Ruta Sepetys’ Out of the Easy


Out of The Easy

Jorie’s Store – Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Title and Author(s):  Ruta Sepetys’ Out of the Easy

Release Date: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Philomel; First Edition edition

ISBN: 978-0399256929
Pages: 352
Source: Harris County Public Library 

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Reasons for Reading: After reading Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray (not to be confused with the infamous E.L. James trilogy), I wanted to read Sepetys’ sophomore effort. Additionally, the setting of New Orleans appealed to me. I placed a request on it and excitedly received the book in 2014.

Summary: In 1950, seventeen year old Josie Moraine barely makes ends meet working in the French Quarter. Her erratic, somewhat estranged mother works as a prostitute. Josie longs to make her way out of New Orleans and to the Ivy Leagues. Around New Year’s Day, a wealthy man from Tennessee turns up dead. When the crime seems to lead to Josie’s mother and her shady boyfriend, Josie finds herself embroiled.

One Thing I Learned from this book: I hadn’t realized Tulane had a sister college – Newcomb.

What I Liked: The fantastic setting of New Orleans appealed to me again. Sepetys’ also diverged greatly from that of Between Shades of Gray. Nonetheless, the characters and situations described still made me want to know what would happen to them as they did in Sepetys’ first novel.

What I Disliked: I wasn’t happy with Josie’s mother being a sociopath sort of whore. Also, I thought there were too many evildoers in this book.

RR - Orange

Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 


Song: 
Shirley and Lee – Let the Good Times Roll

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Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Revisited Challenge)


Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Three Stories By Truman Capote | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 
Title and Author(s):  Truman Capote’s
Release Date: 1958

Publisher: Vintage

ISBN: 978-0679745655
Hours: 160
Source: Harris County Public Library 

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Reasons for Reading: Initially, I listened to this novella on audiotape. I enjoyed how more than one actor read different parts in the story. However, I considered Elizabeth Ashley of “Evening Shade” fame an odd selection for the voice of Holly Golightly. Nevertheless, I never reviewed this Truman Capote classic. When Breakfast at Tiffany’s won in the Revisited Challenge, I read a printed version.

Summary: An unnamed narrator befriends his enchanting neighbor, Holly Golightly, in the autumn of 1943. Holly insists on referring to the narrator as “Fred” because he reminds her of her older brother. “Fred” and Holly live in apartments in the same brownstone which is located in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Holly is only a eighteen or nineteen year old girl from the country. Yet, she’s turned into a cosmopolitan darling of cafe society. Holly holds no job and maintains her lifestyle by socializing with wealthy men. These men take her out on the town and shower her with money and expensive gifts. Author Capote called Holly an American geisha.

One Thing I Learned from this book: I saw the film before I read the book. I was surprised that the events of the book took place in 1943-44.

What I Liked: I liked the narrator’s tone throughout the novella. As a reader, I felt his warmth and affection, especially towards Holly Golightly.

What I Disliked: Yet, I wasn’t quite comfortable with this American geisha lifestyle.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 


Song: 
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (3/9) Movie CLIP – Moon River (1961) 

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Jack Keroauc’s On the Road (Revisited Challenge)


On the Road by Jack Kerouac | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 
Title and Author(s):  Jack Kerouac and Matt Dillon’s On the Road
Release Date: 2000

Publisher: Caedmon

ISBN: 9780060755331
Hours: 11 
Source: Harris County Public Library 

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Reasons for Reading: I read this book a few years ago since it’s hailed as the book of the Beat Generation. Fortunately, I listened to the the version that actor Matt Dillon read. When On the Road won in the Revisited Challenge, I happily checked out the Matt Dillon version for the second time.

Summary: (This autobiographical narrative uses pseudonyms per publisher’s demands.) Salvatore “Sal” Paradise (Kerouac) tells the narrative of adventures had in the late 1940s and early 1950s “on the road” with his new found, free-spirited friend Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady). Through these treks, Dean and Sal use many drugs, drink many boos, and “sleep” with numerous partners. Sometimes, they stay with different Beats (Carlo Marx/Allen Ginsburg and Old Bull Lee/William S. Burroughs), and other times Beats join them on their trips. Also at play are the tensions between Dean’s partners Marylou (Luanne Henderson) and Camille (Carolyn Cassaday).

One Thing I Learned from this book: Previously, I’d thought the Beats were just the 1950s predecessors to the Hippies of the 1960s. Now, I see the differences along with the similarities between the two groups.

What I Liked: I really am glad I heard Matt Dillon read this book. Also, Kerouac’s prose clearly expresses the events.

What I Disliked: However, I didn’t care much for the characters. They’re lazy and wasteful; lowlifes. Lastly, I didn’t like the way women were treated in this book.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 


Song: 
Ricky Nelson – Hello Mary Lou (with solo by James Burton)

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Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader


* A 1001 Books Book

Schlink, B. (1998). The reader. New York: Vintage Books. 9780679781301

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink | WorldCat

I spotted a copy of this slim book on the Friends of Freeman Library bookshelf. Moving quickly, I managed to buy it. Despite what I previously heard about the heavy topics, I rapidly finished this book.

Divided into three parts and told in the first person narrative form, Part I begins in West Germany in 1958 when fifteen year old Michael Berg becomes gravely ill on his way home from school. Thirty-six year old tram conductor Miss Schmitz sees him and plays the Good Samaritan by hosing down his shoes and guiding him down the road. Michael finds his way home, where he convalesces from hepatitis. His father, a philosophy professor, and his mother keep him from leaving home. When he’s well again, Mrs. Berg sends Michael with a bouquet to Miss Schmitz’s door to show his appreciation, discovering he’s drawn to her. Miss Schmitz catches him watching her dress and Michael runs from her place. However, Michael returns to Miss Schmitz’s apartment, helps her with lugging coal, and becomes covered with coal dust. Miss Schmitz insists Michael bathe and when he does, Miss Schmitz seduces him. A love affair ensues as Michael settles into a routine of visiting her apartment – bathing, having sex, and reading. Michael reads aloud to Miss Schmitz, who in turn, reveals her first name to be Hanna. So, Michael reads classics such as The Odyssey and War and Peace to his lover. During their affair, they don’t talk much about their lives and Hanna becomes morose and abusive at times. After a few months of this, Hanna disappears. Michael develops into a sullen heel himself.

In Part II, as a law student in 1965, Michael and his classmates observe a war crimes trial. Former female Schutzstaffel (SS) guards are on trial for the deaths of 300 Jewish prisoners. One of these guards just happens to be Hanna, Michael’s former lover. Even more perplexing is the fact that Hanna, unlike the other women on trial, refuses to defend what she did as an SS guard. Then, Michael understands that Hanna is hiding an even darker secret. Michael faces the dilemma of letting Hanna “hang herself” for the crime or to reveal what would set her free.

Part III holds the conclusion, taking place in the 1990s. Herein, Michael comes to terms with his relationship with Hanna and choices they’ve made. Without spoiling the book, all I’ll say is that he seeks absolution.

What an austere little book! The sparse prose and clipped tone of the work seemed in perfect accord with the Michael Berg’s thoughts. Also, The Reader delves into the psyche of a rich inner world and thought life – read cerebral. Another element worth noting, Michael’s rather miserly when it comes to labeling people. For example, he never offer names for his parents nor his siblings. Then, he doesn’t name the survivors who bring about Hanna’s trial. Simply, Michael bestows names upon few.

Schlink portrays the intimacy of the two German generations – the Nazi participants (willing/unwilling) and the post-War youth who desire to rectify their fore bearers’ mistakes. He shows precisely the grayness that contemporary analysts find polarizing. No matter how much Michael’s generation wants to wipe the slate clean, none of us should forget. Michael even recognizes how his own father, a philosopher who focuses on Kant and Hegel, inadvertently supported the Nazi cause by writing hiker’s guides. They are inseparable.

Another remarkable theme is ignorance versus knowledge. Enlightenment leads not just to better ways to make a living for oneself, it also opens the path to better decisions.

Then, there’s the intertextuality – the complex relationship between a text and other texts taken as basic to the creation or interpretation of the text (Merriam Webster 2011). Michael’s literary selection came from Enlightenment Era.

Lastly, there’s the prevailing theme of humanity. Part III sees to a purposefulness in Michael that Part II seems to lack. Here, the titular Reader becomes enlightened and compassionate.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: YouTube – Nicole Atkins – Together We Are Both Alone – Live Troubadour

Places : Germany, Poland, The United States

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