahiti post-tribulations, sends herself to liberty in Holland, dies old, venerable and respected. Ta-da. Well researched, solidly written, interesting, absorbing. The constellation performance was sublime, as was the Tahitian women’s football game.

But I do have some quibbles with this book. The characters all seem to be types of incomprehensible masks rather than people (e.g., the cowboy/entrepreneur, the selflessly good woman, the angelic aesthete, the classic bluestocking-come-good). The heroine develops to about age 25 and then remains just a framework of herself. The groundbreaking woman in history is a slightly facile chestnut as a plot device. And dammit, she deserved some kind of decent sex-life after absorbing faux-literary porn for so many years.

So, not a perfect novel, but I found it fascinating and I confess that possibly I chose public transport rather than bicycle today because of the reading opportunities of the former (and also because of the ludicrous winds threatening my helmeted self). Recommended.

Where it came from: Work
Time and manner of reading:
Two thorough days of reading in every possible tram, train, walk between tram and train, bath, and shopping centre opportunity
Where it went: Home
Best line of the book: Of the various bookmarks: “Too many people turn away from small wonders, I find. There is so much more potency to be found in detail than in generalities, but most souls cannot train themselves to sit still for it.” (p.203)
Reminds me of/that: —
Who I’d recommend it to:
Seekers of a literary pageturner
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; Returning the Gift edited by Joseph Bruchac; The Pea-Pickers by Eve Langley; When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön

Review: Larissa Lai’s “When Fox is a Thousand”

larissa lai when fox is a thousandHypnotic and provoking. Lai takes Chinese folktales about Foxes (mystical tricksters), blends them with historical accounts of women poets, and leads those stories into the lives of a group of queer Chinese Canadian young women in contemporary Vancouver. It’s a highly sophisticated diaspora novel, questioning identity, race, sexuality and gender in classic 90s fashion, but with genuine and innovative flair. I found the 20-somethings’ dramas a little wearing – thank god for age — but that would be the author successfully reaching her intended audience. A really interesting book, worth chasing down.

Where it came from: Mega opshop book section
Time and manner of reading:
Pre- and post-yoga reads
Where it went: Keeper Shelf
Best line of the book: “She was crying with new eyes made of brown glass, beautiful and smooth as polished wood, so perfect that she almost believed she had her own eyes back” (p.193)
Reminds me of/that:
Who I’d recommend it to:
Seekers of something curious & modern & gender- and genre-bending
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; Returning the Gift edited by Joseph Bruchac; The Pea-Pickers by Eve Langley; When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön

Review: Angela Savage’s “Behind the Night Bazaar”

angela savage behind the night bazaarSomehow, as part of the dinner-table conversation with DC and offspring, this ended up in my bag to take home. Third attempt at crime fiction this week, and thank the deity that this one paid off. Australian PI Jayne Keeney visits her Canadian mate Didier in Chiang Mai, only to find her R&R break disrupted by murder most foul. Well-written; solidly political re AIDS, sex work, ex-pats in the “Third” World; culturally sensitive and observant re Thais from what I could tell; a decent unravelling of nasty crime. And even better, straight author and detective engaging with gay culture, AIDS and homophobia in meaningful ways. Fab. Hope I meet the author again at a DC party so I can tell her my thoughts in person.

Where it came from: DC’s Bookshelf
Time and manner of reading:
Armchair and torchlight bed reads
Where it went: Home
Best line of the book:
Reminds me of/that: Thank god genre fiction can think
Who I’d recommend it to:
Crime readers seeking a bit of political guts
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; Returning the Gift edited by Joseph Bruchac; The Pea-Pickers by Eve Langley; When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön; Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose (8) by Sandy Balfour

Review: Georgina Harding’s “Painter of Silence”

georgina harding painter of silenceThis is a simply beautiful book: set in 1955 Rumania, dealing with the re-meeting of deaf [see comment below] Augustin and Safta. Augustin is the son of Safta’s family’s former cook; they last saw each other as WWII got underway, on the family estate in the country. After the vagaries of war and Bolshevism, the two are still only able to communicate through silence and drawings. Beautifully expressed, its premise is simple and it’s execution evocative. Very fine, highly recommended.

Where it came from: Library
Time and manner of reading:
Bed reads pre- and post-visit
Where it went: Home
Best line of the book: [It’s all like one long poem]
Reminds me of/that:
Who I’d recommend it to:
SJD
Also reading: Being Alive edited by Neil Astley; Peeling the Onion by Günter Grass; Returning the Gift edited by Joseph Bruchac; Moments of Desire edited by Susan Hawthorne and Jenny Pausacker