Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blood, Bones & Butter - Part 2

I have a goal of reading 50 books this year. I'm at 11. But that's why I pushed to finish this book so I can move on to other books. And here's what I have to say:


I'd like to start off with the end. What was with that? It felt like a total cliff hanger. Nothing seemed to be resolved at all, except that she cut down the tree enough for her mother in law to see the water. We don't know if she stays married to her husband, how messed up her kids end up being, if she ever goes back to Italy etc etc.

That being said, I can start on the little things:

Her kids. One would think, that after experiencing your parents' divorce at a young age and seeing your entire family ripped apart because of it, an adult with a working brain would think "Hey, I don't want my kids to have to go through that." One might also think that if a man wanted to marry you only for a green card, and the two of you don't even bother to live together, that you probably shouldn't have kids in the first place. I can understand a woman's desire to want babies. I want babies. But I'm smart enough to know that I have to wait until I have my life on a more stable ground than it is now. Living apart from a husband who only wants to stay in the country doesn't count, at least in my mind, as stable ground.

So this makes me think: is she just selfish? Did she just want a kid so bad she didn't care with who(whom? I'm never sure about this), or how messed up the kids might be in the future? Or does Gabrielle just have bad judgement? I don't know.

I was less interested in the second half of the book than I was in the first. The first part was a struggle for her. I understood why she was struggling. But then, it's like her life was a struggle, but it was a struggle she could have avoided, for which I don't feel bad for her at all. I just can't muster up feeling bad for people who put themselves in a situation that will most likely end up bad. It might be mean, but its the truth.

Something I would have liked to seen be explored more was the revelation she had everyone in Michele's family was afraid of change, except for the mother in law (whose name escapes me at the moment), even though everyone said it was her that didn't want the change. I wanted more about that. Family dynamics are so interesting to me.

The issue with the party struck me as annoying as well. She wanted to have one, but her "husband" said no. And no again. Why didn't she ask someone else? And besides, I'm sure she was making enough money for herself that she could go out and buy the stuff for the party and just say "I'm doing this." Was she so afraid of losing a family she barely had, rather than stand up for herself and do what she wants? It is such a change from the younger Gabrielle who lied about her age to work.

I'm trying to come up with something I enjoyed about the second part of the book, and I'm struggling a little bit. Maybe my annoyance with adult Gabrielle is overpowering. Maybe if I come up with something at a later date, I will write about it. But don't hold your breath.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Blood, Bones & Butter - Part 1

The Huffington Post Book Club is currently reading the book Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton. If you have not heard of this book, the title pretty much says it all.

**Spoilers Follow**

So far, I am liking the book. I have read through Chapter 10, which is halfway. I hover somewhere between liking this woman, and disliking her.  I really liked her as a child, because she was able to write the thought processes of a child in such a true way, that it was totally believable. Maybe it was the way I grew up, but when people claim that nine-year-old's are saying all sorts of swear words and such, I don't find it believable. But she doesn't really claim to have done that all the time. And the way she looks up to her older siblings is something I can relate to. I also loved the magical way she describes the parties that her family held, because I'm sure as a child, the whole thing was magically to her as well.

Gabrielle as a person seems to begin to fall apart after her parents get divorced, which is understandable, but it is where my ability to relate to her ends. When I was 13, I wasn't dressing the way she was, nor did I steal or lie about my age. I am also harboring a bit of jealously over the fact that she was able to travel around Europe in a way I wish I could. But I keep trying to remind myself that your money could go a little further then than it does now.

I think my favorite part was when she attended the University of Michigan. I thought her assessment of Michiganders was sort of funny. I'm not sure that we actually talk like that, though I have been asked before when out of state if I was from Michigan. They could tell. I could also understand how she felt when she was working through her graduate degree in creative writing. Even though I attended Western Michigan University, and I was only working on my Bachelors degree, I still felt the same way about most of my classmates as she did. Almost everyone was so into themselves, and thought their weed induced "abstract" writing was so good, and I just didn't get it. Luckily, in most classes, you found that one person who was on the same page as yourself.

Gabrielle never comes out and says, at least in the first half, that she is a lesbian or expresses any preference for other women, or even talks about being confused as a child. Part of me was surprised by this lack of information, but the other half of me thinks that this is the way it SHOULD be. When a heterosexual person is writing about their life, whether fiction or non-fiction, it's not always, "I was so confused about liking someone from the other gender" or other self proclamations about their sexuality. And when the person talks about their boy/girlfriend of the opposite gender, no one thinks twice. And that's how it should be for homosexuals as well. If they want to casually mention that they found a girlfriend in a butch girl from Michigan, it should not cause an eye-brow raise from the reader. I actually like that she just mentions it without trying to be a martyr.

I don't have much else to say about the book at this time, but look for my follow-up blog about the second half of the book sometime soon!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What day is it again?

I don't celebrate Valentine's Day. I really don't even like the concept of Valentine's Day. Same goes for Sweetest Day. Here's why.

In elementary school, at least at mine, the teacher gave everyone a list of names in the class, so you could make sure you gave each kid a Valentine with or without candy, depending on your parents. Of course, those cheap little Valentines were themed, with TV shows, music groups etc. For some reason, even as a kid, I was glad for the list because I knew that meant I would at least get some Valentines.

In middle school, people stopped giving out Valentines cards to everyone, and instead would select a number of friends that matched the number of Valentines you would get in the box. By then, it was usually a big joke over the themes of the cards, because by then,  most people had grown out of their elementary school interests.

In high school, things just get worse. Now that you are exposed to more of the world, you begin to notice when stores begin to pump out the Valentine's Day... stuff... And only a select few people would still give out the little kid Valentines cards, as a joke. Sometimes, your close friends would give you a better card. Or sometimes candy would be given out. And the school just made things worse. You know in the movie Mean Girls when they give out those Santa Gram things? Well my high school offered something where you could have a flower (usually a carnation) or something like that sent to your sweetheart. I would go through the day, looking at all the people with those cheap flowers in their hands and their hair, just loving the attention. It annoyed me.

I got one, once, on Sweetest Day, and then a month later we broke up.

In college, I actually had a boyfriend during one Valentine's Day, and I had high hopes for it. Maybe, this just could be the year when I could have a REAL Valentine's Day! No suck luck. He decided to go home to his parents' house that weekend, leaving me at school to be by myself.... again. (On a side note, he did the same thing during our one year anniversary.)

My point is that I spent pretty much every Valentine's day single, and when I did have a boyfriend, it sucked.

That's why I quit caring. And that's when I found my current man. Last year, he bought me a necklace without me asking. I think we went out to eat that night, but I don't remember.

This year, I said nothing about Valentine's Day to him, expect asking if he'll come over. I made him some cupcakes as well. And it makes me happy that he can brag to his friends that "his girl doesn't celebrate Valentine's day."

Call me screwed up, but I would rather brag about not caring about the day then to brag about some random gift given to me.

However, this does not mean that I won't partake in the "holiday" themed snacks brought into the office. Pink chocolate hearts on a stick? Yes, please!

Monday, February 6, 2012

"The Tiger's Wife" Review

I haven't been around since Halloween? Geez. Well the good news is: I finally found a sort of job. I'm only a temp, but it is full time position. Which is good. 

Because my job doesn't really have much going on all day long, I decided to start reading news websites, which I don't like. So I start hanging out on the Huffungton Post, and saw that they started a book club. I joined, obviously. 

The first book they read was The Tiger's Wife  by Téa Obreht.

Where to begin? While I probably missed where exactly this book took place, which would be my fault, but I had a hard time picturing where this place is. As an avid fantasy reader, I love maps. To me, maps make things more real, even if its a fantasy world. That way, you can follow the characters' journeys through the story on the map, so you can see where things are in relation to one another. I'm sure if I took the time to do a little research, I could figure it out. [too lazy]

This story though, did make me regret my own grandfathers. I have never really been close to them. One of my grandfathers had 10 kids and 27 grandkids. I was lost in the shuffle because I was so shy and felt like people liked me less than everyone else (symptom of depression, surprise-surprise). This grandpa died when I was 16. The other grandpa is a hoarder, who's house we couldn't go to very often. When I was younger, I was also intimidated by him... probably because we weren't supposed to touch his things. This grandpa is still alive but leaves his house less, and when people do get together with him, I'm usually unavailable due to work or other circumstances. I know, excuses excuses. 

Natalia had the relationship with her grandfather that I had achieved during my life. I suppose she had one advantage, that being that she lived with him and lacked a preset father figure. Do we know what happened to her father?

As a character, I didn't like Natalia. I thought her ego was too big for who she really was. I understand that she wanted to help save all those children that they had come to save, but at the same time, she must have learned somewhere that 1) you can't force medicine on those who refuse it and 2) you can't save everyone. And I suppose I wasn't too fond of her telling the life stories of other characters, most of whom she'd never even met, since she wasn't even born by that time. However, I did like the stories about the deathless man, and because it was told in the voice of the grandfather, I found it more believable than some of the other stories she told. 

And to be honest, if she could take interviews with village people about her grandfather's life as a child, then I think she could have some up with a scene between her grandfather and the deathless man- when they met for the last time. I think, after we saw them meet three times, that this final one would have been the greatest scene of the book, but instead, we're left with a summary of what happened. This set up for an epic death was fallen short by a lack of "assumption" which I felt was prominent throughout the rest of the book. 

I, like some people whose comments I've read, agree that the end sort of falls short after the build up. I was also confused about the man that Natalia meets at the end, whom she follows through the woods. I think it was supposed to be the deathless man, but he was totally different. His manner was too unsure and confused, and who was the wife? I didn't really get that. If anyone can help me out there, I'd appreciate it. 

That's pretty much all I've got to say about this book. Looking forward to starting the next one!