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Guns, Germs, and Steel
Jared Diamond

Little, Big

Little, Big - John Crowley I'll dispense with plot summaries-no need to repeat everyone else.I have not ventured into fantasyland since I read Tolkien way back when. I'm wasn't sure I could suspend belief for faeries although these faeries are very Greek in their manipulation of humans and definitely have their own agenda. Ultimately though I think the faery are a stand-in for any supernatural being and the central idea in this novel is the loss of childhood innocence and romantic nostalgia for a simpler time. There is a bittersweet elegiac atmosphere that pervades and infiltrates this novel and appeals to my sentimental nature ( even though I'm a bit ashamed of it)One of the main characters, Smokey, is not a believer and a large question for me was whether his life was impoverished compared to Daily Alice and her family who feel they have a special relationship with these mystical beings. She feels "protected" by them because of her role/destiny in the Tale. Wouldn't we all like to feel this way?? I think this describes some of the appeal/solace of religion in general. I'm ambivalent- first what I liked:1. very evocative atmosphere with lots of finely detailed observations2. some really interesting ideas/thought experiments: Sophies dream about packaging up useless, wasted and unhappy time that she didn't want to spend by folding it up to take up less room and Ariel Hawksquill's elaborate memory mansion to store and order memories( Tony Judt in his book The Memory Chalet also addresses this ancient idea)and what I didn't like:1. dialogue was wooden- Both Smokey and George Mouse say "well...." a lot and are generally inarticulate enough to get on my nerves2. Crowley needs to step away from the thesaurus- sometimes his obscure terminology is show-offy and distracting 3. Spoiler alert! the ending was a lame rip-off of A Midsummer Night's Dream

Memoir of a Debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer

Memoir of a Debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer - Susan Gubar Sometimes a dose of misery lit is required for perspective. This is a harrowing account and I respect Ms Gubar for telling it straight. Her insights on quality vs quantity of life with a terminal diagnosis are issues I have pondered but unless its your own life coming to a foreseeable end it is difficult to know when to stop aggressive treatment- especially when your doctors take the safe route to avoid being sued. Is it possible to have a dignified death? This article from the New Yorker http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/02/100802fa_fact_gawande called Letting Go is very apropos here

Mr G: A Novel About The Creation

Mr G: A Novel About The Creation - Alan Lightman I loved Einsteins Dreams but this was just dull.....I found myself falling asleep and skipping pages

The Echo Maker

The Echo Maker - Richard Powers The National Book Award? Really? What am I missing? I wanted to like it. It should be right up my alley. I love birds, neuroscience, ordinary people, and grappling with the big questions. This book, however, is just sophomoric, formulaic and dull. The characters are unlikable and uninteresting. The plot is hackneyed and contrived. I know I should write a more reasoned review but I'm too irritated about the time I wasted reading the darn thing to spend any more time on it.

2666: A Novel

2666 - Natasha Wimmer, Roberto BolaƱo started reading this back in 2009 and put it aside after i got bogged down in "the part about the crimes" . I made it to page 428 but will likely have to start over even though i actually remember quite a bit of it

The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet - Reif Larsen I loved the the level of detail and minutiae in this novel. I am a total geek for ephemera. A very unique and intelligent bildungsroman. The protagonist is curious about everything and is trying to figure out the world, including the inevitable tragedy. Unfortunately, the resolution was hokey and contrived.