Monday, September 10, 2007

two down

I am totally cruising through my book list.

I can now check Hilma Wolitzer's Summer Reading off the list. And thank goodness. I won't even bother with including NPR's review of the book here because I found it to be utterly inaccurate and I wouldn't want to mislead you. (I mean, I respect NPR's journalists. And this lady works for Terry Gross for crying out loud.) There is nothing clever or witty or brazen about this book at all. It was a short read of total fluff, kind of like a literary soap opera where the lives of the characters are supposed to have some kind of clever parallel to the literature referenced in the book itself. Clever my ass.

The story is told through the points of view of three characters whose lives intermingle during a summer in the Hamptons. Angela is a retired literature professor who is haunted by memories of an affair from her youth, Lyssa is a poor little rich girl socialite whose worst dilemmas waver between trying to (barf barf) find herself and wondering which h'ors d'oevres to have her housekeeper serve and Michelle the housekeeper from the poor side of town who is the most interesting of the three, but I honestly can't tell you what she learns during the book. I can't tell you what any of them learned, their stories end satisfactorily with everyone getting married or being reuinited or finding new love, blah, blah, blah.

About halfway through the book, I thought to myself: I have no idea what the big conflict will be for each character to struggle through and learn from, wondering how the writer was going to wrap it up quick so that we could hit the lows of each story in preparation for the epiphany of the character arcs at the end. Or even provide some sort of lesson to the reader by way of a cautionary tale. Perhaps my expectations were a little too much. When the book drew to a close, I could feel the writer scrambling hastily for some sort of conclusion to the mess so that the three women's stories came together at the end a little too pat, a little too convenient.

What I learned is that this book sucks. A quick harmless read with not much substance throughout.


meteowrite said...

Yay for you!!! Two books down!!! Nice work. I'd suggest you add the following title to your list:

An Abundance of Katharines by John Green.

If I were to describe it in one sentence I would say : It's the triumphant coming of age love story of the truly, madly dorky. About a guy who has dated and been dumped by 19 girls named Katharine.

You'll want to major in math again if you read it. PLUS! If you act now! You'll get to experience what I thought was some clever cover art.

I'd say it's my favorite read of 2007. And I feel comfortable saying that, here, in September.

jean said...

Coolness! Thanks for the suggestion. I'm always looking for some new reading to sink my teeth into. And the dorkier the better, I say!

You know, I just checked out the cover art and I saw this book cover recently somewhere...I think it might have been on Amazon under their recommmendations list when I looked up another book that I was curious about.

True story: the other night I was having dinner out at a local joint with m. At the next table a woman and her two kids sit down. Her daughter must be about 8 or 10 and she's totally engrossed in a book. The mom gets up for fountain drinks and fusses over the slightly younger brother and stuff but the girl is in her own world deeply engrossed in her reading. I love it! How many boring dinners out or errands around town with my parents did I spend with my nose in a book? Ahh... too many to count. I even recall my clever use of the shopping cart as a guide. One hand on the handle while mom or dad is pushing the cart, and I wouldn't even have to look up from my book while strolling down the aisles.

I couldn't resist asking the girl: Excuse me, may I ask what you're reading? I amused myself with the discussion that would ensue on the different genres that are favored by our youth these days... The mom answered for her with a smile adding that her daughter always reads and I remarked how I used to be a voracious reader in my youth. Her brother declared that his sister reads 30 books a day. The mere idea of it seemed to exhaust him.

It was a book I'd never heard of (there are so many) and I looked it up when I got home: "Melanie in Manhattan."

I'll spare you the Amazon summary, but I rolled my eyes when I saw the words "fifth grade avid diary writer" "online romance" "new girl moving in" and "juggle her romances" all strung together to describe the plot. By the way? It's recommended age group is for 9-12 year olds.

Am I out of line wondering why 9-12 year olds are having online romances competing with their BFF who might be moving in on their love interest??

I mean, I'm guilty of having owned a nearly complete collection of Sweet Valley High books that I started around the same age. I can defend myself by saying that I also read a bunch of really really good young adult literature too. And besides, Jessica and Elizabeth were in high school, they weren't 5th graders romancing it up (This is before Sweet Valley Teens hit the market with astonishing success). What's next? The love triangles of day care tots who spread rumors about who's still not potty trained and who showed each other their super hero underoos? Good grief.

My only consolation was thinking that some of the other 29 books that our heroine had read that day were of a little more substance.

Okay, rant over.