Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Sentimentalists

The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud.

This Cake is for the Party

About a woman trying to learn about her father's experience in the Vietnam War during his final days.

This book was the 2010 Giller Prize Winner.

My thoughts
I have to admit that I struggled reading this book. I wanted to enjoy it, being the Giller Prize winner and all but I had a really hard time getting into it. As well, I think the character who appealed the most to me, the daughter, didn't have much of a plot. I wasn't really interested in the father, or his experiences in Vietnam. It probably doesn't help that I have no interest in anything war related.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

This Cake is for the Party

This Cake is for the Party by Sarah Selecky.

This Cake is for the Party

A compilation of 10 short stories.

This book was shortlisted for the Giller Prize.

My thoughts
I have to admit that whenever I heard about this book, I kept hoping food, specifically cake, was involved. Not quite. While some of the the short stories were published separately, there is a running theme of interpersonal relationships.

The book started strong with Throwing Cotton (my favourite), which ended with the character potentially throwing her whole life in the air, or not. Watching Atlas ends with one of the character making a decision that could potentially throw someone else's life in the air. How Healthy Are You? peaked my interest at the beginning but I was disinterested by the main plot. Go-Manchura was one of the sad stories I thought, with the main character feeling lost and struggling to figure out her life in a rather pathetic way. Standing Up for Janey, again makes you feel good about your life in comparison!

Where Are You Coming from Sweetheart? was just a sad little story; sometimes you get what you want out of life in a less than ideal way. Prognosis and Paul Farenbacker's Yard Sale were meant to be touching but left me rather indifferent. This is How We Grow as Humans I could relate to, about getting what you thought you wanted and it not quite turning the way you thought it would. Finally, One Thousand Was Buddhas ends the book on a sad ending.

Is it wrong that I feel lucky that my life isn't as screwed up as the characters in these stories?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Year of Magical Thinking

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.

The year of magical thinking


The book follows Joan Didion during the year after her husband passes away.

I heard about this book on, when a play based on the book was playing in Toronto. Matt Galloway mentioned that it was a book he had purchased many copies to give out to friends. Later, while watching a Michelle Williams' interview, she refer to her year of magical thinking after Heath Ledger's death.

My thoughts
I started reading this took in December and just had a few pages left but didn't finish it until today. Not sure why. I didn't think it was that sad considering the topic. The one sad moment I could imagine, was right after losing her husband, her first instinct was to tell him about it, because he was the one with whom she shared important events in her life. However, she obviously couldn't do it.

Joan Didion discusses these little irrationalities, hence the title of the book. For example, when she is finally able to give his clothes away, she holds on to his shoes, just in case he comes back. She knows it's not "rational" but she can't help herself. There is even a little food related anecdote. When Julia Child dies, Joan feels relief that Julia can cook for her husband. Again, she know it isn't to be.

I may pick this book up again when I need it in the future.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

someday this pain will be useful to you

Someday this pain will be useful to you by Peter Cameron.

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You Cover

About a few days (weeks?) in James Sveck's life, an 18-year old who doesn't seem to know what he is doing.

I read about this on, on which she shared pictures of the movie that is based on the book.

My thoughts
This was a very quick read. I don't know that I loved it, nor did I hate it. I can somewhat relate to James' lack of direction but I'm not sure I felt particular empathy with him. I think I felt more like he should just snap out of his funk.

I did mark this passage because I could relate to these feelings toward my own mother:
"I knew she wanted to help me. I knew she was my mother and loved me and I didn't want to be mean, but there something else inside me, something hard and stubborn that was mean."

Another passage I liked:

"I found this spectacle somewhat depressing, because I had always thought, or hoped, that adults weren't necessarily as hobbled by mindless conformity as so many of my peers seem to be. I always looked forward to being an adult, because I thought the adult world was, well - adult. That adults weren't cliquey or nasty, that the whole notion of being cool, or in, or popular would cease to be the arbiter of all things social, but I was beginning to realize that the adult world was nonsensically brutal and socially perilous as the kind of childhood."

While I understand his feelings toward adult, I would have expected these thoughts from someone more mature and I thought James acted quite immaturely often. I guess that's what being a teenager is all about, having very mature thoughts but not quite acting at that level

I feel a bit bad because it seems that from reading reviews, this book has touched many people. Obviously from the passages above, I did somewhat relate to the main character but I didn't always understand his actions, nor his surprise to the consequences of his actions. Maybe I wasn't supposed to?