myspace layouts, myspace codes, glitter graphics Totally Biased Book and Movie Review: Three Book Review Tuesday

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Three Book Review Tuesday


I’ve been having bad luck with books lately. Every one I’ve read has either been stupid, or badly written, or… and this is the big one lately, filled with unsympathetic characters. At least, to me, they are unsympathetic.

For instance, I just finished Distant Shores, by Kristin Hannah. I thought it would be a quick, smooth read, nothing dangerous, nothing deep… and in that I was right. What I didn’t figure on was the main character being a woman filled with middle-aged angst who is desperately unhappy, while living a life that other people would KILL to suffer through. Her husband, a former football star, who supports her, by the way, she’s a housewife… has just landed a spectacular job in New York City, the chance of a lifetime, and all she can think about is the house they’ll be leaving, which she redecorated herself.

Example… “Birdie looked around the room, at the wallpaper she had chosen, the french doors she had ordered, the slipcovers on the furniture that she had thought of and then paid someone else to do… this was hers, all of it, and now she’d be forced to leave it, to go somewhere new, like a bigger better house, and start all over with the decorating? How unfair, she thought to her tiny-minded self…” Yes, that is my writing, not the author's, but I'm trying to make a point here.

Her two daughters are in college, fully grown, mind you, but when she leaves her husband (to “find herself”, although finding herself does not include supporting herself, she doesn’t get a job and continues to write checks from her hubby’s big bank balance) the biggest problem she foresees is “how to tell the girls”. They predictably (at least to me, they are, after all, their mother’s daughters) actually cry and throw FITS when they are told their parents are separated, and promptly stop speaking to either of them. Ohmyyyyy….

Birdie (the finder-of-herself) starts painting again (her long-lost passion that we presume she sacrificed on the altar of wife and motherhood) and weeble-wobbles about her marriage. Turns out her painting isn’t even that good! Meanwhile Jack, her husband, is living in New York, going on The Tonight Show, being featured in People’s 50 Most Beautiful issue, and stoically sleeping alone, although gorgeous chicks are hurling themselves at him left and right, while he waits for his poor, confused wife to decide what she wants. If it wasn’t all so unrealistic, I would barf. I was thinking the whole time, “Jack, my friend, you deserve someone who appreciates you, dude”… and somehow, I don’t think that was the author’s intention.

I also just finished Therapy, by David Lodge, a much better book than the above, but there was still the issue of the main character being highly unsympathetic.

“Tubby” is a popular sitcom writer in the UK who is going through- yep, you know it- middle-aged angst. Although he is immensely successful, has more money than he knows what to do with, a lovely wife who likes sex, and two healthy, happy grown children, Tubby is soooo sad. He even gets into a whole bunch of Kierkegaard crap and decides that he is, in fact, the “unhappiest of men”. Oh man, I wish I could have the opportunity to be the unhappiest of women, if this is how good you’ve got it in that position! He drives around in his luxury car, finding things to be upset about, while basically ignoring his friends and family. I’m serious. This is the basis for the story, the first half, anyway. He doesn’t even hear his wife when she tells him their daughter is pregnant. He’s too wrapped up in his own poor-me thoughts to listen to one word coming from the mouth of anyone else. When, mid-way, the wife leaves him, well, he practically has a breakdown, and he's actually shocked. He decides she must be having an affair because she couldn't possibly be leaving him just because she can't stand to live with him anymore. Me, the reader, didn’t even feel a shred of sympathy. I was all cheering the wife on. Yea, you GO girl, and leave that pathetic, self-centered shit! Anyway, like I said, it is a better book. It’s well-written, and very humorous in parts. It was just the scene of it that I couldn’t get into.

I dunno… maybe this means I’m still young, since I have so little sympathy for people going through mid-life crises. I have an equal amount of sympathy for teenagers who think that their lives suck, while they listen to their I-pods and wear fashionably dirty designer clothing. When I read a book like this, I can’t help wondering how the character would cope if they were plopped down in the middle of a real life, you know, the kind with bills, and problems, disease, death and true unhappiness.

Or maybe it’s just that my real life has been filled with a series of unfortunate events lately, such a crapful of crap that I think anyone who can 1. pay their bills 2. claim good health and 3. have a healthy, happy family, are lucky beyond words and should be thankful, not whining about how to “find” themselves, or pathetically trying to sleep with people half their age. I don’t know… I do know that I’ll try on the middle-age angst books later, when I have a better perspective, when things are looking brighter for yours truly, and maybe then I’ll have a bit more sympathy for their “plights”. See? I’m snorting again! I can’t help it!

Needing a change of pace, needing to read about someone who really has something to be upset about I dived into The Deep End Of The Ocean last night. When you need to quit feeling sorry for yourself, grab an Oprah’s Book Club selection… that is one of my rules for living. It never fails. Right from page one, I knew this one was going to grab my guts. Beth has a three year old son, Ben. Ben wanders away from her in a crowded hotel lobby while she’s at the front desk for a few tiny, short minutes. Beth can’t find Ben. Ben is gone. OUCH. In addition to facing a nightmare that makes my own problems look like, um, middle-age angst, this book is really well-written. Identifying with the main character is like slipping on a pair of comfortable shoes. So I am going to immerse myself in it and when I come out the other side, perhaps my perspective will have changed, the world will be brighter, and I’ll give my kids a little bit harder of a hug. I’ll let you guys know how it comes out.

Distant Shores- Blue

Therapy- Orange

Deep End of The Ocean (as of page 119)- RED


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4 Comments:

Blogger Portnoy said...

i would like to suggest an obscure, beautifully written book called Ginny Good. It's written by Gerard Jones, the author of the website everyonewhoisanyone

You can actually LISTEN to his book for free as he reads it and added music. here is a link Ginny Good Audio

In the early days I linked to his site. He was one of the first to comment on a post. We exchanged some emails. I had already spent a lot of time on his site. It's huge with lots of funny emails from the agents who turned his book down. Gerard Jones is quite an original author. His book is non fiction but reads as fiction.

Best Portnoy

8:10 AM  
Blogger Jessie said...

Deep End of The Ocean is one of my favorite books. Very very good! The movie however is very very bad!!! Stick with the book!

2:55 PM  
Blogger alphawoman said...

There has only been one Oprah book that I did not like. Maybe two. I find that if I am reading a book and can not get into the characters, I stop reading. I was never able to do this in the past! It seema that you put so much time into reading a book, it better be good!! (found your blog thru Random blog and like it very much).
Mary

3:01 AM  
Blogger Meowkaat said...

Okee Portnoy, I will be checking that one out. You sure you're not just saying the book is good cuz you're friends? ;)
Deep End of The Ocean turned out to be a keeper. Really emotional. Gut-wrenching. Good stuff!!! I will avoid the movie... even if it was good, I don't think I could handle watching some of those scenes. *shudder*
Mary, I'm so pleased you stopped by! I agree about oprah's books- she has a good sense of what's going to appeal to a broad female audience.... even if most of them are SAD.

7:04 AM  

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