WG12 Mini Reviews

Bybee said ... Does the new Coupland book take place in Canada? Is it highly comedic in tone? Does it have lots of references to pop culture? Is the title character an adult or child?

gum thief You know I can't for the life of me remember the city it was set in (Ottawa seems to keep coming to mind) Are there any Staples stores in the US or Canada only because the story revolves around the employees of a Staples lol. Gum Thief was hilarious (I giggled all the way throughout) but it also has lots of drama too. The characters in this Coupland novel really pull you into their lives, loves and heartaches. The references to how big box stationary stores run had me cracking up, and there's a bit of talk about the Goth subculture too. The two main characters are a twenty something Goth girl with identity issues and a forty something divorced man dealing with midlife and loss (I hate spoilers so that's all I will give about the title.)
bookchronicle said ... I've only read one book by Mosley (Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned) and while I loved it, I generally have not heard favorable things about his books. Does race have an important theme in the book? Would you consider Mosley's literature readable by a large audience or is he more of a nook demographic writer?

man in my basement Race is an issue in this novel, as the story revolves around a younger black man who has fallen on bad times and fears he may lose his family home. When it seems like he has no options left, a very rich, powerful, middle-aged white man offers him $50,000 dollars to imprison him in his basement. However racial themes seem to be overpowered by issues involving the true face of good and evil and how society and individual humans deal with punishment, the giving, receiving and deserving of. Man In My Basement is the only book I've read of Mosley's so I am unsure of whether his novels target certain readers. His most famous works are the 11 books from his Easy Rawlins PI series which I have seen recommended. The lead characters from Man In My Basement and Easy Rawlins are both African-American, which is very refreshing in mainstream fiction.
Joy Renee said ... My questions are for any or all of the titles in your list: How was Point-of-View handled? Was there a single POV character or did it alternate among two or more. Was it always clear whose eyes and mind were filtering? How was language used to set tone and mood? Was the prose dense or spare? Were sentences generally simple or complex? How was metaphor used? Were associations fresh or did they tend toward cliche? Did they add to your understanding of the theme? What was the central or organizing theme? How does the title relate to the story? Was it fitting? Does Book of Revelation have anything to do with the New Testament book of that title? If not directly, then how is it alluding to it? Any novel of that title in our culture would have to be intentionally triggering our associations with the Biblical book of that title so I am interested in how it relates.

Man In My Basement by Walter Mosley
This is told in the first person point of view of Mr. Blakey. It was very clear throughout the novel who was speaking and to whom. The type of story that flows almost poetically from page to page, it's clear that Walter Mosley is very confident with words, and creating realistic thought patterns. The author's choice of how the character's spoke added an element to the story that I found very enjoyable. Mr. Blakey speaks in a very relaxed, casual way that makes it seem like the words are rolling like smooth river water. While the other character Mr. Bennett seems to me that he would sound the way an automated phone message sounds, quick, business-like and to the point.There are many different themes investigated in Man In My Basement including race, power, money, punishment, redemption and humanity. But perhaps the most powerful theme found is the definition and classification of good and evil. It asks the question of whether there is a grey area between the two and if it's possible for good and evil to co-exist. Or is it a question of needing evil in order to define good.

The Book Of Joe by Jonathan Tropper
book of joeJoe wrote a book. The book is about the town he grew up in and left. It's a bestseller because it's controversial, gossipy and seems to be true. But now Joe is going back home to face the people he wrote about. Using a great mixture of present and past tense Joe recounts his experiences and relationships with the people he grew up around. Telling it from Joe's point of view is what really makes this story sizzle, because what you see and assume isn't necessarily the truth. The language used to tell his story is very fluent and easy to follow. The scenes of dialogue are upbeat and reminded me of sitcom dialogue in that they get right to the punch-line without missing a beat.The central theme of The Book Of Joe is the very important lesson that what you see isn't always the way things are. Joe wrote a book based on what he perceived to be fact while growing up, but as an adult he comes to see that he misunderstood almost everything that happened around him. Even though he wasn't an overly self-involved person, he did have the flaw of being confident that his perspective was clear and unbiased.

The Collector by John Fowles
collector The Collector was written in a very interesting way - telling one story from two perspectives. There are essentially only two characters - the collector and the collected. The first half of the books recounts the experience in the first person pov from the collector. The second part of the novel is written as journal entries that the collected wrote throughout the experience. So the book really presents a mirror-image of differences. This method was highly successful and adds to effect of the novel.The first half is narrated by the collector, who clearly has limited vocabulary and shows an average intelligence with no respect for higher learning. His words are awkward and often child-like. Whereas the second part, told by the collected, sounds like a completely different writer. A higher understanding of proper speech, obviously well-educated and also displays the false worldliness of an adolescent. The central metaphor of this novel is comparing the collecting of butterflies, beautiful, wild things that should be kept under lock and key for observation to the kidnapping of a beautiful young girl, not for sexual purposes, solely for the knowledge that she has been captured and available to watch, to study.

The Book Of Revelation by Rupert Thomas
book of This story is narrated by the main character, a male ballet dancer who is kidnapped while leaving his house in Amsterdam. It starts out in third person perspective telling of his capture and imprisonment. But once released it changes to the first person point of view as he relates the way his life has changed, the struggles he must go through and how he deals with his psychological scars. In my opinion, the central theme of The Book Of Revelation is how experiences (good or bad) change the way we view ourselves and our beliefs, in a sense revealing our true selves.The title was very fitting to this story as the main character undergoes a series of revelations about himself. As to the religious connotations, I am not familiar with the biblical Book Of Revelation, the small knowledge I do have is that it concerns prophecies about the end of days. If that is the case then I can see how it would relate to this story as the main character comes to realize that his life as he knew it, has now ended, changing everything.
Tasses said... You've a few controversial authors/titles on there! Do you normally read books that are considered edgy?

Great question. I've honestly never thought about this but I guess I do search out the more controversial novels. I like to think that every written word has some treasure to be found, because they are in some way the thoughts and ideas from a human being (if every person is special than shouldn't every person's thoughts be too?) I know that can seem optimistic when you consider how many formulaic, plagiaristic books are out there, but I like to hope. Another reason for my choices may be that I don't always respect the opinions of "professional" reviewers, so if the NYTimes says "this is pure garbage" I've got to take a look.

© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.


Joy Renee said...

these all sound worth reading. the only author i'm familiar with is John Fowles whom i've read and liked before.

this reminds me i still haven't completed this WG assignmen. :( i still have two reviews from that list to post and answer the questions from the WG group.