Saturday, October 27, 2007

Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family by Catherine Newman

I am now a sucker for a good, funny parenting memoir or blog. Yes, as soon as I went preggo, I couldn't get enough of the stuff. Catherine Newman's memoir is one of the best. I laughed, nodded, exclaimed "amen, sister!," read bits aloud and in general just thoroughlly enjoyed myself. But my friend Tricia wrote the absolute best review of this book on her blog. Here is one of the best book reviews ever for a book that truly deserves such praise:

"I like a book that makes my husband laugh. This is one of those books that we kept in the bathroom for a little light reading while doing the do. My husband said one night, "That book in the bathroom is really good. It makes me wish I had to keep shitting just so I can read it." The truth is, I feel the same way. That book makes me wish I had to keep shitting. "

Amen, sister.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Serious Girls by Maxine Swann

This book captures just perfectly what it's like to be a teenage girl and a bit of an outcast (although doesn't everyone feel outcast as a teen?). Two sixteen-year-old girls meet at an East Coast boarding school and strike up a friendship. They wonder what life will bring them and decide to jump into life instead of waiting for it to find them.

Unfortunately, the book as a whole didn't live up to its initial promise for me. The author put her main characters into some situations that I felt didn't quite mesh with my sense of the girls. Or maybe it's not what I wanted to happen to them, to be honest. One meets a 32 year old man in New York and has an affair. The other gets into an abusive relationship with a local drop-out. When the narrator starts drifting and becoming discontent in her relationship with the older man she recedes in some ways that made me hate her and find her whiny.

Swann is an amazing writer, and I hear that her new novel, Flower Children, is amazing. But her debut disappointed me. I think I wanted it to be a different book. I wanted something more about the interior lives of these girls, more about their friendship. I just wanted more of something different than what I found. Maybe that's a fault I shouldn't place in the book. I just wish I knew someone else who's read this so I could hash it all out.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Austenland by Shannon Hale
Nice premise, but I found it disappointing and forgettable. I hear her young adult novels are quite good.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper

I loved this book. It was everything that I was looking for. It was funny while having surprising depth and poignancy.

Joe Goffman returns to Bush Falls, Connecticut when his father is hospitalized by a stroke. But Joe hasn't been back to Bush Falls for seventeen years, and with good reason. He had a miserable time growing up there in the wake of his mother's suicide and his father's disappointment that he didn't become, like his father and older brother, a basketball star. Joe chronicled his rage at his town's small-minded ways in his debut novel and is now universally hated by his old neighbors. Needless to say, this complicates Joe's visit. (And make no mistake, Joe has a pretty Job-like ability to bring misfortune into his life.) Add to that an old high school flame that he has never gotten over, an old friend dying of AIDS, a vindictive bully, countless '80's and Bruce Springsteen references, and a main protagonist who is 34-going-on-18 and you've got the general idea.

This is a witty, compulsive read.