Sunday, March 25, 2012

Round Up

I think this thing where I review books as I finish them has run its course.  I'm slipping further and further behind, because I can't summon up the enthusiasm.  I'm not a summarizer.  I emote.  I feel things deeply.  And I want to ramble about those things, in the moment.

So, let's do a quick wrap-up.  I still want to try to hit as many of the books I'm into as possible.

The Magic Thief, by Sarah Prineas.  This is a perfect example of a book I wish I'd written about while I was reading it, because I could not put it down.  I mean, it's a kids' book, sure, but the narrator has this delightfully assonant, onomatopoetic way of describing things that had me hooked right away.  He's cocky and independent and just solid to the core; the kind of kid that you can totally see saving the world.  Sweet and fast and funny and dangerous, I really enjoyed it, and I'd have a lot more to say if I were in the middle of reading it.  There's a sequel, though, so stay tuned.

Awful First Dates, by Sarah Wexler.  This is a compilation of anecdotes from her website by the same name.  Read the website.  It's hilarious.  The book is exactly the same as surfing the website (especially when you read it on your computer).  There is literally nothing to be gained from the book; I read the whole thing in an hour and a half.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, by Rhoda Janzen.  Another one I wish I had blogged in progress.  I think my summation is "slight," maybe with a side order of "jumbled."  This book does two or maybe three different things.  The main thing--what I think the author probably sat down to write about--was the failure of her marriage.  Her husband was a bipolar, emotionally abusive jerk for many years.  Also a snob, which I think is the part that bugged me most.  And she lived with it, and put up with it--left him and kept going back.  And when she talks about the end of their marriage, she talks almost exclusively about how he left her for Bob whom he met on  I think she's missing the point of what was wrong with her marriage, and I found that a little irritating, though there was, I suppose, the schadenfreude pleasure of hearing the gory details of the end of her marriage.

The other thing she's talking about is going back home after the divorce to live with her parents for a while.  This was mostly because she was in a car accident and needed the extra help.  I'm sure this was part of the original pitch for the book.  This part is about how she's a liberal academic and her family is very religious and conservative.  The "and maybe third" thing the book covers is a lot about growing up Mennonite, and all that background.  It's a lot of anecdotes and humor about eating embarrassing lunches (borcht in a thermos, anyone?), not being allowed to participate in square dancing in gym class, and how generally square Mennonite parents are.  Also Germanic--cooking and cleaning are therapeutic and bred in the bones.

She's a funny writer, and I will say I enjoyed the book.  I was a little let down because I was picturing more of an Old Order Mennonite thing, quasi-Amish.  But no, these are folks who go to public school and shop at malls--they just don't wear makeup and girls weren't allowed to wear jeans.  I'm not saying it's not a sharp contrast to Eastern academia; I'm just saying that they look a lot more mainstream from the outside than they appear to have felt from the inside.  As a voyeur, I was a bit let down.

Kingdom of Gods gets its own post.  Then some of my currents--Sarah Tolerance, Anne Lamott, and ALL THE SAMPLES I'M READING THEM ALL on my Kindle.

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