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Showing posts from October, 2010

Review: This is Where I Leave You

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Judd Foxman has hit a rough spot in life.  He walked in on his wife of more than a decade, Jen, having sex with his boss.  In his marital bed. On her birthday.

Then he gets word that his father has died.  His father's dying wish is that his family sit shiva for him. Together. In one house.  All of them.

If that doesn't spell "disaster" for you the reader, just wait to see what comes next in This is Where I Leave You.

Jonathan Tropper's writing is spot-on, chatty without being verbose, descriptive to the point of voyeurism, but in a way only a family can handle.  But not any family: the Foxmans.

Let me introduce them:

Hillary, a.k.a. Mom, a shrink who wrote a seminal book on child-rearing, using real-life experiences of her children written with a frank honesty that to this day makes every one of her offspring wince, and whose breast enhancements seem to want to jump out of her inappropriately low-cut blouses;Paul, the eldest son who helped his father in the family …

Rethinking My 'Fill in the Gaps' Books List

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I've lived with my Fill in the Gaps book list for about six months or so, and I am starting to think I put too many "should-read" books on the list and not enough "wanna-read" books.  Plus, I might already have read a couple of books I listed.
First: Ayn Rand.  I read one of her big books.   Atlas Shrugged, I think.  I think.  Granted, it was nearly 30 years ago, but I know I slogged thr — er, read one of her mammoth books.  I also read a short one: We the Living.  Maybe even Anthem, too.  I didn't keep a list when I was in high school and college, so I'm at a loss.  Plus, do I want to read it?  Really, really want to read it?  If I already did, the answer is "no."  If I didn't, the answer may be "no" anyway.  So, I shall ponder Ayn Rand.
While I'm at it, I'd better ponder Edith Wharton, too.  I know I read one of her books.  Was it The Age of Innocence?  She's not a one-hit wonder, and I don't want to miss her good…

Review: Ape House

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I should know that Sara Gruen is a big surprise, going places with her books I never would have guessed.  However, I was worried about Ape House: the publication was delayed multiple times (which I wouldn't have known had I not been keenly watching for it) (after Water for Elephants, can you blame me?) and the title didn't wow me.

Don't let that kind of foolishness — or any other, really — stop you from this book.

I consumed the book in almost a single gulp because it was that compelling.  (Plus, Carole had finished it two days before.)  It was bizarre, compelling and more than a little eerily foretelling.

The journalist John meets a group of bonobos (apes who are very similar to chimpanzees in appearance) and is mesmerized by them, as well as by their human caretaker, Isabel.  When tragedy strikes, he tries to find a way to use his journalism and his knowledge about the bonobos to not only help his career, but also benefit Isabel, and maybe even the six ape-friends he mad…

Oscar Wilde & Ahmad Shawqi Honored by Google Doodle

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by Maryann Yin
GalleyCat
October 18, 2010

The Google Doodle team honored two writers in select countries last Friday. Oscar Wilde received a mysterious Dorian Gray-style doodle in honor of his 156th birthday. The Google team incorporated Arabic script into the logo to honor the birthday of poet Ahmad Shawqi (above).

Wilde’s most notable works include The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray. To this day, he is widely considered to be iconic in the gay community. He passed away at age 40 in 1900 from cerebral meningitis.

Shawqi was known primarily as a poet. He was particularly known in the Arabic literature community for being the first to write poetic plays. The play which gave him the most fame and recognition was the tragedy, The Death of Cleopatra.

Last month, Agatha Christie received the same honor from Google Doodle. Google remembered her 120th birthday by including the mustache of her famous detective, Hercule Poirot. (Via the Guardian)

Happy Inside - IKEA cats advert

IKEA put 100 house cats into a Wembly, UK IKEA store.  Here is the result.  Even if it's not directly book-related, it still is charming and lovely. Enjoy.

Review: Sundays with Vlad

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Paul Bibeau is a man who has pondered all things vampire — usually Vlad-related, but he has gone farther afield from time to time.  Those thoughts, vapor trails and experiences are what form Sundays with Vlad, a book with wit, charm and heart.

It starts with living in an ancient, creepy house with an older sister.  (And the sibling is the scary part!)  It continues with his youth and, finally, involves his wife.  In fact, the book begins with an affidavit in which his wife takes full responsibility for the decision to honeymoon in Transylvania.  (When he regaled the audience with that fact at the 2008 Virginia Festival of the Book, we all had to buy the book just because it was true.)

Bibeau has a very good sense of humor about the entire situation: of course he's obsessed with Vlad, of course history is going to fight him on this, of course a developing nation will want to approach its own folks tales in its own way.  Dressing up like garlic and getting lost in Romania is just pa…