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Pinta

Pinta

Joined December 2018

review
Pinta
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Mehso-so

Rushdie reflecting on the knife attack that came 30 years after the fatwa ordering Muslims to kill him. Felt heavy on medical info & self-regard, light on insight, but maybe insights hard to glean from violent acts both horrific & mundane? Sprinkled w/ literary references. Imagined convos with assailant felt therapeutic but off. 2024

P13 “Why didn‘t I act?”
P13 “The targets of violence experience a crisis in their understanding of the real.”

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Pinta
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Pickpick

Intergenerational loneliness and shame. The surface telling, and the deeper history. Guilt. Truth. Family. Denial. Migrant challenges. Tabloid journalism. Processing trauma. Beautiful sentences. When sensationalized stories become ordinary, but no less painful. 2024

P43 “the only surefire way to reduce a problem‘s importance was to replace it with a new and more urgent problem.”

P113 “Do you know how rare it is to start over?”

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Pinta
System Collapse | Martha Wells
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Mehso-so

Muderbot plots are so good because as security personnel, MB is always assessing risk, predicting threats & prompting anticipation & anxiety. You turn pages to see what MB got wrong, and how he/she/it heroically adapts. “Competence porn.” But this mission felt too boring for too long. Still great sardonic quotes: P84 “we proceeded down the stupid tunnel, into the stupid danger.” 🤣 2023

P193 “I would be panicking more, but I didn‘t have time.”

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Pinta
H(a)ppy | Nicola Barker
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Pickpick

Trading freedom for peace & well-being. Echoes of Huxley & Zamyatin. Politely overprotective society organized to prevent anxiety, conflict & exclusion. Impulse=taboo, selfhood repressed. Breaking conformism. Beautiful graphic play with text as The Sensor picks up dangerous words & colorizes them in The Graph. Guitarist Agustín Barrios. “The tuning fork is in your heart.” 2017

P9 “Push it away, Mira A. This moment. This feeling. The frustration.”

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Pinta
The Women: A Novel | Kristin Hannah
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Mehso-so

Feels like characters in service of research, checking off a list of experiences during and after the Vietnam War and having Frankie and her friends experience them all. Having just read a biography with first-hand accounts of the front lines, this definitely feels researched and at a distance. Still, Frankie‘s persistence pulled me forward and yes to more writing on women's experience at war. Julia Whelan really is a great audio narrator. 2023

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Pinta
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^quivering epicenter

P55 “cupping our hands to the sides of our faces to block out the two lesser works”

P50 “I saw the end of the world, the barbed edge of nothingness, and it was not something to fear, but to relish.”

P53 “I see myself and all humanity in the eyes of the holy donkey”

P58 “One must paint, he said, believing the Antichrist is traipsing through the next village.”

P129 “Who knows the inner workings of your soul better than I?”

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Pinta
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^^critic‘s mind vs. heart. Linking Schmidt & Beckenbauer.

P26 “because of mediocrity‘s unrivaled capacity for annihilating beauty, it will always be victorious.”

P20 “Schmidt said he well understood why Caravaggio would appeal to someone like me, an incurious American toddler nursed on the teats of an illiterate culture.”

P115 “even though he called the United States an ‘exercise in the ludicrous‘ or ‘an obese infant with a head injury‘” 🤣

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Pinta
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Pickpick

What is art criticism? Academic frenemies “chat about chaos, agony, and the end of the world.” A bit of Bolaño, satirizing academics, + Beckett, exhausting language. Repetition & variation. Style reinforces narrator‘s obsessiveness & makes you question his reliability. Same info over & over to show his limited focus? Outlandish subject of study: 16th century sex-addicted, syphilitic pig farmer painter. But someone must be the expert. 2022

Pinta Pursuit of meaning. Ultimately, it‘s the FRIENDSHIP that is meaningful, not the art. Ridiculous & wonderful. Babbling nonsense that suddenly (seemingly mistakenly) brings insight & tears. But glad it‘s short cause this voice is A LOT. (edited) 1mo
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Pinta
Project Hail Mary | Andy Weir
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Saving the universe from star eaters. “Memory gap / flashbacks / amnesia drugs” chronology flipping is cheesy, but allows Grace interaction outside of isolation. Lotsa space chemistry. I resisted Rocky, but found fondness. Would watch Rocky sleep. My new mantra: “I may not have all the answers, but I‘m here.” 2021

P390 “I‘m not the right guy for this job. I‘m a last-second replacement because the actually qualified people blew up. But I‘m here.”

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Pinta
The Librarianist: A Novel | Patrick DeWitt
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Bailedbailed

I tried. I bailed. 2023

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Pinta
Easily Slip into Another World: A Life in Music | Brent Hayes Edwards, Henry Threadgill
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Hubkaphone!

P243 “It‘s all about the combination of players. […] Count Basie without Freddie Green, without Lester Young? The Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Frederick Stock: there were key people in that orchestra who made that sound. […] People forget that sometimes and only look at the leader‘s name on the date. But the musicians are the ones who realize the blueprint. And it‘s the ability to open up a blueprint that brings a work to life.”

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Pinta
Easily Slip into Another World: A Life in Music | Brent Hayes Edwards, Henry Threadgill
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Vietnam: P153 “One of the main ways that war transforms you has to do with your sense of hearing. […] It‘s like I grew a set of antennae over there. When I returned, my reception equipment was different. And even if the war messed up my head in a million other ways at the same time—and even if I didn‘t ask for any of it—I‘d have to admit that that heightened sensitivity became one of the main things that shaped me into the composer I‘ve become.”

Suet624 Totally makes sense. 2mo
6 likes1 comment
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Pinta
Easily Slip into Another World: A Life in Music | Brent Hayes Edwards, Henry Threadgill
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Pickpick

Love this. Already a Threadgill superfan, but this cements it. A new fave music bio. Explains his background & influences, while insisting nothing can be explained. Extended musings on performance and composition. Big ideas & sly humor. Vietnam. Goa. Englewood. The East Village. Hubkaphone! Houseboat rehearsals. Collaboration. My jazz heroes tying knots on the motor home in a panhandle tornado. Gorgeous sentences—kudos to Brent Hayes Edwards. 2023

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Pinta
Martyr!: A novel | Kaveh Akbar
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Family, siblings, deathdrive, dreams. Shifting 1st person POV centered on orphaned Iranian-American poet Cyrus Shams. Obsession with martyrdom and “a death that matters” masking a search for meaning and “goodness.” Open and heartfelt. Saw the twist coming, but it still did its work. 2024

10 “Cyrus didn‘t write so much as he drank about writing”

114 “It‘s possible, he thought, that the experience of gratitude was itself a luxury”

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Pinta
Grief Is for People | Sloane Crosley
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7 “Denial is also the weirdest stage of grief because it so closely mimics stupidity.”

25 “You become numb when you swallow too much sadness at once. The reason it feels like no boundaries have been crossed is because the concept of boundaries has been obliterated.”

175 The locket: “I‘d turned him into jewelry and jewelry into him.”

185 “How do I keep you buried and keep you with me at the same time?”

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Pinta
Grief Is for People | Sloane Crosley
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^^human need for intention and causality—what did I do to get burgled?

A book of ??s seeking impossible answers:

46 the dreaded “Did you know?”

53 “Do you have to forgive a person who dies by suicide?”

60 “You do realize we‘re all going to get old and die without you?”

61 “How could you have left the dogs?”

64 “How will he know you loved him unless you try to destroy yourself?”

68 “Can we ever get back what‘s lost?”

115 “Were we snobs?”

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Pinta
Grief Is for People | Sloane Crosley
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Pickpick

Blow-by-blow of 2 losses in close proximity: family heirlooms, beloved Russell. Question-filled, loving look at impossible topic: making sense of the suicide of a friend. Musings, not-knowings, wounds. Some of Crosley‘s work crosses into too-cleverness for me & this one gets gossipy. But it works. The suddenness & enormity of the losses, her vulnerability & guttedness, make all the clever & trite bits a desperate attempt at self-protection. 2024

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Pinta
Wandering Stars | Tommy Orange
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Mehso-so

“There There” prequel & sequel. Shifting 1st per POVs (one 2nd person). Addiction & recovery. Bullet as star. Early characters feel in service to research—little dialogue or interiority. Missing the urgency of “There There.” But lovely bits. 2024

P114 “You are from a people who survived by making their surviving mean more than surviving.”

P135 “He was still trying to figure out what was pain & what was relief, what were dreams & what were drugs”

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Pinta
Another Country | James A Baldwin
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Pickpick

THICK WITH LANGUAGE. Rich fare, had to read in dips. Fluid flashbacks, analysis, intensity. Characters talking and KNOWING, observant & well aware. Skin & sexuality, bias & prejudice. Sensual & snarky. Anger and passion crowding out affection, friend circle running towards each other and away, making mess and melodrama. NYC. 1961

P 199 “The aim of the dreamer, after all, is merely to go on dreaming and not to be molested by the world.”

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Pinta
Erasure: A Novel | Percival Everett
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Pickpick

Sly, lots of digs at both commercial & academic publishing, inventive dialogue between artists (Joyce & Wilde, Rauschenberg & de Kooning). What is radical art? What is new narrative territory? What is a Black story? 2001

P155 “epiphanies are like spicy foods: coming back, coming back.”

P2 “I told him that I was living a black life, far blacker than he could ever know, that I had lived one, that I would be living one.”

SamAnne I‘m about 80 percent through it. There are so many great sentences in this novel my Libby ebook from the library is lit up with highlights like a Christmas Tree. Will have to get my own copy. 3mo
Pinta Agreed! 2mo
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Pinta
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Pickpick

Love spending time with these families. Fave reread: slim book thick with language & emotion, throwing shade & spreading tenderness. Arbitrary, wrongful incarceration. Gorgeousness & pain. Frank‘s end still feels abrupt & off, but offers up the families‘ despair while giving the lovers another day. 1974

143 “When two people love each other, when they really love each other, everything that happens between them has something of a sacramental air.”

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Pinta
Playing in the Dark | Toni Morrison
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^p78 twisting language to preserve white character‘s agency & perspective in “To Have and Have Not.” Wesley can‘t even yell “Fish!”—Harry has to “saw he had seen” the fish.
“A better, certainly more graceful choice would have been to have the black man cry out at the sighting.” Observations, small details.

P30 “The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.”

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Pinta
Playing in the Dark | Toni Morrison
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Pickpick

Strong piece. “American Africanism” as an OTHERED Blackness, a “fabricated presence” as foil for white characters. 1992

P77 “Eddie is white, and we know he is because nobody says so.”

P93 “Studies in American Africanism, in my view, should be investigations of the ways in which a nonwhite, Africanist presence and persona have been constructed—invented—in the United States, and of the literary uses this fabricated presence has served.”

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Pinta
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Pickpick

Troubling concepts & troubled minds, math & physics mysteries. Where does history end & fiction begin? Like WG Sebald, trains of thought. Quantum physics & impossibility of knowing. Nitrogen fertilizer & atom bombs. Night gardeners. Sorrowful, arrogant uncertainty. Trans. 2020.

P159 “When Bohr returned from his holiday, Heisenberg told him that there was an absolute limit to what we could know about the world.”
P176 “We should be wary of plants.”

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Pinta
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Pickpick

Uneven but wry, magical short stories. Stories like memories. Coming of age, cultural taboos, Palestinian Bedouin women.

P103 “The queens of darkness don‘t know that this is who they are. Sovereignty is a quarry they‘ve never been trained to hunt. Nor does it occupy their thoughts. Rather, the only quarry they know is life itself—life unadorned.”

P25 “Among Bedouins, there are many things that don‘t die even if they are buried in the ground.”

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Pinta
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Pickpick

Revenge on the colonizer. Tenochitlan survives. Hallucinatory farce. Aztec angst—Moctezuma as depressed warrior, overindulging in magic mushrooms & napping in his favorite feathered cloak. Lost in the palace. Sometimes feels like characters are wandering through research & exposition. Influence of interpreters. Clash of cultures. Bored and snarky warriors. Loneliness & splendor. Weakness of empire, ripe for conquest. Walls have 👁️👁️. Tr. 2024.

batsy Great and intriguing review. I have this on my list. And embarrassed to say I have one other of his I've yet to read 3mo
Pinta I need to find Sudden Death! I like an irreverent alternate history 3mo
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Pinta
Abyss | Pilar Quintana
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Pickpick

Child narrator. Nameless fears, monsters & devils, separation anxiety. The unknown, the abyss. Lack of control. Isolation. Jealousy. Depression. Orphans. Women trapped: housewives & movie stars. Nurtured plants, neglected families. 2023 tr. Dillman

P186 “All my dead, I thought. If my father‘s dead resided in his silence and my mother‘s dead were the plants in the jungle, mine were the leaves about to fall.”

P91 “She was tired of her obligations”

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Pinta
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Pickpick

Loved this. 12 compelling narratives, beautiful illustrations by 14 different graphic artists. Collection of short illustrated stories on futurism followed by essays: smart cities, AI artists, biohacking, animal rights (“petsploitation”), deepfakes, truth & trust, crime in space, simulacra & grief, gender & identity, climate, rest, pop culture, avatars & algorithms. 2021

P32”Smart cities are equal parts exciting, enticing, absurd, & nightmarish.”

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Pinta
Starter Villain | John Scalzi
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Pickpick

Wacky, in easy-breezy prose. Potty-mouthed, class-conscious dolphins, typing cats, silly villains. Tension doesn‘t build consistently, established stakes left behind, but fun underdog (undercat?) story. Villains as “professional disrupters: the people who looked at systems and processes; found the weak spots, loopholes, and unintended consequences of each of them; and then exploited them” (P86). 2022

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Pinta
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^^323 Charles Johnson on plot & character, character as the engine of plot

14 “Having been taught the English language by teachers who don‘t know my linguistic legacy, I‘ve had to break rules and resist conventions that promised to drown out voices I know so well.”

50 “What must you own in order to write your memoir? You must be prepared to pay the price and reap the rewards of all that owning your story will require.”

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Pinta
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Pickpick

Black writers on craft. Sense and sensuality, language, time, understanding characters, paying attention, revision. Faves: Daniel Omotosho Black on rhythm, Tayari Jones on plot, Mitchell S. Jackson on re-vision, Charles Johnson on process. 2023

307 “ Revision is a philosophy; revision is revolution.”

322 “I see each sentence as being a unit of energy.”

batsy Each sentence as a unit of energy is fantastic way of looking at writing (and ensuring lively/energetic prose...) 3mo
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Pinta
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^^ 227 Is there a place for fiction? Why are you making things up?

7 “You‘re a vulnerable, she said. And you need to act like one.”

3 “Now I know the truth: what matters is what you experience while reading, the states of feeling that the story evokes, the questions that rise to your mind, rather than the fictional events described. They should teach you this in school, but they don‘t. Always instead, the emphasis is on what you remembered.”

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Pinta
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Pickpick

Pandemic novel, meditative. Direct & familiar. Independence, aging, memory, safety, rules, animals, indoor/outdoor. Vulnerability. Sly humor. Gossipy. Meta. Poetic & reflexive.2023

226 “It grew tiresome, hearing so many quote Brecht: ‘In the dark times / Will there also be singing?/There will also be singing. / Of the dark times.‘ The irony being that I‘ve now gone and done it myself.”

201 “If you could ask a dog one question, what would it be?”

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Pinta
The Fraud | Zadie Smith
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Bailedbailed

Somebody help me read this. Love ZS, Tichborne great subject, but just can‘t stick. 2023

P3 “The filthy boy stood on the doorstep. He might be scrubbed of all that dirt, eventually—but not of so many orange freckles. No more than fourteen, with skinny, unstable legs like a marionette, he kept pitching forward, shifting soot into the hall. Still, the woman who‘d opened the door—easily amused, susceptible to beauty—found she couldn‘t despise him.”

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Pinta
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Pickpick

Frame tale with lots of addenda, pastiche, layers. Satire of Victorian novel, author as editor, unreliable narrator. Hysteria, women‘s education, class struggle. Odd & fun & questioning. Ornate, cheeky language. Lolita x Galatea. Invented female fiend, superpower=sexual appetite & sheer will. 1992

216 “She has a right to know why you say she is an unstable woman with insane appetites who should have had a surgical operation after her honeymoon.”

Pinta Movie adaptation=disappointment. Took a clever, funny send-up of portrayals of women in the gothic novel and turned it into a low grade horror. Getting rid of the story frame and telling JUST Max‘s crazy tale is garbage. Not including Bella‘s coda where she tells her story in her own words feels ugly and exploitative. Without her story, just Manic Pixie Dream Girl BS, what the book was writing AGAINST. Yuk. (edited) 4mo
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Pinta
The Best American Short Stories 2023 | Heidi Pitlor, Min Jin Lee
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Stories in strange, liminal spaces. Confusion of time: past present future. Family, friendship, loyalty, generational (mis)understanding, responsibility, guilt, remorse. Immigration, homesickness. Mostly first-person. Foils. Ling Ma‘s “Peking Duck”=killer, perfectly structured, self-referential, inevitable. Whole collection summed in quote from Pearson‘s “Grand Mal”: stories “giving shape to an inchoate thought.” So good & so unsettling. 2023

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The Future | Naomi Alderman
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Mehso-so

A lot to like, but tough to keep believably upping the stakes when you start w/ the world‘s end. High vs. low tech, built world vs. nature, concentrated power vs. collaboration. Survival. Bear & sunset fingernails passage dreamlike & memorable. Could the disappearance of a few greedy billionaires “save the world?” 2023
363 “The end of the world is only ever hastened by those who think they will be able to protect their own from the coming storm.”

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Chain-Gang All-Stars | Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
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Mehso-so

^^^Killer opening, throwing the reader in with an adrenaline bang. Convict-gladiators in the Criminal Action Penal Entertainment (CAPE) program fight for their freedom in bloodthirsty televised battles. Violence & spectacle. Love & sacrifice. Amazing Pynchonesque names: Hurricane Staxxx, Melancholia Bishop, Gunny Puddles. Satirical critique of prison-industrial complex in energetic prose, but maybe also gives in to a dehumanizing excess? 2023

BkClubCare Great review/description 4mo
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Pinta
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Bailedbailed

I love Kate Atkinson‘s writing, but couldn‘t stick with this. A short story is not just a quick finish to an abandoned idea for a novel. 2023

dabbe #hailthebail! 🖤💜🖤 4mo
charl08 Ouch! Just starting this one. 4mo
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Pinta
Day | Michael Cunningham
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P30 “They‘re driven by an ancient, filial wrath, stunning in its purity.”

P44 “Dan resembles himself, occupies himself, more effectively than anyone Rob could name.”

NOVEL IN A NUTSHELL: P58 “She ponders the prospect that decadent unhappiness might, in its way, be worse than genuine, legitimate despair. Which is, as she knows, a decadent question to pose at all.”

P111 “He occupies the narrow, shifty zone between culture and corruption.”

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Pinta
Day | Michael Cunningham
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Cunningham characters: precious & self-absorbed, observant & open. Family, reliance. Desire, responsibility. Love & loss. Pull to escape a comfortable domestic life. V. Woolf influence. Insta as fiction. Pandemic novel in all its concentrated numbness. Quiet foreshadowing. Strong psychological portraits of exasperating characters, in perfect gem sentences.

P115 “Maybe they‘ll abandon their lives, which are rich and full but nevertheless…” 2023

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I love López‘ heart and humor. Here she takes on the legend of La Llorona, investigating acceptance, family, belonging, overcoming fear, and misunderstood monsters. Wanders a bit in the middle, but such a strong start and finish. Plot evolving from character traits, everything falling into place. 2023

207 “Maybe uncle Clem is right and she‘s nothing but regret and grief. But no, I will not turn away, because I love her, no matter what.”

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Pinta
The Pole: A Novel | J. M. Coetzee
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Mehso-so

Lyrical & creepy. More of Coetzee‘s distant objects of desire & ardent, pitiable men. Deconstructing Dante w/ a banal Beatrice. Allegory?—an aging Coetzee telling the WORLD “I love you, I desire you, remember me when I‘m gone?” But maybe that‘s too generous. Also: pity is an uncomfortable place. Without the release of farce or melodrama, an empty grand passion is hard to sit with. Maybe that‘s the point. Strange book. Language & translation. 2023

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Pickpick

Love of family, love of Philly. 2023

88 “At Minnie‘s, I learned of the beauty of true intimacy—what love could look like when all pretense disintegrated into truth. The joy of mutuality. […] Love was the essence, the basis of every action and profound beauty flowed from this commitment. […] Reciprocity so strong that it bound a family and a community: still, deep, and steady. On South 5th Street the banal became art, elevated by a loyal love.”

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Pinta
Family Meal | Bryan Washington
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Feels like a remix of Memorial, but more subtly structured. Grief & self-destruction. Accepting care. Family & food. Healing through community. Tender & brutal. 2023

P141. “My family taught me the difference between acceptance, allowance, and understanding. Also: just being. Sometimes they overlap. Usually, they don‘t.”

P284 “We need everyone. Like, it‘s a group effort […] it‘s our responsibility to take care of each other.”

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Once Upon a River | Diane Setterfield
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Mehso-so

Loved the start of this with its ghost story/ mystery vibes, but then it felt like the story took off downstream and left its author behind. Late Victorian Oxfordshire, a young girl washes up in the arms of a stranger & half the community covets & claims her. Grief. Beautiful sentence-level work, but plot wanders away. Refrain: SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN. So give it to us, already. 2018

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The Covenant of Water | Abraham Verghese
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Three generations in 20th cent. southwestern India. Tender, personal, moral tone. Epic (LONG) scope w/ detailed if typed characters, like the Dickens referenced. Art & medicine. Fable & legend. Does feel like nat geo, India for the outsider? 2023

839 “She washes up, still marveling at the connections in her world, invisible or forgotten, but there all the same, like a river linking people upstream with those below, whether they know it or not.”

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Pinta
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Mehso-so

A DNA test uproots identity. Organized around plants and seasons, this lyric memoir contains beautiful observations on grief and making peace with the unanswerable. But like her mother‘s garden, the text is wild and rambling. I drifted in and out. 2023

P139 “How would she have related to love and gentleness and other normal things if she were not taught to be in a state of constant defense and secrecy?”

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The Trayvon Generation | Elizabeth Alexander
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Essays. Mothering Black boys in US, surviving anti-Black violence. Beautiful reproductions of artwork by Jennifer Packer, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker. 2022

P64 “Do I really believe that cultural expression can somehow shape a world where our children are safer?”
P73 “No matter how intellectual and multicolored motherhood becomes as children grow older, the part that says, ‘My purpose on earth is to keep you alive‘ has never totally dissipated.”

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Confession | Martin Kohan
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Narrator‘s grandmother‘s story in 3 sections: young girl infatuated w/ boy who would become a dictator; mother worried by activities of son under dictatorship; chatty grandmother battling at cards with grandson. Scarcely mentioned: brutality & kidnappings of Argentina‘s “Dirty War.” Deception. Politics & family. Guilt & confession. Approaches material obliquely, main story is in the background & never truly confessed. Powerful puzzle. Trans. 2023

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