Monday, February 1, 2010

Book Bites: The Good and the Not-So-Good

Let's begin with the not so good.

Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions is our first book club read of 2010 which will be discussed tonight. I cannot wait to hear what everyone thinks about it! We have a journal in which information from each meeting is recorded, quotes and such. I suspect my quote of the night will be this:

This is 0% of what I am looking for in a reading experience.

Shall I elaborate? I just couldn't stand anything about this book. The writing style, the story itself, the mention of every one's race in a 'hey I'm not racist but everyone else who mentions race is' way, the bizarre mention of the length of the genitals of every male character. What the heck was that all about?? I think I 'get' Vonnegut's point, that this is a satire on 'modern' society and it's ills, but overall it felt like a waste of time. Not funny. Not entertaining. Sort of gross. Just annoying. The only positive thing I would say about it was that occasionally this 1973 book felt current. I wouldn't have finished this book had it been for my husband who has been bugging me to read Vonnegut for years. He thinks I'm nuts. So would all the reviewers on Amazon who love this sort of thing. Maybe you think I'm nuts, too. I don't care. I won't be reading any more Vonnegut, but it seems he has plenty of fans already.

On to better things.

Day After Night: A Novelis Anita Diamant's new book which perhaps I wouldn't have read for some time, but I came across a copy at the library. The library has been my friend in 2010! Anyhow, Day After Night is set in an interesting time period, that just after WW2. I've read a fair number of holocaust books, but I've rarely read detailed accounts of what happened to the many survivors after the war was over. We know they didn't just go home and resume their lives. Day After Night is set in Atlit internment camp in Palestine; basically another prison for those who had just been freed from persecution. The story focuses on four women with varied stories, as they experience Atlit and eventually their rescue/escape from it into Israel. I enjoyed this book and thought Diamant did an excellent job bringing this bit of history alive by making it personal through the characters.

On another subject, can I just say that this blogging change that I talked about in November is working for me. I am happy with the amount of time that I spend blogging and reading the blogs of others. I am commenting less but it means more if you know what I mean. I am very happy with the reading choices I have been able to make and the fact that I have very few books that need to be read on a time frame. My reading feels like me again, instead of feeling like I am following the herds reading the same things. It feels good.


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Don't you hate slogging through a book you can't stand? Think I will cross him off my list, too.

Anonymous said...

Tara, I have Day After Night here in some stack or other to read at some point. I loved The Red Tent and have maybe read another one by Diamant as well. Can't recall. Anyway, I'm glad to be reminded of this book.

And on another note, I'm so happy for you that the changes you've put in place are working for you. Your last sentence says it all - "It feels good."

bermudaonion said...

I'm reading a book for my book club right now that I think I'll have a similar reaction to - it's just not working for me so far.

Anonymous said...

In no way do I think you are nuts. I didn't care for Slaughterhouse Five, but I'm planning to try one more Vonnegut before writing him off forever. It won't be Breakfast of Champions for sure!

JoAnn said...

So glad this new approach is working for you... and i've never liked Vonnegut either.

Les said...

I've never read Vonnegut and really have no desire to do so. I think Cat's Cradle is one that piqued my interest last year when it wound up on a post-apocalyptic endcap at work, but after reading your review for Breakfast of Champions, I'm feeling like I can take a pass on this author!

I enjoyed The Red Tent and her more contemporary novel, Good Harbor, so I may give Diamant's new book a try one of these days. It sounds interesting. But you didn't love it, did you you?

I'm so glad your blogging experience has become more relaxed and enjoyable! Isn't it great to look forward to posting rather than feeling like it's a chore? I'm not posting as often as I used to, but it's really more for my own enjoyment and if I lose readers along the way, I guess that's the price I pay for keeping things sane. Maybe someday when I'm not working and I have more free time, I can post on a more regular basis. Until then, I'll keep doing what I'm doing. And like you, it feels good. :)

And here's a little teaser comment. I LOVED Mudbound!! I'll write my review later this week. Just wanted to let you know now, though. :)

Tara said...

L. Diane Wolfe, ugh, yes, totally!

Kay, I loved The Red Tent also, that is still my favorite of her books. And thank you!

Kathy, really? I wonder what it is!

jennysbooks,you are braver than me! Many people last night had heard good things about Cat's Cradle.

JoAnn, thanks! And nice to know another un-fan of Vonnegut!

Les, Cat's Cradle was mentioned last night at the mtg, people had heard it was good. I don't think I'll bother with it either! You read me well, you are right that I didn't love this Diamant book but I liked it well enough.

So true what you wrote about blogging. I no longer worry about when I'm going to post or if I'll have enough posts in a week. Now I just do it when it fits in which is key for me. So glad to know you loved Mudbound and cannot wait for the full review!

Ti said...

Sometimes books like this, the ones that give you such a visceral reaction, end up being really good for book groups to discuss. I do want to read Slaughterhouse-Five but I will steer clear of this one.

Iliana said...

Great to hear you've found what works for you with the whole blogging thing. I felt like things had gotten so crazy towards the end of last year too. I've made a few changes and I'm also feeling less stressed out (which it shouldn't stress me out as it's a hobby!) and more like I'm back to what I originally set out to do.

Anyway, I know I've read a vonnegut book but I think I may have had your same reaction. It's been forever and I can't even remember the book. Now, the Diamant book I'd be keen to check out.

LisaMM said...

Hey Tara, Thanks for the heads up on Breakfast of Champions. All I can say to that is.. yuck. Day After Night sounds really interesting though. I loved The Red Tent. Maybe I will check out the library too!

Samantha said...

Like Ti said some of our worst book club picks became great discussions - even when they were dominated by how much we hated a book it was usually for different reasons!

I don't think I will ever read Vonnegut - he sounds like a writer very much preferred by men, my husband included.

And I am pleased to read your thoughts on the Daimant as I have it in my tbr pile too.

Tara said...

Ti, well, nobody at the mtg liked it much and I would say the discussion was moderate. Some people had marked passages and made interesting observations so that was good.

Iliana, I'm glad you're feeling better about your blogging as well. It's easy to let distractions keep you from what you meant to do I've found.

LisaMM, yuck is right! And three cheers for the library! I love that place.

Samantha, that has been true for us in some cases, not necessarily this one. It's fun when some like it and some don't I think! I hope you like the Diamant - in fact I think you'll like it even more than I did!

StuckInABook said...

I love your 0% comment - that just sums up some books, doesn't it?

Bybee said...

Breakfast of Champions didn't float my boat, either.

Tara said...

Simon, absolutely.

Bybee, good to know it's not just me!