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01/13/07

  02:52:00 am, by Airycat   , 334 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction

How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan

What a disappointment! I must have missed something in all the hype about it when it came out. I knew what the premise of the book was. The disappointment is that there is nothing beyond the premise that I can see.

McMillan writes in a very conversational, run-on sentence way. At first this annoyed me, but as I continued to read, I began to appreciate it. It drew me in and created the familiarity I needed to finish the book

McMillan creates good characters. By the end of the book you feel like you know these people, and generally like them. That's a good thing. My favorite character was Stella's son Quincy. There was no one to hate in this novel.

The books fulfills the requirement that a character must change. Stella has changed quite a bit by the end of the book. The whole book is about her obsessing about whether or not she should be falling for Winston, who's half her age. If you like romances and very light reading, I guess it works. I found it boring.

I take it back. There is a little more to it. McMillan also briefly talks about women taking charge of their lives, giving up the "role" they've made for themselves for practical reasons. Had she developed this more, it could have been more interesting. But McMillan doesn't really develop this aspect. Stella was an investment analyst and learned from the job and a mentor, and she was very comfortable financially. She could afford time to figure out where her heart was professionally as well as romantically.

The best part of the book for me was when she first arrives in Jamaica (maybe the second day) and is going through the books she took with her, trying to decide what to read. She comments on all of them -- including Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale.

On a five point scale I'd give it a three. It's ok, but I didn't find anything to think about, really.

How Stella Got Her Groove BackHow Stella Got Her Groove Back

11/18/06

  01:57:00 am, by Airycat   , 250 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction

Jew Girl by EminemsRevenge

If you don't mind a sometimes difficult, quirky (and sometimes annoyingly so) book that will make you think, this might be it.

The Fabric of Life

This book is not for someone looking for light escape fiction. It exposes the everyday reality of life with it's lack of connections and unpredictability while at the same time showing the threads that connect all of us just because we're human. We see how each of us lives in our own world, affected by the world outside and things we can't control, never really knowing what we think we know about someone else and his world.

Ian Odamench sees Reuven as a potential messiah. Some of the women who work with Reuven's mom think he's special, too. Reuven just wants his mom to get well. He's looking for a savior for his dying mom, Eileen. He thinks Jonah is who he is looking for. Jonah has gone through life only barely aware of how he has affected others. Though once part of Eileen's life, he's just looking to get through each day.

For all the connections of the main characters, all the lesser characters have their impact too. No one has a truly minor role. Sometimes it's the character the walk-on role who provides the most significant catalyst. These characters are real whether or not they live on your patch of the fabric of life. This book can be startling, annoying or difficult but ultimately, it reveals the true pattern of the whole.

Jew GirlJew Girl

04/15/06

  01:51:00 am, by Airycat   , 199 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction, Short Stories

Setting Suns by Elizabeth Donald

Elizabeth Donald's collection of short stories rather deliciously makes a point against the adage that shining a light on our fears makes them go away.

What I liked (??) about this collection is that some of the stories ["Gauntlet," "Memoir," and "Our Turn" from her first (unpublished) novel, Sanctuary] touched the fears hidden within my own soul. Growing up when I did (early cold war), I have a latent fear of the "enemy" attacking. The enemy in these stories is as unknown as the one I feared as a child, and perhaps more worthy of fear. The fear is the same, though not as buried.

Another story that I particularly liked was "Symphony of the Woods." The young heroine of this story has a lovely ability that is apparently both her burden and her salvation.

"Wonderland" takes a look, with a classic science fiction stance, at the fear many have of any new technology -- even some of us who embrace it.

Each of these fifteen stories held my attention and even compelled me to continue. I appreciated the diversity of stories -- from present day psychological tensions to futuristic science fiction, with a dash of fantasy, and not a little adventure.

Setting SunsSetting Suns

01/29/06

  02:56:00 am, by Airycat   , 418 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Science

Hyperspace by Michio Kaku

I finished Hyperspace by Michio Kaku today. My mind is kind of swimming in it all and not focusing on any one idea presented.

I can't speak to the accuracy of the science. He's my teacher, not my peer or my student. It doesn't sound crazy, so I believe he is accurately depicting the state of physics as of the time the book was written.

The first time I read about superstrings, I thought it was a wonderful theory. It just "clicks" for me. This may have something to do with Kaku's ability to write clearly. I think it was in his book, Beyond Einstein where I first heard of the theory.

I'm more a metaphysicist than a physicist. (Not that I'm actually either.) I'm always trying to relate physics and religion and philosophy (and psychology and everything else!). A lot of that can be done with superstrings. Kaku addresses some of it. Scientists dismiss some things because they can't be repeated experimentally. Those are often the kinds of things I like to think about.

Some people in the past used the theory of multiple dimensions to explain where heaven was. Until and unless we find that particular dimension, of course the scientists will question it. It's their job (and nature) to question everything. But from the metaphysical point of view, it a very good thing to think about.... even if we don't get the right answer. If we have beliefs, they will definitely influence our conclusions.

This book feeds thoughts like this. Lots of "What if?" ideas come to me, too. I don't know the strict science or the math necessary, but I can think. I believe I have some powers of reasoning. A book like this also helps me keep on track because it tells of the paths that didn't work, the theories that didn't stand up to the experimentation, didn't fit the real world.

I wonder if I'm merely a child of my generation, one which has always seen rapid discovery and changes, or if I'm just one of the wild eyed dreamers of the world.

I like the idea of ten dimensions. I like the idea that those six extra dimensions, which are now curled up to Planck size (tiny!) may possibly, in the very distant future, provide the means of human survival. Assuming, of course, that we survive long enough to discover how to use them. I also like the idea that everything will come together one day and prove all to be inter-related.

Hyperspace

08/01/05

  02:41:00 am, by Airycat   , 106 words  
Categories: Book Reviews, Fiction

Farewell, My Concubine by Lilian Lee

This is the book one of my very favorite movies is based on. I was looking for a rich text that the movie implies to me. I didn't find it. Lee's writing style is very simple, even a bit more "telling" than I like.*

Nonetheless, I found the book enjoyable. It is enough the same as the movie see what she doesn't describe. I also like the ending better than the movie's ending. The ending in the movie is perhaps more dramatic, but in the book the ending is more real.

*It is possible that it is the translation that is flat, rather than Lee's style.

Farewell My ConcubineFarewell My Concubine

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