citygirl cracks the whip 2011

KeskusteluClub Read 2011

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citygirl cracks the whip 2011

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Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 20, 2011, 4:08 pm

Truth be told, I was disappointed in my 2010 reading, which was done pretty much willy-nilly and mood-driven. So I've come up with a plan: I have created a list of ~130 books that I must read by the close of 2012, armageddon notwithstanding.

The problem has been that I've been collecting these books like some sort of demented bargain hunter/literature student with this gorgeous picture in my head of hour upon hour of reading bliss in a cozy attic room. Which has not happened. At. All.


Some of these books I've been TBRing for what feels like ever because smart LTers loved them, or I started them and my ADD took over ("Oh look, new shiny book!"), or I've read reviews of them and knew I would love them, or they would make a wonderful addition to my reading mind. Or they've just been sitting around mocking me. E.g., 100 Years of Solitude: "Ha ha, big reading girl, you so smart? You haven't even read me and I was done by a master. Estupida! You can't even discuss Mrs. Dalloway intelligently because YOU HAVEN'T READ IT! Whatchu think about that, Dalloway? Are you gonna stand for this..." and so on. I need to shut those little &*%$*^#s up.

As a little psychological trick, I've already read several of them in the past few months.

I've made an executive decision: I am going to add ER books and other books that I didn't know I was going to read. Keeps it simpler.

Here's the list in clickable form:
List in clickable form

And here's the list:

The 4-Hour Work Week, Timothy Ferris
The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren
An American Childhood, Annie Dillard
Antony and Cleopatra, WS
Arthur & George, Julian Barnes
Atonement, Ian McEwan
The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama
AVA, Carole Maso
A Beautiful Place to Die, Malla Nunn
Bedelia, Vera Caspary Nov 2010
Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson
Black and Blue, Anna Quindlen Feb 2011
Boston Adventure, Jean Stafford, Nov 2010
Brick Lane, Monica Ali
Brideshead Revisited, E. Waugh
Buffy, Season 8, Issue 1, Joss Whedon Dec 2010
Buffy, S8, Vol2, No Future for You March 2011
Carry On, Jeeves, PGW
The Center of Everything, Laura Moriarty
Changing Places, David Lodge
Au Chateau d'Argol, Julien Gracq (Salon group read)
Child 44, Tom Rob Smith
Children of Men, P.D. James Didn't start out on the list.
City Women, ed. Liz Heron
Cleopatra, S. Schiff Didn't start out on the list
Confessions of a Yakuza, Junichi Saga
Dark Angels, Karleen Koen
The Daughter of Time, Josephine Tey
Dead Certain, Robert Draper
The Debt to Pleasure, John Lanchester
Despair, Darling Vlad
The Devotion of Suspect X, Keigo H--something Jan 2011 ER Didn't start out on the list
Digging Deeper, Peter Weissman aka copyedit March 2011
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Anne Tyler
Drown, Junot Diaz Jan 2011
Eats, Shoots and Leaves, Lynne Truss
Emma, JA
Enfance, Nathalie Sarraute
Enlightened Sexism, Susan J. Douglas
Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume, ed. Jennifer O'Connell
The Fall of the House of Bush, C. Unger Feb 2011 Didn't start out on the list Audio
A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
Five Quarters of the Orange, Joanne Harris
The Fortress of Solitude, Jonathan Lethem
Franny and Zooey, Salinger
Freddy and Fredericka, Mark Helprin
From Clueless to Class Act: Manners for the Modern Woman, Jodi R.R. Smith
Gifted Grownups, Marylou Kelly Streznewski Nov 2010
Gifted, Nikia Lalwani
Good Omens, Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett Didn't start out on the list
Gormenghast Novels, Mervyn Peake
The Grifters, Jim Thompson
Hamlet, WS Jan 2011
The House of Sand and Fog, Andre Dubus
Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson
How Right You Are, Jeeves, PGW
The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins April 2011
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire

I Am Madame X, Gioia Diliberto
I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
I Think, Therefore Who Am I?, Peter Weissman aka copyedit March 2011
If He Hollers Let Him Go, Chester Himes
In the Cut, Susanna Moore
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I, The Mysterious Howling, Maryrose Wood Didn't start out on the list
TICOAP Book II: The Hidden Gallery, Maryrose Wood
ER Didn't start out on the list Jan 2011
The Informers, Bret Easton Ellis
Instances of the Number 3, Salley Vickers April 2011
Jar City, Arnaldur Indridason
Julius Caesar, WS
Justine, Lawrence Durrell
The Known World, Edward P. Jones
Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath, Sigrid Undset
A Lady of Quality, Georgette Heyer
Lake Wobegon Days, Garrison Keillor
Let's Kill Uncle, Rohan O'Grady ER Didn't start out on the list
Life, Keith Richards
Lighthousekeeping, Jeanette Winterson
The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters Jan 2011
Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, Natasha Walter
Logicomix, Apostolos Doxiadis
Lord of the Flies, William Golding
A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, Roland Barthes
Lucy, Jamaica Kinkaid
Lust in Translation, Pamela Druckerman
The Magus, John Fowles
Making a Literary Life, Carolyn See
Man in the Queue, Josephine Tey
The Man Who Loved Children, Christina Stead
The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov March 2011
Mr. Timothy, Louis Bayard
Mrs. Dalloway, V. Woolf
The Name of the Rose, Eco
The Next Queen of Heaven, Gregory Maguire Dec 2010
Niccolo Rising, Dorothy Dunnett
Nine Lives, Dan Baum
One Hundred Years of Solitude, GGM
Origins of the Specious, Patricia T. O'Connor
Oryx and Crake, M. Atwood
Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler
A Person of Interest, Susan Choi
Persuasion, JA Nov/Dec 2010
Playdate, Thelma Adams Didn't start out on the list ER
Pride and Prejudice, Miss Austen
The Puttermesser Papers, Cynthia Ozick
Queens’ Play, Dorothy Dunnett
A Question of Upbringing, Anthony Powell
The Remedy, Michelle Lovric
A Return to Abundance, Book I, LT Author Paul Gubany MG Didn't start out on the list
Room, Emma Donoghue Jan 2011
The Rules of Attraction, Bret Easton Ellis
Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde
A Ship Made of Paper, Scott Spencer Feb 2011
The Skull Beneath the Skin, P.D. James Didn't start out on the list, April 2011
The Slap, Christos Tsiolkas Jan 2011
Slash, Slash
Sopranos: The Book, HBO – really?
Sparks of Genius, Robert S. Root-Bernstein
Speak, Memory, Darling Vlad
Stet, Diana Athill
The Stone Diaries, Carol Shield
Strokes of Genius, Jon Wertheim
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte Dec 2010
The Tender Bar, J.R. Moehringer
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell
Three Guineas, V. Woolf
Time Management for Unmanageable People, Anne McGee-Cooper
The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger Dec 2010
To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
Tokyo Vice, Jake Adelstein
Twelve, Nick McDonnell
An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, P.D. James) Feb 2011
Vernon God Little, DBC Pierre
The Virgin Suicides, Jeffrey Eugenides
A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
The Warden, Trollope
We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson
Where We Know: New Orleans As Home, ed. David Rutledge Dec 2010
Who’s Writing This?, ed. Dan Halpern
The Wings of the Dove, Henry James
The Wire: Urban Decay and American Television, ed. Tiffany Potter
The Witches, Roald Dahl
Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
A Woman in Charge, Carl Bernstein
Paris Review Interviews 7
Paris Review Interviews 2
Winter's Bone, Daniel Woodrell Didn't start out on the list.
Writing from the Body, John Lee
Yoga Anatomy, Leslie Kaminoff Did not start out on the list. Was irresistible.
You Can Read Anyone, David J. Lieberman
Zeitoun, Dave Eggers Nov 2010

This ticker is just for my mental clarity.

joulukuu 30, 2010, 3:26 pm

Your link takes me to my library. Oh well.

You have an admirable list although I suggest that you might skip The Four Hour Work Week. Also Child 44 is a pleasant diversion and, for people trying to understand life in totalitarian governance, illustrative of the unthinkable, but it is not a big deal.

Have fun,


Muokkaaja: joulukuu 30, 2010, 3:57 pm

ah see I'm like you citygirl... I make these big plans to read these weighty and important tomes (important at least in the genre's I frequent), and then...

I get caught up in something like Janet Evanovich's series. Or Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan books. And those weighty books gather dust as they mock.

Books I've got on my list for 2011 include

Revelation Space
Pandora's Star
A Game of Thrones
A Fire Upon the Deep

weighty tomes all, and considered some of the best in the genre.

oh and I thought The Four Hour Work Week looked interesting...

joulukuu 30, 2010, 5:07 pm

I have many of the same books on my TBR list, and yours also includes some I have already read and really enjoyed (e.g. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Atonement, Housekeeping, and Five Quarters of the Orange). I'll have to star your thread given all the similarities!

joulukuu 30, 2010, 5:22 pm

Thanks, Robert. That the link doesn't work sucks. I don't know how to fix it. If anyone's interested the list is under the collection: 2-Year Plan 2011 & 2012.

The reason I have the 4-Hour Work Week is not for literary reasons, but practical ones. It's got information in it that I want, but I haven't read it yet.

kcs, wish me luck. It's one reason the list is in writing. To make me accountable. I have a dedicated bookshelf and I'm not allowed to buy any books unless they are one of the ten or so on the list that I do not own, or if I plan to read it very soon (I haven't worked out all the rules yet). But I'm serious. The whole idea is that I was excited about reading every book on the list at one point; that was one of the criteria. So, I hope it won't be too difficult to stay on track.

I'm interested in really good sci-fi and fantasy, so I'll star your thread to find out what you think.

katiekrug, I don't think we've met before, so hi. Thanks for posting. I'm always glad to find out about someone with similar reading tastes, so we can talk books, you know.

joulukuu 30, 2010, 5:27 pm

>5 citygirl: Yes, sorry, I should have introduced myself! I'm new around here (obviously).

joulukuu 30, 2010, 5:31 pm

Oh, no! You don't have to introduce yourself! That's not what I meant! I'm always glad to meet new people here. And I just starred your thread, so I hope we'll have some good conversations.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 31, 2010, 1:31 am

Interesting list. I'm working out something similar right now (though I am positive I cannot resist the thrift store 'ALL BOOKS $1' signs). Some I've read and loved: All the King's Men, Brideshead Revisited, Nine Lives, and Where We Know. And a couple that will be on my list: Justine and Oryx and Crake.

joulukuu 31, 2010, 8:27 am

I'm trying to finish Where We Know today so I can include it in my 2010 reading. It's taken me awhile because I don't want to carry it around with me: it's so beautiful, and I'm afraid it'll get beat up in my bag. I'm in the essay about Terence Blanchard. iTunes here I come!

tammikuu 1, 2011, 6:29 pm

Citygirl, that's an amazing list and plan. More power to ya. I'm terrible with lists and plans so I'll be creeping along. Last year was my year, by the way, to read Mrs. Dalloway and, not to add to your list, but if you read Mrs. Dalloway, you really must read To the Lighthouse. Not that I want to add to your list or anything :)

tammikuu 1, 2011, 8:47 pm

9 - I read it all at home as well for that same reason. :)

tammikuu 2, 2011, 10:23 am

Well, thea, I had a choice b/c I have To the Lighthouse lying around as well. But I've wanted to read The Hours and I didn't want to read it without the background of Mrs. D, so that's how I made that selection.

It's terrible. I found several books on the dedicated bookshelf that had somehow not gotten onto the written list, so now I have to add a few more. But I'm having to get ruthless at this point: some books may just have to wait for 2013...unless I get done early, and given my schedule and other projects, that seems unlikely. Oh well.

Oh, jane. I finally finished it and I am almost overwhelmed by the task of reviewing it, but I'm stewing some ideas. I just loved it so much.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 2, 2011, 11:40 am

Currently I am reading:

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Hagashino, which is not the list but is an ER.

Hamlet, I'm in Act III

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Slow start so far.

And a few others that I'll probably be reading for awhile, as I ony pick them up every once in a while.

After Devotion, which will be a quick read, I'm not sure what I'll pick up.

Anyhoo. I've got to go work on my Awards Show now.

tammikuu 2, 2011, 11:54 am

Citygirl--I read Devotion last year and I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on it. There's a movie adaptation too, which I thought was really well done. I'm pretty certain it's available on Netflix.

tammikuu 2, 2011, 3:44 pm

Thanks! And now that I've figured out how watch Netflix from my (large screen) laptop, that might just be a go.

So far I like it quite a bit. Clean writing.

tammikuu 2, 2011, 3:53 pm

Dedicated bookshelf is a good idea - I'm going to try not acquire new books, but I'm already trying to get around that rule ("a used book isn't new!" etc).

Looking forward to following your reading! And where is your awards show? It's one of the highlights of the season.

tammikuu 2, 2011, 4:06 pm

It's on Club Read 2010 (it has its own thread), or in the last dozen or so posts of my 2010 thread.

I'd better get back to working on it. Thanks!

tammikuu 3, 2011, 9:18 pm

LOTS of great books on your list! I've probably read a third of them and would recommend them all. Only two are on my list too: All The King's Men and Kristin Lavasratter--or however that's spelled. Good luck! You have a real variety to choose from.

tammikuu 3, 2011, 9:25 pm

Thanks, bonnie! Good to see you it's been awhile.

tammikuu 3, 2011, 9:41 pm

I know, it's fun to catch up with people again--plus, you're hilarious!

tammikuu 4, 2011, 9:05 am

Thanks! I try. Have you caught this year's (in progress) awards show?

tammikuu 4, 2011, 10:51 am

Your TBR looks fabulous. Now, as long as you can keep from being seduced by the shiny and new...

tammikuu 4, 2011, 11:38 am

Interesting list. I might advise you to scratch off Brick Lane and Gifted...unless you really want to read them. I found both only OK (actually, I was bored by Brick Lane).

tammikuu 4, 2011, 12:06 pm

Hmmm. RG, yes, that will be the challenge, and I imagine I will succumb a time or two, but...

Dan, I've got to at least try them out. I'll give anything a fair shot, but I'm not going to torture myself over anything I just can't get through.

tammikuu 4, 2011, 1:37 pm

I really liked Brick Lane, just to throw a dissenting opinion at you...

tammikuu 5, 2011, 11:56 am

Hey lady, come link to that HOT REVIEW of Where We Know over here. :P

tammikuu 5, 2011, 12:28 pm

Well, now I don't have to, with such nice pimpin' friends as yourself, madame. (Oh, no pun intended, but that was cool.) XD

tammikuu 5, 2011, 4:57 pm

Hello there! I see we share 78 books, but many of the books on your TBR are unfamiliar to me. I'm looking forward to reading your reviews...expanding my reading horizons :-)

re:15, I've also found Netflix to be an excellent resource to watch movie versions of many of the books I've read, particulary those by international writers. In fact, I just received my DVD of Silk in the mail, based on the book by Alessandro Barrico. I'll be checking back...take care.

tammikuu 5, 2011, 5:14 pm

Nice review, citygirl!

tammikuu 5, 2011, 8:04 pm

I knew there’d be a party going on in here!

I have a similar Woolf plan: Mrs Dalloway before reading The Hours, then back for To the Lighthouse. And I acquired A Room of One's Own last year.

I’m dipping in and out of Keith Richards’ Life, very enjoyable.
Looking forward to getting to Room soon; Ella Minnow Pea and Outliers sometime this year.

tammikuu 6, 2011, 10:16 am

Did somebody say PARTY!!!

Hey, peoples! Thanks for popping in CuteLB, thank you much, thea, and, dm, I think I'm waiting for Husband to read Life first (since it was his Christmas present), but we'll see.... I'm looking forward to getting to Room, soon, too.

Right now I'm just starting The Slap and will start Bleak House as soon as I finish Hamlet. I'm in Act 5, Scene I, so it won't be much longer.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 6, 2011, 3:36 pm

Ze first book ov ze year has been read.

Hamlet. Seriously, am I supposed to review Hamlet? In college I wrote entire papers on the works of the Bard, but now...what am I supposed to say? I loved it because the words were pretty and it was a page-turner. At the end I felt as if I'd been punched in the face. (Note: I have performed the rather extraordinary feat of avoiding Hamlet spoilers my entire life, esp. considering I hang around you people. And if you ask me how I managed, I'll have to say, I'm not sure, but it takes mad skillz. I sure am impressed with myself for that one.) It was extremely tragic, considering SPOILER (if there's anyone else on LT that doesn't know how Hamlet ends) there's pile of dead bodies and poor, broody Hamlet didn't make it. Awww. I liked him, kinda. And he never got to make good on all those double (and triple) entendres he was throwing O's way. And yes, it was full of universal truths, so I picked up some good advice. And it's always good fun to watch somebody go all psychotic break on you. (Btw, if you like that, go see Black Swan.)

Now I go to cross it off the list. Victory!

tammikuu 6, 2011, 3:41 pm

32 - Nice review! And a good one to cross off the list. My roommate wrote a great paper and college about how Hamlet and Othello should switch places because Hamlet doensn't act quickly enough when he needs to and instead just runs around thinking about it and Othello jumps to action when there is no need to.

tammikuu 6, 2011, 3:43 pm

There were scenes in Black Swan that I couldn't watch. Like the fingernail scene...

Where are you in The Slap?

tammikuu 6, 2011, 3:49 pm

Thanks. Tho I hardly think it counts as a review. And yes, perhaps the Tragedies of Hamlet and Othello could have been avoided if they'd just switched places. I like that thesis. But then it would be like: Othello, the story where Desdemona convinces her paranoid husband to go to marriage counseling and deal with his anger management issues and then fixes Iago up with a nice girl (or boy).

tammikuu 6, 2011, 3:51 pm

Ridge, there was more than one scene from which I had to avert my eyes, but I didn't do in time to miss the fingernail thing.

I'm still in Hector. I haven't had much time in the evenings b/c we're still entertaining my sister-in-law for the holidays. I have to go out again tonight. But I'm gonna make it my purse book, cuz it's feeling a bit addictive.

tammikuu 6, 2011, 6:31 pm

A fingernail scene?!!!! Aaaaargh! How excruciating! And I have been looking forward to seeing that one. Well, at least I can't say I wasn't warned. Forewarned is forearmed.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 12, 2011, 12:01 pm

I finished The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino, for ER. I am crafting a review in my head, and will share when it's ready to come out. It will be a favorable review.

I am about 20 pages from finishing The Slap and I have been crafting that review since the first third of the book. I think it will be an enjoyable review to write, with the book's buzz in the background. Maybe I'm just jaded (by books like Bastard Out of Carolina and We Need to Talk About Kevin, etc.), but I didn't find the slap itself all that shocking. I'll leave the rest of my thoughts for the reveiw.

Currently reading Bleak House, and enjoying it. I read it before bed but then find myself not wanting to go to sleep. I like how Dickens changes perspectives in this one.

I have put Vernon God Little in my handbag but haven't started it yet.

So far, all of twelve days into 2011, I have to say this whip-cracking thing is working well.

As a note to myself, books I'd like to investigate soon: Room, Wolf Hall, The Master and Margarita. I also need to remind myself that I am reading The Little Stranger and that Au Chateau d'Argol is coming up for a Salon Group Read.

tammikuu 12, 2011, 12:33 pm

Just seeing your original list. I've only read 14--though perhaps I should add 2 b/c I've read all 3 Gormenghast novels and subtract 1 since Hamlet is listed twice. In any case, I enjoy your reviews and look forward to learning about some new books!

tammikuu 12, 2011, 2:34 pm

Thank you, 66, for letting me know about that extra Hamlet. I count Gormenghast as one huge book b/c that's what I have: one hooooooge tome including all three, so I see that is what I am to read. I've read the first one, but I put it on this list b/c I plan to start from the beginning and read all three. Maybe I should count it as 3.

Thank you re my reviews. If you don't know about it already, I have an awards show in progress on another thread. You can find the link on my profile page under "Current Awards Show."

I'm glad you popped in. We share a lot of books I see.

tammikuu 12, 2011, 8:28 pm

You're reading The Little Stranger? I should get going on that one then. I have the Gormenghast trilogy, but won't get to it for awhile. I did like the mini-series quite a bit, though.

tammikuu 12, 2011, 9:17 pm

My Gormenghast's in storage for a few more months, so no hurry on that one. I saw a bit of the mini-series. Lovely.

tammikuu 13, 2011, 9:37 am

RG, I got more into The Little Stranger last night. Things are picking up. It seems like the first few chapters are setting the table.

I put Vernon God Little back on the shelf for now b/c I realized that what I really wanted to read was Room, so that's in my bag and will be started today. I'm a little apprehensive given the subject matter, but I bought the book in hardback so the least I can do is read it now, so that my expenditure will make sense.

tammikuu 13, 2011, 10:07 am

I bought the book in hardback so the least I can do is read it now, so that my expenditure will make sense

!! Such a good point...

tammikuu 14, 2011, 10:36 am

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

Imagine if Hitchcock were a Japanese math nerd and you’ve got Devotion. Yasuko, a single mother of a teenage girl, has an abusive ex she’s been hiding from for years. He turns up and things get out of hand: Zed’s dead.* That’s no spoiler; all that happens in the first chapter or two. The aftermath is the story. Yasuko’s not used to this kind of situation, being a nice, responsible citizen, so she’s all damsel-in-distress. Good thing she’s pretty. Her next door neighbor, who just so happens to be a devoted admirer, figures out what happens. A superior logician, he devises a plan to keep her out of trouble. Yasuko soon finds herself in a cat-and-mouse game between her neighbor, the police and a physicist who likes to solve crimes.

Recommended. The prose is clean and spare, told from a remove that seems a blend of Japanese formality and the fascinated impartiality of Hitchcock’s oeuvre. The pace is good. The particulars will engage fans of logical thinking. I was surprised by the revelation at the end.

*I’m not assuming that you don’t know that’s a Pulp Fiction reference, but, you know, it happens.

tammikuu 15, 2011, 4:21 pm

Wow, you've made me excited about reading The Devotion of Suspect X! I got it from Amazon Vine and it's been staring at me reproachfully for weeks. Need to hop to it...

I'll be very interested to see what you think of The Slap. The good folks at Politics & Prose in DC sold me a copy of that back in the summer; I had never heard of it, and the guy I was talking to told me I had to read it. I walked away from there with a bagful of books, all of which have been winners (their recommendations of previously unknown books among the biggest) so far. Thank god for the 20% author's discount they offer!!

I'm impressed by your discipline, but know that I can never stop getting new books. The most that I can hope for is to keep myself out of the path of temptation by limiting bookstore trips and impromptu purchases. I've got scores of unread books on my Kindle, and teetering towers of tomes on all possible surfaces at home. It's actually absurd. I'd have to live to 172 to read them all -- even at my pace.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 15, 2011, 8:37 pm

45> AT the time it was published, Suspect X was the most recent volume--and the first in novel format--with Yukawa Manabu as the main character. (Interesting tidbit: the name "Manabu" is also a verb meaning "to study in depth" or "to learn fully.")

Japanese fiction tends to be much sparer than English language fiction, with novelists leaving it up to readers to draw many of the conclusions as to how the characters think or feel about any given situation. If you like Higashino's writing, you might want to try an author named Miyuki Miyabe who has also written many mysteries and thrillers in a similar style.

ETA: Not sure why the touchstone isn't working.

tammikuu 15, 2011, 9:30 pm

Citygirl, you had me at "Imagine if Hitchcock were a Japanese math nerd"... and then to see Trismegistus comparing the author to Miyuki Miyabe - that wooshing sound you heard was the book going straight to the top of my wishlist!

tammikuu 16, 2011, 1:59 pm

How funny, Chatterbox. I was in Politics and Prose this morning! I picked up a few sale books that were on my list (still being good). I don't know how much is discipline and how much is being stared at reproachfully by all the unread books in my bedroom. (Ok, it's a little bit discipline.)

I'm still pondering The Slap and will write down my thoughts today or tomorrow. I think I think it's a good book.

Thank you, Trism, for the rec. I'll have to check out Miyabe one of these days. The only other Japanese author I have read is Natsuo Kirino. I loved Out (touchstone issue) and had mixed feelings about Grotesque.

Have fun with it, wandstar!

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 18, 2011, 4:31 pm

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
The front cover and the back flap set you up for a shock: A man at a barbecue slaps a child…not his own, or somesuch. How can you be shocked when you already know it’s going to happen? Well, that’s a problem with the marketing not the writing or the story, which were pretty good.

What I liked is that the book is about filters: the filters through which individuals see themselves, each other and shared events. Tsiolkas takes on a large task: to get inside the heads of several very different Melbourners(?), Melbournians(?), Melbourwegians(?) (who almost could have been urban and suburban Americans) in order to shine a spotlight on the culture in which they live. He attempts, and succeeds I think, to illuminate the jarring culture clash between those of disparate backgrounds—gender, ethnicity, and age, of course, but also the clash between value systems. Each chapter is from the sequential third-person p-o-v of a person at the barbecue who witnessed The Slap, and what is really cool about that mechanism is that you can look at certain characters through their own eyes and through the eyes of those around them. Ergo, Filters.

Each starring character seems to represent an archetype, which is not a criticism, but you are able to figure out his “type” pretty easily. Each story is interesting, mostly, and The Slap is a minor event to most of them, but through each personal reaction to what happened, a value system is revealed. One character is a Sex and the City type who resents the changes that motherhood has made in her best friends. Another is an elderly Greek immigrant baffled and enraged by the attitudes of the women around him. Another is the, I imagine controversial, mother of the 3-year-old who got slapped. And, also the man who slapped the child, who has some, umm...interesting attitudes himself. Some characters feel the undisciplined child deserved what he got, even if they don’t admit it. Some feel fiercely protective of the boy. Several are disgusted by the child’s parents and their lack of discipline and failure to move themselves up society’s ladder. A few are apathetic. Not a few are intensely self-involved to the point of narcissism.

If The Slap itself is not shocking, what may be are the lives of the characters as they gradually revealed. You become privy to the secrets that the characters hold, to their pride and insecurity, to the lies they believe, to rage that they dare not express, the shameful ways they demean themselves, the dreams they’ve abandoned.

If I do have a criticism, it is that the book at times seems superficial, but the picture it paints is vivid. I myself had a strong reaction to most of the characters, and a very definite opinion on The Slap as it occurred, but I’m not going to give myself away.

tammikuu 18, 2011, 3:37 pm

What I liked about this book was, in part, the fact that the slap was merely the catalyst for exploring all these themes -- and that the author didn't pull his punches when it came to his characters. They are all flawed and all human. I don't need to LIKE a character; I need to understand him or her, and feel that person is someone I could encounter at my own backyard barbecue.

Great review!

tammikuu 18, 2011, 3:43 pm

I agree, and Thank You. I think this would be a good book club book, if I belonged to a book club, which I don't, unless you count Club Read and The Salon, because you would learn so much about your clubmates. Which characters do they relate to, which do they detest? I related to one or two, empathized with several and flat out loathed a few of them, especially the more I learned about them.

tammikuu 18, 2011, 3:55 pm

I read The Slap last year, and there was a great discussion on my Club Read thread (sorry, I'm too lazy to look it up and provide a link) about which characters we liked and disliked - huge differences of opinion. A character one person thought was utterly despicable turned out to be someone else's favourite character, and so on.

I'm enjoying reading your thread, citygirl (my favourite part so far being "Imagine if Hitchcock were a Japanese math nerd"...)

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 18, 2011, 4:32 pm

I found the discussion, rachbxl, and enjoyed it! I wish someone would admit to liking Rosie, so I could ask why. Now I am inspired to go ahead and tell whom I liked or not, and why. Not limiting it to "chapter" characters.


The most offensive were Gary and Rosie. I don't know which is worse, Gary for being a passive-aggressive drunk, or Rosie for putting up with it and using her relationship to her child to avoid dealing with people and to perpetuate her victim stance. One of the most satisfying moments was when Aisha told Rosie, "Get out of my life." And ditto for Bilal. She was so slovenly and self-righteous. Ugh!

Even before the Aisha chapter revealed why Aisha hated Harry, with good reason, I had turned against him. I didn't like the way he treated his wife; I didn't like the values he was tacitly endorsing in his 8-year-old; and I always have a problem with men who marry women for their subservience, which it was clear that he did, especially in the context of the Manolis chapter. But I have to say that he viewed Rosie pretty much as I would have.

I dug Aisha. When she was with the Canadian vet, I was like, Good for you! Your husband's a slut (because somehow I knew that Connie wasn't the first, or the last; it's his nature to cheat). I understood why she didn't leave him, and that she loved him, but I hope that she has a nice convention every year. Fair play.

I started out liking Manolis, but I couldn't get past the sense that he didn't see women as complete individuals in their own right, just as adjuncts to their husbands. Maybe his wife was horrible sometimes, but what had she had to put up with over the years?

Hector I was almost indifferent to, except for that thing with Connie. How stupid and messy? Why would he even do that? Hector was a bit of a dolt. I think Aisha keeps him around as kind of a pet.

I didn't really understand why the Anouk character got a chapter. I enjoyed reading her story, but it seemed out of place. I liked her, especially for wanting to hit Rosie upside the head, but finding compassion for her anyway. I also liked her for unabashedly living the way she wanted to, and saying so. And, unlike some of the other characters, I don't think she had a romanticized view of herself.

Connie was kind of boring. I liked Richie.

tammikuu 18, 2011, 4:29 pm

Now that's what I call a review! Let me think about what you said and get back to you in a coherent fashion.

tammikuu 18, 2011, 5:02 pm

I've been going back and forth over whether to stick The Slap onto my wishlist or not, and this appears to have been the deciding review that tipped me over. Now whether I'll actually manage to read it or not may be another question...

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 18, 2011, 5:15 pm

It's actually pretty page-turn-y. And I've read some of the other reviews and frankly I was shocked that so many readers were shocked, just shocked, and distressed! by profanity, explicit sex and drug use. I see all that in so many books that it doesn't even register anymore. I thought, Huh? What sex? What drugs?

Or maybe I'm one of those objectionable people who actually knows people who do these things, and, OMG! I might even be one of them myself!!!!!!!!!!!

Point being, I feel before recommending this particular book I should warn the easily-offended (not that that's you, bragan*, and not that there's anything wrong with that {but there is, I mean, don't read anything published after 1915, whydontcha?}) that they will be easily offended.

*I know it's not you.

tammikuu 18, 2011, 5:17 pm

>56 bragan: ditto on all points.
But cg your mention of exploring filters and perspectives has me very interested. (*skipping your comments in #54 for now*)

tammikuu 18, 2011, 5:23 pm

Heh. Yeah, it's definitely not me. I read some of those other reviews and was a bit bemused by them, myself. A review whose main criticism is "OMG, it's full of the f-word and the characters do things that aren't nice!" is actually probably more likely to make me want to read the book than otherwise. Mind you, while I can't say for sure (being as I haven't read it yet), I do wonder if there might be some culture clash going on there. I gather Australians on the whole are much more casual about profanity than Americans, and certain terms that are reserved for situations where you want genuine shock value here are practically terms of endearment Down Under.

tammikuu 19, 2011, 11:59 am

I definitely got the sense that Aussies are more casual about cussin', drinking and smoking after reading the book a bit.

Reading Update: What I'm in the Middle of Now

Formulating a review of Room. In a word, astonishing. More on that later.
About 200 pgs in to Bleak House. I find I must read it regularly so as not to lose track of some of the characters and their doings.
Just started the 2d chapter of The Master and Margarita. I wish I had larger blocks of time for this one, a page here and there is not satisfying, and the ideas are pretty challenging. So, must make time.
Still reading The Little Stranger, which is sucking me in, but alas! I've got a time problem just now. Aaaargh!!!!!!
Will start tonight The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling, which is Book I, in preparation for ER Book 2, which has arrived. Good thing about children's books is that they don't take long.

tammikuu 19, 2011, 12:44 pm

Well, Americans can be a bit Puritanical at times. It's in our blood. The easy going, cooperative types didn't head out for the New World.

Did you find, in The Slap, that Tsioklas's treatment of the high schoolers was gentler than how he treated the adults? It's not like they were necessarily better people, but I felt more compassion for them and I understood their motivations better and the author did give them a bit of a happy ending.

I really had no use for the men, who were so self-involved and controlling. I was hoping at least one woman would walk away.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 19, 2011, 1:50 pm


Yes, he was definitely gentler with Connie & Richie, sort of. It was if they were still unformed and hadn't yet had a chance to become morally compromised human beings like the others. The story seemed to be: they're dealing with these difficult issues and so it's understandable if they make a mistake. But they also were not as sure of themselves as the adults. They were actively trying to figure it out whereas the grownups thought they had it all figured out.

I really had no use for the men, who were so self-involved and controlling. I was hoping at least one woman would walk away.

You've articulated what I didn't even realize I'd felt. I really wanted Rosie and Sandi to walk away. It would have been interesting to get Sandi's p-o-v. She had to be more dimensional than she was written. I would have liked to have known how she really viewed her husband, and why she allowed him to treat her the way he did. I can understand why Aisha wouldn't want to break up her family, especially as Hector wasn't the worst of the lot. But I really hated when he said, I can't promise not to have sex with other women. Really? You have so little self-control?

Out of the men, Bilal seemed the most decent, but he was on the periphery.

tammikuu 19, 2011, 1:59 pm

Oh, I thought Aisha should have sent Hector packing. I thought that was where her segment was going, that one woman would realize that being alone is preferable to being with someone who considers you his property. I wanted one of them to decide that keeping her immature husband happy was less important than her own dreams or basic security. It was like no one learned anything.

tammikuu 19, 2011, 2:05 pm

I knew she wouldn't leave him. She wasn't a dreamer that way; and she was pretty conservative in the way she lived, that was part of the pull for Hector. He could be a little boy b/c she was a responsible mama. It's funny how he gets cranky when the jig is up.

As for no one learning anything, in this case, it's art imitating life. Have you ever noticed that many people keep doing the same s*** all the time, even if it gets them nowhere? At least Anouk quit her job and started writing.

tammikuu 19, 2011, 4:59 pm

Unrelated. Did you guys know that you can sign into LT Pirate? It's so great.

tammikuu 19, 2011, 8:20 pm

Arrr. It is indeed, Matey!

tammikuu 21, 2011, 3:41 am

Loving the discussion re: The Slap.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 21, 2011, 11:19 am

Yeah, it's a fun one alright.


I discovered I have an extra brand new copy of Jar City by Arnaldur Indri?ason. I don't do BookMooch, so anyone want it or know how I can find it a loving new home?

tammikuu 21, 2011, 11:27 am

If no one here wants it, you can post it on Paperbackswap (unless you object to book swap sites in principle?)

Or head over to the 75ers... They are a large bunch of people, several of whom are reading the book right now. Post that it's available in the "what we're reading now -- mysteries" thread, in the "kitchen" thread and in the "take it or leave it" thread. I'm sure someone will bite... :-)

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 21, 2011, 1:35 pm

Thank you for the excellent suggestions.

I have no objection to swap sites on principle. In fact, I cannot even think what principle that might be: books belong with their buyers? transmission of germs (b/c readers are notoriously dirty people)? you just don't know where it's been (remember the Seinfeld epi re books in the bathroom)? one could never love a secondhand book in the same way, lack of literary bond, it'll know it's different from the other books and won't fit in? I'd really better stop. So silly.

How funny. I just this minute received a secondhand book I bought on Amazon. Gifted by Nikita Lalwani.

No, I just don't BookMooch cuz I buy books I intend to keep, I write in them, etc.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 24, 2011, 10:20 am

Finished The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Books 1 & 2, The Mysterious Howling and The Hidden Gallery, respectively. The 2d is ER, so a review is forthcoming.

Have about 100 pages to go in The Little Stranger, how I feel about the book will depend on those last pages.

Have put Bleak House on hold to wait for 11 in 11ers group read next month, which is just as well b/c the Salon's group read of Au Chateau d'Argol by Julien Gracq is imminent and I should give myself extra space to read the book in French.

Drown by Junot Diaz is now in my bag and I am very much looking forward to starting it today.

Misplaced The Master and Margarita, but I think I know where it might be.

tammikuu 26, 2011, 11:18 pm

Loved your comments and discussion on The Slap. I find the premise very intriguing and have enjoyed several reviews here.

tammikuu 27, 2011, 10:02 am

Thanks, jane!

I am behind in reviews....upcoming:
Room, The Incorrigible Children...1&2 and The Little Stranger.

Good news! I found The Master and Margarita and am enjoying it. Loving Drown, Diaz is such a spectacular storyteller. Have started Argol and will be giving it extra attention as it is part of a group read and it's been awhile since I read a book in French. The last time was Bonjour Tristesse a few years ago. It gets easier as I go, which is encouraging.

maaliskuu 23, 2011, 4:07 pm

Just a list, folks, but I am working on a blog, and until I get that up and running, I won't have reviews. Sorry been so long.

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen - big disappointment. It read like a Lifetime movie.
Drown by Junot Diaz. Such a vibrant writer, makes storytelling seem easy.
The Fall of the House of Bush by Craig Unger. Audio. Good, but I think I had the abridged version b/c the second half seemed really truncated.
A Ship Made of Paper - Scott Spencer. Deserves more discussion. A nearly-excellent novel about an extramarital affair.
An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James. Loved it. Of the highest quality of the English murder mystery. I think it might be perfect :s
I Think, Therefore Who Am I? by Peter Weissman. A memoir of a year on psychedelic drugs, on writing, existence, social mores and more. Five Stars. Real live LT author and you should read him. I'm serious.
No Future for You, Buffy Season 8, Vol. 2. Great stories, great artwork.
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Dense, fantastical, philosophical and a novel within a novel, banned in its native Soviet Russia when it was written. Just finished it so I'm still cogitatin'.

Currently Reading:
Au Chateau d'Argol by Julien Gracq. Started as a Salon group read, but I discovered that going slowly was a better avenue for me. It is in atmospheric, philosophical, meandering French and it is much more enjoyable to really immerse myself in a chunk or two at a time. I just keep it with me all the time and when I'm feeling spacey enough, I pull it out.
Digging Deeper by Peter Weissman. The second of his memoirs. Author-led group read in the Salon right now.
The Skull Beneath the Skin by P.D. James. Fell in love with James after reading Unsuitable and am disappointed that Cordelia Gray is featured in only this other one, so I guess I'll have to go the Dagliesh route.
Instances of the Number 3 by Salley Vickers. I'm enjoying this book about the companionship struck up between a widow and her husband's long-time mistress, not really sure where it's going....jury still out on how highly I esteem it.
Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I only read it in bed so it's taking awhile. Not loving it as much as some other Dickens, but I'm only about a quarter through. I see what is meant by the comment that it is his most Austen-like work.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 20, 2011, 10:08 pm

Hi there City Girl! I enjoyed your comments re The Help on Nickelini's thread. I really found the book extremely interesting. I had no idea that such situations existed in the US so late in time. My mom said that she found the book so sad and real to life , that she could not read it. But, she very much enjoyed the movie.

Thanks for your insight into the book and situation at that time.

I'm a great P.D James fan! Enjoy! I'll be back to visit when I've got more time . :)

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 21, 2011, 9:19 am

Thanks, vdeb! Looking at how long ago I contributed anything to this thread makes me feel...yarrgh.

Yeah. I've now read everything PDJ published in the crime genre and I'm working on a piece about it.

If anyone cares, the nascent blog can be found HERE.

lokakuu 21, 2011, 1:08 pm

So excited to see activity over here! Checked out your blog - congrats on the kiddo news :)

lokakuu 21, 2011, 5:37 pm

Good blog Citygirl

lokakuu 22, 2011, 8:59 pm

Ooh, I like the blog.

lokakuu 23, 2011, 12:44 pm

But where are the cityshoes?

lokakuu 24, 2011, 10:06 am

cityshoes coming. I have to figure out how to get the cable cord from my phone to my computer.

Thanks, all, for your encouraging comments.