REVIEW: If on a winter’s night a traveler

Things I have to say about Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler:

  1. It is one of the most ingenious pieces of literature ever written
  2. Researching Calvino’s influences in writing this book led me to learn (I will use that word loosely) about:
    1. Oulipo
    2. A.J. Greimas
    3. Semiotics
  3. I cannot comprehend the above influences. I only know that I loved If on a winter’s night a traveler
  4. You will either love If on a winter’s night a traveler or find it horribly annoying. But, it will be impossible to not respect the ingenuity and technique that went into the writing of it
  5. I genuinely can’t figure out the best way to review this novel with out giving away aspects of the structure. I feel this would ruin the effect of the book for a new reader. I will only say this: you are the book
  6. The way I structured this review has nothing to do with this novel, I just like making lists

Rating: 4.5 Readers

FIRST LOVE (continued inspiration)

It was on the 7 train
Headed for Shea

The first moment of electricity

You were only visiting

Come fall
We’d talk until 3AM

My best friend
1,500 miles away

That was when people still talked
Still got to know each other’s souls
Because it was important

It is important

By winter we were in love

Pure love
Kind love
Ephemeral love

We had an expiration date

That didn’t stop you

That didn’t stop us

Chinese food
Rented DVDs
My favorite New Year’s Eve

Long before Netflix & Chill

You should have been
the standard
I held the rest of them
up to

The Artist (inspired by Dear, Mr. You)

 

Hesitant
Sitting cross legged
On my dorm room single bed
Our first kiss 

Enchiladas
And a bad movie
An excuse to hold hands
In the dark

We’d get high and watch The OC
Talk about movies
And your art

I was too young
To understand the importance
of being loved

You always wrote so beautifully
Every message
Email
Postcard
A piece of personal poetry

I will always remember

The bouquet of pencils you brought to my door

1,000 Things to Say About My Aunt

I am very lucky to have grown up around many strong-willed, intelligent, creative women; so as I was desperately seeking inspiration and ways to challenge myself in 2016 it didn’t take me long to think of my aunt, Susan Goldfein. 

Susan has had a passion for writing through much of her life, and upon retirement decided to indulge that passion (and talent). About 6 years ago she started a blog of essays (originally titled 1,000 Things to Say Before I Die, now called An Unfiltered Wit); tackling everything from married life, to pop culture, to her dogs and all that’s in between with a sharp sense of humor and unique insight. Once Susan had accumulated a significant number of essays, and a numerous loyal and appreciative following (1,000 and counting) clamoring for more, she published her collection of essay’s in a book entitled How Old Am I in Dog Years which has subsequently received various accolades.

Speaking as one of 12 winners of the Delray Beach Library Author’s Showcase in January, Susan awed me with her accomplishments and the ease with which she was able to command the audience. Her pithy, whimsical observations had us all laughing out loud.  

I was so proud, moved, inspired by her fearlessness. It is Susan who gave me the courage to break out of my comfort zone, start my own blog and run with it as far as I can.

Creating and challenging myself to complete a book list was one thing, but, having the courage to put my opinions and writing out there was anxiety provoking. Susan, you are a large part of why I started this challenge, and the main reason I haven’t given up. Let’s make a deal: as long as you keep going, so will I.

Follow Susan’s blog: An Unfiltered Wit

Purchase her book on Amazon: How Old Am I in Dog Years

Accolades include:
Independent Publishers Awards (IPPY Award): Silver Award in the humor category
Featured author in The Transition Network’s national online newsletter
Delray Beach Library Author’s Showcase

REVIEW: Station Eleven

Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven ranks as one of my favorite books read in the past few years, or maybe ever. Given my last review was a bit of a rant, this one will be a total gush fest. Where to begin?

I’ll start with the fact that Emily (I’ve decided we are on a first name basis) absolutely nails the art of seamlessly jumping between different story lines and time periods. NAILS IT. If you have been a consistent reader of my blog you know that I am a huge fan of this writing style if executed effectively, and one of my biggest pet peeves if not. So, THANK YOU, Emily. Thank you.

On top of that awesome feat, Station Eleven is populated with beautiful characters each providing a different perspective as they journey along separate paths through a post-apocalyptic world. This is a book that made me think, “Man, I’m really going to miss these people when I’m done.” And in fact, I kept them with me long after completing the novel, musing over what I think happens to each of them beyond the last page.

Through these characters in their different walks of life, Emily manages to create a sense of unity and understanding among all humankind. When faced with a world crisis, it doesn’t matter if you are a millionaire, a career hopper, or a struggling artist; you’re all in the same boat now. Of course, the ugly side of humanity rears its head as well, but she manages to shine a compassionate light on that too.

I actually think I have nothing critical to say of Emily St. John Mandel’s writing inStation Eleven. And even if I could think of a negative, I just wouldn’t care. It’s an easy, fast read, with a captivating plot and characters. The kind of book that most anyone would enjoy.  Definitely download it on your kindle, pick it up from your local bookstore, or take a trip to the library and add this to your summer reading list.

Rating: 5 Caravans

REVIEW: Dear Mr. You

For many years I have joked about wanting to a write a book to all of the men that have come and gone in my life, a chapter for each. The ones I loved, the ones who hurt me, the best friends, the bad first dates. All of them. Not with any sense of bitterness or longing, but with a sense of humor, and appreciation for what I’ve learned from my experiences with them.  Luckily for me, Mary-Louise Parker did just that in Dear Mr. You with far more eloquence and insight than I would have been able to pull off.

Apart from enjoying Dear Mr. You for Parker’s beautiful, humorous, and at times, heartbreaking writing; I principally appreciate the bravery it took to write a piece dedicated to the men who have shaped her by acknowledging their impact. In today’s culture, especially in my generation, we are practically programmed to pretend that the other sex has no influence on us – it is viewed as weak to do so. As a single, straight, woman nearing 30 a lion’s share of my most intimate experiences over the past 10 years have been with men – they have played a huge part in shaping the kick ass woman I am today, whether their behavior was harrowing or admirable, and I feel no shame in admitting their influence.

But, back to Ms. Parker.

As noted before, Parker’s writing is top notch. It is fearless and speaks from the heart. Some of the letters certainly spoke to me more than others, and a couple I could have done without. But on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed accompanying Ms. Parker on her journey. Especially impressive is her ability to express heartbreak and anger via understanding and forgiveness. Parker’s love for her late father is the basis for the memoir, and that light is reflected in every piece. 

This book speaks to me deeply at this stage of my life; consequently, I’ve formed an attachment that might not be universal. For my part, I have a feeling I will return to many of the letters as years go by. I highly recommend Dear Mr. You to women and men alike – even if you just pick a few of the pieces to read.

Another special shout out to R for gifting me with this book. You get me.

Rating: 4 Raw Oysters