Miscellanea

Room // Six Degrees of Separation

RoomThe movie edition!

The idea behind this exercise is to connect books in any way that’s meaningful to you, from the profound to the inane. Although Kevin Bacon is typically behind the six degrees game, books are just a bit more fun. April’s leading book is Room by Emma Donohue.

Room was adapted into an award winning movie starring Brie Larson. While I’ve not read that particular book, Brie Larson also starred in the fun and dysfunctional The Spectacular Now (which I did read), as the girl who dumped the boy. The boy finds solace in a new girl, played by Shailene Woodley, who refuses to be a feminist because she likes men. Fifty billion eyerolls, if you please.

Woodley also stars in The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings with George Clooney. My favorite Clooney movie is O Brother, Where Art Though?, which is loosely based of The Odyssey by Homer.

Costarring in said favorite Clooney movie is John Turturro, who appears in another one of my personal favorites, The Big Lebowski. That movie is loosely based on the work of Raymond Chandler, who wrote The Big Sleep. Jeff Bridges, who will always be The Dude to me, also appeared in True Grit (by Charles Portis) with Hailee Steinfeld.

And lastly, Ms. Steinfeld appeared in Hateship, Loveship, an adaptation of Alice Munro’s short story.

There you have it, from being locked in a room to a childhood game, in six easy steps, yet none of them literary… Care to join in?

 

Reviews

The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler

Hearts of menI am, barring any unseen literary missteps, now a lifelong fan of Nickolas Butler. Beginning with the superb Shotgun Lovesongs, following that with Beneath the Bonfire, and now releasing The Hearts of Men, I am absolutely on board with anything he writes. Cereal boxes, Ikea manuals, it doesn’t matter. Beginning at a Wisconsin summer camp in 1962 and spanning six decades, Butler’s newest novel is his best yet.

Nelson, bullied overachiever, is the camp’s bugler. Jonathan is a popular boy at camp. The two form an unlikely and uncertain friendship.

As the years pass, Nelson, a Vietnam veteran, becomes scoutmaster of beloved Camp Chippewa, while Jonathan becomes a successful businessman. They remain connected as both Jonathan’s son and grandson find their way to the camp.

This is not a happy book, and at times it is deeply unsettling, but it is timely. Filled with bravery, morality, and redemption, it shows what the most ordinary of boys and men are capable of. As it examines both Nelson and Jonathan at turning points in their lives, we learn about the ways they are shaped from their childhood, the men they become, and how complicated even the simplest person can be. It will undoubtedly be one of my favorite books this year.

At what point are you willing to read anything an author writes? One good book? Two? Three seems to be my number.

Reviews

The Guineveres by Sarah Domet

GuinSarah Domet’s debut novel takes its name from the four protagonists, all named Guinevere and all abandoned at the Sisters of the Supreme Adoration convent.

Vere, Win, Ginny, and Gwen are desperate to escape their circumstances and hatch a plan to do so during a parade in a float. When that fails, the girls are sentenced to work in the convent’s sick ward, where they hatch yet another plan, this one involving comatose soldiers. They are nothing if not determined.

Each Guinevere has her own voice, though we hear most from Vere. Woven into the girls’ tales are the stories of the lives of various female saints. The nuns generally remain in the background, but are well drawn and not stereotypically Catholic, which I greatly appreciated. The nuns, though strict, genuinely care for the girls.

Rather than a novel about faith, Domet’s debut is instead a wonderful coming-of-age tale. It’s a subtle, complex novel depicting the inner lives of teenage girls, and their search for home and family—a winning combination with lovely writing. Don’t miss it (like I did)!

Miscellanea

Fever Pitch // Six Degrees of Separation

fever pitchBetter late than never should be my new life motto. The idea behind this exercise is to connect books in any way that’s meaningful to you, from the profound to the inane. Although Kevin Bacon is typically behind the six degrees game, books are just a bit more fun.

Fever Pitch is Nick Hornsby’s ode to soccer (or football, depending where you live). Oddly enough, when it was adapted for a film in the US, it was about a fan’s love of the Red Sox. How you get from one to the other, I’m not quite sure, but the love of the Red Sox* inspired the next link.

In Stephen King’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Trisha, a Red Sox fan, is (nearly) hopelessly lost in the woods. She survives relatively unscathed, but the same can’t be said of the pseudo-outdoorsmen in James Dickey’s Deliverance.

Initially planning on taking a two day canoe trip, the men have a run in with the locals that derails their course. The canoe provides the next link with Love Is a Canoe by Ben Schrank, a lovely novel about the destruction of a marriage. Schrank detailed his play list on Largehearted Boy. One of the characters was said to enjoy Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Everyone knows that CCR’s hit Bad Moon Rising is the official werewolf anthem, but I specifically assigned it to The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. The novel is a literary take on the werewolf genre, so to speak, just as Colson Whitehead’s Zone One is a literary zombie apocalypse novel.

I once called Zone One “fresh, interesting fiction” and recommended The Sisters Brothers for a similar reading experience. I’m standing by that recommendation now and making it my final link. From a love of soccer to a blood soaked western, all in six easy steps. Care to join in?

*Of note, one of the items on my bucket list was the see the Red Sox play in the world series and I did. I watched them absolutely slaughter the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 World Series (though I only attended one game).

Reviews

Lately

Summer Adirondacks

Making: Tortellini soup, it’s surprisingly good, and kid friendly.
Drinking: Water. It’s one of my goals for the year.
Reading: Ill Will by Dan Chaon
Organizing: This year’s travel plans (which may include some time in the Adirondacks).
Coveting: A brand new house with no issues.
Listening: Stone Walls // Three Tall Pines
Watching: Black Sails. It’s the only show on television that I’m caught up on.
Smelling: Books. I’m on a break at work.
Wishing: That I wasn’t back at work already.
Loving: This quiz. I love riddles like that.
Adoring: Deadpool. What a fun movie.
Accomplishing: We’re continuing our effort to visit national parks. The most recent ones we’ve crossed of our list: Grand Canyon and Death Valley. Last year we visited three: Rocky Mountain, Big Bend, and Crater Lake. I’m hoping to fit one more in this year to match that.
Needing: Something good to happen. The latest in a string of unfortunate events include our boiler going out. It’s a cold, costly fix.
Feeling: Exhausted, but satisfied personally, annoyed financially. Why do home repairs cost so much?! And how am I going to achieve my travel dreams shelling out thousands of dollars in plumbing cost?! (In addition to the boiler, we had a pipe spring a leak in the basement (the same one we just had fixed) and another one in the kitchen. Anyone who has ever dealt with these kind of issues knows why I want to cry right now.)
Wearing: It’s nearly spring and I can’t fit into any of my clothes. I had to wear my husband’s shirt to work.
Wanting: To fit into my pants. Is there any magical way to just rid myself of the baby weight
Wondering: About this country and the president. Don’t Trump supporters get upset about the lies? And alternative facts? Since the answer is no, why not?
Thinking: How costly being a homeowner is.
Celebrating: Birthdays! My two sons birthdays are close together. Why yes, I am absolutely excited for that much cake.

Photo found here.

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