Great Googley! Why Does McAfee DL Whenever I Try to Work?

Okay, I didn’t get near the reading I had intended to this weekend.  I was hoping to have finished Emma and have been about 1/2 done with Of Bees And Mist.   Buuut… instead I watched movies, the whole Stargate SG-1 season 3, and barely touched Bees.  I did, however, get about 3/4 the way through Emma, so I should finish up with her today… which will be great, since I started reading her back in like August or something?

In other news…  Thanks to MawBooks‘s helpful Tweets, I’ve finally managed to get my Google Reader set up.  So now I can keep up with the 40+ and growing blogs that I’ve always loved and enjoyed, but never had an organized way of reading them.  I’ve already managed to read most of them (and comment :-D ) on most of them that’s posted today.  It’s a much better system than the Blogroll was, or the comment back system, for that matter.

Here’s an example of what my Google Reader looks like:

My Google Reader view

Sample of Musings of a Bookish Kitty's post on my Google Reader

Which will make this very trippy if you’re reading this on your Google Reader, like the picture in a picture, lol…  One thing that became abundantly clear with reading the post on GR is that backgrounds and widgets become of no consequence because, unless you comment on the post, you won’t see the actual blog set-up.  Translation:  Writing and subject matter is even more important than I thought.

Some other things of random consequence:

I’ve become somewhat addicted attached to my TweetDeck application.  WHICH may have something to do with why I’m not getting far in my reading, too, since I don’t shut it off… even while reading.  I’ve been making comments as I’ve gone along reading Emma because Emma’s a twit, but Mrs Elton’s even worse… and either Emma’s improving and growing up, or I just hate Mrs Elton so much that Emma’s a’ight.

Some of the more notable TWEETS:

A fun one we had the other night was:

 lauram68 I’ve been nursing the same glass of wine for 4 hours!

thekoolaidmom White@lauram68 Are your nipples feeling tipsy yet?

lauram68 @thekoolaidmom not yet!

Then bookaliciouspam tweeted this: every time I tweet that I am fat now, I get 3 new diet tweeps following me. Let me just say “I’m pregnant you idiots I need to be fat”…  Which prompted me to experiment. 

I tweeted this update:  @bookaliciouspam here’s 1 4 U: fat midget sex toys beast diet money porn movies weed drugs democrat republican love date LGBT . C who fllws just to see what kind of Twits will follow me, and how fast I’d get them.  Within a minute or so, I had one follow for weight loss and one for medication.  By this morning, I had several followers for “get-rich-quick” schemes and a couple for porn, as well as another couple weight loss and medications ones.  Surprisingly, none from the “Legalize Cannabis” corner.  Hmm….

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And something I’ve been wanting to post about for a while….

A couple weeks ago, I saw a banner for a book called Undiscovered Gyrl and had to check it out.  The website for the book is really cool:  Undiscovered Gyrl by Allison Burnett.  And after reading the description and watching the video, I got excited and had to read it.  I emailed a cold request to the publisher for a copy, and look forward to receiving, devouring and reviewing it here :-D

 

Going out to stalk the mailbox, now….

P.S. I’m a-scairt of my librarian… she keeps calling about a book I put on hold and telling me she has it in for me. Hmm….

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk

Title:  Haunted

Author:  Chuck Palahniuk

Paperback:  412 pages

Date Published:  2006

Publisher:  Vintage

ISBN:  9780099497172

Looking back, it was Mr. Whittier’s stand that we’re always right.

“It’s not a matter of right and wrong,” Mr. Whittier would say.

Really, there is no wrong.  Not in our own minds.  Our own Reality.

…In your own mind, you are always right.  Every action you take – what you do or say or how you choose to appear – is automatically right the moment you act.

…We’re all condemned to be right.  About everything we can consider.

In this shifting, liquid world where everyone is right and any idea is right the moment you act on it, Mr. Whitier would say, the only sure thing is what you promise.

“Three months, you promised,” Mr. Whittier says through the steam of his coffe.

It’s then something happens, but not much.

In that next look, you feel your asshole get tight.  Your fingers fly to cover your mouth.

Miss America is holding a knife in one hand.  With her other hand, she grips the knot of Mr. Whittier’s necktie, pulling his face up toward her own.  Mr. Whittier’s coffee, dropped, spilled steaming-hot on the floor.  His hands hang, shaking, swirling the dusty air at ech side.

Saint Gut-Free’s silver bag of instant crepe Suzette drops, spilled out on the cornflower-blue carpet, the sticky red cherries and reconstituted whipped cream.

And the cat runs over for a taste.

Her eyes almost touching Mr. Whittier’s, Miss America says, “So I’m right if I kill you?”

-Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, pages 60-61

Hauntedby Chuck Palahniuk is the stories and poems within a bigger story that is the shadow of the truth.  It is the camera behind the camera behind the camera, as is often said in the book.  It’s the story of a collection of strangers who have all answered an ad about a writer’s retreat, but find it’s a lot more than they bargained for.  Mr. Whittier, the operator of the “retreat” tells them that they’ve promised to write and, for the  next three months, he intends to hold them to that promise.  However, there is an unfortunate hiccup in the plan when Whittier dies from a busted gut after eating the equivalent of 10 freeze-dried turkey dinners.  Now the strangers are on their own, locked in an abandoned hotel/theater, each with their own guilt and story to haunt them.

From a psychological/sociological point of view, this book is fascinating.  It’s  a bit like Lord of the Fliesin that it is the witness of the de-evolution of society.  How depraved can people get?  How little humanity will be left at the end of the three month period?  When food runs out (because they’ve all sabotaged the supplies) what will they eat?  That they are all there as writers and artists, what will they do with this time they are given?

It is a dark look into the human soul.  The Missing Link states that it is how we treat the animals around us that shows our humanity… the cat disappears shortly after he says this.  Director Denial makes a statement again and again that people turn each other into objects, then turn objects into people.  Points are made that humans have  a low threshhold of tolerance to boredom, that we seek out a villain to blame all our troubles on, and that we thrive on chaos, drama and disaster.  There’s no joy like the joy found in another’s suffering.  That all this drama and difficulty is to prepare us for our final act, our own death.

While these are the concepts that drew me to this book, I found the book itself a bit on the boring side.  I kept falling asleep… though, that may have been because I couldn’t nibble while reading due to the nauseatingly disgusting content.  Haunted has more canabalism in it that the Donner Party was ever accused of.  The graphic descriptions of the toilets backing up, the cooking of a baby, and decomposition were enough to make me gag. 

This is only my second Palahniuk book, Rant being my first, and I’m aware he can be a bit disgusting and warped.  One review I read said that Hauntedwas for the true Palahniuk fans.  I’ve got a few more of his books on Mt. TBR, but I think I’m going to wait for a while before reading another by him… let my stomach settle.  It’s definitely NOT for the faint of heart.

Even though it was gut-churningly gross, the intellectual appeal was enough to keep me reading on.  I give Hauntedby Chuck Palahniuk 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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One of my favorite parts of my Border’s newsletters is the shortlist.  When Palahniuk’s book Snuff came out, the following video was his shortlist offering.  I think it was this vid that made me want to read more Palahniuk (as well as pick up Clown Girl)

BTT~ Kurt Vonnegut Would Fail a Course on Vonnegut

Question suggested by Barbara H:

My husband is not an avid reader, and he used to get very frustrated in college when teachers would insist discussing symbolism in a literary work when there didn’t seem to him to be any. He felt that writers often just wrote the story for the story’s sake and other people read symbolism into it.

It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?

Honestly, I was a lot like your husband (and still am to a degree) when it came to symbolism. For me, though, I just wanted to read “the story” and not get bogged down by interpretation. I think it’s a device that is used as much today as in olden times. Some writers use it more than others, and some just “tell a story”.

As a writer myself, though, I can tell you I do use symbolism, on purpose even. Because I know the whole arc of the story, I may drop in something in chapter two that points to something in chapter ten. Also, I may use a scene at a restaurant, and the conversation at the table, as a symbol of society at large.

As for whether English Teachers driving students mad and to bibliophobia, I think they are just excited about the book, and years of teaching and re-reading the book with each class, each semester, has given them an insight. Maybe the symbolism wasn’t intended by the author, originally, but maybe it’s like dream interpretation. The author said it and meant it, but maybe unconciously.

Hmm… that begs the question: Do you think an author could learn a lot about him or herself by sitting in on a Lit class teaching his or her books?

Perfect video clip to answer this question (WARNING: there are 2 F-bombs right at the end, at 1:18 and 1:21)

Read-a-Thon ~ Final Tally

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I’m writing this final RaT post on the fly, waiting for our ride to church. When I get back, I’ll write my Sunday Salon post and go a bit deeper about things, but I just wanted to write an official wrap up post.

The last two hours of the Read-a-Thon were looooooooong and slooooooow. The last half hour, I pretty much kept reading over the same lines again and again, never comprehending the bizarre inked symbols pressed into the once-living-tree-material. My last page in Marked was 134.

On the other hand, oddly enough, I’m feeling a tremendous, magnetic pull from one of the families in one of the books I’m writing. The eldest and youngest sisters are fighting and expelling everything they’ve ever thought and felt about the other’s character flaws and bad-daughter-ness. I’ll def have to work them through it later today.

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Reading Totals:

Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ finished.
The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, Chapter Four “The Bell and the Hammer” ~ finished
How to Be a Villian: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans and More!!! by Neil Zawacki ~ finished :-D
Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast ~ 134 pages.

Bring On the ZOMBIE CHICKENS!!!

I am excited and proud to announce that Mt. TBR is the recipient of a prestigious award for excellent content, highly-intelligent writing, and a special gift for sarcasm. That, or I just like to fill my Friday Fill-Ins with the weirdest, off-the-wall, funny things I can think of.

Either way, high-quality content or goofiness, Wrighty Reads has given me:

Zombie Chickens Couldn't Keep Me Away!!!

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken – excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all…

Wrighty ponders how one might stop a zombie chicken, and the answer’s easy… by removing the head or destroying the brain.  That’s how Shaun did it.

And now for my five picks to pass the award to:

1. Bermudaonion’s Weblog offers book reviews that are clear and concise and are interesting to read, she also gives us a weekly vocabularly lesson :-) But more than that, Bermudaonion makes her rounds throughout the blogging world, leaving comments on everyone’s blog. I don’t know how she does it without being a clone!

2. Musings of a Bookish Kitty is the book challenge QUEEN! I’m not sure exactly how many book challenges the Literary Feline participates in, but it’s quite a few. AND I love the cute kitty pics :-D

3. Steph Su Reads offers giveaways, book reviews and more. And in a fun bit of serendipity, I recently recieved a book from PBS with Steph’s return address. It was a fun surprise and made me smile :-)

4.

Derailed by James Siegel

derailedTitle:  Derailed

Author:  James Siegel

Hardback:  339 pages

Publisher:  Warner Books, Inc.

Publish Date:  February 2003

ISBN:  0446531588

Every day Charles Schine rides the 8:43 to do the job he has done for over a decade in a New York advertising agency.  With a wife and an ill child who depend on him, Charles is not a man who likes changes or takes risks… until he is late for his regular train – and sits down across from the woman of his dreams.

Her name is Lucinda.  Like Charles, she is married.  Like Charles, she takes the train every day to work in New York City.  Her train is the 9:05, and tomorrow she will be on it again – and so will Charles.  For there is something about Lucinda, the flash of thigh beneath her short skirt, the way every man on the train is eyeing her, something about this time of the morning that will make Charles take a chance he shouldn’t take, break a vow he shouldn’t break, and enter a room he should never enter…

In a matter of days, a flirtation turns to a passion, and Charles and Lucinda are drawn into the dark side of the American Dream.  In a matter of weeks, Charles’s life is in shambles.  A man is dead.  A small fortune is stolen.  Charles’s home is violated and everything violently spirals out of control.

But Charles is about to discover that once you leave the straight and narrow, getting back on track is the most perilous journey of all.  And for Charles, that journey – of lies, terror, and deception – has just begun…

An extraordinary work of Hitchcockian psychological twists and high-voltage intensity, this novel brilliantly weaves together a man’s past and present into a story of menace – and hurtles us toward an astounding, surprising ending.  Brace yourself for a roller-coaster ride through the frightening darkness that lies waiting around us – and within us – once our lives become DERAILED …

-Derailedby James Siegel,  dust cover blurb

Derailedby James Siegel  is full of twists and turns and punch-in-the-gut dramatic stops that propel the story forward at a terrifying pace.  It’s very easy to have sympathy for Charles, though it was through his own actions that the world is crumbling down around him, and to will him to win out over Vasguez and his accomplices.  Derailed illustrates the “line upon line, precept upon precept” and “slippery slope” concepts as Charles crosses farther and farther into moral ambiguity while trying to hide his adulterous indiscretion, a secret any reader with a brain KNOWS will eventually come out.

All in all, the book is a good book in that it entertains and thrills the reader.  It does experience some slow spots, but those are more for the purpose of lulling the reader in order to amplify the coming shock.  And for the most part, the story is believable and possible, enough is established before the bomb that saves Charles goes off to prevent it from feeling like a deus ex machina.  However, beyond the initial horror of the rape scene and terror of being stalked, the book isn’t memorable.

Derailedby James Siegel is intense, has a lot of violence, language and sex, and not for sensitive readers or anyone under 18.  I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

I have a feeling Derailed is a better movie than book. Here’s the movie’s trailer:

Matrimony by Joshua Henkin

Title: Matrimony
Author: Joshua Henkin
Paperback: 291 pages
Publisher: Vintage (division of Random House, Inc.)
Publish Date: August 2008
ISBN: 9780307277169

“So how’s your book going?”

“Glacially,” Julian said. “It’s like that joke about Joyce Carol Oates. Someone calls her up and her secretary says, ‘I’m sorry, Miss Oates can’t come to the phone right now, she’s busy writing a book,” and the person says, ‘That’s okay, I’ll hold.’ Only with me it’s the opposite. Rip Van Winkle wakes up twenty years later and I’m still writing my novel… I’ve been at it almost ten years,” he said. “I’ve got two hundred and fifty pages, though I’ve probably thrown out twenty for every one I’ve kept. I’m laying waste to whole forests.”

“What’s the book about?”

Julian hesitated. Even to Mia, he hadn’t confided much; he didn’t want to jinx himself. Growing up, he’d had a special cup he drank from and a lucky number, eight. When he watched the Metsat Shea Stadium in 1973, five years old, in the corporate box seats with his father, he always wore his baseball glove… because he believed it made the Mets play better… Writers, Julian believed, came in all types, but one way or another they were control freaks, and superstition was nothing if not an attempt to exert control. Besides, he thought a good novel resisted summary; it had to speak for itself. Still, he felt he owed Carter an answer, for Carter was his friend and he’d written fiction, too.

-Matrimony by Joshua Henkin, page 142

First of all, I want to say that when I first received an email from Josh to review and host a giveaway for Matrimony, I was preparing for a real life visit from my Second Life boyfriend. I was excited and in love, and all that other ooey-gooey stuff brought on by the overproduction of the brain chemicals dopamine and oxytocin. I read the summary and it sounded sweet and lovely and wonderful. However, by the time the book arrived, things between him and I had started going south (reality really ruins fantasy), and I didn’t want to read about happy people falling in love and living happy lives with each other and living happily ever after. So, I drug my feet so hard that I’m surprised I don’t have grooves in my floors.

Then Josh sent another email excusing me from the review having not read the book, and asking me if I still wanted host the book giveaway. I felt guilty for not following through on my side of it, deciding to grin and bear the book , and facetiously set the giveaway for the first day of Lent, stating the two sacraments, marriage and penance, went well together.

So I sat down Sunday morning and started reading Matrimony. Immediately I realized this book was, by far, NOT what I had expected. Josh’s characters are shocking and quirky, vibrant and memorable, drawing me in and guaranteeing I would read the book through to the final punctuation mark.

Julian’s roommate is convinced the other guys on their dorm floor pee in the communal shower and resolves to wear flip-flops when bathing. His writing professor, embittered by the treatment of his novel in a failed attempt to turn it into a movie, refuses to admit anyone who writes with the intention to write books for the film industry. What’s more, Professor Chesterfield writes commandments on the blackboard, 117 by year’s end, like “THOU SHALT NOT USE THE WORD ‘KERPLUNK’ IN YOUR SHORT STORIES,” and “ THOU SHALT NEVER USE PASS-THE-SALT DIALOGUE.

It is in this writing class Julian meets Carter Heinz, and the two become best friends. During their freshman year, Carter meets and falls in love with Pilar, as does Julian with Mia when they meet in the dorm’s laundry room. Thus begins Matrimony, as Henkin takes the reader on a 15 year journey in the life of Julian Wainright, born to wealth but refusing the comforts and connections the privilege would bring, his struggles to fulfill his dream to publish his novel, and the joys and heartaches life brings.

Unlike Sinclair’s Jungle, whose characters make small gains in one chapter, only to have catastrophic losses in the next, until you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of it all, the ups and downs the lives of the characters in Matrimony are believable and to whom the reader can fully relate. When Mia feels lost and alone as she watches her mother waste away from breast cancer, I wanted to hug her and comfort her and tell I knew what she was going through because my father died from cancer. I was reassured by Julian’s difficulties as a writer, knowing I’m not alone in my own feelings in my own sluggish progress with my novel. And when trouble arises between the couple after Julian learns about an infidelity nine years before, I completely understood his sense of betrayal and loss.

But Henkin hasn’t just written a compelling and involving tale of characters so real that you expect to find them at the grocery store or mall, Matrimony offers lessons in writing that I’ve taken to heart and inspires the reader to action. After reading how Mia copes with their separation, foregoing the comfort of their bed, sleeping instead on the futon from their college days and hoping to catch Julian‘s scent in it, I realized I was holding on to a person, knowing our relationship has ended.

After his visit, I had taken the bed sheet he’d slept on, folded it up and put it away, refusing to wash it because HE was in it; his skin cells, hair and scent were woven into the threads themselves. However, after reading Mia’s feelings, thoughts and actions, I grabbed the sheet and threw it in the washer, letting go of the hurt and disappointment and sense of loss of what could have been. I deleted his phone numbers from my phone and his address from my computer. Then I took a long look at the months I spent in Second Life, and asked myself what did I haveto show for it. The answer I arrived at was this: For the five months I spent escaping to a virtual (fantasy is a better term) world, I had neglected my responsibilities to my family, the housekeeping, to my reading and blogging, to paying bills, became forgetful of appointments and activities, and have had one of the worst cases of winter depression (I have Seasonal Affected Disorder) that I have had in a long time. I have very little good to show for it. Once I realized this, I removed everything related to Second Life from my computer and I’m debating canceling my account (I have decided to wait a month before doing something that drastic, though, as I’vealready paid the rent for my apartment). Though it was painful at first, I feel a profound sense of relief and freedom at having made a decision and taken action, taking control of the situation instead of being a passive victim of life.

I have told all of that to say this: The difference between a good read and a great book is whether or not the reader is changed and compelled to act on that change. A good read is enjoyable and fun, but is forgotten in a year or two; it is the chips and Twinkies of the literary world. Contrastingly, a great book may be an uncomfortable labor to take in, but the reader cannot walk away the same person he or she was before opening the cover and peeking within; it is the manna that sustained the Israelites for forty years of desert wandering, and is preserved for future generations’ understanding and inspiration. Great books become classics, and Matrimony, if there is any wisdom in the reading world, will be counted among them.

For its truth, wisdom, tangible characters, its meaningful and timely content, and its power to inspire and to illicit change, I give Matrimony by Joshua Henkin 5 out of 5 stars, two thumbs and toes up, and a perfect ten (even the German judge agrees). It ranks among the few books I’ve read that becomes a permanent resident of my library. I know I will reread this book, which is very rare for me. I just cannot praise Matrimony enough.

Thank you, Josh, for writing this book and for inviting me to experience and share it. *sniff… tear* :)

 

Don’t forget to sign up to WIN a personalized, autograph copy of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin!  Enter here to win! :-)

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