Sunday, February 02, 2020

Old stuff posted to a dying board

Undated reviews from my paper records, transcribed so I can find them in the future.

The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman.  A quick read (took me less than an hour-- big print interspersed with pictures).  Not a real thriller or anything, even for its intended age group.  Basically it was a story stressing the morals of do your homework and be nice to people.

It was very well-written, though there were a lot of fragments, which I found annoying, but they add to the urgency and indecision felt by the main character.  A Happy Ending for everybody but the bad guys.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.  I was profoundly moved by this book.  I was this girl, this girl was me.  I identified with her 100%

On a less personal level, I think it was masterfully written, should be in every library, and addressed a ton of issues high-schooers would see, identify with, and talk about, from self-harm to self image to social norms and structure.

It was incredible.  Read it.

The ultimate hitchhiker's guide by Douglas Adams.  The story was good and the characters were very funny.  His descriptions and word choice were unbelievably amazing.  Around the second half, though, the thread of the story really deteriorated-- the author only gave a few days out of a whole year, then a few days in another few years, without any transition or explanation.  This was frustrating.  I did really love the first part.

The valley of horses by Jean Auel.  This book, for some reason I have not identified, didn't seem as exciting as the first.  It was definitely more sappy.  But all that unnecessary lovey-dovey crap was kept to a reasonable minimum until the last chapter or so.  I wasn't expecting so many graphic love scenes.  If you don't mind that stuff, then there wasnt anything necessarily bad about the book.  High praise, right?

Shelters of stone by Jean Auel.  While it has been a while since I read the last book, the feeling of this book seemed very different, especially the writing style.  The grand descriptions she includes are feeling nothing except repetitious at this point, even monotonous.  The writing overall felt much simpler.  Not bad, although I wouldn't actually recommend this book to anyone I know.

Year of wonders by Geraldine Brooks.  The story of an 18-year-old, who has already buried her husband and two children, and her little town as, for a year, they battle the plague.  Well-told, not unnecessarily gry, with a bit of a surprise toward the end.

Although her situation is very foreign, she feels and experiences many things these high-end YA readers can relate to.

The stranger, by Albert Camus.  This book reminded me a lot of A heartbreaking work of staggering genius: the characters in both were very much alike-- they don't seem realistic. 

I don't think the character was worth the book-- not very many insights and not any feelings were imparted to the reader.  There was no connection to the character.

I didn't even like the writing style-- it was too common.  There was a severe lack of commas and the vocabulary was basic, nothing to write home about.

What we talk about when we talk about love, by Raymond Carver.  I don't know if maybe it's because the book is with a more modern fee, or because its a collection of short stories instead of one long story, or just the writer's personal style, but I definitely did not enjoy this work.  It's not because the stories are all depressing; I think it's just the way the author wrote, with his short little sentences and fragments and lack of quotation marks.

I didn't like any of the stories themselves, either, what with the aforementioned depressing content.

It didnt even make me feel anything particularly strongly.  Some of my classmates really got into the material, but I just didn't see it.  Maybe it was too deep for me and I couldn't grasp it, I don't know.   [Reassurance current-me would give to college-me: Undergrad lit classes are full of posers who want the world to mean more than it does, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with our brain.]

So far from God, by Ana Castillo.  This book was a good example of Latinx writing, with recipes and personal stories and the curandera.  It was written in a dialect, a mix of Spanish and English, and a lot of double negatives.  This was both impressive and frustrating: impressive because apparently the author has a wonderful vocabulary but frustrating because, well, double negatives. 

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