Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gone Girl - E-Book Review


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


Format? Ebook on my Nook


Why? Are you kidding me??  Have you seen all the reviews in Bloggieland??  I also had a Barnes&Noble gift card; how could I pass this up?

The Title? Amy's parents wrote a series of books called Amazing Amy and the title is a play on words about the different kinds of girl Amy was through all her adventures.

The Cover?  Amy's blonde blonde hair against a black backdrop...

What Now?  Gone Girl isn't a re-readable kind of book (not for me anyway)...part of its lure is the unknown that keeps sneaking up on you as you read...so I would be passing it along if it wasn't forever in the bowels of my Nook :/  

 
Golden Lines
 
**For the first time in a while, I didn't mark any Golden Lines as I was reading...I had to find these after the fact.  I'm not sure what that means yet...even though the dissertation brain disease is trying to analyze the crap out of it :/
Part of Gone Girl's pull is the unknown, so I purposely picked Golden Lines that would tease.

There's something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold.

The street is billowing, and Nick pulls me close and smiles that smile again, and he takes a single lock of my hair between two fingers and runs them all the way to the end, tugging twice, like he's ringing a bell.

I felt giddy, felt for a moment we were all pretend people: Let's play the Missing Wife game!

"She's a planner - she doesn't, you know, wing anything.  She likes to make lists and check things off.  Get things done.  That's why this doesn't make sense - "

"That's a shitty thing to say, Nick."
"It's a shitty way to feel, Amy."

I opened it gingerly as if a head might be inside.  I found only a creamy blue envelope marked
FIRST CLUE.

In my pocket, my disposable cell phone made a mini-jackpot sound that meant I had a text:
im outside open the door

"We never went to bed angry."
"Not Wednesday night?'? Boney asked.
"Never," I lied.

I'm so much happier now that I'm dead.

Nick must be taught a lesson.  He's never been taught a lesson!  He glides through life with that charming Nicky grin, his beloved child entitlement, his fibs and shirkings, his short-comings and selfishness, and no one calls him on anything.

Something bad was about to happen.  My wife was being clever again.

"Play nice, Nick."

"Just like your dad.  We're all bitches in the end, aren't we, Nick? Dumb bitch, psycho bitch."

Go burst into tears then - the first time I'd seen her cry since she was a child.  She sat down on the floor, straight down, as if her legs gave out.  I sat down beside her and leaned my head against hers.  She finally swallowed her last sob and looked at me.  "Remember when I said, Nick, I said I'd still love you if?  I'd love  you no matter what came after the if?"
"Yes."
"Well, I still love you.  But this breaks my heart."  She let out an awful sob, a child's sob.  "Things weren't supposed to turn out this way."

Summary

Nick has a "less than ideal childhood."
Amy has a "less than ideal childhood."
Nick and Amy are married.  
Amy disappears on their 5th wedding anniversary, and Nick is blamed.
Nick is innocent...well, sortof.
You think you know the rest of the story.
But, you don't.
Not even close.


What I Liked

Humor - If I wasn't breathing heavily to recover from shock or sucking in air over the most recent language bomb, I was laughing. 

Shock Value - I have no idea how many times Flynn smacked me in the head. Literally...smacked. me. in. the. head...I don't remember being this surprised by the events of story in a very long time.

The Pull - the only thing I know to compare it watching Shark Wek...you know there will be sharp teeth, chills, biting, blood and fish guts...and even though most, if not all, SharkWeek fans would never ever want to see any of the shark action in real life, we can't take our eyes off the screen.

The format - days gone...the alternating point of view between Nick and Amy for the same timeframes after she goes missing  may very possibly be genius.  It adds that "oooh, I can't believe she said that...now let's see what he'll come up with in response to the same scenario" feel to Nick and Amy's story...also how Flynn delivers some of her punch...different people remember events in their own creative ways sometimes.

Go (Margo) - Nick's twin sister - seriously, the only character in this story that I actually liked...the only one with any sense...funny and a mouth like a sailor

Betsy Bolt - Tanner's wife...the way she hit Nick in the face with jellybeans - Betsy made me snort!

 
What I Didn't Like

Amy, Nick, Rand and Marybeth (Amy's parents), Boney and Gilpin (the two cops in charge of the investigation), Tanner, and pretty much anybody else in Flynn's novel.
Good luck trying to find a character in Gone Girl that you actually like...and let me know how that works out for you.

When I finished Gone Girl, my first reaction was anger...truly...
First of all, my Nook said we had about 25 more pages to go, so I kept thinking something else would happen...but then I swished to the next page and found out it was the last page followed by 25 (pages) in Acknowledgements and excerpts from Flynn's other novels.
Rarrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
But, still, I honestly don't know if I've ever finished a novel with so much negative emotion...but not for the book itself, the author, etc.
I don't really even know yet how to wrap my mind around it.

**I started this review a couple of months ago.  In response to a very dear friend who asked me last night what I thought of the book, I decided it was time to finish this review...I still don't know how to wrap my mind completely around this book...I really don't.

Amy's quizzes -I probably disliked Amy's quizzes at least partially bc I disliked her so much...but I really disliked the quizzes...hated them, in fact.

 
Overall Recommendation

Read it if you want your chain yanked...and are not afraid of some pretty seriously crude language used by both main characters.  A few times, the language felt like being punched in the face...just not the kind of stuff I hear everyday...and I teach on a college campus.  In the Acknowlegements, Flynn warns her own kid away from reading Gone Girl until he's 24...I think maybe 30 is better.  Flynn obviously uses the language for emotional zing/shock factor and oh, it worked.

 







Tuesday, December 4, 2012

TLC Book Review - Cascade


Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara
Viking Penguin, 2012

Format? Hardback

Why? Love, love, love historical fiction...especially American historical fiction

Title?  pretty simple...the name of the town, the river and the waterfall...but does indicate twisting, swirling, fast and slow moving water...like life sometimes

Cover? the colors make me think of Dez's postcards...the head is hers with the bun and of course the Cascade waterfall...which figuratively I think is Dez's life and what goes on in her head, so it fits.

I was reminded of? The Chaperone - Cascade takes place in a different part of the country than The Chaperone, but the early timeframe of Dez's life with Asa is the same as Cora's adult, married life.  The parallels were really intriguing...I kept wondering what Cora might be doing when Dez wonders about the dust storms and the state of the nation at that time.  Cora's husband fared much better than Dez's father after the stock market crash, so it's also a look at two opposite sides of life during Roosevelt's New Deal era.

I was also reminded of the song Que Sera Sera - whatever will be, will be...the future's not ours to see, Que, Sera Sera.

What Now?  This is O'Hara's first novel...I will definitely be reading the next one :) Cascade is now in its place on the shelves of my antique secretary...a keeper for sure :)

Golden Lines

"No babies means you can leave" (35).

She told Abby how Rose - "Yes, that sweet old lady Rose, of all people" - with absolutely no self-consciousness, taught her, before she left for Chicago, how to calculate dangerous days: lying quietly with a thermometer, keeping charts (35).

Art News was reporting a turn away from Cubism, the hard times triggering a return to Realism.  Thomas Hart Benton was the man of the hour, celebrated for his scenes of everyday life rendered in a sinewy, pulsating style.  He and his followers were breathing new life into a representational style that critics were starting to call American Regionalism.  He was teaching in New York, at the Art Students League, a place Dez imagined with "everyone's there but me" despair (41).

"I want children and I want Dr. Proulx's opinion why they're not coming, damn it.  I'm entitled to that!  I'm a little sick of my friends looking at me like - The house is a disaster."  His voice rose.  "My wife's only friend the traveling Jew-man" (53).

If the worst happened, if the reservoir was built in Cascade, she would record it all, maybe in a series of panels, explore what it meant to dismantle a town, to disincorporate it, to move everybody out and say this place no longer exists.  In Europe, she had seen murals depicting the rape of Europa, the fall of Rome.  You could tell whole stories with mural panels.  In Paris, in the twelfth arrondissement, painted on the side of a courthouse, was a depiction of the French revolution, which began with early fires lit by insurrectionists and ended with Marie Antoinette's neatly guillotined head falling into a bucket (73).

 What was meant to happen would happen, she told herself (133).

The word itself - divorce - was startling, so vulgar and cheap, one she couldn't imagine applied to herself.  Someone asking, "Are you married?" And having to say, "I'm divorced" (145).

That was the thing about signs.  You could read them any way you liked (161).

And that was the saving grace of art.  As soon as you started to immerse yourself,  even slightly, you could be swept up, absorbed (180).

So many contingencies marked our destines (191).

"I'm so sorry, but life is full of tough choices between less-than-perfect alternatives" (272)

"Cry and get it out," she said.  "Then get over it, because it wasn't meant to be" (272).

Summary

Dez (Desdemona) is an artist who, in her father's wealthy days, traveled and trained in Europe with plans to take her art to NY. During the Great Depression, after her father's bankruptcy, Dez marries pharmacist, Asa, so that she and her father will have a place to live, only to find herself in a lonely traditional marriage in her hometown, Cascade, MA after her father dies only two short months later.

Asa pressures Dez for children...it's the natural order of things in a life he's grown accustomed to, and he cannot understand why Dez doesn't feel the way he does.  An old threat re-surfaces in Cascade :  the water commission pinpoints either Cascade or another neighboring small town as the site for a reservoir to provide water for Boston.  The reservoir will completely destroy the town and everything its people have ever known.  Dez's art is noticed when she begins painting a series of postcards of Cascade...the past, the present and the possible future.  Dez also meets Jacob, another trained artist who is also the son of a Jewish traveling salesman.  Jacob is selling his father's wares after his father's death.  Dez and Jacob begin spending time together painting, and Dez begins to imagine what life might be like if she wasn't trapped in her life with Asa.    Divorce isn't acceptable yet, but neither is a Jewish partner.  Dez's life becomes one big domino game of sorts.  Each decision she makes, each action she takes, begins a chain of events that she can only ride through...just like the unpredictable river.

What I Liked

A book that makes me think...and Google :) 
Spanish Flu 1918
The Great Depression
Roosevelt's New Deal politics - Emergency Banking Act
Works Progress Administration
Art history and movements
Shakespeare
Nipmuks
Dust Bowl
Shakespearean Theatre
NY newspaper business and illustrators/photographers
red auction flags for those whose houses were foreclosed by the bank
prejudice against Jews in the U.S.
early years of WWII
politics - land ownership vs the government needing the land...and taking it

I'm not an artist.  From the very beginning of the story, it is apparent that Maryanne O'Hara is or was or is in some way deeply connected to an artist or artist(s)...it's not just the art history and the way she weaves the facts into the story; it's the descriptions of the painting process...the closest I can come to describing the experience of reading these portions is watching Bob Ross paint on PBS when I was a kid...so effortless, the way he talked us through each stroke...not like a boring instruction but almost a Think Aloud if you will...even if you're not an artist, and have no experience with the mediums Dez uses, you can't help but be pulled in by O'Hara's words.

I was afraid a few times that Dez was going to become one of those half insane love lost kinda women who pine away for the rest of their lives over what they thought should have been...thank heavens that wasn't the case.  Dez isn't superwoman, by any stretch of the imagination, but she does find a way to put one foot in front of the other...even on the worst imaginable days.

The frank discussion and inclusion of women's sexuality in the narrative.  As forward as the times were becoming, I was so sad for Dez when she had to wait and wait and wait with growing despair to find out if she was pregnant.  I wanted so much to go buy her a pregnancy test!  Any woman who's ever been in that particular situation will appreciate Dez's trauma.


What I Didn't Like

Asa's indignance that Dez had married him to save her father and that she had never really loved him.  He had carried a torch for Dez a long time...I'll give him that.  But, he himself admitted that his own mother had encouraged him to quit waiting around for Dez...she was out of the country, painting...Did he really expect her to just come home and be his dutiful wife, have his babies and be content to cook and clean and socialize with the other traditional ladies in their church and community??  Pretty unrealistic expectations I thought...for a man who seems to be realistic in every other way.
I do understand, however, that at the point some women began to assert their independence and to imagine another life besides that of wife and mother, it was almost as difficult of an adjustment for the men in their lives as it was for the women themselves.  

Jacob - listen, Mister...make up your mind what you want...and take into consideration the irreparable damage you can cause when you pull others into your decision making...at first I was ok with Jacob, but then he just kindof pansied out.  I was very suspicious of his intentions as well...especially later in the story.

The ending - wow...caught me completely off guard...I was sad at first but then I realized the theme that runs through this novel is that everything happens for a reason...and that the choices we make set in motion events that can't be stopped.


Overall Recommendation

American historical fiction fans, here's one for you.  A great story of a very realistic woman, trying to balance her personal life with the professional, choosing not to have children, and making decisions that affect her life as well as those around her...but decisions that have to be made.

The Author






Other Stops on the Tour

Monday, December 3rd: Booktalk & More
Tuesday, December 4th: Peppermint PhD
Wednesday, December 5th: Savvy Verse & Wit
Thursday, December 6th: Book Journey
Friday, December 7th: JulzReads
Monday, December 10th: …the bookworm…
Tuesday, December 11th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Wednesday, December 12th: Shall Write
Thursday, December 13th: Teresa’s Reading Corner
Friday, December 14th: A Reader of Fictions
Monday, December 17th: Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, December 18th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Wednesday, December 19th: I’m Booking It
Thursday, December 20th: Dreaming in Books
Wednesday, December 26th: Broken Teepee
Thursday, December 27th: Books and Movies
Wednesday, January 2nd: Lisa’s Yarns 
Thursday, January 3rd: Dwell in Possibility
Friday, January 4th: A Bookish Way of Life











Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday Salon - The Exams Approacheth Edition





Ahhhh, the two weeks before exams...ahhhh, the freaked out students who've done no work all semester long and now miraculously "need" a C for scholarships, academic probation, GPA, yada, yada, yada.  And...here comes the kicker, ya'll...I'm a meanie if I don't let them make up all the work they've missed since August and give them their C or B or even A.  

Don't worry.
I'm the meanie.
I. do. not. let. them. make. up. work. they've. missed. since. August.
will
 not.

For many of my students, it's time to grow up.  It's time to realize that actions have consequences...and that the big boy and big girl world won't wait around for you if you choose to slack off.
Amen.

Since this is not an academic blog, that's all I'm gonna say about that.
Period.

I've been reading student essays and research papers this week, so my personal reading and writing was stymied this past week.  I did manage to read Erica Bauermeister's School of Essential Ingredients and The Lost Art of Mixing though and posted my review of TLAOM at 11:40 p.m. of the day it was due.  
I almost completely forgot it.  
**smacking forehead**

Oy.

My brain tends to be addled some during heavy grading periods so I've managed to pick up quite a few silly news articles this week...it's always interesting to me what my brain focuses on during times of high stress :/
Take a look at these:


Elmo puppeteer - I thought Sesame Street was safe...and this just made me sad.

Florida man chokes in roach eating contest trying to win a snake - While I would never wish for anyone to die, I just sorta feel like if you are going to eat roaches, well, I'm assuming this result would be something that you should have contemplated??  Surely somebody somewhere could've found this guy a book to read??  Yeesh.

Organic Eggs Scorecard - this made me mad.  I've been paying over a dollar more for every carton of eggs I buy bc I buy Eggland's Best.  They are on the freaking bottom of this list.  They tricked me!! I. hate. being. tricked.

Classic first lines  - cool booky stuff here...some memory joggers and some TBR teasers :)

The cast of Les Mis - my big giant whopper Les Mis keeps moving from my dresser, to the nightstand, now to my desk at home.  I cannot watch this movie until I've read this book...but you've got to love this month's Vogue spread of the cast.  

Barnes and Noble Best Books of 2012 - another list...anybody else out there like me who can't get enough of these lists :)

I haven't posted my winners yet, but will do so after church today :) I've got a little surprise too :)