Book 54: Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence – Doris Pilkington Garimara

Garimara, Doris Pilkington - Follow the Rabbit-Proof FenceI know I say this regularly, but I can’t do justice to this book in my response. The more I think about it (I finished reading it last Wednesday), the more I realize I don’t know how to talk about it.

My local book group decided to do this book and movie, and it was an excellent choice even if I did miss the discussion! It was particularly relevant as Garimara died in April 2014 and is there a better way to honor a writer’s passing than reading their works?

I’m not sure, but if I had to guess I would say there are quite a few books out there about the Stolen Generations, but I’m not sure how many are first hand accounts. And that is where this story truly hits home. Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence is as much Garimara’s story as it is her mother and aunt’s. And to find out at the end that her mother made the journey a second time with one of her children and the incredible journey in the book and movie becomes that much more powerful.

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Book 50: The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of WrathI did it. I completed a John Steinbeck novel!

Honestly, I think even in high school I only partially read The Red Pony and The Pearl (or maybe I did actually read them, because they’re both novellas and pretty short), but the point is I finished a BIG one! In addition to it being a “full” Steinbeck novel, it counts toward both my Classic Club list (32/100) and as part of my 30 x 30 list!

I’ve always felt a little guilty at the lack of American authors on my read list and not having Steinbeck seems like a big omission. I’ve read many American authors, mostly before I started this blog, but Steinbeck is one of those which really is synonymous with America. He is America, a very specific swath and very specific time period of America, but he is America none-the-less.

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Culture Corner – August 2014

2014 08-08 Throwing Shade Live!I planned to start with the ridiculous movie theater I went to, but why not just go in order?

If you remember back in March I went to see a live taping of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale and how much fun I had, you’ll appreciate this. When I found out a few months ago one of my favorite podcasts, Throwing Shade, was coming to Boston I immediately bought tickets! The original plan was that Caroline, Hayley, a TBD friend and I would go. I mean it’s a comedy podcast dealing with politics and pop culture, of course it would be AMAZING.

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Book 23: The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Atwood, Margaret - The Handmaid's TaleI can’t believe it’s been over five years since I last read this incredible novel. But thinking about it as I write this I’m not too surprised. I last read this while working on a paper for my MA and that paper didn’t go well, because I apparently didn’t “understand how to apply gender theory” and I was given the opportunity to completely re-write the paper.

I was incredibly pissed at the insult, because that’s how I took it, and I spent a lot of time rewriting the paper in such a way as to insult my professors and the program. In no uncertain terms I stated that gender theory does not preempt every other theory and that scholars needed to be incredibly careful of over-stepping their bounds. I did eventually receive a passing grade and they invited back to pursue a PhD (I declined), but it left a sour taste in my mouth.

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Book 13: From Russia with Love – Ian Fleming

Fleming, Ian - From Russia with LoveFor my first, and probably only, foray into James Bond this was definitely a good one. Compared to other spy novels I’ve read like The Talented Mr. Ripley or The Thin Man, I enjoyed this one the most! I’m not sure if it is because of the history of the novel, or because of the character James Bond.

So it will come as no surprise, that this is my local library’s books into movies book group February read. What is surprising is that I suggested it. I did so because for some random reason, I have always been obsessed with the title—it’s one of those iconic titles that everyone knows and for some reason it’s always stuck with me even though I’ve never seen the movie or read the book. The second reason is that it’s February and well, Valentine’s Day. And finally Caroline made another connection: oh Russia, like Sochi, and the Olympics. So yet another great reason.

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Book 12: Significant Others (Tales of the City #5) – Armistead Maupin

Maupin, Armistead - Significant Others (Tales of the City #4)Coming back to Maupin’s San Francisco is like going home after a really long vacation. There’s something comforting and something genuinely nice about being back on Barbary Lane. (See the first quote under Additional Quotes).

I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since I binge read Tales of the CityMore Tales of the CityFurther Tales of the City and Babycakes. And like everyone else who has ever read a single one of The Tales of the city books, I’m finally taking the time to catch up on the series, which has spanned five decades so that I can read the final (I’m assuming) novel in the series The Days of Anna Madrigal released at the beginning of 2014. I won’t binge read them, but they’re such quick reads I plan to read them all this year.

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Book 10: Zazen – Vanessa Veselka

Veselka, Vanessa - ZazenAfter seeing this on Heather’s blog Between the Covers (direct link to her review) and seeing her recommend it to many other people over the intervening years and knowing we have similar book tastes I knew I needed to read this novel.

This was a fascinating take on (post) identity politics in a (potentially) war-torn country. It was incredibly difficult to decide how much was seriousness, criticism, sarcasm or some other commentary. I had a brief conversation with Heather about the book because I was so confused as I started reading it that I thought it might be a translation. In the end I felt Veselka did a great job but I’m still not quite sure what form of commentary she was using. The combination of the identity politics versus the environmental (both natural and manmade) issues made for a really interesting read. Veselka’s writing and story telling reminded me of a less controlled and less refined Margaret Atwood, so of course I was going to enjoy it.

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