Review: A Separate Peace
April 26th, 2013

A Separate PeaceA Separate Peace by John Knowles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When this book was assigned to me in middle school, I did not get it. I thought it was a boring drudge. I decided to read it again ten years later and this time I devoured every word with unbridled adoration.

From the first paragraph to the last sentence, the author, speaking through the thoughts of the protagonist, makes you feel like you are learning something about yourself and humanity in general. It’s themes are readily apparent, but never heavy handed. Every sentence seems thoughtfully crafted.

As a young teenager, I don’t think I had the life experience necessary to appreciate this book, but as an adult I found it deeply moving and very relatable.
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America Pacifica by Anna North Review
March 12th, 2013

America PacificaAmerica Pacifica by Anna North
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is about power. Anna North has done a beautiful job crafting a story around power- and powerlessness- in all it’s forms: political, economical, social, and sexual.

The book is lyrically written and the dystopian world-building is interesting, but if you are looking for an action-packed adventure suited to a screenplay (a la Hunger Games), this is not the book for you. Rather, it’s an inward look at humanity that does not take sides.
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The Generation of 1914
July 1st, 2012

I’m reading The Generation of 1914. Of the many people who were psychologically affected by The Great War, there was a particular age of boys in France who essentially went through adolescence preparing to die, but the War ended suddenly before they were drafted. It was almost like a bait and switch that fundamentally changed their mentalities. This description of their psychology sounds uncomfortably familiar:

[Marcel Arland’s] autobiographical sketch, La Route Obscure, described the spiritual torment of a young man so lost and uncertain of his own identity that he not only was unhappy; he lacked a desire for happiness. “I’ve sought desperately a goal to seek, I’ve waited for something to wait for, I’ve desired something to desire,” he lamented. […] The circumstances of the postwar years had made it impossible for them to seize on any values in which they could believe. And yet they wanted desperately to live life fully. Their negativism and their fierce desire to live, Arland feared, were likely to lead them into desperate adventures and make them prey to dogmatisms of all kinds. Daniel-Rops agreed with Arland that what distinguished the postwar generation was their unrest and anxiety. But he stressed the intense, almost desperate nature of their spiritual quest. The young men of today, Daniel-Rops said, were Hamlets. You could single them out from their elders by their hesitation to act, their insatiable curiosity about themselves, their taste for the absolute, and their religious impulse […] or an attraction to some kind of religious surrogate like Communism. (The Generation of 1914, pg 30-31)

Indeed this generation spent countless pages psychoanalyzing themselves a la the thoughtcatalog.com. They wanted something so badly, but they didn’t know what it was. And then I cried in a coffee shop.

The Sketchbook Project
May 26th, 2012

Sketchbook by Chrissie Diller (Seattle, WA)

Last night, Laura and I visited the iam8bit gallery in Echo Park to see Art House Co-Op’s The Sketchbook Project that Laura participated in. It was totally amazing. The gallery space had these mind-blowing ball point pen on notebook paper drawings like this one.

The Sketchbook Project Tour was in the gallery’s large back space. You get a library card, then use your card to search sketchbooks by location/mood/material/etc and then they pull you two books from a huge collection sent in from all over the world. The collage-style book above was one I checked out (click on it to view the whole thing online). We looked at 8 books total and it was like prying into stranger’s minds. The collection is normally housed at The Brooklyn Art Library.

There was also a Tour Mail table where you could draw a sketch on a postcard and stamp it to one of the next cities on their tour. In exchange you get a piece of mail from a participant in a previous city. I got a drawing from a women in Chicago. They even included twitter handles for optimal snooping.

I want to do it next year. More of this please.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2
July 16th, 2011

hp7posters

Well. It’s over. I loved this movie. I thought it was graceful and well played. It reminded me what I love about these characters. I just have so much love. It’s felt good to take inventory of my relationship with the series; it’s so much more than a book. In the meantime, I’ll let you ponder how radically awesome Hermione Granger is.

Omnivore's Dilemma
June 14th, 2011

farmersmarket

So I’ve been reading that book The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and it’s really good. I have decided to stick it to the Man local-food style.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
April 25th, 2011

I loved this book. The foreword said The Bell Jar was for girls what Catcher in the Rye was for boys. I think they were right. Basically, Holden Caulfield had it easy.

Best Behavior by Noah Cicero
April 15th, 2011

This book made me feel good the way Catcher In The Rye made me feel good, except it’s all contemporary– like I am.

Slaughterhouse Five
August 22nd, 2010

The book was so good. I wish I hadn’t put it off for so long. I love reading fiction written by authors with real life cred. My heart is warmed.

the great gatsby
July 4th, 2009

Finished this one. I really liked the narrator, Nick. His neutral air reminds me of Mersault from The Stranger and also of Brett. I really liked Jordan too. She was the only girl with a head on her shoulders.

Generally though I thought it was a little boring until the end. Maybe I only think the ends of books are exciting because I had to read through all the slow stuff to get to it, so it’s entertaining by comparison.