Friday, July 25, 2008

Boats and Books

Jeff and I are off shortly to spend the weekend on the water. We're headed out in Jeff's parents' boat (with Jeff's parents). I have no idea where exactly we're headed except in the general direction of West. Since I expect to spend my time doing nothing but reading, eating, and sleeping I should have a review or two to write upon my return on Sunday. I'm almost finished with Love The One You're With, the latest book by Emily Giffin and I'm also bringing East of Eden by John Steinbeck with me (rough transition, but I think I'm up for it). Here's hoping for a Dramamine-free weekend!


Alexander said...

Hey, it's Niles' partner Alex. He forwarded me your blog.

OK, first I have to say re The Sun Also Rises.... you're certainly not retarded, but I do think you didn't 'get it.' That's not a slam but I really dug it. Not everyone is in to Hemingway. I think he's one of those writers people either love or hate, there's no middle ground with him. About Fitzgerald, he was just too damned obsessed with money - no, not even that, with RICH PEOPLE, and the reasons I think he was obsessed with them I just think are really fucked up.

If there's one Hemingway book I think anyone has the best chance of enjoying if they're not really into Hemingway it's A Moveable Feast, which is not a novel but a memoir of his 20s in Paris, with his first wife, Hadley Richardson, who is probably the one of his four wives that he really truly loved and never should have divorced. I think he probably offed himself in the end still loving her, though who knows why he really did it. I think he was majorly depressed about so many things.

But of all his books, I think this one is the most lyrical, the most 'youthful' in outlook, the one in which he seems least jaded and screwed up, and still has the ability to see through rose-colored glasses some. It's fabulous.

Jake Barnes' wound was that he had his nuts blown off. Perfectly functional weenie, no cojones. This is never directly stated in the novel, but it's sort of 'common knowledge.' I think Hemingway told this to people when discussing the book and it just sort of became something that everyone knew but is never outright said in the narrative.

If you can imagine the feeling of alienation and PTSD that many Vietnam vets experienced, and which we're seeing some of now with Iraq vets, you get some idea of the sort of alienation that is the supposed theme of a lot of Hemingway's work. Anyway, that's my take on it.

The way Niles quickly described your blog to me, I thought it would be totally about Chick lit, but I see it's not just about it. Mostly about it? But not all.

Some of my fave chick lits were:

Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank.

After All These Years by Susan Isaacs

Scruples by Judith Krantz - still so amazing in so many ways. I believe her ability to draw out characters is akin to Margaret Mitchell's.

Scarlett, by Alexandra Ripley, the much blasted 'sequel' to Gone With The Wind, I actually loved, but it's only as good as it can be if you've also read Gone With The Wind (not just seen the movie)

Do you read Jane Austen at all? The original Chick Lit author, her stuff rocks and holds up to multiple readings.

Moll Flanders, a book by Daniel DeFoe, I just couldn't properly digest as a college freshman, but re-read after about 15 years of post-college experience and just adored, I finally got the humor.

A few of Rita Mae Brown's books (not all of them are just for Lesbians): High Hearts, and Riding Shotgun (prob my fave).

Michael Crichton, who seems out of place on this list, wrote one book that I would recommend to anyway who likes historical fiction set in medieval times: Timeline. There was a movie that was made, it SUCKED, it wasn't even the same story, extremely 'loosely based.' A crime. Anyhoo, once you get past all of his scientific blah blah blah that sets up the premise, the action that actually occurs in the middle ages is can't-put-it-down. At least for me. Like I said, his books aren't for everyone, but this one had kind of a cult following.

If you can read now and then some "youth" fiction, particularly girlie youth fiction, one that kind of jumped out at me from the library shelf and hooked me just reading the dust jacket synopsis, is Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys (can't remember who wrote). A girl of 16 doesn't want to relocate with her military parents to Korea for the remainder of her high school years, so her folks arrange for her to stay with old friends who had some boys her age, none of whom she has seen for years. The couple now has 7 children, all boys, the oldest three are her age or a bit older, the rest younger. High school drama ensues, and I found it irresistible (and I hated high school). It's definitely kind of a fantasy read for girls (who are old enough to like or be fascinated and bewildered by adolescent young men).

I think you'll dig East of Eden, at least I hope so. It takes some effort to stick with, but it definitely rewards if you do.

Jay McInerney wrote one story from a young woman's point of view (narrator, a young woman of undetermined age - until the end of the book - tells the story in first person). Trials and tribulations in NYC in the late 80s/early 90s, can't remember which decade exactly.

Jane Austen related, but not Jane Austen, two titles: The Jane Austen Book Club (which was made into one of the better chick flicks of last year), and Austenland (can't remember the name of either author).

Those are the ones I can think of just now off the top of my head. There are so many more, makes me want to review what's on my book shelves.


Jill said...

Holy long comments Alex! Thanks for all the feedback, I actually really appreciate it. I'm pretty sure my recent hatred of Hemingway is too fresh for me to try again, but when I'm up for it, I'll be sure to take you up on your suggestion.

I also really liked Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing - I think she wrote a second book too, didn't she? I can't remember if I read that one also.

Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys sounds right up my alley, and I'll also have to add a few others you mention to my "to do list".

Alexander said...

Yeah, sorry about the length! I got around to looking at Under The Dresser when I really had time to kill, lyin' on the couch, and of course, its' a topic I LOVE.

Take it easy. I think I'll be visiting your blog now and then. If you do pick up the Megan Meade, let me know what you think.

cheers, -a.