Comment: May 2014

(See in situ)


jrd3820's picture

May 2014

I committed to read 84 books by the end of the yr. Why 84? Because I tried to do 100 last year and only got to 70, so I wanted to go above that, but try to aim more reasonably and after all the equations were put in place, 84 is what I came up with. I read 10 in January, 7 in February, 8 in March, 6 in April and 8 in May. I started keeping an excel spreadsheet and here are my May reviews. And I’m working on my June ones now. I have to keep up, I’m a little behind schedule if I want to accomplish the goal.

May
Spaceship Zombie Wasteland, by Patton Oswalt
New Read
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating:4/5
My Rating: 3.5/5

Oswalt combines memoir with uproarious humor, from snow forts to Dungeons & Dragons to gifts from Grandma that had to be explained. He remem¬bers his teen summers spent working in a movie Cineplex and his early years doing stand-up. Readers are also treated to several graphic elements, includ¬ing a vampire tale for the rest of us and some greeting cards with a special touch. Then there’s the book’s centerpiece, which posits that before all young creative minds have anything to write about, they will home in on one of three story lines: zom¬bies, spaceships, or wastelands.

Oswalt chose wastelands, and ever since he has been mining our society’s wasteland for perversion and excess, pop culture and fatty foods, indie rock and single-malt scotch. Zombie Spaceship Wasteland is an inventive account of the evolution of Patton Oswalt’s wildly insightful worldview, sure to indulge his legion of fans and lure many new admirers to his very entertaining “wasteland.”

I think Patton Oswalt is quite funny, however it only translated mildly to his writing. Not everyone is a writer. He is not horrible at it, but it is not as funny and or in depth as I was hoping based on his stand up. It is however a very quick read, and does have a few moments of laugh out loudness, but I probably won’t read it again, and it will be an easy book to put in a “donate for credit at used bookstore” pile.

*******************************************************************
Bastard Out Of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
New Read.
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating:4.5/5
My Rating: 3.5/5

Greenville County, South Carolina, a wild, lush place, is home to the Boatwright family—rough-hewn men who drink hard and shoot up each other's trucks, and indomitable women who marry young and age all too quickly. At the heart of this astonishing novel is Ruth Anne Boatwright, known simply as Bone, a South Carolina bastard with an annotated birth certificate to tell the tale. Observing everything with the mercilessly keen eye of a child, Bone finds herself caught in a family triangle that will test the loyalty of her mother, Anney. Her stepfather, Daddy Glen, calls Bone "cold as death, mean as a snake, and twice as twisty," yet Anney needs Glen. At first gentle with Bone, Daddy Glen becomes steadily colder and more furious—until their final, harrowing encounter, from which there can be no turning back.

The 4.5 ratings are a bit too generous if you ask me. It is well written, and it did keep me interested until the end. All emotions are represented at some point or another. It’s a coming of age/loss of innocence story. It is cute. However, it didn’t leave a lasting impression, it didn’t rock my world, blow my mind, or change my life or anything.

********************************************************************
The Rose That Grew From Concrete, by Tupac Shakur
New Read.
Amazon Rating: 5/5
GoodReads Rating:4.5/5
My Rating: 3.5/5

This collection of more than 100 poems that honestly and artfully confront topics ranging from poverty and motherhood to Van Gogh and Mandela is presented in Tupac Shakur's own handwriting on one side of the page, with a typed version on the opposite side.

These poems are not poems that can be found in his music so it was interesting to read them, almost like finding a side of Tupac I never knew existed despite my knowledge of his music. The topics are interesting and he talks about love in a way he fails to do in his music. Glad I read them, however I do think he saved his best poetry for his music because some of it was subpar.

********************************************************************
Oral History, by Lee Smith
Re-Read
Amazon Rating: 4/5
GoodReads Rating:4.5/5
My Rating: 5/5

To complete an assignment for a college class, Jennifer takes her notebook and tape recorder to the tiny mountain town in Virginia where her Mother grew up. She meets family members and learns of a mysterious curse that has followed them for generations. Her grandfather and her great-aunt actually left their mountain cabin because of ghostly screams and noctural visitations. Jennifer learns about herself as she chronicles the lives of her ancestors.
This is a beautifully written, absorbing story. Characters are fully developed and Smith captures the character and the hard life of the Appalachian mountaineer with sensitivity and empathy, not without sending a chill or two up the reader's spine.
Here's a world you may not know but if it's a familiar one, you may see it with new insight after reading ORAL HISTORY.

I funking love this story. The characters are endearing, even the antagonists. The descriptions are vivid. The story is enchanting. I have read this 3 times now. I fall in love with characters again every time. It is hard not to think about them during the day when you are reading this one. There is a lot of love in this book.

****************************************************************

Ernest and Celestine: The Picnic, by Gabrielle Vincent
New Read
Amazon Rating: 5/5
GoodReads Rating:4.5/5
My Rating:5/5

This is a children’s book I stumbled upon after someone referred me to the movie a few times. I couldn’t find the movie on Netflix, so I started looking around on Amazon and found there are books! Ernest and Celestine are adorable. Ernest is so sweet and caring and kind when it comes to Celestine. And Celestine means well. She really does. I almost wouldn’t count this on my 84 book list because it is a kid’s book, but Suttree should be two books if ya ask me, so I’m counting it, and will probably read some more in this series. This was found at the end of May, I think I may have read it early June though. Idk why I have it marked as May on my spreadsheet, but here it is.

*******************************************************************
Suttree, by Cormac McCarthy
Amazon Rating: 4/5
GoodReads Rating:4.5/5
My Rating: 3.5/5

By the author of Blood Meridian and All the Pretty Horses, Suttree is the story of Cornelius Suttree, who has forsaken a life of privilege with his prominent family to live in a dilapidated houseboat on the Tennessee River near Knoxville. Remaining on the margins of the outcast community there--a brilliantly imagined collection of eccentrics, criminals, and squatters--he rises above the physical and human squalor with detachment, humor, and dignity.

Sigh on this book. It was a tough read, it took me much longer than normal to get through. McCormac packs a ton into each sentence. Descriptions could go on for a few sentences, in one or two cases I remember, they would go on for paragraphs. This was a fun story with memorable characters and interesting situations. This touches on the bizarre, grotesque and almost feels like an old time circus at points, but Hemingway is write about cutting out excessive adjectives and words altogether. There is not need for some of the rambling in this book. He could cut out about 100 pages of words and still have told the same story.

This was my first McCormac read, and because of the obvious talent in his story telling I plan on giving another one of his books a try soon, in the very near future, but for the love of God there is no need for some of his diatribes.

*****************************************************************
War Dances, by Sherman Alexia

New Read
Amazon Rating: 4/5
GoodReads Rating:4/5
My Rating: 3.5/5

Fresh off his National Book Award win, Alexie delivers a heartbreaking, hilarious collection of stories that explores the precarious balance between self-preservation and external responsibility in art, family, and the world at large. With unparalleled insight into the minds of artists, laborers, fathers, husbands, and sons, Alexie populates his stories with ordinary men on the brink of exceptional change. In a bicoastal journey through the consequences of both simple and monumental life choices, Alexie introduces us to personal worlds as they transform beyond return. In the title story, a famous writer must decide how to care for his distant father who is slowly dying a “natural Indian death” from alcohol and diabetes, just as he learns that he himself may have a brain tumor. Alexie dissects a vintage-clothing store owner’s failing marriage and his courtship of a married photographer in various airports across the country; what happens when a politician’s son commits a hate crime; and how a young boy discovers his self-worth while writing obituaries for his local newspaper. Brazen and wise, War Dances takes us to the heart of what it means to be human. This provocative new work is Alexie at the height of his powers

This was interesting enough I suppose. It switches between poetry, prose, short stories, and stream of consciousness. I was hoping for a novel when I picked it up, but that is not what this is. This was my first Alexie read, and I would consider reading more from him after this, but I’m in no rush. It is a very quick read though.

*******************************************************
Feed by M.T. Anderson
New Read.
Amazon Rating: 4/5
Goodreads Rating:
My Rating: 3/5

For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon - a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world — and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.

This presents some interesting situations concerning future use of technology, some of which are already on their way to coming true. The language becomes grating after a while though because the characters speak in futuristic broken technological English. It is a very quick read, not amazing, not horrible, great set up for Ready Player One though.