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Kaethe

Kaethe

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Truly, Madly, Guilty - Liane Moriarty 

Truly, Madly, Guilty - Signed/Autographed Copy - Liane Moriarty

It's not a thriller.

 

Imagine that line as spoken by Arnold Schwarzenegger to his class in Kindergarten Cop. I start here because I saw a review saying what a disappointing thriller it was, and it would be disappointing if that was what Moriarty were shooting for. It's also not a romance, or a mystery, or a literary novel, although it does share some elements with those.

 

What it is is a book about regular middle class suburban couples who experience a trauma together, and how it affects their lives thereafter. It's not a big trauma, it's not newsworthy, but it affects them all, and their little kids, too. And because the author takes her work seriously, there is much more to it than just that, humor, and backstory, and a way through, and a future.

 

I love books like this about living in after some bad thing. Fairy tales are important because they teach us that the witch or the monster can be killed, these books (and I hope someone has a short, catchy name for the genre that isn't sexist, because I sure don't) these books demonstrate how to live through the bad things and still have a good life. I don't believe stories about people living through horrible events and being stoic and saintly and a good example. Pain doesn't make people stronger or better, it makes us angry, and short-tempered, and hell to get along with. And of course, we all have pain and most of it is garden-variety common and of no interest to others. And the older we get the more time we spend attending funerals, the more people we have to lose. These books remind us that we can still laugh at the wake, that there are many ways to comfort one another in our loss.

 

I'm on my way to a funeral soon 

What Alice Forgot - Liane Moriarty 

What Alice Forgot - Liane Moriarty

The mystery is what happened to Alice's marriage. Alice, suffering from a concussion and subsequent amnesia is the one trying to figure out who she is and how it went wrong. Another marvelous book full of kids and after school activities and how destructive it is for a marriage when gender roles make one person the breadwinner and one person the parent. And yes, it is also very white and heteronormative and upper middle class suburban, but again, Moriarty takes seriously the business of having and rearing children, and that is important. Plus now I basically see Reese Witherspoon playing the lead role in every one of the books and I like Reese Witherspoon, so that's okay.

I only have one Moriarty book left to read, and then I am going to be very sad for a while.

Library copy

 

The Hypnotist's Love Story - Liane Moriarty

The Hypnotist's Love Story - Liane Moriarty

This was my least favorite so far; it took me a while to really get hooked. And I still loved it. Erin who got me started on Moriarty has loaned me a Paula Hawkins, so I'm going to loan her a Carol Goodman. And walking out of my regular Tuesday meeting I got to talk books again with another coworker, who loved What Alice Forgot which I started as soon as I got home.

Like Saskia I had gotten out of the habit of talking to people, of having friends, of chatting. I appreciate having an example of how to get socially involved again.

Oh, hell, what I really love is the house on the beach.

Library copy

 

Louis I, King of the Sheep - Olivier Tallec  

Louis I, King of the Sheep - Olivier Tallec

With great accessories comes great stupidity. Or perhaps, Some sheep are more equal than others. Something about sheeple blindly following the edicts of a madman? And whether or not it was intentional, I like the wind bringing the crown as it brought Mary Poppins, and then, one day, it blows the other direction.

 

Also, I wonder if I have retained enough French to be able to read this in the original?

 

Library copy

Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals - Mo Willems

Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals - Mo Willems, Mo Willems

Very good concept, excellent execution. Another book giving the reader warm, positive, living words to say to the listener, but not smarmy or precious.

Library copy.

 

Cinnamon - Neil Gaiman, Divya Srinivasan 

Cinnamon - Divya Srinivasan, Neil Gaiman

I liked the art, and a couple of lines, and I get the homage to Kipling, but it didn't connect with me.

Library copy

 

Norton and Alpha - Kristyna Litten 

Norton and Alpha - Kristyna Litten

I don't know why, but the stock legs and trunk-like nose is appearing in world by different illustrators this year. Sadly, it isn't a style I care for.

Library copy

 

 

Norton and Alpha - Kristyna Litten 

Norton and Alpha - Kristyna Litten

I don't know why, but the stock legs and trunk-like nose is appearing in world by different illustrators this year. Sadly, it isn't a style I care for.

Library copy

 

The Kraken's Rules for Making Friends - Brittany R. Jacobs

The Kraken's Rules for Making Friends - Brittany R. Jacobs

  

Almost as earnest as The Rainbow Fish, but with a marginally better message than "You can buy friends of you're willing to give up everything that makes you special." Saved by a slightly -divergent-from-cliche ending.

I wish the text was as unconventional and captivating as the art.

Library copy.

Leviathan Wakes - James S.A. Corey  

Leviathan Wakes - James S.A. Corey

I got into two different conversations lugging this around. So, apparently there's a new Sci Fi series based on this series of books. And it's good, I hear. You know what I liked best about it, besides the old-school sci fi space opera vibe? Ethics. I know, right? Lots of thought time and discussion given to ethics and morals and what is the right thing to do. It doesn't drag the plot down at all, there's still plenty going on, and big battles and such. And I liked the hardboiled cop storyline enormously.

Female characters at maybe 1 in 10, and mostly they exist for dudes to fall for, so points off for that, but the dudes are falling for clever, creative, hard-working characters, so it's not like reading Golden Age sexism, but there is definitely room for improvement. And Yay! everyone isn't white, so that's nice, too.

My library only has this one volume. So, does anyone know if the series is driving an uptick in reading? I want to ask them to get all the books, but not if I'm the only one who'll check them out.

Library copy

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors - Drew Daywalt, Adam Rex 

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors - Drew Daywalt, Adam Rex

I loved the art, which included visual references to other Adam Rex books. The story not so much.

Library copy

 

The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling - Timothy Basil Ering 

The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling - Timothy Basil Ering

Just so lovely. Lots of children's books have magic in them, and many have talking, clothes-wearing animals of all species hanging out together like it's no big. But this one actually feels magical, full of awe and wonder at fairly mundane events. And so pretty.

Library copy

 

The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty

The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty

I hope I've learned my lesson: don't start a Moriarty book unless I have plenty of time to finish it, because I can not put it down to go to sleep. Knowing I have to get up and go to work the next morning is not nearly sufficient to stop me reading just one more chapter, again and again until it 's all done.

 

The only bad thing I can say about it is that she focuses on white urban professionals. Yeah, that's attractive to many readers, 'm sure. And she is fabulous at depicting family life in a way that's realistic and not sentimental or smarmy. She can make a minor school event into high drama and a successful Tupperware saleswoman into a canny titan of industry.

 

And also, I suspect that these are all books I'm going to enjoy rereading, but it isn't as if characterization or setting or tone are sacrificed in favor of narrative drive. The plot zips along because the reader has become emotionally invested in these people, all of them.

 

Library copy.

 

Edited later the same evening to add:

 

Okay, I figured out one thing Moriarty does that makes her so appealing. She respects the work that women do. All of it. Not just the creative or professional careers, but also the glamour -free jobs, the volunteer work of PTAs, the emotional work of looking after family, the shitwork of buying groceries, and planning meals. All of it. That's so rare. Even the assholes who are instigating Mommy Wars don't really respect all of it: regardless of their agenda, they only respect the work of privileged women, whether it's as a CEO or as the stay-at-home mom fixing organic Vento boxes with loving notes. President of a tech start-up good, president of the PTA is just a joke usually. Women in Moriarty 's world can be wrong, prejudiced, or thoughtless, but they are all respected.

Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media - Susan J. Douglas

Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media - Susan J. Douglas

  

Picking it up to read in 2017, I quickly realize I have read this, lo, these many years ago. As I age it seems that everything reminds me of something similar in the past. I'm this case the thing it reminded me of was itself. It's still as good, but I don't feel like I need the refresher: I took the lessons very much to heart.

Library copy

Three Wishes - Liane Moriarty

Three Wishes - Liane Moriarty

Moriarty reminds me of Binchy and Pilcher and Susan Isaacs. It's got some drama, but there's more humor: the wry voice chuckling over family foibles, meals, affairs, pregnancy, all over bottles of wine and good meals, and upper middle class luxury. Like Austen, there's a recognition that one person's drama is a spectator's comedy, a theme reinforced with interstitial vignettes as told by a spectator to some important moment.

I love a book that reminds me we all screw up, and we aren't bad people because we do.

Library copy

Three Wishes - Liane Moriarty 

Something Wonky This Way Comes - Kate DiCamillo,Chris Van Dusen 

Something Wonky This Way Comes - Kate DiCamillo, Chris Van Dusen

http://pin.it/c61MXET

 

How did I not notice before that Can Dusen paints everyone with the same skin color, same highlights and shadows? Everyone, including Mercy Watson, the pig. Different hair, facial features, head shapes, clothes, but the exact same skin (old people are all highlights and shadows for the wrinkles, but the same colors). And unlike The Simpsons, it's not one color for all the White people, but different colors for people of color. It's an interesting choice.

 

I didn't notice before because I just assumed that the unnatural peachy-pink meant White, because that's how we roll: default = White. No one is really that color, but society has agreed to pretend, just to make it easier.

 

I've been thinking about this for hours now. I still don't know how I feel about it. Is it good to ignore actual melanin across the board to avoid dividing people into White or Other? Would I be comfortable with it if he'd chosen a default that wasn't already understood to be White? If everyone was green or grey, some color which doesn't have racial coding, the deliberate neutrality would have been obvious. As it is, Mercy seems to live in an idealized mid-century sundown town. I like the setting in general, with the sidewalks and big-time cars, I enjoy the same Imagineared quality in the art of William Joyce and Mark Teague. But now I can't stop thinking how middle-class suburban White it is, and getting creeped out.

 

Race isn't real, but racism is so horrifyingly visible right now, that a town of pink people isn't neutral, it's threatening.

 

Guess I finally figured out what I feel. I am not in the pink.

 

Library copy.