Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Two Months Later...

Hey! I just finished reading "The Devil in White City".

What? You no longer care?


Are we supposed to be reading something now?

Monday, July 23, 2007

A warning to you Muggles

(Cross posted from my blog, because Kara asked me to.)

The purchase of the latest and final Harry Potter book could result in the following:

  • Extreme exhaustion - Due to the reader's reluctance to put the book down and, therefore, get some damn sleep already.
  • Migraine headache - An unfortunate side effect resulting from the constant refrains of "MommyMommyMommyMommyMommyMommyMommyMOMMY! Pay attention to ME Mommy!" coming from the reader's child or children. And, eventually, because the young child or children, once realizing that the attention they so badly desire is not forthcoming, throws her or himself down on the floor in a full-fledged tantrum. Under normal circumstances a simple tantrum would not induce such nagging pain, however these are not normal circumstances (See Extreme Exhaustion above).
  • Sore jaw and dry eyes - Both suffered by the reader - who stares in amazement, unblinking, while absorbing every heart-stopping chapter with jaw slack and hanging to floor - and by the reader's child or children who will spend far too many hours in front of the television until the book is finished (and we all know what young kids look like while watching TV, don't we?).
  • A sense of disconnectedness from the outside world - Due to the reader breaking all contact with family, friends, the television and internet, and of course newspapers (why would you reader anything else when you could be reading Harry Potter??) until the book is finished.
  • Skin irritation, redness and itching - Because the reader, in her excitement to finally start reading the last book in the series, forgets to put on sunscreen before sitting in the sun for three hours, resulting in a horrible sunburn across her chest.
  • A horrible sense of loss and mild depression - When the reader is reaching the end of the book and realizes that this is the last time she and Harry, Hermione, Ron, and the rest of the characters she's come to love, will never meet again within the hardcover pages of a book. Sigh.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you may be suffering from Harry Potter-itis. Do not consult a doctor - because your doctor will probably laugh you out the door, if they're not already too busy with their own nose stuck in the last Harry Potter book - but know that you are not alone. We'll get through this together.

Just another Public Service Announcements from your friends at Chicky Chicky Baby.

(I'm almost done with the book. I know some of you have already finished it. I don't want it to end.)

(Hold me.)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hello, muggles

So we got The Book yesterday. Technically, we got TWO books yesterday because we're big babies and won't share a children's book (which at 700= pages, hardly qualifies- wait- does it?) Book seven, baby, and I've even managed to sleep (thanks to a benadryl and a mojito and a beer- I'm not a pill-popping crazy, we were at a friend's house last night and I had an allergic reaction to something and popped a benadryl, which on top of a few drinks= sleepy me). Still, even with the book calling out to me, I have managed to get some stuff done around the house so I don't have boxes everywhere when our friends come to visit next week (Book Club members are invited- seriously! And also, would one of you please tell me why I can't just stop with the parenthetical banter? No? I don't know neither).


I got a little choked up when they Dursleys said goodbye to Harry. I always knew Petunia loved her nephew (go ahead, click the link, I wrote a piece of fan fiction.)

I think Mrs. Weasley is under the imperious curse. Snape's got a leak in the Order (or maybe he doesn't and is still working with the Order as a double agent and needs to let Voldemort trust him so he tips his hand a little and Moody is still alive as they never found his body because we know Mundungus disapparated and wasn't hurt or captured as they previously thought. Oh my gosh I'm in my 30's. What is wrong with me? For my next trick- a post in Klingon! Followed by one in Elvish! And then? I move back in with my parents! Who are we kidding, I would much rather learn Klingon.) She was acting strangely but that wouldn't explain why those Death Eaters were on top of the trio so soon after their departure from the Burrow. Anyway, there's just so many plot intersections, I'll be interested to see how she wraps everything up in the next 500 pages.

Dumbledore, like Elvis, lives.

Okay, Muggles, let your theories rip :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My name is Mrs Big Dubya, and I'm a Bad Book Club Member

Hello Mrs Big Dubya.......

Hi everybody, I hope your summer is going well..... mine is going by too damn fast, but what can you do?
I found myself with 7 hours on a plane yesterday, so I took the opportunity to dive into The Devil in The White City..... our book for June? or was it May? uhm yeah okay it's mid-July... I know I'm behind..... but I don't see anybody else writing about it either, so shut up already!

Anyway about the book, the book is really cleverly written -- uses language very well. The author tells the story of two people living vastly different lives in 1890s Chicago. The thing that strikes me, other than the f*cking twisted-ness of one of the main characters, is that the author eludes to an awful lot. When discussing the heinous murders committed by a central character, he circles around and then gets closer and then walks away -- teasing with inference, but leaving enough unanswered questions that the reader is left wanting more. I don't personally like reading the gory details of a sociopath's grisly conquests -- but even I was left wondering what exactly he did and how.

The historical backdrop is very cool -- and as a project manager, the organization and planning required to pull off the Chicago World's Fair is mind boggling. Did you know, that's where the Ferris wheel made it's debut???
I'm only about 2/3 of the way through, but so far so good -- I'll keep reading. The stories are largely told in retrospect, so I'll be interested to see where they go. The book is dense, the language and the story are involved and keeping all the characters straight requires a fair amount of attention -- this isn't really a casual beach read (at least not for me).

I know a lot of members have been dropping out due to other obligations, but I hope you guys will stick with us -- maybe we can pick up a few new recruits.

And maybe we can try a book without death or murder, HINT! HINT!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Happ Birthday HDT

Today is the 190th birthday of one of my favorite authors, Henry David Thoreau. In honor of that, I started reading "Walden" again last night and thought I would throw-out a nice snippet from that quintessential book of his this morning... enjoy.

Chapter 16 - 'The Pond in Winter'

After a still winter night I awoke with the impression that some question had been put to me, which I had been endeavoring in vain to answer in my sleep, as what — how — when — where? But there was dawning Nature, in whom all creatures live, looking in at my broad windows with serene and satisfied face, and no question on her lips. I awoke to an answered question, to Nature and daylight. The snow lying deep on the earth dotted with young pines, and the very slope of the hill on which my house is placed, seemed to say, Forward! Nature puts no question and answers none which we mortals ask. She has long ago taken her resolution. "O Prince, our eyes contemplate with admiration and transmit to the soul the wonderful and varied spectacle of this universe. The night veils without doubt a part of this glorious creation; but day comes to reveal to us this great work, which extends from earth even into the plains of the ether."

Then to my morning work. First I take an axe and pail and go in search of water, if that be not a dream. After a cold and snowy night it needed a divining-rod to find it. Every winter the liquid and trembling surface of the pond, which was so sensitive to every breath, and reflected every light and shadow, becomes solid to the depth of a foot or a foot and a half, so that it will support the heaviest teams, and perchance the snow covers it to an equal depth, and it is not to be distinguished from any level field. Like the marmots in the surrounding hills, it closes its eyelids and becomes dormant for three months or more. Standing on the snow-covered plain, as if in a pasture amid the hills, I cut my way first through a foot of snow, and then a foot of ice, and open a window under my feet, where, kneeling to drink, I look down into the quiet parlor of the fishes, pervaded by a softened light as through a window of ground glass, with its bright sanded floor the same as in summer; there a perennial waveless serenity reigns as in the amber twilight sky, corresponding to the cool and even temperament of the inhabitants. Heaven is under our feet is well as over our heads.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dang, I Suck Too

Still haven't finished Calamity. As a matter of fact, I left it at my doctor's office and I never even bothered to call to see if they'd hold it for me.

Sorry to say so, but I'm going to have to drop out. I have decided to go a different route with my blog for now, and any extra time I have will be devoted to exploring my adoptee experience.

Wishing you all the best,

Andie D.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Does Anybody Out There Even Care

Well, I just finished "Life of Pi".

I'm only what? Four months late.

Does anybody still want to talk about it?

I just want to say a couple of things about it:

1) I got a real "Castaway"/"Old Man and the Sea" feel except it was slightly less interesting than the former and way more interesting than the latter, and

2) I was reading the discussion questions at the end and the author believed that the novel would make you believe in God. I didn't get that at all.

So I guess we can talk about "The Devil in White City" some time in the fall. I really suck at this book club thing.

- Sarah

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

New Book Selection and Member Poll

Hi there everyone. So, whatcha been up to? How ya been? Okay, I'll drop the pleasantries and just come out and apologize for totally ditching Special Topics and recommending Easter Rising which I really liked even though it was a huge downer.

Hey, can you smell that? No? Okay, close your eyes a sec and breathe in. Smell it now? Yeah, that's right, summer is in the air. Memorial Day weekend is just two short days away, can you believe it?

Summer means many things to me~ there's the horror of exposing my blinding white thighs to unsuspecting beachgoers, mosquitoes, and unrelenting humidity (and the big hair that goes with it) but there's also the delicious smell of coppertone and salt after a day building castles on the beach, gin and tonics with extra lime, and fluffy beach reading.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I love beach reads. That's why I'm asking all of you to post (not just comment, like actual posts) with some of your favorite summer paperbacks. What are they and why do you love them? Is there a certain book you've read again and again or does one volume on your shelf evoke memories of a particular summer or favorite place? I like to think you can learn so much about a person by what they drag along to read on vacation.
We've chosen books that are difficult to plow through so far so I'd like to suggest that, as we are all BUSY either tending to young children or jobs (or both) or to schoolwork, that we lighten things up around here. I'm reading a lovely historical fiction confection by Phillipa Gregory and then I'm diving into Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Discussion to follow in late June in time for the release of the 6th Harry Potter, which oh my gosh I can't wait. And we will read that one and I'll be on here like every other day talking about it so if you're not up to date, consider this your chance.

So, yeah. Devil in the White City. Bye!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Better late than never...

At long last, I finally finished Special Topics in Calamity Physics

I'll stand by my last comments -- the constant references are distracting -- and the mystery started too late -- it's like the first 350 pages are filler and then all the goods are packed into the last 50.

That being said, it is a decent book -- the story at the end is worth getting to.

What's up next?

Friday, May 11, 2007

I'd Like a Double Foam With Foam On Top

All right, people. You didn't ask for my thoughts on this book directly and that only encourages me.

I had initial thoughts on this book which thoughts bubbled up unbidden as I started to read this book, venturing into my first online bookclub gangbang experience. They were, in order: be gentle; I hope this book is good; and, good grief, this book is boring.

This latter thought persisted as I continued to read the subject novel. Label-wise it appears to be some kind of coming-of-age-qua-whodunit. I say it “appears” thus on account of the style in which the novel is written. The author obscures her tale under layers of frilly post-modern references and noodly linguistic riffs. This novel is very stylish. Too stylish. This is not to say the heavy reliance on literary devices and modernist throat-clearing nods to the devices being employed entirely overwhelms the substance of the novel because there is, underneath the sprouts, a decent sandwich. No, wait… underneath all the heavy woolen knitwear, their lives and breathes a nubile sweaty dwarf… NO! I guess Mr. Franzen is accurate with his “dark drink” reference. Underneath all the foam and so on. NOW I get it.

I digress. In spite of my reservations about the book I read it to the end. The author is extremely talented. She gave me enough killer snippets to keep reading the book although I kind of wish I hadn’t. I was compelled to find out what was going to happen to the characters and what had happened to the film teacher. That, to me, is a hallmark of effective writing. Of course, it didn’t help that when I got to the end I decided it was telegraphed.

And the quiz was annoying. I was ill-prepared for the essay question. The menacing anarchic hippies in my basement ate my homework.

In conclusion, "Special Topics in Calamity Physics" is:
a)a book;
d)almost worth the time I put into it.



Thursday, May 3, 2007

Initial thoughts on Calamity

I know the official discussion date is still a week away, but I don't think that should prevent some pre-chat...... ah, don't get your knickers in a twist.... I'll keep it non-plot related, as I don't want to ruin anything for those still in the earlier chapters.

I love the author's use of language.... her descriptions are so vividly unique "cling to her father like lint balls to wool pants" -- who describes people like that?

At the beginning, I found the constant referencing more than just a little distracting -- I hoped that as the book went on that the references would either become less frequent or that I just wouldn't notice them anymore.... there was a little bit of both.

I've still got a bit more reading to do, but..... these are my initial style-impressions.

Anybody else?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Outside Reading: A Must Read for Parents

Hey - I finally figured out how to post here! (How many months has it been? Duh. I'm a Wordpress girl.)

Anyhoo, it's just in time to tell you about the BEST book. I'm currently reading Protecting the Gift by Gavin De Becker and it's so amazing I simply can't do it justice. It's about protecting ourselves and our children from violence ~ including sexual predators and also things like how to choose a babysitter. I think it should be handed out to all parents & prospective parents. It's just that good.

I am reading so many books at once right now for upcoming reviews at The Opinionated Parent that I've given up on the book for this month but hopefully I'll join in for some summer reading.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I think we are a bad book club.....

Okay, nobody take offense.... I mean this with the utmost love and affection.... but ummmmmm we suck at being a book club!

I'm wondering if we've been too ambitious... if we've raised the bar too high.... I mean, we are all Mommies, Daddies, Students, (insert label here) and have a lot stuff going on in our lives, so maybe a book a month is too much right now -- maybe we ought to be doing a book every month-and-a-half or every other month -- that way we actually read the books and actually have the discussions.

I guess my point is (get to the point already) that we have the potential to be the SUPERCOOLEST BOOK CLUB EVA -- but we aren't really living up to that potential. We were supposed to have read CTICP by yesterday and I know that I'm only at the half-way point..... I don't think I'm alone (am I????)

I'd like to propose a revised discussion date of May 11th -- that gives us another two weeks.... anyone want to second the motion? or tell me to stuff it?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Calamities All Around

I have not finished reading the book yet (this was my only goal for my vacation and I failed, ugh). I do have to say I am really enjoying the book so far though. Two things I would like to point out while reading:
1. Note every time you encounter reference that you know is a real reference but you don't know it and you think you should. Many of her literary references are real (maybe all) and some down right hilarious but some I just know I should know but I don't know (and then I have to Google it and then I feel like I smoked too much pot in college). I feel like she must have hung out in a library finding all these references.
2. I read this passage the other night after hanging out with my ultra-Christian friend (we went to see Pan's Labyrinth and then have a cup of tea). This paragrahp resonated with me and I am not sure why. Maybe because I used to move every year, maybe because of the scintillating conversation I had just had pertaining to religion. Here it is (page 35):
Every now and then, at night, before I fell asleep, I found myself staring at the ceiling, praying for something 'real' to happen, something that would trandform me- And God always took on the personality of the ceiling at which I was staring. If the ceiling was imprinted with moonlight and leaves from the window, He was glamorous and poetic. If there was a slight tilt, He was inclined to listen. If there was a faint water stain in the corner, He'd weathered many a storm and would weather mine too. If there was a smear cutting through the center by the overhead lamp where something with six or eight legs had been exterminated via newspaper or shoe, He was veangeful.

I hope everyone enjoys this book as much as I am.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Outside Reading -- Self Help

I don't want to steal anybody's thunder.... Kara (a.k.a. Cape Buffalo) reviewed this book not long ago here and Darren (a.k.a Clare's Dad) spoke to it here. Although I find myself agreeing with these guys the majority of the time...... I found this book to be a little bit fluffy and at points insulting to Dads.

Some background.... I didn't buy it, the Big Dubya got it in the mail for free. I was done reading Easter Rising and we hadn't established a book for April yet, so I figured I'd give it a whirl.

In fairness, the book did raise some good points -- the whole score keeping thing is very true. The Big Dubya and I don't argue too often, but when we do it is often because I pick at him for not doing enough around the house or with the kids.... he counters with my not giving him enough "credit" for the things he does do and and I come back with my feeling unappreciated by him for my contribution. I sense this is a universal theme and that we could all do better in this area.... but, it was helpful to see it written out.

I also though they made some good points about women tending to over-manage their husband's relationships with the children. I know that I tend to do this.... if the Big Dubya does take the initiative to feed the 'lil man, I won't just appreciate the gesture -- instead, I'll critique what it is he's choosing to feed him (c'mon -- couldn't you give the kid some fruit?). This is not productive, as it discourages the Big Dubya from taking initiative in the future. I need to embrace the concept that it doesn't have to be MY way in order for it to be acceptable.

When the authors get into issues of intimacy (that's polite-speak for sex), I got a bit annoyed. Any couple that says the intimacy in their relationship didn't take a beating after the birth of their child(ren) is lying. I'm sure some relationships suffer more in this area than others, but.... they all take a hit. That being said, they kind of imply that offering up sex will get chores done around the house. Although it may be true, the last time I checked, people who trade sex for money (or services) got arrested. Is that what marital relationships have deteriorated to? What happened to romance?
They also discuss the "Training Weekend" -- many Dad's are involved enough in the raising of their kids that they don't need to be abandoned for 24 hours to appreciate their wives -- it's a little insulting to suggest otherwise.
Yes, the Big Dubya does recognize how much I do when I go out for a few hours and he's got to juggle the kids on his own. But similarly, I recognize how much he does when he has to work on a Saturday or travel overnight and I'm left on my own.

Was it an okay free book to read? yes -- would I suggest people go pay for it? no

Friday, April 6, 2007

Oh, heck...I belong to a book club...

So Kara was reminding me the other day that I belong to a book club. I literally didn't read a book in month of March. I meant to. Really. Then I read that people who were raised on the south shore could really relate to Easter Rising. I grew up on the south shore, now I really feel like I lost out (Dubs and I have waxed poetic about the Weymouth landing and Sacred Heart - it was a strange 'we haven't actually met but we ran in parallel circles kind of thing.') .
Kara knows me well. She knows that if I am actually going to get involved I have to be responsible for the activity.
So here it goes: Special Topics in Calamity Physics is the book for April. Here is why it will be great: the author is from Asheville, NC...home of the Biltmore Estate and Thomas Wolfe (if you don't him you need to read Look Homeward, Angel). And my daughter, Noodle. The book is about physics and calamities. Calamities people! And it is a mystery! It is going to be great, or we will pan it for all its worth.
I will start discussion in about 14 days (maybe 21). My vacation starts tomorrow so I will read a boook this month (as the Count would say: one, ha ha ha).
Review of the book:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Just finished

Hi Everybody..... long time no post.

I just finished Easter Rising and can't wait 'til the discussion begins. This book hit a little close to home.... literally. The Big Dubya and I grew up just south of Boston ourselves and my parents are "right off the boat" from Ireland so, we are more than a little bit familiar with all the places and traditions mentioned in the book.

Anyway, thumbs up to whoever suggested it -- it was a really good read and I look forward to hearing what you all thought.

Maybe our next book could be a bit more upbeat though..... just a thought

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

March: A Month of Paddys (Paddies?)

As our first two reads/discussions come to a close (and keep tossing topics for discussion for either VS or Pi if you feel inspired!) it's time to gear up for March. I'd like to nominate Easter Rising: An Irish American Coming Up from Under by Michael Patrick MacDonald. I read All Souls, his first memoir, a few years back and quite enjoyed it, well, as much as one can enjoy a true story about organized crime, racism, rioting, poverty, and the horrendous deaths of four of his siblings. I watched The Departed this weekend and the experience bumped Easter Rising to the top of my book queue.

Discussion will follow Paddy's day by a bit... most likely the 29th of March.

Anyone else interested in joining me?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Outside Reading: Lamb

So I am about 1/4 of the way through Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore.

I have another online book club that I belong to and these other women (it's through a mother's group) raved about Moore. I'm not so sure.

I've already read "A Dirty Job", and while I appreciate blasphemous humor as much as the next atheist, I think the dialogue is a little bit too witty for my taste. I don't mean to say that I don't appreciate wit, I really do. It just seems like the dialogue is overwritten. You know, like the 5th season of "The West Wing".

I don't know if that even makes sense, but I just feel like he doesn't have to hold my hand and explain all of his jokes. I've read The Bible. I get the references.

I guess I just feel sort of guilty not enjoying it. I really like black humor and I feel like Chris Moore should be my kind of author. He is supposed to be hilarious. Maybe it's just with the whole "DaVinci Code" crowd, but still...

Should I just stop reading it now, or should I stick it out and see if it gets better? I so love the idea of a smart-ass disciple that they left out of The Bible because he was such a dick, but this just isn't doing it for me.

- Sarah

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Life of Pi: The Better Story

Against all odds, I managed to start AND finish Life of Pi this weekend. My house is on the market and my mind is pre-occupied with things like SELL FOR THE LOVE OF GOD THE CLOCK IS TICKING, but I found myself at the gym with no desire to have sweaty headphones upsetting the balance of ear cleanliness I've become accustomed to, on top of the irrational pressure I've placed on myself to participate in this (very patient and lenient) book club I've joined... and suddenly Life of Pi was my treadmill distraction.

I'll admit that I've never been a member of any book club, let alone an online one. I've held back for so long that I've seen enough other members admit to the same thing to put me at ease about this sad fact. Notice I'm still mentioning it, though... take this all with a grain of salt, I guess is my point. Also, I'm trying to say that I'm not exactly positive how to start a discussion on a book with as many layers as I detected in Life of Pi.

***WARNING: Possible Spoiler Ahead***

Luckily for me, there is a nifty Reading Group Guide in the version of the book I bought. It has a series of thought-provoking questions, all of which are equally as profound, I'm sure. I'm going to pick one that works for focusing on what to me is the crux of the book: #22, Which story do you believe, the one with animals or the one without animals? I'm not sure I can directly answer this question, but I will say this: I read the first two parts of the book without questioning any of the "facts." When I got to the third part and Pi was pressured to tell a different story, I was pretty unhappy. I clung to the animal story with all my might. I wanted it to be true, as harrowing as I'd thought it was originally. I might have actually felt angry at the investigators from the Japanese Ministry of Transport for pressuring Pi to come up with something different. Like Pi, I had become attached to Richard Parker, that wild, dangerous, dependent, unpredictable killer companion. When the animal characters were replaced with human ones, when Pi explained in human terms what he'd endured for months at sea, it felt remarkably more unbearable, and to my chagrin, remarkably more believable.

Throughout the re-telling of Pi's experience, he makes reference to imagination, belief, and the role of the story in one's life. He accepts what most people would classify as three conflicting religious belief systems when he simultaneously practices Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. When confronted on this and told he must choose only one faith, his response is "I just want to love God." Pi simultaneously accepts the frameworks he's given, no matter how contradictory, no matter how unpalatable, and molds them to what he views as a universal expression of gratitude for life. He accepts atheism as a belief system, but rejects agnostic doubt as a potential life-long philosophy, claiming that doubt is not a habitable realm, but one that must be visited temporarily and later abandoned for more solid ground, "the better story."

Life is ultimately only relatable by the story-telling of our own experience. Pi's two stories begin and end identically; the differences between the tellings come down to character details, but those details profoundly alter the reader's view of the experience. The Japanese investigators ultimately have to choose which story they'll tell, and even after their significant and vocal doubt surrounding Pi's first telling, ultimately the one they pass on in official record is "the one with animals," which they deem in irony, emotional self-defense, or spiritual respect, the better story. This surprised me, until I realized, as I tried to describe the book to my husband, that I was telling Pi's first story as the story, the "real" one.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Virgin Suicides

Let the discussion begin

First question -- thumbs up or thumbs down, and why?

Please feel free to contribute even if you haven't finished reading -- or if you aren't an official member of the club.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Safety in Numbers..... or Maybe Not.

I don't want to give too much away for those still reading, but..... I've been thinking about the Virgin Suicides recently, probably because I can't seem to get into Pi -- and because we're supposed to talk about it here (that's what book clubs do -- especially the supercool ones, right?).

Something about it reminds me of a psychological phenomena (shut up, I was a Psych major) that maintains that the more witnesses there are to an accident, the longer it takes for the victim to get help. It's really just a form of transference -- the gist of it is that if there are a lot of people around, witnesses tend to transfer responsibility to help the victims to the next guy, assuming that they must be more qualified to help. Whereas, if you are the only witness -- you know it's up to you to help -- there's nobody else who can.

An entire community witnessed the undoing of these girls, yet nobody stepped in. Initially, the neighbors and a priest tried to intervene -- but that was it -- they gave up. I wonder, would the outcome had been different if somebody (friends, neighbors, personnel at school, family members) had tried harder or done more.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Why does Amazon.com hate me?

Okay, so... College student here. Resident procrastinator. I ordered my book (I picked the Virgins) off of Amazon three days ago.

My book is lost.

They speculate it is, perhaps, in Minnesota.

I'm not sure why, but I think it's very cold there.

It's much warmer in North Carolina...

Is anyone else as far behind as I am?

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Aint it the truth

A line that struck me as I read the Virgin Suicides the other night.....

From Chapter 3
" At that moment Mr. Lisbon had the feeling that he didn't know who she was, that children were only strangers you agreed to live with, and he reached out in order to meet her for the first time."

I think that we can all relate to that on some level, whether it be as a child or as a parent.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Jesus H.--I'm Behind Already!

I was just sauntering over to check out the site, and POP! There's a cool banner! And people are already intelligently writing about books! CRAP! I thought I was doing well because I had started reading PI and was so pleased that I found his writing clever. I haven't even GOTTEN to the boat part yet! CRAP!

I am heading to Vegas on Thursday for a long weekend and I will finish my PI on the plane. Wait--who am I kidding?! I will be busy reading this and this because I hate flying and I can't focus on any actual reading in case I hear any noises that are out of line during a regular flight. And yes, I can still hear the noises through my iPod. If the flight goes smoothly after an hour or so, I may be able to focus long enough to finish my January issue of this, but I make no promises.

It is my hope that I will come back from my weekend away with something more interesting to say about the book other than the fact that the writer is clever.

The Lay's Potato Chips of the Literary Set

I wrote in an e-mail to the Super Coolest Book Club, EVAH! this morning that I have read The Stand six times and The Talisman (Stephen King and Peter Straub) five times. I'm not sure why, really. I think it's probably for the same reasons people read Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe multiple times: they capture our imaginations and we find ourselves wanting to get lost in those worlds if only for the time it takes to read them.

I also included on this list The Sound and the Fury and how I have read it four times (I've also read As I Lay Dying three times, as well - what the hell is it with Faulkner? F'in stream-of-consciousness). And I qualified that by being more specific: I've read it three times normally and normally being from front to back. I've also read it once starting with the last section and moving my way backward: Dilsey, Jason, Quentin and finally Benjy. Those of you who have read it may understand the method in the madness in this approach. Most readers, when confronted with Benjy's 30-year time-tripping narrative, are instantly put off and never pick it up again. By starting with Dilsey, you can get a "top down" look at the Compsons so that each previous chapter makes more sense (and makes reading the novel a tad easier).

All this is a long way of getting to: what books have you read multiple times? I have plenty of things that I've read twice - I want to know what people have read more than that; the ones they've read so many times the spine of the book is broken.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

I Should Be Drinking Beer Right Now

I decided to use the kids' naptime today to try to add a new header to our site. Apparently I forgot HOW TO DO IT (even though I managed to add a clickable header to my own site). I'm going to start Superbowl prepping and simply can't look at the HTML anymore. If anyone else wants to give it a shot, please do!

P.S. Please let me know what you think of the pic.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Notes from the Shameless Self Promotion department

My post over at Lara's site has been nominated as a best of Blog Exchange for this month. It's a trunkated (because it had to be reasonable length for a post on another person's site) version of a story I've had brewing for a while. It is germane to the bookclub and shows the world of my soft white underbelly of geekdom, but I hope you'll check it out. If you like it , I'd appreciate your vote. Thanks!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Virgin Post

My name is
Mrs Big Dubya, and I volunteered to facilitate a discussion about Jeffrey Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides. I've never facilitated such a discussion before -- so, please be gentle with me.

Some housekeeping....
Who else is reading it?
How much time do you think is reasonable?

I plan to read it pretty quickly and pass it off to Hubby so that I can start reading the other book.... from what I can tell, it's about Lions and Tigers and Bears -- Oh My!.

Anyway, the copy I have is 5 chapters, 249 pages of fairly large print. I'm on chapter 3 already, so..... I think we can get through it fairly quickly. Today is Friday, February 2nd.... Can everyone have Ch's 1, 2 &3 read for the 9th and the rest for the 16th? That's a total stab, so if people have other ideas..... please pipe in.

Thoughts on Chapters One & Two:
Not entirely deep or literary (my thoughts, not the book), the first two chapters really make me think about what goes through a town's collective mind when tragedy strikes. The kids, the neighbors, the clergy -- even within the family there seems to be a loss on how to offer comfort.

I'm also constantly reminded of Great Expectations -- not sure if it's the ratty wedding dress, the filth of the house or just the madness of grief. (My high school English teacher would be so proud!).

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Outside Reading - Nonfiction

Before I start reading one of the two options for this month’s book (no, I haven’t decided which one I am going to read just yet), I wanted to add another book review to the ever-growing list of outside reading reviews.

For Christmas, one of my Aunt’s (knowing what a reading-nut and rhetoric-nut I am) gave me the book The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words by Ronald White.

In the book, the author (who also wrote a tome entitled Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural which examined the second Inaugural) looks at the progression of Lincoln's thoughts and the growing prominence and articulacy of his speeches during his presidency by examining 11 of Lincoln’s speeches individually while also looking at their relationship to one another and how they all tie-in or, in the author’s words, how they are like a “string of pearls” that come together to make something incredible.

The author traces Lincoln's ever-evolving rhetoric over the course of his presidency in what can best be described as a series of critical essays.

(It should also be known that White puts an emphasis on how much presidential power can emanate from “rhetorical leadership”, something I wrote a lengthy essay on, from a Platoism perspective, when I was an undergrad)

In many of the speeches, White shows that Lincoln always left the audience with thoughts and ideas (which any good speech professor – such as me – will tell you is one of the goals of speechmaking) that will be picked up on in a later speech and which have developed more fully over time as Lincoln’s thoughts on those particular subjects have grown.

Now, enjoy an excerpt:

Lincoln’s farewell address at Springfield, IL. February 11, 1861

My friends.

No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe every thing. Here I have been a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being, who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and be every where for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

Abraham Lincoln arrived at the small brick Great Western Railway station in Springfield on February 11, 1861, prepared to travel to Washington and his inauguration as the sixteenth president of the United States. The day dawned cold and miserable, with intermittent rain dripping from the low-hanging clouds. Parked at the station was the Presidential Special, a train consisting of only two cars, an ordinary passenger coach and a baggage car, standing by to receive the president and his party. Both cars were painted a bright yellow. The grand locomotive-the L. M. Wiley, brasswork gleaming, with its huge balloon stack-hissed at the ready.

Lincoln had decided beforehand that he would offer no remarks, and the press had been so informed. After the many farewells of recent days, Lincoln believed there was no need for any more words. Newspaperman Henry Villard, a twenty-five-year-old German immigrant posted to Springfield in November by the New York Herald to report on Lincoln's daily activities after his election as president, captured a remarkable scene. "The President elect took his station in the waiting-room, and allowed his friends to pass by him and take his hand for the last time."

Villard observed that Lincoln's "face was pale, and quivered with emotion so deep as to render him almost unable to utter a single word."

On the Kemp scale of 1 being a piece of crap and 10 being TKAMockingbird-esque, I give this book a seven.

Herding Cats

We're now up to 13 members and I've had requests from two more bloggers who want to join but who I need to check out. Anyone reading this who wants to read along with us and comment is more than welcome. We're all very nice people, well all except for Arwen. She's mean to people in bakeries. And Melissa once hit me over the head with a tap shoe but I think she was four at the time so I've forgiven her. I mean SURE she SEEMS nice now, just be on your guard around her is all I'm saying.

Here's my attempt to kill the "what book are we reading first?" question once and for all. As we've all proven our staggering literacy I figure it will be tough for the first few months to find ONE book that none of us has read so we all have the option of reading Life of Pi and/or Virgin Suicides. Next month we'll choose two of the many excellent choices suggested so far.

As for admin stuff, I'll continue to do the basic housekeeping around here. Does anyone want to step up to facilitate the Pi and VS discussions? Basically, it will involve keeping the dialogue going and setting dates for completion and discussion and the shape that the discussions will take for one book. We can share facilitator roles so everyone has a shot at moderating discussion.

In the meantime, keep the posts and comments coming! Thanks to Kemp for the JK Rowling scoop! Let's put that on the table for summer discussion!

Book News

The new Harry Potter book has a publishing date.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final installment of the boy wizard's adventures, will be published and released at 12:01 AM on July 21st, according to author J.K. Rowling's website.

While I won't be in line to buy it at midnight, I will be buying it shortly after its release.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Outside reading Thumbs up!

This has nothing to so with Pi or VS. It DOES have to do with the book I need to finish before I can dive into the club reads. It's called A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke. It's the fictional tale of a Brit who goes to Paris to work with a dysfunctional French company. As the husband and I like to say around Casa Buffalo "stereotypes exist for a reason." This book is not politically correct nor is it pro-France, nor does Clarke wave his Freedom Fries. This particularly vivid passage about his Parisian neighbors had me in stitches:

I was also sick of my neighbors, as most Parisians are. I now knew every second of the morning routine of the family upstairs. At 7:00 a.m. alarm goes off, boom, Madame gets out of bed, puts on her deep-sea divers' boots, and stomps across my ceiling to megaphone the kids awake. The kids drop bags of cannonballs onto the floor, then, apparently dragging several sledgehammers each, stampede into the kitchen. They grab their chunks of baguette and go sit in front of the TV, which is always showing a cartoon about people who do nothing but scream at each other and explode. Every minute, one of the kids cartwheels (while bouncing cannonballs) back into the kitchen for seconds, then returns (bringing with it an excitable family of kangaroos) to the TV. Meanwhile, the toilet is flushed, on average, fifty times per drop of uring expelled. Finally, there is a ten minute period of intensive yelling, and at 8:15 on the dot they all howl and crash their way out of the apartment to school.

You've just made yourself a soothing cup of tea when Madame returns and gets her team of trained hippos to clean up the mess, clomping their hooves or whatever hippos have, in time to the nasal howl of some terminally lovesick French crooner. I once dared to go up and ask whether the hippos really needed to wear high heels indoors all the time, and a snooty woman in pearls slammed the door in my face.

I love this book.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Now that we have a Book Club Name...Do We a Book?

I call for an official vote on a book (or does everyone get to choose and we all take a turn?). I currently have the following on my bedside table:

There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marissa Pressl
Damned If You Do: A Novel (I can't remember the author)
The Places In Between (I can't remember the author)

I have not read the Devil in the White City or Life of Pi.
Just tell me what to read and I will get reading.
Anyone? Anyone?


Important club business:

A motion is currently on the table to amend the name of the Supercoolest Book Club Ever to reflect the strong representation and heritage of the current and former club members from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts contingent (Melissa, Arwen, the Dubyas, Chicky, Velma, et moi) and as a nod to our lone member residing in the Commonwealth of Australia by calling ourselves The Supercoolest Book Club EVAH.


God save the Queen and God save the Commonwealth(s).

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Choices! We have choices!

Okay so the choices for this month are:

Life of Pi


The Virgin Suicides

As I am not the dictatorial type, I'll let you all decide what you want to read, just leave your final selection in the comments. If we're all okay with choosing from one or two books per month, that works for me!

As you read, if you want to start an open thread about one particular aspect of the story you're reading (nice people give spoiler alerts), then knock yourself out. We should probably decide how we want to conclude- individual reviews, a mutual time to log-in and chat (drinking wine is required as is being barefoot (Melissa, since you don't drink you must eat hummus and wear a funny hat during book club meetings).

Aight everyone, start reading!

(I think I'll be daring and read both)

Friday, January 26, 2007



Hi. This isn't really a book club, per se, as clubs typically have members.

And there aren't any members yet.

Well except for me.

So, what do you think?

You in?

Hi! we have all the members we can reasonably crowd onto that contributors list for the time being (I said we'd be open to 15 members and I got a few more responses than that).
EVERYONE out there is welcome to read along with us but at this point I have to limit admin status to the people up there now.
Thanks for all of your interest!