Review: The Bell Jar

"If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell. I'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days." - Sylvia Plath

The Marriage Plot

“There were some books that reached through the noise of life to grab you by the collar and speak only of the truest things.” ― Jeffrey Eugenides

Some Kind of Happiness

“I suppose most things in a person's life are good for a while, even if that doesn't last very long. Maybe that is why, even after something has gone wrong, we spend so much time trying to fix it. Because we remember when it wasn't broken.”

The God of Small Things

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy 321 pages HarperCollins, 1997 Genre: Fiction Re-readability: I won’t be reading this one again Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars Reviewed by Pete Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things follows the twins Estha and Rahel and the drama that surrounds their family. It takes place mostly in Ayemenem, India, and weaves the Indian caste system, Christianity, and communism throughout its sparse plot. I picked this book up because I’d been in a reading slump, and I usually find that the best way to get out of a reading slump is to try something out of my comfort zone. This isn’t the sort of book I would normally read, and I struggled to break through its dense, summary-style narrative at first. Unfortunately, my initial impression was correct; this book was not for me. It is a family drama, and I have enjoyed very few of these. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the genre, but I find that in general I just don’t like reading about family troubles. Even in the setting of 1960s India, the familial tenseness and secrecy felt the same as other books in the genre. The story was structured in an unusual way: before and after a major event, the death of Estha and Rahel’s cousin, Sophie Mol. We are told that Sophie Mol, Ammu (Estha and Rahel’s mother), and Velutha (an untouchable and family friend) will meet terrible ends in the first few pages of the story. Then you make your way through the chapters that jarringly flip from before the accident to after the accident and you get to see how people used to be and how they were changed. The result is two stagnant parts of a story. I didn’t feel like I was given a chance to watch the characters change. I saw that they became different later, and I was told in slow detail how and why they became different. But I didn’t see or feel it happening. By the last third of the novel, Roy’s apt and clever descriptions become a steady drum that she beats constantly. Estha is described by his deflated pouf. Rahel by her fountain in a Love-In-Tokyo. I didn’t understand the purpose of this dedication to repetition. It felt like she only allowed herself a few dozen phrases with which she could describe things, and by the end of the book, she was forced to use the same ones over and over. Roy undoubtedly has a talent for creating fascinating characters, though she doesn’t seem to know what to do with them. Baby Kochamma, great aunt of the protagonists, is one of the most pathetic, unpleasant, and cruel characters I have read. She is delightfully fun to dislike. One recurring theme that bothered me was the general nastiness of the human body and its functions. There were several scenes in which going to the bathroom is described in detail so rich you can almost smell it. This wasn’t a pleasant reading experience the first time, or the second, or the third, and I failed to see what purpose it served. If Roy had set her characters into motion and given them drive, they may have given this book movement, energy, and excitement. Instead, it was like reading about an intricate painting that becomes more and more detailed every moment but is still static by the end.

Sex and Rage

Want to Read Rate this book 1 of 5 stars2 of 5 stars3 of 5 stars4 of 5 stars5 of 5 stars Sex and RageSex and Rage by Eve Babitz 337 ratings, 3.88 average rating, 51 reviews Open Preview Sex and Rage Quotes (showing 1-18 of 18) “The two girls grew up at the edge of the ocean and knew it was paradise, and better than Eden, which was only a garden.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: Advice to Young Ladies Eager for a Good Time: A Novel tags: california, paradise 24 likes Like “It was all balance. But then, she already knew that from surfing.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: Advice to Young Ladies Eager for a Good Time: A Novel tags: balance, life, surfing 6 likes Like “For the first six months, all whe wanted was honest labor, finely crafted novels, and surf.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: Advice to Young Ladies Eager for a Good Time: A Novel tags: fiction, labor, surf 4 likes Like “Max's laugh was like a dragnet; it picked up every living laugh within the vicinity and shined a light on it, intensified it, pitched it higher. It was a dare--he dared you not to laugh with him. He dared you to despair. He dared you to insist that there was no dawn, that all there was was darkness, that there was no silver lining, that the heart didn't grow fonder by absence. He dared you to believe you were going to die--when you at that moment knew, just as he did, that you were immortal, you were among the gods.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: Advice to Young Ladies Eager for a Good Time: A Novel tags: california, jetset 1 likes Like “People go through life eating lamb chops and breaking their mother’s hearts.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: A Novel 1 likes Like “She figured that any day now she was going to start feeling the simple composure of normalcy that Jane Austen's heroines always sought to maintain, the state described in those days as "countenance," and later as "being cool.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage 0 likes Like “Secrets are lies that you tell to your friends.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: A Novel 0 likes Like “watching their smoke lured out the window by the sun.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: A Novel 0 likes Like “She brought fresh flowers in from the tumbling-down hill where her landlady threw handfuls of wildflower seeds each spring.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: A Novel 0 likes Like “He smelled like a birthday party for small children, like vanilla, crêpe paper, soap, starch, and warm steam and cigarettes.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: A Novel 0 likes Like “The word “escape” had blown out the glow: it was so boring of these American women to imagine they were worth pursuing.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: A Novel 0 likes Like “She could get published in a sound journal that meant business and didn’t publish fly-by-nights. She was twenty-eight. It was time for her to O.D., not get published.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: A Novel 0 likes Like “writers all had drinking problems in the twentieth century, and once she got the $1,080 check, she was obviously a writer and it was obviously the twentieth century, so of course she had a drinking problem.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: A Novel 0 likes Like “She discovered what most writers insist is true nowadays, which is that they can only write for three hours a day at the most, so what else is there to do but drink?” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: A Novel 0 likes Like “Everyone knew the way to dance was like black people did and they all danced that way.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: A Novel 0 likes Like “Sunrise went straight off to take a shower. Jacaranda left and returned from across the street, where she’d picked up two half-gallons of Iglenook Chablis, and poured herself a glass of cold wine. She looked out the window and tried to remember.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: A Novel 0 likes Like “Two days before she went to New York, Jacaranda stopped drinking.” ― Eve Babitz, Sex and Rage: A Novel 0 likes Like “Jacaranda believed that in the world of airplanes there were only two kinds of luggage—carry-on or lost.”

Stitches

I read Stitches in under an hour, and though the story of David’s life and his family is filled with a sadness that I felt as I read, the feeling didn’t linger.

Persuasion

“My idea of good company...is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company," -Jane Austen

Black Light Express

Like its predecessor, Black Light Express is a high-speed adventure. Its scenes are short, intense, and to-the-point. There wasn’t a boring moment, and Reeve does an excellent job, as always, of bringing the struggles of several characters together to create a tightly plotted story.

The School for Good and Evil

"In the forest of primeval A school for Good and Evil Twin towers like two heads One for the pure And one for the wicked Try to escape you'll always fail, The only way out is Through a fairytale.” ― Soman Chainani

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