Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Middlesteins at the Top of the TBR

Happy Halloween everyone!The Middlesteins

It’s been awhile since I read about a book that made me want to read it right now.

The other day I saw someone mention The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg on Twitter. For some reason, I decided to click to learn more. I was intrigued. Then I read about it on the New York Times’ website. I investigated on Goodreads. I did my research. In the end, I decided that I want to read this book and I want to read it soon.

Here’s a little taste of what the book’s about (no pun intended) (okay, pun intended) (you’ll get it when you read the description):

For more than thirty years, Edie and Richard Middlestein shared a solid family life together: two children, a nice house in the Chicago suburbs, ample employment, generous friends. But now things are splintering apart, for one reason, it seems: Edie’s enormous girth. She’s obsessed with food–thinking about it, eating it–and if she doesn’t stop, she won’t have much longer to live. With pitch-perfect prose, huge compassion, and sly humor, Jami Attenberg has given us an epic story of marriage, family, and obsession. The Middlesteins explores the hopes and heartbreaks of new and old love, the yearnings of Midwestern America, and our devastating, fascinating preoccupation with food.

I can’t quite explain why, but I was hooked.

The book also comes with a Jonathan Franzen blurb right there on the cover. He say, “The Middlesteins had me from its very first pages, but it wasn’t until its final pages that I fully appreciated the range of Attenberg’s sympathy and the artistry of her storytelling.” I’m not sure if I’m fully convinced by a Franzen quote, but it certainly lends the book some credibility.

Now I just have to get through America America and a work book before I can get to beginning The Middlesteins.


Next Up: America America

It’s time for me to go back to my mom’s list. This time, I’ll be reading America America. And now this isn’t one of those rules-you-make-while-laying-Kings things where you have to say the last word of every sentence twice twice.

The only reason I’ve been putting off Ethan Canin’s America America I think is because it is almost 500 pages. But I am on a reading roll. Plus with the weather as it is now, I’ve got nothing but time to read, am I right? And so what better day to time to tackle America America?

Here’s the synopsis according to Amazon:

In the early 1970s, Corey Sifter, the son of working-class parents, becomes a yard boy on the grand estate of the powerful Metarey family. Soon, through the family’s generosity, he is a student at a private boarding school and an aide to the great New York senator Henry Bonwiller, who is running for president. Before long, Corey finds himself involved with one of the Metarey daughters as well, and he begins to leave behind the world of his upbringing. As the Bonwiller campaign gains momentum, Corey finds himself caught up in a complex web of events in which loyalty, politics, sex, and gratitude conflict with morality, love, and the truth. Ethan Canin’s stunning novel is about America as it was and is, a remarkable exploration of how vanity, greatness, and tragedy combine to change history and fate.

Sounds like it covers a lot of ground so let’s get started.

Tell The Wolves I’m Home Complete

Tell the Wolves I'm HomeToday is my first hurricane day off of work ever and I’m hoping the weather doesn’t warrant it. As long as the electricity and, more importantly, the cable holds out, I will likely be spending the day catching up on Homeland and reading. If the electricity and cable do not hold out, I will just be reading. Speaking of reading…

I’ve been a reading machine. For the last month or so, I’ve managed to read a book per week and sometimes even more. I’m not sure if that means I’m not doing other things I should be doing, but I’m not questioning it.

This past weekend I finished Carol Rifka Brunt’s Tell The Wolves I’m Home, which is the current book club pick. I liked it… I think. I did find it to be a little childish, but the narrator is 14-years-old so it’s not entirely unexpected. I could usually predict more or less what would happen. Still, I felt emotionally invested and I may have teared up now and then.

I’ll be really interested to hear what the rest of the group has to say. And I will be sure to share the results here.

The Book Thief Gets Adapted

The Book ThiefOftentimes, I’m here telling you about a book I read that is now being turned into a movie. (See the last post I wrote.)

This time I’m talking about a book I read that is now being turned into a movie… and a play. I’m talking about The Book Thief. While it’s unclear when exactly the movie will be made, the play is happening at this very moment (well, depending on what time you are reading this). The show opened last week as a young-adult production at the Steppenwolf Theater and it will continue to run through November 11.

I read the Book Thief by Marcus Zusack as part of book club back in book club’s early days. It’s one of many books about the Holocaust I’ve read, but it separates itself with a very different narrator. The story is told by Death. The device at times bothered me with it’s obvious foreshadowing, but I appreciated the new angle. And apparently so did others. The book has been a major bestseller.

While I won’t make it to the show, I think it’s pretty cool that the book has been adapted as a play. Maybe I’ll catch it in the movie theater…

Rules of Civility Heads To The Big Screen

Rules of CivilityLast year, I listened to Amor Towles’ The Rules of Civility on audio. This year, Lionsgate has made a deal with Towles to make The Rules of Civility into a movie.

The story goes that Lionsgate Motion Picture Group production president Erik Feig has been courting Towles for months. Seems the author wasn’t so keen to have his novel wrecked by the movie industry. It took some convincing. According to the article, “A graduate of Yale and Stanford and the principal of a big hedge fund, Towles didn’t need Hollywood option money and was wary of trusting Hollywood with the book he’d always wanted to write.”

Well, wouldn’t it be nice to not need Hollywood money? That aside, it is reassuring to hear that Feig wants to preserve the integrity of his story since it’s a story I liked.

A Review of The Three of Us

The Three of UsI often wish I could ask my mom about her love of memoirs. I want to know what it is that attracted her to so many of them. I like a memoir or two, but my mom’s list has been full of them. Did she just love reading about lives so different from her own? Did she not really intend to read them all? I will never know.

Personally, I need a memoir break. I think the combination of Baby Love and The Three of Us has just enforced this feeling. It’s been two memoirs about two terrible mothers too close together.

In The Three of Us, Julia Blackburn describes growing up with her abusive alcoholic father and selfish jealous mother. It’s a tough lot indeed but Julia writes of it all matter of factly.

I think it was the writing that bothered me the most. I prefer memoirs written more like stories whereas this one was more disjointed. And everything was “I think this is true but I don’t remember” or “According to my diary, this must be what happened” etc. Now, this does make sense, seeing as no one can clearly remember everything that was said and done years earlier. Still, I don’t want to see how the sausage is made. I just want to hear the story.

And it is an interesting story Blackburn has to tell – full of drama and sex and travel. One I most certainly cannot relate to, but then again my life is fairly boring (in a good way!) and would not make for a good book. Julia’s life is the thing movies, or clearly books, are made of.

I finished the book impressed with Blackburn. She has taken her tumultuous early years and seemed to become a stable successful adult. She even came to forgive her mother. Based on what I read, these are no easy feats.

Les Miserables: The Movie

A week ago, I saw the delightful movie Pitch Perfect. I recommend everyone listen to the soundtrack. But that is a topic for another day.

During the previews, we got a sneak peek of the upcoming Les Miserables movie. See the extended “first look” above. Les Mis was originally a French novel that was made into a musical that was made into a movie that is now being made into another movie. This time around it will star Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried.

My mom loved the musical Les Mis. I, regrettably, have never seen it. I did see the first movie in 10th grade English class, but I’m pretty sure I was too busy chatting with friends to pay any attention (sorry Ms. Garbis). However, my mom did make sure I’d heard the soundtrack. And I still use our Les Mis beach towel.

Now that there is a new movie I have a second chance. And when I see it, I will be thinking of my mom.