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Topic: 2011 July Reading

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Subject: 2011 July Reading
Date Posted: 7/1/2011 6:50 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 2,931
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Working on The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson.  Just finished Alexander McCall Alexander's most recent mystery, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party.  Fun!  Also read Blue Shoes and Happiness by the same author which I enjoyed once again.  Also went through The Violet Hour by Daniel Hudson.  Hudson's book was quite good and the lead character was so well developed that I was afraid something would happen to him through the read.



Last Edited on: 7/26/11 6:30 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 7/3/2011 8:48 AM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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I have The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb and Harlot's Ghost by Norman Mailer up for this month.

Date Posted: 7/3/2011 2:21 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,542
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I am really interested in your book report on The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb, Matt.  There are so many mixed reviews of that book.  I just scored a large print for my keeper shelf.

I am into this great post apocalypse book,  The Great Bay, chronicles of the Collapse by Dale Pendell.  It is a keeper for me.  Fascinating.

I am also reading a couple of other books but they are put aside for The Great Bay.

Date Posted: 7/4/2011 2:52 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
Posts: 9,476
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I am about 100 pages into Straight Man by Richard Russo and very close to abandoning it and him. This is the fourth book by him I have read. With the notable exception of Nobody's Fool, a distinct pattern seems to be established. The main character and usually implied narrator is an emasculated male, as are almost all his close acquaintances and male children. There is one "alpha male" in every book and he is the primary antagonist. And all female characters are to some degree, usually several degrees, dysfunctional people in varying degrees.  "Normal," well-adjusted people just don't inhabit his world. Maybe he finds these folks more "interesting," but they are just too far from the world I have lived in, or read about  in serious fiction, that I cannot manage anything like a willing suspension of disbelief.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 7/5/2011 4:37 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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The Hour I First Believed is moving quickly for me, and I might finish it tomorrow.  I don't find the main character/narrator (Caelum) very likeable, but maybe he's just more realistically human than usual.  I really like the writing style, and it's a powerful story for me.  I was in high school in Massachusetts when the Columbine shootings happened, and besides 9/11 it's pretty much the most memorable news event of my life, particularly with the fallout...school assemblies and speakers on violence, counselors available and all that.  It wasn't mentioned in this story, but I was also in high school for the shooting in West Paducah, KY in 1997.  It seemed like a time of a lot of anger.  My own school had numerous bomb threats, as well as kids setting fires in the garbage.  We had drug-sniffing dogs come through the school.  Jackets had to be stored in lockers, cell phones were banned.  Maybe nothing's changed, and I just moved on, but the book deals partly with a pretty important time in my life, and more meaningful to me personally because of it. 

Date Posted: 7/7/2011 3:18 PM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2007
Posts: 2,284
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I finished The Hour I First Believed about 2 weeks ago and just LOVED it!  I also found Caelum not very likeable but he was dealing with his own problems too so I could see why he wasn't always roses and rainbows.   I really liked how in the end I realized that everything that was put in the book did have meaning/relevance to it.  Lamb's writing style is one that I find to be wonderful and Matt I would suggest you read his other book - I Know This Much Is True- if you haven't already done so. 

My boss is reading this book now and she can't put it down either.  I can't wait till she is finished so we can have a book-chat at lunch next week.

Date Posted: 7/7/2011 3:54 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
Posts: 9,476
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I read She's Come Undone,  thought Lamb had great potential. Then I bought I know this much is True. Except for one book by Annie Proulx, I regard it as the absolute worst book I have begun in years. absolutely all characters of any significance are totally dysfunctional people. I hardly think that a book should be a cozy or anything close, but even dystopian sci-fi does better than this.

Aristotle, you know, in The Poetics, pointed out that nothing resembling katharsis can be achieved if the protagonist who is brought down is a despicable character. A major work where all characters, major and minor, are broken weirdos is so absurd that no Greek could have ever been produced had he written same.

Date Posted: 7/8/2011 9:00 AM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2007
Posts: 2,284
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John - I always find these discussion forums funny when discussing books.  It really is like art...some books appeals to some folks and not to others.  Two people can read the same book and one can love it and one can hate it wink   I have read some just awful books (IMO) and yet there is always someone who loved it.  And some people have such strong feelings too when it comes to their favorite authors/books.   Gotta love it!



Last Edited on: 7/8/11 9:03 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 7/12/2011 4:28 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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I'm currently reading While Mortals Sleep, a new collection of previously unpublished short stories by Kurt Vonnegut.  None of them are dated, but the foreward indicates they are from the early part of his career.

Date Posted: 7/19/2011 9:14 PM ET
Member Since: 8/8/2008
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It really is fascinating how different books appeal to some and not others.   I really enjoyed Straight Man but some of the other Russo books I've read do get a little tedious.    Could not get through Lamb's I know This Much is True and am halfway through Olive Kittredge right now and about to give it up too - which always makes me feel guilty.   How can I not even finish a Pulitzer Prize winner?    The two best I have read this month are Bel Canto by Ann Patchett and The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.

Date Posted: 7/20/2011 1:26 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2009
Posts: 551
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Matt, I agree that Bel Canto and The Glass Castle are wonderful books.

I also was underwhelmed by Lamb's writing (so much ado over so little). I don't think much of Olive Kittredge either--even though Strout's other books are magnificent.

You're leading me to start a new topic!

                                                                               Rose