.

.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Final Film for Paris in July

Paris in July is about to end and to cap it off, so I decided to watch a funny and rather ridiculous film called, An American Werewolf in Paris.  Starring Julie Delpy and Tom Everett Scott, this film follows a group of American guys visiting Paris for the first time, who somehow manage to befriend a group of werewolves.  And, I'm talking about the werewolves that eat people.  Sounds pretty crazy, right?  Well it absolutely is and that is precisely why I enjoyed watching this movie so much.

I hadn't seen this film since it came out during my sophomore year in college and re-watching it made me realize that I had really bad taste in films when I was younger.  I'm utterly serious.  This film is chock full of stereotypical, under-developed characters, over the top antics, and werewolves - how does that not equate to a bad movie?  But I loved it all.  Especially, getting to see Paris in the background and laughing at the absurdity of this film.  It was such a fun treat to watch - it really made a depressingly grey rainy day much more bearable.  Plus, it made for such a blast from the past experience that I was in nostalgia mode for the rest of the day.  I actually listened to my old Bush CDs and sang aloud to the songs at top volume.  Crikey, I loved that band.

All in all, the film was a fun diversion that brightened my day.  Of course, any chance to see Paris is fun - even if it is via an old, cheesy film like An American Werewolf in Paris.  As for Paris in July,  I truly enjoyed reading everyone's posts this year - they are as always, a delight to read.   And now, I'm off to read me some more short stories by KV (Kurt Vonnegut) - I'm in the middle of Look At The Birdie and absolutely LOVING it!  Au Revoir!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Non-Bookish Thoughts...

Okay, so I'm one of those folks that totally believes in signs and gut feelings.  Like, I was at the grocery store the other day and I saw this man clutching a $25 scratchcard and got this overwhelming need to purchase one as well - the exact kind he had.  And guess what?  I won $100!  Pretty nifty, eh?  Or the time I decided to listen to my dream and read a Kurt Vonnegut novel and then he became my absolute favorite writer (he's the author I re-read most) of all time.  And then there was that other time I went with my gut and asked someone out for coffee and he became SOMEONE in my life.  So, you see my track record is not all that bad. 

Well, today I was reading my copy of Elle (a magazine that I have been debating to stop reading - I want to cancel my subscription, but I've already paid up until 2016 so its a moot point right now) and I saw two things that I'm convinced are signs that turning 36 is going to be the BEST thing ever.  The first was an article about clothes.  Yes, I know that sounds shallow, but its true.  The article was called, Goodbye To All That.  Originally I wasn't even going to read it, but then I read the blurb and decided that I could totally relate - "How does a thirtysomething woman dress - and feel - exactly her age: not young, exactly, but not old, either?"  So, I started to read and found out that the author had just turned 36 - talk about coincidence (I am turning 36 next month!).  To celebrate, she decided to gift herself a "closet cleanse" - two women come to your home and go through your wardrobe and get rid of anything/everything that shouldn't be there (like the short skirt you wore in your twenties, to the loud jacket you thought was quirky, to the scuffed boots you never wear anymore).  Then they advise you on what you should buy (to fill the now empty closet), so that you can achieve the "new look" you are going for - polished, pulled together, and playful.  Reading this article made me realize that I could totally relate.  My style is a mishmash of cheap/expensive clothing that does not really say much about who I am now.  When I was younger it was easier to dress for the day - I would go with my mood.  If I wanted to feel girly, I would wear a flowing dress with boots; if I wanted to feel French, I would wear a pretty scarf and ballet flats; and if I wanted to feel academic, I'd wear my corduroy blazer and boyfriend jeans.  But now, my idea of dressing up is making sure to put on a bracelet and a dab of lip gloss. Ugh!  I live in my ratty Beatles tee shirts, ripped jeans, and Converse.  Sometimes I wear a pretty blouse to feel feminine. Or I make sure to carry my Tory Burch or Marc Jacobs handbag to feel stylish.  Reading this article made me realize I need help.  I can't afford a "closet cleanse", but I can definitely use my own common sense and cull my own wardrobe.  Plus, I can drag my sister shopping with me and get some new things.  I want my "new look" to reflect that I'm older and wiser - but still youthful (I am only turning 36 after all). 

Now, for the second thing I read in Elle - it was a review of Murakami's latest book (which comes out in August!!).  According to the magazine, the book is an amazing new masterpiece (no big surprise there).  Anyhow, it wasn't the review that captured my attention, it was this quote:

"Though he lacked a striking personality, or any qualities that made him stand out, and despite always aiming for what was average, the middle of the road, there was (or seemed to be) something about him that wasn't exactly normal, something that set him apart.  And this contradiction continued to perplex and confuse him, from his boyhood all the way to the present, when he was 36 years old."

He's 36!  The protagonist in Murakami's, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, is 36 years old - how perfect!  Not only did learning that fact make me even more excited about reading the book, but it really made think that turning 36 is definitely going to be quite a "pilgrimage" of learning and I am ready for it.  I really feel like this book is coming out at the perfect time (just after my birthday).  How cool!

Of course, all of this thinking about getting older has made me realize that I've neglected my "40 before 40" list.  I don't think I've crossed anything off of it this year - ack!  So, I really need to start looking over it and get to work ASAP.  Especially now that I've learned my friend Kris' list has so many more items crossed off of it than mine.  Yes, I'm feeling a bit competitive.  I think it helps to spur me on (or at least I want it to).  Anyhow, that's what I've been thinking about today.  Now I need to go eat some pizza and read - I still have to finish my copy of Elle.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Man Booker Prize Longlist is out now!

Here we are ladies and gents, the Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist aka my new TBR list: (from Man Book Prize website)        
                                                                                                                                             
about book:

Ruth Swain, the bedridden daughter of a dead poet, home from school after a collapse, is trying to find her father through stories - and through generations of family history in County Clare. In order to do this Ruthie turns to the three thousand, nine hundred and fifty eight books piled high that her father left behind. His entire, vast library moved to her bedroom which she pledges to work her way through while she’s still living.






 



about book:

Paul O'Rourke, 40 year-old slightly curmudgeonly dentist, runs a thriving practice in New York. Yet he is discovering he needs more in his life than a steady income and the perfect mochaccino. But what?

As Paul tries to work out the meaning of life, a Facebook page and Twitter account appear in his name. What's at first an outrageous violation of privacy soon becomes something more frightening: the possibility that the online "Paul" might be a better version of the man in the flesh. Who is doing this and will it cost Paul his sanity?



 
about book:

As a child, Rosemary used to talk all the time. So much so that her parents used to tell her to start in the middle if she wanted to tell a story. Now Rosemary has just started college and she barely talks at all. And she definitely doesn’t talk about her family. So we're not going to tell you too much either: you'll have to find out for yourself what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other. Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone - vanished from her life. But there's something unique about Rosemary's sister, Fern. So now she's telling her story; a looping narrative that begins towards the end, and then goes back to the beginning. Twice.
 





about book:

Artist Harriet Burden, consumed by fury at the lack of recognition she has received from the New York art establishment, embarks on an experiment: she hides her identity behind three male fronts who exhibit her work as their own. And yet, even after she has unmasked herself, there are those who refuse to believe she is the woman behind the men.

Presented as a collection of texts compiled by a scholar years after Burden's death, the story unfolds through extracts from her notebooks, reviews and articles, as well as testimonies from her children, her lover, a dear friend, and others more distantly connected to her. Each account is different, however, and the mysteries multiply.

about book:

One drowsy summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for ‘asylum’.  Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking...

The Bone Clocks  follows the twists and turns of Holly’s life, from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland’s Atlantic coast as Europe’s oil supply dries up – a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality.  For Holly Sykes – daughter, sister, mother, guardian – is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.




about book:

In 2007, a New York attorney bumps into an old college buddy – and accepts his friend’s offer of a job in Dubai, as the overseer of an enormous family fortune. Haunted by the collapse of his relationship and hoping for a fresh start, our strange hero begins to suspect that he has exchanged one inferno for another.

The Dog is led by a brilliantly entertaining anti-hero. Imprisoned by his endless powers of reasoning, hemmed in by the ethical demands of globalized life, he is fatefully drawn towards the only logical response to our confounding epoch.





about book:

How to be Both is a novel all about art's versatility.  Borrowing from painting's fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it's a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions.  There's a renaissance artist of the 1460s.  There's the child of a child of the 1960s.  Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real - and all life's givens get given a second chance.









about book:

In Orfeo, Powers tells the story of a man journeying into his past as he desperately flees the present. Seventy-year old avant-garde composer Peter Els opens his front door one evening to find the police on his doorstep. His home microbiology lab – the latest experiment in his lifelong attempt to discover musical patterns in DNA strands – has come to the attention of Homeland Security. Panicked by the raid, Els flees and turns fugitive, waiting for the evidence to clear him and for the alarm to blow over. But alarm turns to national hysteria, as the government promises a panicked nation that the ‘Bioterrorist Bach’ will be found and brought to trial. As Els feels the noose around him tighten, he embarks on a cross-country trip to visit, one last time, the people he loves, those who shaped his musical journey. Through the help of his ex-wife, his daughter, and his longtime artistic collaborator, Els comes up with a plan to turn his disastrous collision with national security into one last, resonant, calamitous artwork that might reach an audience beyond his wildest dreams.

about book:

Set in the three years after the Norman invasion of 1066, The Wake tells the story of Buccmaster of Holland, a man from the Lincolnshire Fens who, with a fractured band of guerilla fighters, takes up arms against the invaders. It is a post-apocalyptic story of the brutal shattering of lives, a tale of lost gods and haunted visions, narrated by a man bearing witness to the end of his world.











about book:

Set in the future, a world where the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited, J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying.

Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going. Kevern doesn’t know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a world starting with a J. It wasn’t then, and isn’t now, the time or place to be asking questions.

Ailinn too has grown up in the dark about who she was or where she came from. On their first date Kevern kisses the bruises under her eyes. He doesn’t ask who hurt her. Brutality has grown commonplace. They aren’t sure if they have fallen in love of their own accord, or whether they’ve been pushed into each other’s arms. But who would have pushed them, and why?

Hanging over the lives of all the characters in this novel is a momentous catastrophe – a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened.

about book:

Calcutta, 1967. Unnoticed by his family, Supratik has become dangerously involved in extremist political activism. Compelled by an idealistic desire to change his life and the world around him, all he leaves behind before disappearing is this note…

The ageing patriarch and matriarch of his family, the Ghoshes, preside over their large household, unaware that beneath the barely ruffled surface of their lives the sands are shifting. More than poisonous rivalries among sisters-in-law, destructive secrets, and the implosion of the family business, this is a family unravelling as the society around it fractures. For this is a moment of turbulence, of inevitable and unstoppable change: the chasm between the generations, and between those who have and those who have not, has never been wider.




about book:

Us by David Nicholls tells the story of Douglas Petersen, whose marriage of twenty-one years to Connie is almost over. When Autumn comes around, their son Albie will leave for university. Connie has decided to leave soon after.

But there's still the summer holidays to get through - a Grand Tour of Europe's major cities - and over the course of the journey, Douglas devises a plan to win back the love of his wife and repair his troubled relationship with his son. Forced to understand why his marriage is in tatters, he looks back to the beginning of their relationship and learns once again whom he fell in love with.

Us is the history of a family, recounted over the course of what may well be their final weeks together. It's a comedy about the demands of living together, about parenthood, about the relationship between reason and emotion, art and science, parents and children, middle-age and youth.

about book:

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a love story unfolding over half a century between a doctor and his uncle’s wife.

Taking its title from one of the most famous books in Japanese literature, written by the great haiku poet Basho, Flanagan’s novel has as its heart one of the most infamous episodes of Japanese history, the construction of the Thailand-Burma Death Railway in World War II.

In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Death Railway, surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.

Not a bad bunch,eh?  I know I'm excited to dive in to some of these amazing sounding reads.  Plus, I love that four of the authors are American - Go USA!  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Losing Touch by Sandra Hunter

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

After Indian Independence Arjun brings his family to London, but hopes of a better life rapidly dissipate.  His wife Sunila spends all day longing for a nice tea service, his son suddenly hates anything Indian, and his daughter, well, that’s a whole other problem.  As he struggles to enforce the values he grew up with, his family eagerly embraces the new.  But when Arjun’s right leg suddenly fails him, his sense of imbalance is more than external.  Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, he is forced to question his youthful impatience and careless cruelty to his family, until he learns, ultimately, to love them despite — or because of — their flaws.

In a series of tender and touching glimpses into the shared life of a married couple, Sandra Hunter creates strikingly sympathetic characters — ones that remind us of our own shortfalls, successes, hypocrisies, and humanity.

my thoughts:

Losing Touch is a quiet novel about the Kulkani family.  Originally from India, the family has emigrated to London and have settled into their new surroundings without much fuss.  Well, except for the children's wishes to sever ties with India - they want to fit in and embrace British culture.  Oh, and Arjun's wife, Sunila, who doesn't understand why women have to adhere to the husband's rules regarding money, housework, parenting, etc. - times are changing, women can manage their own monies and should be able to spend it on themselves (instead of giving all of their earnings to their husbands and getting in trouble if one pound is missing).  As for Arjun, he just wants his family to remember where they came from and to mind him when he tells them what to do.  Of course, life has other plans for Arjun and his family.

Told in two parts, each one focusing on a different time period (first part consists of the 1960s- 1970s and second part picks up in the 2000s), this story shows us the evolution of the Kulkani family as they grow up and apart in their new home country.   It is also the story of a man's battle with a disease that robs him of his body and speech.  Arjun's family has lost a few members to a degenerative neuro-muscular disease over the years and so he is aware that his recent symptoms are not a good omen.  As we learn more about the Kulkanis, we see Arjun's body slowly lose control, function, and mobility.  With each fall he takes, he is one step closer to being bedridden, but he ignores it.  Arjun does not want to deal with his medical issues immediately, because he is scared to.  So, instead he focuses on his family and what he considers to be their shortcomings.  Arjun's relationship with his wife and children never really shines with love or compassion, which makes for a rather sad read.  This family is disconnected from one another through misunderstandings, resentments, and past hurts.  Nothing really manages to bring them together, except for the fact that they are related to one another.  Frankly, I don't blame Arjun's family for keeping their distance.  He is a lousy father and husband who appears to be befuddled by his kin, instead of in love with them.  I have sympathy for his wife and children who seem to want their husband/father to just listen to them, to be there for them, to accept them, and to simply love them.  Losing Touch was a frustrating read at times and I did find myself skimming pages, but overall it was a good book.  I considered it to be an observational novel, instead of a (story)telling one - which is probably why I liked it more than I expected to. 

I would recommend Losing Touch to fans of novels about families, culture clashes, and the immigrant experience.   To find out what other bloggers have to say about this book, check out the  TLC Book Tours schedule for: Losing Touch
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Art from Dreams: My Jungian Journey in Collage, Assemblage, and Poetry by Susan Levin

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

ART FROM DREAMS: MY JUNGIAN JOURNEY in COLLAGE, ASSEMBLAGE, and POETRY celebrates artistic expression as an exploration for self-awareness. Art-making and poetry reveal to ourselves and to others the images and feelings that arise within us in dreams. The very process of creation taps into the source of our inner wisdom.  The mediums of collage and assemblage illustrate that readers do not need to have any experience or expertise in art to use their images for personal insight.  Poetry itself can be accessible as a collage of named images put together in various forms to communicate to and from our innermost selves.

my thoughts:

I love poetry and art and anything creative that reflects someone's internal thoughts, emotions, opinions.  So, when I was offered the chance to review Susan Levin's book, Art from Dreams, I jumped at the chance.  How could I not?  A book filled with poems and images of the artwork that resulted from Levin's experience with a professional Jungian dream analyst and her dreams.  I found myself utterly captivated by it all.  The idea of how much our dreams can influence and inspire our creativity is fascinating.  And just from looking through Levin's book, I can see that she was deeply compelled to explore and examine her dreams.  She was able to reflect her subconscious through images and words in such an artistically authentic manner.  The items she chose to put in her assemblages do not merely represent themselves, but they also become a part of her narrative and take on a new identity.  I loved this idea of re-purposing in her art. 

I love the images we get from Levin and can see them running through her mind during her nighttime slumbers - they are so clearly reflected in these beautiful, thought-provoking pieces.  From one piece to the next, you are able to get a peek into Levin's personal world (past, present, and future).  As for the poetry that accompanies the artwork in the first part of the book, they were written after each piece had been created.  I'm in love with these two poems:

Mother      

Instincts can malfunction
Become defective, deficient, half-baked
There should be a recipe for Motherhood
Exact measurements
The precise amount of ingredient
Or else sweets for no one



Picasso Dream       

Dreamt Picasso said:
keep trying different things
Life itself is art


Art from Dreams by Susan Levin is definitely a book that I will happily peruse time and time again.  I love the idea that each time I open the book, I will be discovering something new inside - the meanings will change over time for me and I love that about art and poetry.  This is one book that I would happily recommend to fans of poetry, art, and books about dreams.


Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!