Wishfull Drinking, Carrie Fisher

March 19, 2009 - Leave a Response

Princess Leia sure knows how to put away the booze, pills and boyfriends in Wishful Drinking. Carrie Fisher is absolutely heartwarming, in this self loving and generously short book. She can write! Taking her manic depression with a grain of salt (Xanax). She admits to being the best bipolar actress she can possibly be, giving teenage boys wet dreams and finding a gay man dead in her bed.

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

She talks about her love affairs and the daughter she loves, but is constantly afraid of disappointing, since she can’t always manage her depression. Anyone that’s traveled on the bumpy road of life will relate and should read this book. Fisher makes you laugh and cry. The dark moments she shares with her all to receptive audience turn endearing.

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The Elements of Style, William Sruck & E.B. White

January 9, 2009 - 2 Responses

The Elements of Style has been the only book, I’ve consistently owned and it’s been consistently stolen. I think, I’m reviewing the fourth copy that I’ve bought.  It’s been stolen by roommates, friends and co-workers. Sometimes disappearing to that place where socks go. It’s been stolen for good reason, it’s an invaluable book. There’s too much to consume in one session, so it must be read and re-visited as time will allow.

 

The Elements of Style by William Strunk & E.B. White

The Elements of Style by William Strunk & E.B. White

 

It’s condensed, well written and smart. Every time I get through it, I feel a slightly better grammatician, which is saying something. I’m wonderfully creative, yet the technical side of my writing often needs improvement. Constantly working on this, I try to consume a few pages of this book whenever time allows. 

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the curious incident of the dog in the night-time, a novel by mark haddon

December 29, 2008 - One Response

Autism is misunderstood. From childhood to adulthood autistic people see the world through a different lens alien to most of us. The curious incident of the dog in the night-time is told from a lost child’s view, trying to absorb the world of confused adults, noise and patterns; while his brain processes far too quickly.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Mark Haddon starts with murder most foul and dreaded. The lose of life, at first misunderstood. Then Christopher John Francis Boone must understand why someone would want to take away his friends life. All complicated questions for the smartest and most spiritual. 

The author never wavers, he doesn’t use one more word then’s needed, he’s steady and mettered easy to understand and thoroughly enjoyable. This book does accomplish that rare ability of literature that only books possess, it allows you to walk around in the body of another, seeing with another’s touch, smell, and vision. Ever so perplexing and bewildering as is this child’s autistic understanding. He lives in a world of numbers, patterns and only certain recognition.  We feel his trauma. 

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Turning Tables, Heather & Rose MacDowell

December 23, 2008 - Leave a Response

Turning Tables is quick, fast, and entertaining. The book describes the hidden world of service behind five star restaurants:  Le Cirque, Le Bernadine, Per Se, or the latest haute cuisine zone of indulgence. The forced smile and chef abuse is universal and captured wonderfully and with compassion by both Heather & Rose, who both have no doubt turned many a table themselves and probably worked longer in the restaurant biz then our heroine Erin.

 

Turning Tables by Heather & Rose MacDowell

Turning Tables by Heather & Rose MacDowell

 

Unlike The History of Love, a book which holds itself in high esteem, Turning Tables is a well written story that doesn’t take its’ self to seriously. Something quite hard to accomplish.

I’ve been yelled at by many chefs in my day, at fancy five star places and have been blessed to have cracked open and tasted $500 wines. This book, does a wonderful job of showing the reader the fantasy world of hospitality, drawing away the curtain – it’s hard to put down. 

Not enough books, or I haven’t found them in any case. Focus on the servers that perform the smoke and mirrors of luxury, the smile that’s never worn even after many hours of polishing silver and crystal just so. When Erin dangles, having to clean a chandelier in a harness. I can almost picture the old Lespinasse or the much to decadent Le Cirque (when it was in the Palace Hotel).  With owners to cheap to hire a proper cleaning crew.  When the authors describe the fine dinning table, a table that’s usually just plywood with much padding to muffle the silver.  The table transforms when the lights are dim and the many thousands of dollars of china and wares guild it.  

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The History of Love, Nicole Krauss

December 22, 2008 - 6 Responses

The History of Love has a great title, that’s about it.  I ended up skimming the end of the book and yawned. The first 100 pages were exciting, they drew me in, captivated by some moments and the words of the author. The rest, was a slow steady fall down a steep hill into the gray pond of dissatisfaction. 

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

I don’t want to seem too disgruntled (I know, to late), yet this novel is one of the few, that I’d like to send back to the agent and editor to ask, “What were you thinking?” The characters are endearing, in the beginning, yet never grow, or grow to slowly. The loneliness of the old man with his famous estranged son, is palpable. 99% of this novel reads like a Lifetime Movie. I was expecting the Golden Girls to thank me for being a friend as I turned the page. 

This is literary chick lit at it’s worst. I don’t want to smack down the author to hard, because she does have a sense for the written word and spacing, there is much good inside these many pages. Yet overwhelmingly, it’s a young voice, new and untested, trying to fit an old mans nature. I can’t help wondering, not about the story itself, yet how the book made it through the many hurdles of the publishing industry. 

Read The History of Love, only if you want to test your patience. Do check the 5 star reviews on Amazon and the 1 star for comparisons sake.

Do leave a comment if you disagree.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, J.K. Rowling

December 21, 2008 - Leave a Response

J.K. Rowling expands on the world of Harry Potter with tales I someday hope to tell my children at bedtime. This is a small yet powerful book, fables have long been part of our culture. Rowling, now joins the ranks of Beatrix Potter. She states that witches are more proactive then muggles, I’d agree. Escaping into the world she’s created, has always been a joy.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling

For witches have the power to change their world, yet are bound to the limitations of their power. The paradox of witchcraft and wizardry, are explained to their children. Yet Rowling herself shows no such constraints as she manipulates her universe.  While most writers burn-out on their supplementals and extras, there’s no doubt that the Harry Potter franchise has been pushed to the brink of over-saturation. The Tales of Beedle the Bard is still fresh. 

I can’t help wondering, if this wasn’t the first book she’d ever written, the original notes, the stories she told her children at bedtime before she cast her spell on the rest of us. Rowling focuses on Dumbledore’s notes more then on the creation of another tale, I wanted less notes and more story, the footnotes and annotations made me laugh. 

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Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Patrick Suskind

December 20, 2008 - 2 Responses

I have just finished reading a masterpiece, or very close to one, I’m still bathing in the gloriously mischievous ending as I write this.  It’s also a movie btw.

Perfume is the story of a murder most sadistic and magnificent.  At times I felt like I was watching Six Feet Under. At other moments I was mesmerized by the smell of France wafting through my nose. In other moments I knew I was reading a poet at work, someone who instinctively knows how to string words as they create the allure of fragrance both foul and artful.

The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind

Patrick Suskind has written Perfume with the utmost sensibility and understanding of pleasure, from words and nostril. He has crafted Jean-Baptiste Grenouille to be at the same time saint and mad man.

This novel creates just that, olfactory sensation, its immaculately researched and true to turn of the century Paris, in all of it’s stink. From the odor of the poor to the ladies in amazing dresses using cloth napkins to keep the cities smell under control.

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Young Man from the Provinces, Alan Helms

December 20, 2008 - Leave a Response

Alan Helms, Young Man from the Provinces, is the first gay morality tale I’ve ever read. Discovering myself in the pages, eloquently moved by the author, who describes his sometimes misspent youth and rise as a “golden boyman”, someone adored by his looks.  Alan Helms is the main character in this novel, chronicling gay society before Stonewall. A culture smilier to our own.

I found myself connected to the book in two ways. His childhood,  he lived and was raised by a father in the throws of alcoholism and a mother unable to deal with breaking away or finding independence from the abuse. That was the first. The second was the adoration of youth.

The novel parrelles many straight and similer stories, not just in the days before Stonewall. Re-telling his own personal journey through the gay experience. 

A Gay Life Before Stonewall by Alan Helms

Young Man from the Provinces: A Gay Life Before Stonewall by Alan Helms

I was struck by the way Alan Helms documents his fear, as he grows up in his alcoholic family, how he tries to escape into his own life.

How the memoires’ plain and certain truth, mentions his shame and desparaging family. He clearly shows how addiction affects childhood. I saw my own family; my father was not addicted to alcohol, but to the paranormal and to the surreal. Just like Alan Helms, who’s father disappeared and spent money on alcohol instead of food. My father spent it on psychics and UFO workshops. He shares the arguments and the heartache.

I was touched by the author’s honesty.

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Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sederis

December 19, 2008 - One Response

David Sedaris has mastered his voice and style (some say this is his best book). When I finished reading Me Talk Pretty One Day I found myself wanting a novel from this author. I enjoyed this compilation of short stories and essays. He brings to life his characters. His voice resounds off the page; his sentences are metered and straight forward. He’s also understands flow; a very elusive device that allows us, the reader, to enjoy and be captivated by his work. He does not bog down with unnecessary words.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

The stories about his father, his time in Paris are delightful. We truly feel his anguish to adjust to the culture. His love for Hugh, for relocating and his dysfunctional affection for his family are all transparent. This is a truly an American book. It also shows how Sedaris has matured as a writer.

Naked still remains my favorite, check out the ratings and other comments on Amazon.  Get the book, you be the judge, but David Sedaris is an amazing American writer.

Barrel Fever, David Sedaris

December 17, 2008 - Leave a Response

I imported this book review from my old blog, Barrel Fever is the first book by David Sedaris. When reading the first stories, I quickly find myself not caring about the characters and their fantasies; then the compilation opens up. The stories are sexually gratuitous (not in a good way) and repetitive – at first. Divided into two parts, that of short stories – afterward essays.

Barrel Fever by David Sedaris

Barrel Fever by David Sedaris

The stories are caught in moments of pure fantasy with very timely celebrities of that era, I constantly found myself questioning, “Who is that?” I actually skim read through Parade and just didn’t want to read about Glen’s Homophobia.  In some ways, I understand why Sedaris never again focuses on the short story form.  In his later books, everything is essay. 

The essays are of course brilliant. We see the David Sedaris we know and love. The Christmas story makes me laugh out loud, I will never look at the Macy’s Christmas display in the same way again. As a writer I find great joy in reading first books – because they are just that, the first. The author is still fresh and trying, it’s a literary sandbox.  

Naked is much better, with consistent good writing, I never wrote a review for Naked, since I was hospitalized and just didn’t want to revist the grim time, yet that work gave me must needed diversion.  I’ve also read Me Talk Pretty Some Day, it’s delightful.  Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim is an ode to the dysfunctional family.

This book chronicles his fresh voice, When You Are Engulfed in Flames documents that oversaturation and redundancy.

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