Month: August 2013
Book 33 of 52: The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro
I try not to read reviews for a book I write about on this blog until after I’m done with the book, but I accidentally saw something that Parade wrote about B.A. Shapiro’s The Art Forger. The magazine called it a “literary thriller.”
Thriller? Yes. But literary? No. Sure, it makes for a servicable caper – a young painter shunned by the art world who is offered the chance to copy a Degas that had been stolen in the 1990 Boston art heist (the heist is fact; the Degas fiction). But any book that uses the word “laboriously” is not literary.
I tripped up on the writing. It’s just not good. The novel is told in present tense. Adverbs are ripe. Shaprio over describes everything, which is tedious to the point of maddening when describing how to forge a painting. I was very tempted to pick up my red pen and start slashing, but it just wasn’t worth it after a while because I’d slash everywhere. The writing didn’t pass my meter test: I would never turn in an article written like this. I’d look like a lazy writer.
If The Art […]
Book 32 of 52: What Shall I Wear? By Claire McCardell
I found out about Claire McCardell’s What Shall I Wear?from Couture Allure, my go to site for vintage fashions. She reviewed the book in January, and I just got to it now.
It’s an interesting read. It isn’t a new book, but a re-release from 1956 by a master designer who made clothing more wearable and comfortable for American women. It’s sometimes hilariously dated, with things like what to wear when you drive your husband to the train in the morning. “When you drive your husband to the train, is the whole community there? If you are display, it is only sensible to be displayable.” On shoes, she writes “When you buy shoes, you are not just buying for your own feet. You are buying for your husband’s tastes, for the things you are going to walk to. Does he take big steps? Would he rather help poor delicate you into a taxi?” Sports are limited to skiing, hiking, golf and tennis, and gloves must be worn, always. Oh, and “every woman should be able to sew on a button–otherwise she’s hardly a woman.”
These offering aren’t […]
Book 31 of 52: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
I, like many people, binge watched Netflix’s Orange is the New Black this summer. I fell down the rabbit hole on Fourth of July weekend, and immediately ordered the book upon which it’s based – Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. I guess I wasn’t the only one. Barnes and Noble said the book was backordered, so I cancelled that order and bought a used library copy from Half.com.
It’s always odd to read the book after you’ve seen the movie/TV show/series, and I wonder how I would have felt about the book version if I hadn’t first seen the show. I wasn’t disappointed, but I already knew parts of the story, even if they aren’t a perfect match.
Some of the basic facts are the same: the main character/narrator is a woman named Piper who came from a middle to upper class background, graduated from an all woman’s college, and then traveled the world with her lesbian lover who was also part of an international drug ring. Piper, once, transported money for them. A decade after she did so, she’s arrested and sent to […]
Book 30 of 52: Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
In February, I wrote a post about DNF-ing books. In that post, I told the story of why I reviewed Curtis Sittenfeld’s Man of My Dreams even though I didn’t like it. I felt that the reader should know that an author’s sophomore’s effort was a let down after her wildly popular debut (in this case, Prep).
I was happy, then, that Sittenfeld’s third book The American Wife seemed to be a return to form. I devoured that novel, and bought her new novel Sisterland as soon as it came out. It falls somewhere in the middle between Man of My Dreams and The American Wife – disappointing but not a terrible book.
Sisterland is about twins Violet and Daisy. They have what they call “senses” – either able to predict an event happening in the future, or know something about someone without knowing why (i.e. that a classmate will die young). Violet chooses to tune into these senses and brands works as a psychic. Daisy starts telling people that her name is Kate (a shortened version of her middle name) and tries to destroy her abilities.
This works, though not perfectly. Daisy/Kate can’t shut everything […]
Book 29 of 52: The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
Well, this was a disappointment. I got suckered in by the cool topic, media buzz, and the fact that a book was on the New York Times Best Seller list. But as The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Storyshows, these things do not always a guarantee of a good read.