This was a very cultural month or perhaps I made an effort more than I have the past few months. I’ve noticed a lot more public artwork around the city and haven’t taken a single photo of it, maybe I’ll try to get some for next month’s Culture Corner. Instead you get to relieve two amazing events and my virtual rock-starness.
Above you can see my tickets for the Harvard Bookstore Margaret Atwood reading and the Boston Lyric Opera’s performance of The Magic Flute.
Things have been a little crazy for me. Work has picked back up exponentially so I’ve been really busy and not able to dedicate as much time to my blog as I want. Thankfully I’ve had time on the weekends to pre-populate book posts, but my other fun asides have been severely limited. So much so that this post is a cop-out. I quick snapped a photo of a cool public artwork where I catch the bus home most days.
It randomly appeared a few weeks ago and it just made me laugh. It’s not the first public sculpture in the Somerville area, I’ll try to get more photos on one of my next walks.
On a different note, I’ve had to put my podcast on hold until at least after winter. I enjoyed the first two and actually have plans for the next 3-4 podcasts, but I just don’t have the extra time to put into it with how busy things are. I’m hoping to pick it back up again after the holidays, but this might be a permanent hiatus or just until the summer when things get really slow at work.
So I felt really guilty about reviewing either one of these short stories/novellas on their own so I squished them together and counted them as one book. Total they are barely 50 pages, but I’m including them anyway. The first, In Another Life, is an ARC from the publisher and I received nothing for my honest opinion; the second, Karma is the 2013 Boston Book Festival 1 City 1 Story selection.
I would’ve read this ages ago if I would only have realized that it was a novella/short story. For some reason I assumed this was a standard 150-200 page love story type novel. Regardless I am glad that I read it, even if it was only 28 pages.
They say that the hardest thing to write of all forms of writing is a short story. Now I don’t know who they are or whether this is true, but I can say I have read really bad short stories and amazing short stories. I think a lot of authors struggle with the finite amount of space and telling a complete story within the short story structure. And although E. E. Montgomery does a great job with this as a short story (or novella as the publisher says), this story would only have been better if it had more meat to it. I will say there were golden passages that made my breath catch and made me want the love the two characters had such as Click here to continue reading.
For a book that has this much hype I expected it to have a lot more impact upon completion. Perhaps I just didn’t understand it and the impact’s subtlety was lost on me. I will say re-reading the last line again increased the impact, but I honestly thought the denouement would be much more dramatic and or conclusive rather than sort of wishy-washy-ing its way to a finale.
Don’t get me wrong, this was not a bad book, it was incredibly well written and the number of lines that made me laugh out loud or that I had to re-read because of how beautiful written they were far outnumbered the issues I had with the book. What got me though is how little action there was in the book. It felt almost like a set of actions stuck on repeat. and that just didn’t do it for me. Thankfully the writing was so great that it pushed the story forward, but I’m still not sure about most of the hype for the book.
I’ve wanted to read this since a book group I was in when I first moved to Boston read it. They read it before I joined and I thought it sounded interesting. So keeping with my theme of expanding my reading (and apparently reading a lot more nonfiction) I requested it from the local library.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed. This book felt more like a really well written undergraduate research paper than a book than a published book (and they were typos too). Part of this I believe comes from the structure and subtitle of the book and the other part I think comes from the super-focused subject matter. I discuss both below, but before I get to that I do want to say that it was an interesting read and I found many of the stories compelling and the appalling way in which Harvard dealt with these students should be a black mark on their history and reputation regardless of the time period. Not only did the Secret Court expel a number of individuals they were so adamant in their beliefs that they expunged the records of some of the individuals completely removing them from Harvard University records and if any of those expelled attempted to get into another school or a job using their Harvard connection/credentials, Harvard had a policy of exposing explicitly why they were expelled and this continued into at least the 1970s.