Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review --- US by David Nichols- Let's Tour of Europe as Our Family Crumbles!

Again, I have delayed writing about so very much, truly from love (the wedding) to loss (of my mother-in-law).  But, despite reading quite slowly, I am determined to get reviews up in a timely fashion, or a reasonably timely fashion.  Though this book did hit the stores (and many private orders) on Sept 30 so maybe it is a great time to write.  The destined-to-love-it folks who pre-order because they knew the author's prior work (One Day).  And now it sits on shelves, hits some lists (Booker Prize longlist), and people are starting to look to reviews....


Douglas, a straitlaced scientist, is awakened one morning by Connie, his free-flowing artistic wife of nearly 25 years.  She thinks their marriage has run its course, that she can't see happiness in it now that their only son is off to university.  But, she still wants to continue a planned family Grand Tour through Europe.  She agrees to put off a final decision until the travelers (Connie, Douglas, and son Albie) return.

This is primarily a study in family dynamics (though moments of art history are thrown in).  We see the love story from the day they met and follow it through some unimaginable lows and the addition of family member three, a son much more akin to his mother than his father.  We follow as they embark on their long vacation and....well, i'll leave the rest....

I enjoyed this book, but it got far too long.  The beautiful words seemed to hold me inside.  Emotions ring true and actions feel real.  You could like, or disllike, multiple characters at once without inconsostency.  Both more depth than expected yet remained true.

4 of 5 stars.  As always, thanks to Harper for the advance readers' copy.   Would be interested to read a (shorter!) version from another point of view, or even a "response

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Review:A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman

Mini-post.  A short book review, far from my most detailed, because I'm tired but also tired of it dangling off my mental To Do list.
  • A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman 

Odd.  That's definitely the word for this book.  Slava, an immigrant trying hard not to be pulled in the "all-but-home" community.  After his grandmother dies, he gets entwined in an unforeseeable way - he "ghost writes" claim forms that are sent to the German reparations programs.  During this time, Salva is also desperate to become a printed author, particularly in the New Yorker, and engaged in an undefinable relationship.

I just wasn't drawn to this book.  At times, the language certainly felt lovely but even then, I couldn't come to care.  And that tends to be the death knell for my enjoyment.

Two stars (of 5).  As always, thanks to Harper for the opportunity to read and review an advance copy...it wasn't a book I loved, but it was an interesting concept and worth a ponder or two...




Sunday, September 14, 2014

on the new housemate

We got a cat. (Note: By far not the most important matter mentioned  just the only one currently mewing at my feet)

But, of course, that means little to some of you since, while I know my biggest group of readers follow me from Facebook I must allow myself the deception that someone reading this sought it out otherwise. So I'll add detail.

MM and I are quiet different.  Career Military/Pacifist.  Graduated for-profit college in early 30s/Graduated at 21 from a top liberal arts school.and didn't stop there.  Conservative/Liberal.  There are more, but you get the point.  One thing we do have in common, HORRID allergies, especially to all furry four-legged sorts.  He is also the only other person I've encountered who will shout dog when one appears on tv in case the companions missed it.  And perhaps we both really want to pet the tv in hopes it will somehow transmit to the actual dog.

But we've long said we'd never venture beyond the aquarium dwellers: fish and two aquatic frogs.

And...

There was an "AND."  A big "AND."

Well, to take the "just say it" approach, MM's Mom died.  There's not much one can add here; there never really is.  She'd been sick for over a decade, with on and off hospital stays so it both was unexpected and a surprise.  But she'd certainly not expected this turn when she brought a new (adult) cat home at the start of the summer.  Well, the four sisters declined (dogs in home, just plain uninterested) and, while I was made sure he considered the health aspects, my MM's a sentimental guy.  So we got a cat.

Day ONE sucked, but the generic Claritin D has helped (buy stock!).

And, while I tend to be a dog person, this is a lap cat.  She talks up a storm, She love to eat, but would pick a day without food over a day without companionship.

So, we have cat.  And we;re both suitably drugged.  And both in love,