Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Snapshot Book Review: Gone Girl

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Incredible pace. Brilliant "don't trust the narrator" setup. Now here's the reason I couldn't give it that 5th star: the whole "mind f**k" came in the middle of the book. The MIDDLE. At that point, the stakes were so high, it was nearly inconceivable to raise them any higher. Yet Flynn had already delivered such a fast-paced, tension-filled narrative that I couldn't help but anticipate the next "OMG!" moment. Which, of course, never came.

There were of course some surprises and twists, but nothing remotely as mind-blowing as what happens midway through. Not even close. Which unfortunately left me disappointed at the end, because I had been craving another dive off of the narrative precipice. Alas, the book had to wrap up as neatly as it could. Not that I would be able to suggest a more fitting ending . . . but I don't think I wanted the ending to fit. I wanted to be shocked. Again.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Just Don't Get Sick

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not really one to baby myself when I get sick. First of all, I get bored just sitting around, and second of all, I hate feeling useless and unproductive for an entire day, and third of all, I don't like to stay indoors.

Therefore, when this flu, or infection, or whatever it was knocked me out so badly that I had to take a day off of work, I figured there was at least some cause for concern. My concern ratcheted up when, after starting to feel a little better, I developed a yucky, phlegm-y cough that rattled around in my chest, in conjunction with terrible sinus headaches.

Still, like any good patient, I waited a full week before calling the doctor. Lo and behold, he could see me the very evening I called! (Note: if your doctor is ever that freely available, find a new doctor.)

In my usual diligent manner, I showed up for my appointment 10 minutes early, in order to make any payments and fill out any paperwork they might have waiting for me. Then I sat down in the waiting room, pulled out my book, and attempted--unsuccessfully--to ignore the blaring television in the corner.

Fifty-five minutes and an episode-and-a-half of "Chopped" later, my name was called. I closed my book, picked up my coat and backpack, and entered the doctor's office.

"I've been having awful headaches," I told him, "And this cough developed after I had a fever for two days. It seems like it might be getting better, but I wanted to make sure it's not anything serious, since a few people I know have had bronchitis and pneumonia."

Then he sat me on the examination table, took my blood pressure, listened to my chest in two spots (through my sweater), shined a light in my mouth, and began asking me about a family history of asthma.

Asthma? Seriously? I DON’T HAVE ASTHMA, I have some sort of chest cold you MORON, and I just want to be reassured it isn't anything worse.

Then he made me do a breathing test with an inhaler, wrote me a prescription for an inhaler and antibiotics, and advised me, "I'm writing you this scrip, but if I were you, I wouldn't take them."

Um, right.

I hate doctors.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Snapshot Book Review: Let the Great World Spin

Let the Great World SpinLet the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Elegant" is the single world I would use to describe this . . . well, whatever you decide that it is. I hesitate to call it a novel, because it endeavors to so much more artistry than that. I also struggle to call it simply a "collection of short stories," however, because the stories are woven together with such intentional thread and timing. I should be clear, however: it only strengthens my opinion of the book, that it is so difficult for me to classify. I am also in awe that McCann was able to pull off varying points of view (first person, third person) without jarring me, the reader. (It is yet another reason I struggle to call Let the Great World Spin a novel.)

Each portion is beautifully, poignantly written and, most importantly, unique while still being connected to the other portions of the book. My favorite selection might be "This is the House that Horse Built," which is narrated in first person by the hooker Tillie. It's not my favorite because it was necessarily the "best written," but because it is such a departure from the detached, panoramic tone of narration used with nearly all of the other characters.

The only reason I will not give this book five stars is because it did not grab me from the outset. I spent the first several stories, in fact, wondering "where in the world is this book going?" The pace was so unhurried that I honestly considered putting it down in favor of another book; fortunately, however, I nothing had yet come in from the library, so I was stuck with this or rereading something else . . . so I carried on. And was rewarded for doing so.

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Memories of Pneumonia

Prompt:  Start by writing down your three earliest memories. Then try to incorporate all of them into a single cohesive piece.

Time: 10 minutes


3 memories:

  1. Fingers shut in trunk.
  2. Standing in an x-ray room, wearing a heavy metal vest.
  3. Drinking watered down apple juice.

Her head is screaming. Not the way her fingers screamed when her mom closed them in the hatchback trunk, with biting razors of pain, but screaming the way someone in a scary movie screams: long, prolonged, echoing.

Her mother is there again, holding out the Pizza Hut cup with its plastic straw pointed at her mouth, but she pushes it away. She can't bear the thought of sweet ginger ale bubbles in her mouth again. Just the idea is making that prickling sensation in her throat, and she gags over the crinkly plastic garbage pail.

Robin Hood the fox and Little John the bear--they dance back and forth across the screen over and over again until her lids fall and black heat surrounds her again.

She is jolted awake. Somehow she is buckled into the back seat of their station wagon, wrapped tightly in blankets. For an instant she thinks she is on her way to the Carriage House, and that makes her think of snacks: apple juice--watered down of course--and animal crackers. But then the car jerks again and acid rises in her throat. One of the blankets is wet and smells sour. She begins to cry.

She is still crying when they Velcro the leaden vest across her chest and drag her, stumbling, into the dark, metallic X-ray room. She is trying to stay straight and stand still, but her chest just hurts so much, and her head is still screaming, and she can't seem to stop crying.

And then she is wearing paper, laying on paper, and she can't even feel the needle as she watches it poke under the pale skin of her arm.

"You're being so brave," the nurse tells her. She thinks of Robin Hood.