Question of the Day!!!

If you could add one interactive feature to reading books, what would it be?

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Book Review #358

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Hardcover, 378 pages
Published April 22nd 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2014)
Original Title: A Paris Apartment
ISBN: 1250048737 (ISBN13: 9781250048738)
Setting: Paris (France)
This book had a lot of potential. Then it didn’t.

What Went Wrong:

-April: As usual, a shitty protagonist with non-existent character depth; selfish in 900 different ways and bitchy about it. April is supposed to evaluate the furniture for this abandoned apartment in Paris for it to be auctioned and all she does is get hung up on the original apartment owner’s private diaries. This would be okay if she actually did her job, but nooo, April only does 3 things: Read the diary, burp champagne and cheese (seriously why the fucking CONSTANT mention of her burping??? EXPLAIN)and pursue the only viable male around; Luc. She talks about herself nonstop, does little to confront her one-time cheating husband, encourages the advances of someone she’s known(and instantly disliked) for like 2 days and then gets everything she’s wanted done for her automatically + receives praise for a job she hardly did. I hated April. I hated her sick obsession with saying French words; she just sounded like a person who can’t wait to get out of her skin. I couldn’t believe and had to reread the part where she explains that she had to change her clothes into something more acceptable to French society and how she read an article on how to ‘look French’.I find that horrible. Is she so insecure about her origins? Are there actually articles that explain how to look French? Do people read them? Do people proudly explain that they are trying to look less like their cultures? Do people in the states wear anything conspicuously American? ALL of them? I know this is an insignificant point but really why? This is almost as irritating a slip as all those mentions of burping. There are more scenes in this book describing her restaurant visits, her trying to look and sound French moments and her diary-reading rituals than there are of her handling anything professional which just kills me.

The drama of April’s mom’s Alzheimer’s:

Oh dear God. This is by far the WORST portrayal of Alzheimer’s in a book. April abandons her family because her mom is sick and whenever anyone in the book mentions her mother she changes the subject in a way that makes it seem like her mother had died. What kind of daughter walks out on her mother when she’s that vulnerable? What kind of daughter blames her father for caring about her mother? The kind that runs off to Paris, tries to ‘look french’, doesn’t do her job, cares more about dead prostitutes than about her family, gets back at her cheating husband in kind and STILL gets praise.The only use of mentioning Alzheimer’s in this book is so April could get sympathy whimpers from sleazy Luc for like 10 seconds.

There’s no winning in modern literature; April hates that her husband has cheated on her and told her about it directly. Had her husband not directly come clean about the affair, she would have hated him forever and claimed that he had lied by omission, had he cheated again, she would have killed him and wailed about it in 200 or more pages;but what do we get? blame AND deliberate romance/ one-night stand with Luc WITHOUT coming clean to her husband- what is this book trying to tell its readers?
April lives half her life secretly (and probably openly if her behavior is any indication) blaming her father for ‘abandoning’ her by caring for her sick mother; had he abandoned them/ died/gone off with another woman/ drunk his pain away/ dumped the mother in a caring home alone, we would have never heard the end of it.I’m just starting to get tired of literature (if that’s what this is).

The thing is, the diary of Marthe is well-written and even endearing at times, certainly her tragic existence is a lot more fun (sorry not sorry) to read about than April’s half-hearted attempts at living a life. I just don’t understand why the author interjects this absolutely superfluous romance of April and Luc, and April and Troy, and April and April. I just didn’t care if April lived or died. Really.

Question of the Day!!!

Do you think any film adaptations are better than the book?

 

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Below are 10 from the latter category – but do you agree that these films are better than the books they’re based on?

1. The Godfather

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the 1972 American crime film was based on Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel of the same name.

Book rating: 3.34

Film rating: 4.6

2. Forrest Gump

The multi-Oscar-winning 1994 comedy-drama was based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. 

Book rating: 3.24

Film rating: 4.4

3. Shawshank Redemption

Frank Darabont’s 1994 prison drama was based on Stephen King’s novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, published in 1982

Book rating: 3.45

Film rating: 4.65

4. Schindler’s List

Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust drama was based on Schindler’s Ark, a biographical novel by Thomas Keneally published in 1982.

Book rating: 3.47

Film rating: 4.45

5. The Graduate

The much-loved 1967 comedy-drama directed by Mike Nichols was based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Charles Webb.

Book rating: 3

Film rating: 4

6. The Lord of the Rings 

Controversially, IMDb rates Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring higher than  readers rate JRR Tolkein’s fantasy classic.

Book rating: 3.53

Film rating: 4.4

7. The Silence of the Lambs

Does Jonathan Demme’s 1991 thriller really improve on Thomas Harris’s 1988 novel?

Book rating: 3.41

Film rating: 4.3

8. Requiem for a Dream

Darren Aronofsky’s intense 2000 film successfully captures the intensity of Hubert Selby, Jr’s 1978 novel – helped by the fact that Selby co-wrote the screenplay.

Book rating: 3.47

Film rating: 4.2

9. A Clockwork Orange

Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel is highly regarded – but the public seem to prefer Stanley Kubrick’s masterful adaptation, released in 1971.

Book rating: 3.41

Film rating: 4.15

10. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Another entry for Kubrick, who co-wrote the screenplay with novelist Arthur C. Clarke, while Clarke concurrently wrote the novel.

Book rating: 3.58

Film rating: 4.15

 

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Book Review #357

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Paperback, 248 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Picador/Farrar Straus and Giroux (first published January 23rd 2007)
Original Title: Call Me by Your Name
ISBN: 1250169445 (ISBN13: 9781250169440)
Edition Language: English
Setting: Italy
This is a beautifully written story of passion, obsession, and possibly love.

It’s told primarily in the voice of a highly intelligent 17 year old boy living in the Italian Riviera with his family. They are wealthy, have a beautiful villa, and allow tourists to visit, and writers to stay there for the summer. The book is about the obsession the narrator, Elio, has for a young professor named Oliver (one of the writers staying for the summer). The atmosphere is perfectly described. I could picture it vividly, possible because I visited the region in the summer of 2013, but primarily because of the writing.

Out of the three themes I listed above, I think the primary one is obsession which is why I’m not sure if I consider this a love story. That isn’t a flaw in my eyes, but I was often disturbed by the narrator during the first third of the book. It isn’t the book’s fault. A lot of it has to do with my own personal opinions and my current attitude towards people who have the mindset of Elio as he obsessed over Oliver. At first, his interest seems one-sided, but he becomes so focused on it that it consumes him and makes him toxic at times. He tracks Oliver’s movements, his conversations with others, choreographs conversations and interactions, and eventually becomes so obsessed that he considers plotting to turn Oliver against a girl he may have interest in out of jealousy and a need to control him. He seemed to see Oliver as primarily a possession even though Elio has made no move to actually make his own interest and desire apparent.

There were two things that snapped me out of my cringing judgment: 1) I had to check myself and remember that Elio is only 17. Extreme emotional responses are more acceptable for a teenager. 2) Elio was aware of how insidious he was being and checked himself.

Other than that brief foray, Elio’s feelings were well drawn. I could see their interactions, I could feel what he was feeling, and I understood perfectly his moments of doubt and anguish when he felt rejected. It took me back to moments in my life when I was a teenager and in love with a boy, and how every minor moment was monumental in my mind. And how it feels to be hopeful about something when the outcome is ambiguous, or I could fool myself into thinking it was. Primarily for this reason, I give the book four stars. Elio felt real and sometimes that hurt me, but ultimately it helped his story feel real as well.

Although 80% of the book is literally “told” by Elio more so than scenes are written out in their entirety, I enjoyed the style. However, the book slowed down a lot for me at the end. I guess you can say, the major conflict had been resolved and my engagement dwindled because I assumed things would tie up neatly in a bow and all would be well. I was wrong, but I still found the pacing and final chapters to be at odds with the beginning of the book.

All in all, this is a wonderful coming of age story about a teenage boy who is exploring his sexuality and his first real taste of passion and love. It often felt like I was there beside Elio and Oliver, simultaneously rooting them on while at times wondering if the situation was healthy for either party. Despite my own personal opinions, I can admit that this perfectly captured moments that most people experience in their youth–intense, careless incidents where everything feels important and devastating even if it fades with the end of the season, or the summer, or the semester, but you remember those moments for the rest of your life.

I highly recommend you go see the movie which is great