Monday, February 28, 2005

Changing Places

Oh, David Lodge, may I please bear your children?

Seriously, this man rocks.

I just laid in bed all weekend reading. Well, not all weekend, the book isn't that long!

So, two English professors change places through a professorial exchange program in the 70s. The British prof ends up at a thinly disguised Berkeley and the American prof ends up at what I've been told is a thinly disguised Birmingham. I wouldn't know.

Of course, they end up emeshed with each other's wives and department politics.

I appreceiated the way the story was told in different styles. Sometimes straight on prose, a chapter told in newspaper clippings, a chapter told in correspondance, a chapter told in script form.

Some interesting insights to the culture at the time. The book was written in the 70s, so it does date itself. But all in all was excellent.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Even better than a plane full of fallen women!

Oh, after this morning's rant on Bebe Moore Campbell, a love song for David Lodge...

I think I needed his character's next. I'm only 40 pages into Changing Places and I wanted to do a little piroette when I stopped reading after lunch today... mmmm...

I mean, here's an author who can write characters! Such a contrast!

Just take Morris Zapp, a man who wanted to write the definitive commentary on every piece of the Jane Austen cannon not to enlighten readers, but so there would be nothing more to say, so all the drivel that gets published about Austen could just stop. And yet, the names of his children are Elizabeth and Darcy.


Is my time back to read something else

Ok, so Moore Campbell's What you Owe Me...

So, Hosanna (a black woman) and Gilda (a Holocaust survivor) meet in an LA hotel where they're both maids. Hosanna's suprised to see a white woman with troubles similair to her own (such as thee fact that Hosanna's family's land in Texas was taken by some white guys in a fairly sketchy way. They have the deed and proof that the land is rightfully theirs, but can't get it back. Gilda has the bankbook for her family's Swiss Bank Account, but the authorities won't let her get the money that her murdered parents set aside when they saw the writing on the wall)... they start a cosmetics company together and then one day, poof! Gilda and the money are gone. Hosanna is bitter bitter bitter (understandably) then Gilda reappears with her own costmetics company that is much more successful than Hosanna's. Hosanna is bitter bitter bitter (understandably) and passes this bitterness onto her children, mainly Matriece, who wants to own her own cosmetics empire one day and forsakes everything else for this dream and ends up working for Gilda bum bum bum! Which sets the stage for "a tale of classic revenge"

But instead of "classic revenge" you just really get shallow characters not learning anything and bumbling along and knifing each other in the back haphazardly and it magically turns out all right in the end. Ugh.

I did not enjoy it. I don't think the characters learned much. Well, maybe the *dead* ones did, but fat lot of good that does 'em.

It also really rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like the message of the book was "All a white person wants to do is screw over the black man, and Jews are the worst of all".

I also got the feeling that the book was trying to say that black people have suffered more than Jewish people, but the Jewish people get all the "credit". Maybe in the US, but there's a broader picture here.

I think it might have tried to tackle issues that were bigger than it and then didn't fully address them.

On the other hand, it's a little over 500 pages and many of the reviews on Amazon (both published and reader-generated) have comments in the vein of "don't let the length scare you!". It's a little over 500 pages in mass market paperback. Maybe I'm not the intended audience.

A more detailed review. (Warning! I will give away the ending here!)

Thursday, February 10, 2005


I've realized that my current reading habits (ie where I read and for how long) no longer lend themselves to non-fiction...

This does not bode well for my hope of 20 nonfiction books this year...

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

British Tales of Teenage Angst!

Next up on my "books I read last year" tour, we bring you tales of teenage angst all the way from Merry Ole England!

We have:
Dancing in my Nuddy-Pants Louise Rennison
Knocked out by my Nunga-Nungas Louise Rennison
On the Bright Side, I'm now the Girlfriend of a Sex God Louise Rennison
Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging Louise Rennison
Adrian Mole from Minor to Major Sue Townsend

All the Louise Rennison's will be taken first. I had already read Angus... and On the Bright Side... but it had been over a year, so I decided to reread them before I tackled the other two, so I could remember the subleties of the plot. (This is a joke, there's nothing really subtle in these books.) I read all four in a weekend. Maybe a day. They're really quick and pretty funny. I had thrown out my back and was a bit loopy on pain killers and these were the perfect books for such a time!

So, this is a series about a teenage girl named Georgia Nicholson who lives somewhere in England. I don't think we ever find out where, but I secretely think it's Eccles or Sale. Ok, not really, but I do think she lives somewhere around Manchester. It could very well be Eccles or Sale or even Macclesfield or one of the other bajillion towns and communities that have grown over the years to smoosh together and become the greater Manchester area. She doesn't live in Manchester, but close enough that the bad girls can go into Manchester to go clubbing.

Except they go to Fifth Avenue (I think). What a waste of a club. Except it's the perfect place for people like the Bummer Twins to go to. Just saying.

I like the American prints of these books over the British for the sole reason that there's a glossery in the back of each one that's fabbity-fab-fab and full of hilariousity (as Georgia would say). The British versions, on the other hand, have most excellent titles, such as It's OK, I'm wearing really big knickers (On the Bright Side...) and the new one Away Laughing on a Fast Camel (which I haven't read... I'm waiting for it to come out in paperback) in England is And that's when it Fell off in my Hand. Apparently And that's when it fell off... is too rude for American audiences and well, we don't refer to our underpants as knickers, so the other one didn't make much sense...

Of couse, On the Bright Side... as a title did have its own problems! (For any worried parents out there-- there isn't any sex in these books. "Sex God" is British for "really hot".)

Anyway... back to Georgia. She's really shallow and her whole diary is full of boys, makeup, and getting into trouble at school. High brow, it is not. Hilarious and absolutely silly, it definetely is. Read them order. Angus... is still the longest, but Away laughing... looks promising... and I hate to admit it, but man, I hope she ends up with Dave the Laugh. It will never happen though, because she's too shallow. *sigh*

Oh! They're also available in adult editions! They include 2 books in one and have tamer covers and really boring names (The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson).

Moving on to Adrian Mole. Also a diary. Also British. Also funny, but in a darker way. And Adrian's a boy, whereas Georgia's a girl. Adrian's humor comes from Townsend's hilarious characters. This is still light reading, but not the complete fluff of Georgia. From Major to Minor is a four-book collection. The first book, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4, is the best. After he goes off to college, eh. However, there are more books not in this book, such as The Cappucino Years that my sister highly recomends. I'll try and check them out sometime!

Also, I think that the Adrian books were written more for adults, and Georgia was written for 13-year-olds.