Lindsay Reviews: A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Recently I read Mark Haddon’s A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time after it was recommended to me by someone at work. He recommended it after I had mentioned that I loved Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. He described it as a book that you have seen a thousand times in the book store. Once I began reading it, I understood right away why he compared the two, and overall I enjoyed the book.
The book is narrated from the perspective of an autistic boy who becomes obsessed with a situation involving a dog in the night-time (get it?). I really wanted to read this book, because stories about or from the perspective of autistic spectrum individuals always intrigue me. In a former job I worked with many autistic kids, and I absolutely loved the way their brains worked and how they saw the world.
This book does a wonderful job of capturing the perspective of the autistic character in description and charts displayed. If someone had never gotten to get to know an autistic person, I feel like this book would be an eye-opener for them, and they would gain some understanding of what the world looks like for someone with autism.
The story overall was entertaining and kept me going, even though I think the ending could have used a bit more fleshing out. I would recommend the book, and you could easily read it in a weekend. 7 stars out of 10? That would be my gut rating, but overall could be a really important and educational read for some people.
Justin Reviews: All Families Are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland
I first read Douglas Coupland in the late ’90s after an ex-girlfriend left behind Generation X when she decided she’d had enough of my brand of insanity and moved on. It took me a few years to read it. Mostly because he appeared to be her favorite author and I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of actually enjoying something she liked. But I did eventually read it, and I loved it. I was in my early twenties at the time and everything seemed so dramatic and real. Not that things aren’t real now. It’s a different kind of real though. Action is required. Back then I had time to dream and think. Now I just run and jump and try to do.
There is a great quote from a Noah Baumbach film called Kicking And Screaming that perfectly describes how I feel about the work of Douglas Coupland. That quote is: “I’m nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday.” This is essentially how I feel about the characters and stories in his books. Especially the books I read in my early and mid twenties: Generation X, Shampoo Planet, Microserfs, and Life After God. A funny thing occurred to me as I thought about those books. To me they all have a dreamlike quality. Everyone is sleepwalking in one way or another. I think of people meandering through life, dreaming of better things, disconnected from their lives in the current moment, nostalgic for ColecoVision, root canals, and turntables built into furniture. I think of myself. I think of walking through a snowstorm when you’re drunk and tired.
But now I’m ten years older and I’m not even sure that this is an accurate depiction of what I remember my experience reading these books to be. In the last few years I played catch up and read: Girlfriend In A Coma, Miss Wyoming, and All Families Are Psychotic. I thought to myself, “Man, Douglas Coupland has changed!” But upon further inspection, I don’t really believe that to be true. I think, yes, he has ventured into new territory and tried new things as artists are want to do, but a more accurate truth would be that I am the one who has changed. These last three books I mentioned all felt a little more like Hal Hartley screenplays, very funny and intoxicating, where people speak incredible truths in a style that is absolutely ludicrous and have truly unbelievable adventures. And I LOVE it. But something feels different, even though these books were all written in close proximity to one another. The only thing different in this equation is me. But enough about that…
All Families Are Psychotic is an enjoyable read and a fantastic ride. There is still a lot of nostalgia, but it seems to be peppered throughout, evenly spaced, and the secrets are locked in secret rooms and slowly revealed. More so this book is about action. Things happen. A series of events unravels out of time and the way it’s all revealed is purely delicious. This book is good fun. It is not as serious as I remember Generation X being. Or perhaps I am not as serious as I used to be, and that is why I enjoy Douglas Coupland’s work on a whole other level these days.
Lounging. Friday greatness w/@jcpmcs.
This is how book narcs spend their Friday nights.
Lindsay Reviews: The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
Note: I have been just terrible at putting up official reviews once I have finished reading a book, I am sorry for my negligence, and I will try to do better!
I am here today to review the Divergent Series by Veronica Roth. I feel as if I am pretty horrible at giving very astute and educational reviews, but I will just give you some quick thoughts about these three books. The three books in the series include: Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant. I will start off by saying that I keep pretty up to date with young adult series, as I used to work with elementary school kids, and YA Literature was my favorite course in college, but lately there is such an influx of YA series on the market, that it has hard to stay current (the quality of these series also hurts my staying current). I had picked up this book as a Christmas present for my mother, as I knew most of my co-workers had read it, but Justin was on tour, and I was in desperate need for a fun quick read, and so I read the book before I gifted it (bad form?). I then proceeded to buy the next two on my iPhone and read them there within the following days. Overall, the series was a fun and easy read.
The first book, Divergent, may be the best book of the series. This novel introduces the dystopian world that the characters live in for the next three books. It takes place in future Chicago where the civilization is somewhat gated in and split between five factions according to each individual’s main personality trait. The factions include: Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (peacefulness), Candor (truthfulness), Dauntless (brave), and Erudite (knowledgeable). We follow a young girl who has to choose her faction (I won’t spoil which faction she chooses). It was fun learning about this new world and discovering all of the alien customs and rules that this society had for its members, and I believe that is why I enjoyed this book (similarly to the world of Harry Potter or The Hunger Games). I finished this book in a day and a half.
The second book, Insurgent, is where the civilization begins to fall apart and revolt. And the third book, Allegiant, is life after the revolt and delves more deeply into the “whys” of the civilization being created the way it was in the first place. I mention these two books together because I bought them both on my phone (which tells you a bit about my need to own this series). Insurgent kept my attention for the most part. The romance that weaves its way into the series began losing my interest at this point, as there was no real depth or strife to it (except for the external strife happening around them to their world). Allegiant, in turn, began to seriously lose me. Plot lines were wholly uninteresting. Whereas the third Hunger Games book was perhaps my favorite, and it tied things together pretty well, the third book fell apart here. Story lines seemed to be contrived post first book, like the author hadn’t thought through how the series would end when she had started it.
I think all in all, people would enjoy reading this series, and I did enjoy reading this series. I don’t think it was the best series I have ever read, but I would recommend it to people looking for a light read. 6 ½ stars out of 10?
Justin Reviews: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
I just finished reading Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and I am a bit overwhelmed with a flurry of varying emotions. I cannot quite configure my words in a manner to express these things I am feeling. Perhaps it is because I am in Tokyo (the greatest place on earth) with my wife (the greatest woman that has ever lived) on the honeymoon we were supposed to take a year ago but never did. Perhaps I am not as smart as I want to be perceived. Perhaps I have a headache. Regardless of the reason, this book is fantastic. I just wish I could explain it to you.
Instead of an explanation, I will present the following bits of information:
From what I can gather, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is the story of a memory vividly revisited. There are things that happen—some strange, some straightforward. Some explanations are given, others are not. The world the story takes place within is both brutally real and fantastically magical. Perhaps this is not the right angle I should be approaching this explanation at…
Let me try this:
The story is a jigsaw puzzle with several pieces missing. But it paints a complete picture. The pieces that exist could be interpreted several ways. The pieces that went missing didn’t need to be there (perhaps that was the point). I enjoyed the moments that were there, and the moments and explanations I had to imagine for myself. While reading I wanted further clarity on certain things, but upon finishing the book I felt completely satisfied. A good book does this. A good book also shows you new ways of looking at old things, or shows you something new that seems oddly familiar. Neil Gaiman is incredibly good at doing all of the above.
I came up with no less than 5 ideas for future projects while reading this book. Some of them songs, some of them stories, some of them images I’d like to see on a movie screen one day. It awoke in me an incredible amount of creativity I’d thought I’d lost. Imagination. That’s the thing it has, this book. That’s the gift it gives.
This is a terrible review, but an accurate account of my feelings, just minutes after having experienced The Ocean at the End of the Lane. And as Old Lady Hempstock says, “Different people remember things differently, and you’ll not get any two people to remember anything the same, whether they were there or not.” Just read the book and have yourself a unique personal experience.