Tag Archives: book review

Mini Reviews: books by John Waters and José Saramago

Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across AmericaCarsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America by John Waters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I downloaded this book on a whim, as part of a goodreads challenge. I needed a travel book and I didn’t really pay attention to the details.

It’s by freaking John Waters! Director of Hairspray! And he reads the audiobook version!

John Waters at the Edinburgh International Fil...
Photo credit: Wikipedia

He decides to try to get a book deal about hitchhiking across America, from Baltimore to SanFrancisco. He takes a small travel bag (including La Mer face cream, but forgetting the wee scissors to keep his signature ‘stache trimmed.) He has a sign. He had an orange rain poncho.

The book is really in three main parts: the first two are fantasy. Great RIdes and Bad Rides. Fun-ny. The last third contains the deets on the actual rides.

It’s actually a kind of heartwarming book. He finds out that most people in flyover country are really nice. He meets a young republican in khakis. Sex fantasies, food fantasies, boredom, how to find the best places to grab a ride. It’s all here.

Highly recommended for the not-easily-shocked.

CainCain by José Saramago
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Quite a thrilling piece of writing. Despite being only about 160 pages, it was a long read. I know the early creation stories/myths reasonably well, and Saramago retells them from the point of view of Cain, Adam and Eve’s first son and the one who kills his brother. It feels long because there is so much to think about as you read. Not overly serious, there are bits that sound like they’re from Old Jews Telling Jokes.

Saramago asks a lot of tough questions of God, some of which don’t have very compelling answers (at least in this book.)

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Seven Quick Takes Friday

Seven Quick Takes Friday

  1. No sooner was my sweetheart back from two weeks in Europe, he was off to Calgary for three days. In lieu of all the work I didn’t get done last week when I was sick (and alone), I managed to get my desk tidied, a huge accomplishment. I put everything on the floor and then sorted in five minute/small pile increments. It feels great to have a tidy place to work.
  2. I finished The Silent Wife by the late A.S.A. Harrison in a couple of days. Here’s the review I posted at Goodreads:
    The Silent WifeThe Silent Wifeby A.S.A. Harrison
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars
    This psychological thriller was hard to put down. The story of an unravelling relationship between a psychologist and a property developer, it has an almost serene texture to it, mirroring the somewhat repressed personality of the former (hence the “silent” of the title.) The tale progresses in alternating chapters titled “Him” and “Her”, but the main narrative is about the psychologist and how she deals with the infidelity of her common-law husband.  View all my reviews
  3. A little humour – The Married Kama Sutra (yes, it’s clean!)
  4. Frances Alda – Courtesy Project Gutenberg in Great Singers on the Art of Singing by James Francis Cooke.

    I dropped by the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music on Wednesday for their semi(?)-annual book and CD sale. I usually look for tuba stuff, or choral or piano music, or old scores to use in craft projects. I picked up a couple of items, including a book called Men, Women, and Tenors. I laughed at the title, and then on further inspection it turned out to be the memoirs of Frances Alda, a soprano from the early years of the twentieth century. First published in 1937, my copy is a reprint from 1970 from Books for Libraries Press. I spent some time online trying to figure out how to remove mould/mildew from books and got some good ideas, including 15 seconds in the microwave and some careful application of alcohol to key spots.

    SURELY useful at some point in my future life.
    From The Trumpet and Trombone in Graphic Arts: 1500-1800

    The other item I grabbed was The Trumpet and Trombone in Graphic Arts: 1500-8000 which is chock full of terrific black and white engravings, surely useful for some writing/crafting project down the road. As I write this I hear the good angel in my head saying “THAT, my dear, is why you are drowning in books.”

  5. I spent a pile of laundry-folding time watching old episodes of Hoarders. Really. I kept asking myself “Why am I watching this?” and I couldn’t immediately come up with an answer. I guess part of it is seeing how mental and emotional issues are so entwined with the impulse to hoard. It’s kind of a self-soothing effort, like, say, playing the SIMS on one’s iPad, or whatever. At least with the latter, you don’t end up with 75 dead cats in your fridge/freezer.
  6. I spent Halloween with my niece and nephews. My brother was out of town and my sister-in-law needed to get to urgent care with one of them for the extraction of a foreign object from his nose. (When I mentioned to Alex that neither he nor Michael had ever experienced such a calamity, he commented that their noses were too big to retain anything!) So while child number two and mom were at the hospital, I supervised a small amount of candy consumption and got the other two in to bed. Here they are, with their nanny/personal chef (dressed as a Zombie Chef) on their way out for fun in the rain.

    Ninja, Zombie Chef, Skeleton, and Cinderella
  7. My sweetheart arrived back from his travels just before I did last night, and we’re looking forward to a relaxing weekend with my choir concert tonight and the TSO tomorrow evening. I see a cozy fire and some snuggling in my future.

For Quick Takes from other bloggers, visit Conversion Diary. As always, I love your comments. You know what to do. If you’re not a subscriber, consider joining the party by signing up in the box to the right.

Review: Triburbia by Karl Taro Greenfeld

TriburbiaTriburbia by Karl Taro Greenfeld

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A group of Tribeca fathers that have breakfast together after dropping their kids off at an elementary school makes up the cast of characters in this novel. Triburbia is built like a set of merging short stories and depicts these rather unlikeable (for the most part) men and their problems with relationships, families, and their careers, layered over with the changes happening in the neighbourhood.

Karl Taro Greenfeld has hit a high mark with this first novel. It is engaging and hits some important issues (bullying, infidelity, journalistic shenanigans, etc) without being preachy. His description of the relationships (or lack thereof) between these men seems spot on.

This book is definitely worth hanging in there for a while if the disconnectedness of the initial chapters is off-putting. It is ultimately satisfying.

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