Posts Tagged ‘ New York Times ’

Is Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’ Really Worth All of This Hype?

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

After I read Stephen King’s glowing review of the hotly anticipated new book, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, I was dying to get my hands on the thing. I bought it when it came out yesterday.

But then I read this ridiculously pompous story about book and author in the New York Times. Let me quote a few lines:

1. “Donna Tartt is the kind of writer who makes other writers, in the words of her fellow Southerner Scarlett O’Hara, pea green with envy.”

2. “She is so thoroughly well read that she is known to quote entire poems and passages from French novels at length in her slight Mississippi twang. In photos, she projects a ghostly mystery, her porcelain skin and black bob suggesting a cross between Anna Wintour and Oscar Wilde. ”

Pretentious literary articles like this make me barf in my mouth, crawl into the crate with my dog and not want to touch the book in the center of the hype. I don’t want that kind of arrogance to rub off on me. What I took from this piece is that Donna Tartt is better than the rest of us, and I doubt that’s the image she wishes to project. The writer is tooting her own ‘look-at-me-I’m-writing-for-the-New-York-Times” horn by writing ridiculous sentences that are completely unrelatable and totally unlikeable. The reporter must look in the mirror and believe the literati is staring back at her.

Maybe The Goldfinch really is that good. But right now, I’m turned off. I’ve tried to figure out what it’s about from various sources, but it sounds like Little Orphan Annie with some death and thrills. Here is the description of The Goldfinch from Amazon:

“It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. ”

Effusive, overindulgent writing about writing just gets to me. But don’t get me wrong. Of course, I downloaded this book on Audible. (Audible rocks for busy moms.) When I write about the novel soon, I promise not to mention anything about lengthy French novels or Anna Wintour.

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My Roundup: Best Books of 2012

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

I love December. Sure, the presents, cookies and family time are great. But what gets me really excited? The Best Books of 2012 lists. I don’t usually agree with the (snobbish) book world’s top picks, but I relish in reading their carefully selected and politically correct choices. You know in high school when the coach would post who made the cheerleading squad? Book picks are like that for me because I’m a geek.

Below, I’ve compiled Best of Lists from The New York Times, Amazon and Publisher’s Weekly. I saw several repeats such as Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, Building Stories by Chris Ware and Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.

Have you read any of those three? I haven’t. How many of the books below interest you? I’ve read four of them, and three others are in my to-read pile. Is it PC to write that several of these seem kind of boring? I only speak the truth.

I’ll write about my own picks next week, and I promise they’re more fun. Also, stay tuned for a post about the books Parents staffers loved this year.

Most importantly, what’s your favorite book of 2012? Bare your soul to me in the comments. 

The New York Times 10 Best Books of 2012

Bring Up the Bodies
by Hilary Mantel

Building Stories
by Chris Ware

A Hologram for a King
by Dave Eggars

by Zadie Smith

The Yellow Birds
by Kevin Powers


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‘The Next Best Thing’ by Jennifer Weiner

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

I adore author Jennifer Weiner. Her popular, best-selling novels are fun, quirky and revealing. Did you like Good in Bed or In Her Shoes? Weiner’s latest, The Next Best Thing, runs along those lines. It tells the story of Ruth, a young Hollywood TV writer who lives with her sparky grandmother. Ruth suffers the trials and tribulations of climbing the male-dominated ladder of TV. She finally gets her own show–a story about a girl and her grandmother, Golden Girls-style–and things go downhill from there. Will Ruth ever see her dreams come true? I know the answer, but it would be rude of me to give it away.

I connected to the vividness of the characters. Ruth lost her parents in a childhood car accident that severely scarred her face. Against all odds–she was bullied and lacked friends–she musters up the confidence to leave her small Massachusetts town and go to Los Angeles. Her vivacious, protective and well-dressed grandmother, Ruth’s caretaker since she was 8, comes along for the ride and finds exciting acting work as an elderly extra.

Romance and raciness ensues. Hearts are lifted and dropped and lifted up again. The most intriguing part of the story was the insider peek at how things go down in TV. Weiner knows from personal experience. Her show, State of Georgia, ran for 12 episodes on ABC Family in 2011. What I gathered from The Next Best Thing is that women have to navigate carefully in a misogynistic industry. The most popular female comedy in the book is written exclusively by men.

Women also have to face a double standard in real-life literature, Weiner has often said. ”If a man writes about a family, it’s like, oh, he’s really writing about America,” Weiner told NPR. “If a woman writes about a family, it’s just assumed that she’s writing about herself.” She points out that the New York Times reviews many more crime books than romances, and female writers often get relegated to the Styles section.

See, the author is cool. The Next Best Thing is too, especially if you love Hollywood, television and stories about making it and breaking it in Tinseltown. The writing and plot are both sharp and fast, proving why Weiner is a longtime bestselling author. I’ll be watching the lists, and I’m sure The Next Best Thing will take its rightful place soon.

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