Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved (Bloggerversary Challenge)


What I Loved: A Novel

What I Loved: A Novel by Siri Hustvedt | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

Title: What I Loved: A Novel
Author: Siri Hustvedt
ISBN: 9780312421199
Length: 370 pages
Publication Date: 2003
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Psychological Fiction
Source: Harris County Public Library

Bloggerversary Giveaway

Goodreads

Reasons for Reading: As I perused the 1001 Books list for a 2000s book,  I noticed Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved and posted this book as an option for my annual challenge. Since What I Loved was less than four hundred pages, I felt reading it wouldn’t take me long.  Hustvedt’s book received the majority of votes and I requested it from Harris County Public Library (HCPL).

Summary: Beginning in 1975 New York City, art historian Leo Hertzberg (narrator of the story) finds a painting which entrances him in a SoHo gallery. After buying the painting, he tracks down Bill Wechsler, the artist. Hertzberg and Wechsler build a great friendship spanning twenty-five years. Additionally, their wives, Erica and Lucille, respectively, fall pregnant. Hertzberg and Erica have Matthew while Wechsler and Lucille have Mark. Later, Wechsler becomes involved with his muse, Violet. The novel follows these relationships; their joys and losses.

One Thing I Learned from this book: I knew macular deg

What I Loved: The rich characterization brought these characters to life. I saw Bill Wechsler as well as Lucille and Violet. The clarity amazed me.

What I Loathed: Not in the stupid sense of this word; this book was dense. Normally, I can read roughly twenty pages in an evening. However, it took me that long to read a single paragraph. Yes, even the title provided hints of things to come in this novel. I spent the first part braced for the crash. When it happened, boy, did it!

RR - Orange

Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

 

Song: Paul Mauriat – Love is Blue (HQ)

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Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland


The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 
Title and Author(s):  Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland
Release Date: September 24, 2013 

Publisher: Knopf 

ISBN: 978-0307265746
Pages: 352
Source: Shipment of Advanced Reader Copies (ARC) which arrived at Harris County Public Library 

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Reasons for Reading: Come on, this is Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest book! Check out my elation about getting my hands on the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC).

Summary: Subhash and Udayan Mitra are two brothers who grew up in Post-Partition Calcutta. Subhash, older by a mere fifteen months, and Udayan look alike. However, they’re very different people and have rather opposite destinies. In the 1960s, Udayan’s political fervor rises while Subhash seeks a scientific education in Rhode Island. In the midst of his studies, Subhash receives notice that Udayan was killed near their childhood home. Subhash returns to Calcutta to find the fractured Mitra family and Udayan’s widow, philosophy student Gauri haunted and stuck in those last moments of Udayan’s life. Subhash’s reaction and handling sets an extreme course for the lives Subhash, Gauri, and Mitra family.

One Thing I Learned from this book: Previously I’d heard of the Partition and of the Bengali people. However, I didn’t know much about the Partition of Bengal.

What I Liked: I was mesmerized by Lahiri’s writing style yet again. It’s as though she’s a Rembrandt of words! The way she understands her characters truly enthralls me. I was astonished by what a loving and caring man Subhash was. I’ve yet to visit India or Rhode Island but I have a clear idea of these settings.

What I Disliked: The story itself made me very weepy. I wanted to throttle characters. Most often, it was Gauri! However, Mr. and Mrs. Mitra weren’t my favorites, either. Also, it would’ve helped me if each section/chapter started with a date (at least the year) for when the action of the ensuing section took place.

RR - Orange

Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 


Song:
The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby 

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Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth


Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri | LibraryThing

Lahiri, J. (2008). Unaccustomed earth. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 9780307265739

Reasons for Reading : I’m not a big fan of short stories. However, as I’ve enjoyed Lahiri’s The Namesake, I pulled Unaccustomed Earth off the shelf at the HCPL branch where I work.

Summary: Lahiri tells eight stories of first generation Bengali Americans.  All these stories deal with the ups and downs of families and relationships.

Unaccustomed Earth is broken into two parts. Part I is comprised of the first five stories. Among them are “Unaccustomed Earth,” “Hell-Heaven,” “A Choice of Accommodations,” “Only Goodness,” and “Nobody’s Business.” The book is the namesake of “Unaccustomed Earth” tells of Ruma, a young mother in Seattle. When Ruma hosts her visiting widower father, she prepares for him to live with them. While her father tends to her garden and bonds with her son, he has his own ideas about what he wants to do. “Hell-Heaven” confronts the topics of social strata in both old and new worlds.  “A Choice of Accommodations” shares the nearly failed attempt of a husband to turn an old high school friend’s wedding into a romantic weekend for his wife. Lahiri tells of a sister who doesn’t know what to do about her alcoholic brother in “Only Goodness.” Part I ends with “Nobody’s Business,” a lovesick grad student watches his lovely Bengali roommate’s life implode.

Part II is called “Hema and Kaushik.” These three stories – “Once in a Lifetime,” “Year’s End,” and “Going Ashore” focus on two characters – Hema and Kaushik. Teenage Kaushik and his family stay with young Hema’s family. While they go on to lead very seperate lives, circumstances reunite them twenty years later.  

What I Liked : Lahiri’s writing style compels me to continue reading her work. I found myself empathizing with the jerkiest of jerks and understanding their plights. Lahiri’s talent shines from within Unaccustomed Earth.

What I Disliked : By the time I’m absorbed and enthralled in the story, it has ended! I especially wanted to read more about Hema and Kaushik.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Song: Nicola Conte – Dossier Omega – YouTube

Setting: Cambridge Massachusetts, Seattle, India, Italy, Thailand

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Christopher Moore’s Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art


Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore | LibraryThing

Moore, C. (2012). Sacre bleu: A comedy d’art. New York: William Morrow. 9780061779749

Reasons for Reading : I posted Christopher Moore’s Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art on my TBR list. Check out my reasons for reading there.

Summary: News of the suicide of volatile artist Vincent van Gogh rocks Parisian baker and artist Lucien Lessard and his good friend  Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Compounding issues is the sudden reappearance of Lucien’s MIA girlfriend, Juliette and the nasty little guy who’s known as The Colorman. Lucien and Henri take the reader for a ride on the crazy train, encountering figures in the French art scene along the way.

What I Liked : Author Christopher Moore is uproariously humorous. There were numerous “ROL” (read out loud) moments throughout this novel. Characters such as fictitious Lucien and Juliette appealed greatly. The physical book is gorgeous with images discussed in the narrative and has blue typing.

What I Disliked : Some curse words here and there don’t bother me but the language used by various characters was beyond nasty. Also, I thought sometimes Moore crossed the line between amusingly irreverent and crazy wicked. One point late in the novel made a reference to bestiality that had major cringe factor.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Bobby Vinton Blue Velvet – YouTube

Setting : Paris, France with stops in the French countryside, Italy, England, and the US

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Top Ten Books I’d Like to See Made Into Movies | Top Ten Tuesday


 

Top Ten Tuesday | The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists! Each week we will post a new Top Ten list complete with one of our bloggers’ answers. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND fill out Mr. Linky  . I
If you can’t come up with ten, don’t worry about it—post as many as you can!

1. Katherine by Anya Seton – I think I mention this book in all my Top Ten Tuesday posts, which indicates how much I enjoyed it. This would make for a gorgeous period piece that would have everything – passion, love, war, history, intrigue. . . I could go on for days.

2. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein – Okay, I’m really curious as to who they’d cast for Valentine Michael Smith and Jubal Harshaw. Also, Heinlein needs to come to the silver screen.

3. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers – Another period piece so the costuming and the sets would be fantastic. On top of that, there’s a good story to be told. I imagine it would land on the Hallmark station but what the heck?  

4. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen – They’ve promised this oddball book whose author scoffed at being an Oprah Book Club selection would be made into a film. Viewers would be able to identify with these characters just as well as readers have.

5. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides – Rumor has it that this book will be made into an HBO miniseries. The screenplay seems to be there already and I can’t hardly wait.

6. The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld – This might have to be an animated feature due to all the quirky physiques described. Yet, I’ve been awaiting this for years.

7. The Luxe Series by Anna Godbersen – Have you noticed I’ve got a thing for period pieces? This would be cool; a guilded age version of Gossip Girl on the big screen. The key would be casting the perfect Diana Holland who lept off each and every page of the quartet.

8. Bright Young Things Series by Anna Godbersen – I loath to use the phrase “my aesthetic” (which makes viewing Project Runway somewhat painful) but I’m a fan of Art Deco. I didn’t enjoy the movie The Great Gatsby much but I loved the costumes and the setting. I should’ve muted it and enjoyed the film that way. BYT would be awesome, though.

9. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green – This enjoyable book had me laughing at least once a paragraph. I imagine it being akin to the Numbers.  

10. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver – Even my least favorite Kingsolver book would make for a good film. The script is ready for it’s closeup.

Jonathon Franzen’s The Corrections


A nuclear family seemingly enjoys Christmas Dinner.

A nuclear family seemingly enjoys Christmas Dinner.

*1001 Books Book

Franzen, J. (2001). The corrections. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

 

When I saw this book in the 1001 Books tome and Arukiyomi’s review, I found myself drawn to the cover. The jacket offers the viewer a glimpse of a traditional late 1950s to early 1960s family gathered for a holiday meal. Looking closer, I saw part of a happy boy’s face and the full shot of another boy’s face; this one not so perky. In fact, he looked burdened with displeasure. Although the book is quite thick (about 600 pages), I read The Corrections pretty rapidly.

The Lamberts appears as the typical dysfunctional, American family in which each member seeks out some sort of fix for whatever ails him or her.  Published just before 9/11, the Lamberts of the Midwestern St. Jude want correction. Alfred Lambert, the father, now suffers from the isolating dimensia that is Parkinson’s Disease. His wife, Enid, is riddled with shame and anxiety.

They have three grown children; Gary, Chip, and Denise. All three kids live in the Northeast. Gary, the oldest, looks to be a successful Philadelphia banker with a wife and three sons. Yet, Gary may unravel due to possible clinical depression and paranoia egged on by his wife, Caroline.

Chip is Alfred and Enid’s second son. While Chip was on his way to tenure at a Northeast college, he was forced to resign after his affair with a student. Now, he writes and looks for correction in working for a Lithuanian mob boss. He feels his parents are the source of all of his problems.

The youngest is Denise, a beautiful and competitive chef in Philadelphia. She’s also a divorcee and under the constant pressure from Enid to marry a nice, young man. Enid believes Denise to be having an affair.

Enid wants desperately for all of the Lamberts to gather at their home in St. Jude for one last Christmas. Alfred is getting on in years and surely they will be moving to be closer to their children. Well, whether or not any of this happens is anyone’s guess . . .

One major theme in this socially critical novel is reflected by the title – correction. It argues that the next generation is to learn from the preceding one what not to do. As that old saying goes, “Learn from your parents mistakes.” I can buy this to a certain extent. Yet, as reviewer Arukiyomi said of this very book, I also find that Jesus’ death is the ultimate correction. Yes, there’s still need for atonement and redemption but this takes a more Divine Intervention if you ask me. However, I saw many of the characters turning to narcotics, alcohol, sex, etc, etc in order to treat the challenges they faced. Ultimately, I still debate whether or not the Lamberts really were “cured” in the end. Some appeared to doggedly accept their plights while others became satisfied without admitting they had problems.

I liked parts of this book. Even as much distance Gary, Chip, and Denise try to put between themselves and their parents (physically, mentally, emotionally) they are still tethered to Alfred and Enid. This is just life. Another thing which amused me was how Franzen referred to Chip’s former employer as D—- College.

I found much of it reminiscent of Anne Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. Both books have dysfunctional families with three children – the two eldest being boys, the youngest – a girl. While Tyler seems to keep a respectful distance when it comes to certain aspects in her characters’ lives, Franzen is much closer and much much more personal.

I found that Franzen firmly grasped the characters of Gary, Enid, and Chip. I didn’t know what to make of Denise. Not for the obvious reasons, but she seemed quite male. Alfred truly put the hysterical into hysterical realism.

Places: St. Jude, American Midwest, Philadelphia, New York, American Northeast, Lithuania, Eastern Europe

Three Out of Five Pearls