Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky | LibraryThing

Chbosky, S. (1999). The perks of being a wallflower. New York: Pocket Books. 9780671027346

Reasons for Reading : The first time I heard about The Perks of Being a Wallflower was in library school. Stephen Chbosky’s work was banned by the Library Patrons of Texas. I hadn’t thought much about it until I saw that a movie based on the book would come out later in 2012. Thus, I requested and checked out the book from HCPL.

Summary : Assuming the alias “Charlie,” a troubled high school freshman writes letters to an unnamed friend, starting in the 1991. Through these rather intimate letters, Charlie describes his family, his teacher Bill who assigns extra essays to write, his senior friends, Patrick and Sam[antha], and his late Aunt Helen.

What I Liked : Nothing was sugarcoated in this book. Actually, it was pretty raw stuff. The characters were original and realistic.

What I Disliked : Maybe it was necessary for Chbosky to set this in the early 1990s. Yet, it would’ve appealed more if it had been set around the time it was published – 1999. Also, I somber read and not for those looking for some gentle literature.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: The Smiths – Asleep – YouTube

Setting : Pittsburgh, PA

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Top Ten Book to Movie adaptations | Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday | The Broke and the Bookish


1) The Virgin Suicides (Jeffrey Eugenides/ Sofia Coppola) – Except for a slight change at the end and leaving out a few characters, Sofia Coppola was faithful to the book. The casting was spot on and the soundtrack was sublime.

2) Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen/ Ang Lee) – I saw this movie, the one with Emma Thompson in it, before I read the book. The film was so good that I decided to read the book.

3) About a Boy (Nick Hornby/ Chris Weitz) – This movie is one of my all-time favorites. I read the book afterwards and understood, even appreciated the updates on the book. Hornby provided terrific character study and Hugh Grant nailed the role of Will. The boy was good, too.

4) The Graduate (Charles Webb/ Mike Nichols) – I just finished the book. Hoffman, Bancroft, and Ross were superb in the roles. Since I like Simon and Garfunkel, I like The Graduate.

5) Rising Sun (Michael Crichton/ Philip Kaufman) – Wesley Snipes plays a white character and he plays him well. My favorite actor in the cast was Tia Carrerre.

6) The French Lieutenant’s Woman (John Fowles/ Karel Reisz) – The book and the movie were odd. In efforts to provide the contemporary feel of Victorian events, the movie was about both the actors playing Smithson and Sarah in the 1980s.

7) The Rainmaker (John Grisham/ Francis Ford Coppola) – Matt Damon is a great actor, especially when it comes to playing characters out of books. This movie proved it to me. While I was convinced by The Talented Mr. Ripley, this movie adaptation was much better. Also, I liked Rudy Baylor much better than Tom Ripley. Claire Danes was good, too, in The Rainmaker.

8 ) The Godfather (Mario Puzo/ Francis Ford Coppola) – The Coppolas are faring well on my list! The characters are dynamic, Pacino and Keaton were perfectly suited to play Michael and Kay. There were changes in the movies but these received Puzo’s blessing.

9 ) To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee/ Robert Mulligan) – This is requisite.

10) The Green Mile (Stephen King/ Frank Darabont) – I was divided between this one and The Dead Zone. Ultimately, the actors – Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan beat out Christopher Walken.

Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex

Eugenides, J. (2002). Middlesex. New York: Picador. 9780312422158

I actually read this book in Summer 2007 whilst between semesters in grad school. It was Oprah’s pick at the time and I read it at warp speed. Unfortunately, I never reviewed the book. Seeing a copy of Middlesex for sale by the Friends of Freeman (HCPL), I bought it. I took a more leisurely pace began rereading it after Christmas 2010.

Cal Stephanides, a forty-one year old who identifies himself as a man, climbs his gnarly family tree. He possesses a recessive gene, 5-alpha-reductase deficiency, which made him appear female at the time of his birth. Believing him to be a girl, his parents named their “daughter” Calliope and called her “Callie”. After learning about the syndrome as an adolescent, Calliope changes his name to the masculine name, Cal. Taking on his Greek-American genealogy, Cal tells the story of a dirty little secret of his grandparents, Desdemona and Lefty, which shapes Calliope into Cal.

Upon hearing Oprah selected a book about hermaphrodite, I didn’t imagine myself reading this book. Yet, summer doldrums beset me and I stayed up several nights in a row reading Middlesex. The language Eugenides implements relates this story in a beautifully visual way. He crammed so much between the covers. Throughout, I learned more of the Smyrna fire, Prohibition-Era Detroit, the Nation of Islam, and the Pleasant Valley of Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Eugenides encapsulates much of the contemporary life of Cal in Foreign Service Berlin as well. I enjoyed the mysteries he creates in his brother Chapter Eleven and catalyst The Obscure Object. I laughed at Desdemona’s work for the Nation of Islam and Aunt Lina’s droll tones. Above all else, I considered the sex versus gender argument in a fresh light.

Four and a Half Out of Five Pearls

Song: “Dancing in the Streets” by Martha & the Vandellas

Places: Mt. Olympus, Smyrna, Turkey, Greece, New York City, Detroit, San Francisco, Germany

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With Middlesex being The Detroit Novel, I must link the following Super Bowl Ad:

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The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

This is cover of the 1999 edition.

This is cover of the 1999 edition.

* 1001 Books Book

Eugenides, J. (1994). The virgin suicides. New York: Warner Books.

Thanks to Oprah, I read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides this past summer. Amazed by Eugenides, I looked to see when the movie would be coming. Well, that has not happened yet for Middlesex but there was Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, a movie adapted from Jeffrey Eugenides’ first novel by the same name. Quickly, I put my name on the waiting list for the movie. After I saw the movie, I requested the book. Both The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex are among the 1001 Books of 2006. Now, I even own a copy of The Virgin Suicides.

Narrated by a group of middle-aged men looking upon items and memories, The Virgin Suicides takes the reader through that fateful “year of the suicides.” These guys were the teenage neighbors of the Catholic Lisbon family. Mr. Lisbon teaches high school math while the strict Mrs. Lisbon makes a home for her five lovely daughters. They are the “brainy Therese (17), fastidious Mary (16), ascetic Bonnie (15), libertine Lux (14), and pale, saintly Cecilia (13),” (Eugenides).

Cecilia attempts suicide and seemingly stuns all, including her older sisters. In order to cheer the glum Cecilia, the Lisbons throw a party in their basement. Cecilia excuses herself and jumps from her bedroom window, successfully taking her own life. Becoming the talk of the Grosse Pointe community, the remaining Lisbon girls grow more isolated from other kids and the grist for the rumor mill.

Again, Eugenides impressed and held me spellbound by his writing. I found myself wishing that Eugenides, not King, had written Carrie. The seamless movement of his group of narrators through interviews and attempts of understanding what has come to pass in neighborhood would have smoothed the multitude of wrinkles in Carrie. I wish my high school group projects/papers had gone so well!

Eugenides captures the dementia of obsession and elusiveness of crushes with painful poignancy. In their telling of the Lisbon girls, these guys have beautified these sisters, particularly the dazzling Lux. Memory and aura protect these girls from the scrutiny attempted by the quixotic group of men. They are still haunted by the Lisbons.

Allegorical or not, I was enthralled by the descriptions and views of the Lisbon girls. Due to rubber necking and disbelief, I could not stop reading this book. In their endeavor to solve the mystery, I learned much about the narrator. Coming away from my reading, I felt I knew much more about the telescope than the stars. Of course, people tend to tell on themselves. This is how life goes.

I give The Virgin Suicides Four and Three quarters Pearls.

Places: Grosse Pointe, Michigan;  Detroit, Michigan

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