Friday, December 26, 2008

I Just Want My Pants Back

Meet Jason Strider. He lost a pair of his favourite pants to a girl he "made love" to in a refrigerator (she wore them home and never returned them). Now normally losing a pair of pants shouldn't be THAT big a deal, but it is to Jason because those pants are one of three that he owns. He lives in New York and works as an assistant (pay is horrible) and also drinks like a fish and smokes doobies like it's going out of style. Oh, and he needs to eat too. So he doesn't exactly have a lot of money to throw on a pair of pants. (Even though he probably should.)

His is the perfect case which proves that getting an education at an Ivy League college doesn't necessarily mean that you will make the most out of it. His English degree is not one that he uses to help him rake in the dough. The only time he exhibits his use for it is when he text messages his friends or sends them emails. Which happens very often throughout the day since his assistant job doesn't really leave him with much to do where actual work is concerned.

His days are spent running late for work, drinking a lot of alcohol, hanging out with his friends, trying to get laid, smoking up, and going to bed super late despite the fact that he needs to wake up early to start the cycle all over again.

The only bright side there is to his living situation (although, it could be worse ... he could not only look the part of homeless dude, -- which he totally does -- but also play the part as well) is that he befriends his neighbour, Patty. She is much, much older than him but has lived the same lifestyle as he is living now (pot, drinking, frequenting bars until dawn, dead end job) so she is a "cool" older neighbour. You definitely wouldn't mistake her for being somebody's grandma.

This debut novel was written by David J. Rosen. I don't read a lot of books written by dudes, but this is exactly what I would've expected. It was laced with cringe-worthy humour ... you know, the type that you chuckle at but then mentally berate yourself for having laughed in the first place because it was "below the belt?" That kind of humour ... very boy's locker room. I mean ... he writes about sex with a girl in his refrigerator and has his character think in the middle of it, "What a fantastic e-mail this is going to make tomorrow." So something a guy would say. And do.

He eventually gets his pants back, but I felt that the book kind of progressed from him trying to find his pants, to him trying to find his life. I read this book last year (and actually wrote this review last year as well) so it's hard for me to elaborate any more without re-reading. I do remember enjoying it and getting through it quickly. If you're looking for a change of pace with what you're reading, pick this up.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holidays on Ice

I love David Sedaris. I love his writing - it's witty and amazingly observant. His commentary on daily life is brilliant and I'm quite certain that if we met in real life, we'd be best friends. It was because of this that I was interested in finally, after all these years, reading his Christmas collection Holidays on Ice. Sadly, in the end, I'm very torn with the book. 

Some essays are hilarious, like "SantaLand Diaries" and "Dinah, the Christmas Whore." They share memories from his past Christmases worth mentioning (working as one of Santa's Elves at Macy's, having a prostitute join his family for Christmas). Some were published in other books of his, so I've already read them, such as "Let it Snow" and "Six to Eight Black Men" (which are both terrific, nonetheless). And then some (three to be exact) I really didn't care for. They were okay, sure, but not written in his usual style. Rather than being first person narratives, he assumed the role of someone else and wrote their story (a angered wife, a rich competitive man, a TV executive) I didn't care for those stories and found myself skimming the pages rather than indulging. When it got back to his voice, I was comfortable again. 

The book didn't exactly get me into the holidays spirit, but it did bring out the jaded side of me. And that's just as good, right?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Um...what's wrong with wanting to read The DaVinci Code?

I recently read an article in New York Times about Book Club troubles. I guess I had no idea what a serious business book clubs were. Click the link to read the article for yourself as I make a bit of commentary on this article.

First of all, if looking at Jocelyn Bowie standing there all high and mighty doesn't make you want to punch her in her mouth, maybe this quote will:

The last straw came when the group picked “The Da Vinci Code” and someone suggested the discussion would be enriched by delving into the author’s source material. “It was bad enough that they wanted to read ‘Da Vinci Code’ in the first place,” Ms. Bowie said, “but then they wanted to talk about it.” She quit shortly after, making up a polite excuse: “I told the organizer, ‘You’re reading fiction, and I’m reading history right now.’ ”
Oh. My. GAWD. A book club wanting to read a book and talk about it? What kind of madness is this? Hey. Ms. Bowie. Get off your high horse and quit acting like you're too cool for school. Maybe your group didn't want to look past Oprah's picks because you were condescending about suggesting new titles? Perhaps? And who's to say that these books that you look down your nose at won't be deemed "literary classics" someday? do I get Esther Bushell's job?

"...Esther Bushell, a professional book-group facilitator who leads a dozen suburban New York groups and charges $250 to $300 a member annually for her services."
I want that job. But I think I would be better at it because I wouldn't have any "moral obligations" (WTF???) and would gladly take money to lead discussions about The Devil Wears Prada. Because even though it's labeled a "chick-lit" book (meaning some think that it's below them to even peek past the super sweet cover), there are things to take away from it and discuss (like rivalries between women and how we tend to sabatoge ourselves by doing this or how the movie wasn't as annoying as the book...just to name a few).

Maybe I am over-simplifying this, but it shouldn't be this hard - or petty - to have a book club. Seriously, who the hell would want to join a book club whose guidelines includes "no therapy talk, no chit-chat and no skipping meetings."? Me thinks that some people take things and themselves waaay too seriously.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

When the title of the final Harry Potter installment came out in the spring of 2007, everyone was a buzz with questions.

"What are the Deathly Hallows?"

These questions were answered July 21, 2007, when we all were finally able to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The answer was found in a book Dumbledore left Hermione: The Tales of Beedle the Bard which are basically fairy tales or fables for witches and wizards.

After finishing the final Harry Potter book, J.K. Rowling actually started writing her own version of The Tales. At the time only seven copies were made - they were all handwritten and illustrated by Rowling. Six were given as gifts to those who helped the most with the Potter series and the seventh was sold at auction with the proceeds going to a charity.

When news of this book being written hit the streets, people demanded to be able to read the stories. But at the time, there was absolutely no intention of the books being released publicly, much to the dismay of many a Potter fan.

So imagine my surprise* when I received an email from Barnes & Noble this summer announcing the public release of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. I reserved my copy and on December 4th, I headed to my local Barnes and Noble and purchased my copy.

Along with The Tale of the Three Brothers (the story featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), Rowling brings us The Wizard and the Hopping Pot, The Fountain of Fair Fortune, The Warlock's Hairy Heart and Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump.

The stories themselves are entertaining with lessons to be had by all who reads them - much like the fairy tales and fables we have grown up with. The best part of the book, however, is the "extensive commentary by Albus Dumbledore." Rowling has managed to reignite the Potter magic and create more questions and desire for more stories outside of Harry Potter**! I also believe that she has created a book that our future generations will use the same way our parents used Hans Christian Anderson or Aesop's Fables.

Even if you're not a Potter fan (to which I say, "say what?") the book is worth the read - especially if you have children who are of the age to appreciate and understand the lessons to be learned. Plus, all of the proceeds of the sale of the book go towards a charity.

*So not surprised at all even though Rowling stated that Harry Potter's story is over.

**There are so many side stories to be had here, people! Prequels and such...and people
will buy them! Rowling would be crazy not to cash in on that.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Veil of Roses

Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald is about Tamila, a 27 year old Persian girl, trying to make a life in America. Born in California, Tamila and her family moved back to Iran while she was an infant. Upon moving back, her family's passports were ripped up, never permitting them to travel again. Now, after quitting her job as a teacher, as a birthday gift, her parents present her with a limited three month visa. She's to return to America, live with her older sister, and find the freedom she deserves.. and ultimately needs.

From trying on her first Victoria's Secret bra to ordering coffee at Starbucks, you watch Tami grow. Sometimes failing, she never gives up and always continues her walk home, her awkwardly worded conversation, or quest to find a husband in order to stay in the states. The book's overall theme was hope - hope for a better future. Eye opening in many ways, you learn about the Persian lifestyle and, ultimately, about yourself. As Tami realizes that she could, in fact, sit with men and drink coffee out in public, you realize that in some countries, it's outlawed. As she realizes that she can make decisions on her own, you realize that somewhere people can't. Tami is endearing and fun loving. The book lets you cheer on her quest for a better tomorrow.