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?