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Skinny Dipping Into Books

I like the rain. I want to have a spring bookworming rain party full out with wellies—but not those Hunter Boots; absolutely not—, with yummy airy things like puffed pastries, meringues, mini fluffy cheese cakes, mousse dessert, macaroon, biscuits, crepe, and Earl Grey tea, definitely Earl Grey tea.  and Tillandsia. We'd have lots of "air plants". Lots! And We'd read, but not anything structured. We'd bring books, trade books, read out-loud, pass books around between sentences and paragraphs. We'd leave with books we hadn't discovered.


I like books like I like my Jazz; euphoric, dangerous, occasionally a bit manic, sorrowful, bleak, raging, mood-incongruent, mournful, unforgivingly ragged, symbolic in a quiet way, warm apple pie for the soul. Give me a Plath style. Yōko Ogawa, M. Roach,

Criteria: Not rated on likability of characters. Not objective. I like Moxie Soda; chances are you don't.

time spent in that before bed reading slot:

5-until blurry eye 4-Later than I intended, but I still kept to my extended, extended reading time 3-I really should have been to bed an hour ago  2-customary 30 minutes. 1-book. side table. eyes closed.

How are common themes handled?

5-With an aesthetic that repurposes everyday themes into something fresh. Think of Hole Celebrity Skin covered by Cat Power  4-there is a comfortable air of familiarly.
3-Deja Vu 2. No deviation from its mates  1. Devastatingly trite, redundant, and stale.

Where would you keep it post-reading?

5-Next to my bed.  4-it's the center piece of my favorite bookshelf 3. On my other favorite bookshelf, but it's a bit dusty over their 2-Great cheap bookends 1-It never made it out of the box marked 'moving'.

Emotional response-

5- Where is my teddy bear? Emotional-hangover 4- If I wasn't so emotionally stunted I'd cry.
3. Did James Cameron co-wrote this? Artfully contrived. 
2- calculative emotional manipulation. This was literally written by James Cameron.1- I…feel…..nothing.

Mechanics (plot structure, voice, presentation, word choice, sentence structure, characters, writing style, pacing, and consistency):

5-Chanel 4-Prada 3-J-Crew 2-Gap 1-Old Navy

Currently reading

The Complete Stories
Flannery O'Connor
I am No One You Know
Joyce Carol Oates
Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
Alissa Nutting, Alissa Nutting

this is not chic lit!

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

“I know this isn't a conventional love story. I know there are all sorts of reasons I shouldn't even be saying what I am. But I love you. I do.[...] And I think you might even love me a little bit.”

I WANTED this review to be swift, careful, and non specific. too many reviews have given away too much information, which has diluted the quality, content, and magic of this lovely, marvelous, scrumptious, unsettling, jagged.... raw novel.

It adds to the startling succession of Mia Michaels' moment I have had while reading the last, eh 4 books. But by golly Moyes, you take the Oscar award for " Most Tears Produced While Reading a Novel '

Content/themes (remember I'm being consciously aware of spoilers here, so I'm suggesting the following in an abstract, more global manner. In short, don't make clear cut connections to the context of these books, or how they resolve or progress.): edge on A monster Calls, however, all characters transform, become an extension of themselves... evolve, almost brighten, rather than one character being impacted. no fault in our stars in that it focuses on love and illness, and the mingling of each, however this is not no fault in our stars. this is a mature, adult novel. Just a dusting of too bright to see too loud to hear, in terms of combating an illness and the systems impacted by the illness.

Akin to a monster calls, this novel has the potential to widely alter your world view; however the impact and length of its reach is vastly different and more complex. It's hard to not call it philosophical, political and a love story. But it's not, yet it is all these things. It edges towards these abstract concepts, creeping towards their boundaries, then pulls back sharply, avoiding trite conceptualizations of each that have proliferated current literature. In light of this novel, books like the hunger games, delirium, matched, etc seem so out of touch with reality, with the real meaning of fragile honest love, that it is almost laughable (in some cases it is IE hunger games. I mean that cave scene? reallyyyy?).

Style (remember.. style...): the color, fluidity, details of Karen Russell. The unrelenting rawness, power, and simplicity of Juliann Garey.

Setting and impacts on style: London (briefly a few other places too), so the prose is a bit different than the way an American author approaches writing. there is slang in here, English formulated differently, peculiar phrasing, etc. However, the author is on twitter and is delighted to help you navigate these areas. Also Google was my friend throughout this novel. I spent vast amounts of time trying to steep myself in London slang and communication styles in a ravenousness and eagerness that I have never encountered while reading a book. I felt better connected to its pages, to simple sentences (the less complex the more magical. I highlighted the most mundane things, and still cherish them like little secrets), that I really felt that I was at times floating, unseen above the characters... even sometimes standing in close proximity, trembling with emotions.... holding back screams, words of encouragements, disappointment, rage.... there are times when I wanted to push the character and just scream. There were times when i think i probably woke up the entire apartment with laughter.

Now to the complaint department.

1. some people say that this novel follows a redundant, and mundane trajectory of a love story. Often Lou's suggestion that she is plain, normal, average is interpreted wrongly by many goodread reviewers (the reasons for this numerous and to a certain extent fail to capture this novel). It is worth noting, however, that everyone else (in the novel) felt that Lou was pretty, attractive, etc. This contrast pointed to Lou's initial low self esteem, and the, narrow, uncomplicated, and constricted lifestyle she lead. I am not plain, but i don't think anyone is ever going to call me beautiful. I don't have that graceful thing going on.” Well, boy was she wrong! It might be trite, and used too often in other novels, but it's completely different in this one.

2. but she didn't include a chapter on Will. We didn't get to get his perspective. I find this one misses the mark, completely! This entire book was about Will's choices, how they relate to his family, friends, Lou (her life, friends, relationships, family etc).

His perspective, both subjective and objective, was explored throughout the novel. He was highly introspective, and contemplated the effect his illness had on himself and others.

It also explored the perspective of others, those looking inward at his life (Lou, his parents, his care takers, his friends etc). These elements were then internalized by Will and contributed to his subjective take on his illness.

His perspective is so palpable that every time anyone interacted with him my mind split, the hair on the back of my neck raised, and I cringed. His perspective is absolutely interwoven throughout the entire novel.

Mind you I think people missed the last two chapters (especially the last one, like hello?!).

Also, his relationship with Lou is quite honestly a complete portrait, and utter landscape of his thoughts, feelings, behaviors and the justification for each that I felt that i was neatly planted in that dark, conflicted, sardonic... brilliant mind of his.

this little portion of the final chapter was enough, just this little bit, for me to understand Will immensely. to recognize the doubt, self-hatred, devastation, utter chaos that life changing events of this magnitude create... They crash over ones life, leaving bits and pieces of a past enjoyed and a future despised, leaving emotions torn and vacant; a body without self-agency. The pull between the two was brilliantly conveyed, and left a faint metallic taste in my mouth.

Push yourself. Don't settle. Wear those stripy legs with pride. And if you insist on settling down with some ridiculous bloke, make sure some of this is squirreled away somewhere. Knowing you still have possibilities is a luxury. Knowing I might have given them to you has alleviated something for me.”.... still makes me tear up... still!

As i think about this complaint more.... As it turns over in my brain and i try relentlessly to fashion an attempt at relating to those individuals who feel this way, i recall the prologue, which outlined A will before the accident, a 'Best before: 19 March 2007' Will. It's my perspective that this entire novel encapsulated Will and was embedded from start to finish with his perspective, and as such we didn't need an additional chapter focused on him.

The first moments are about his former self.

The middle his anguish, jagged endlessly challenging post-accident self. This portion illustrated both his perspective as he verbalized his self-hatred (though this term isn't really fair, but it was really about vulnerability, and loss of self), and its impact on those within his life, and their analysis of Will.

And the last pages, a Will who, until his last breath loved and cherished his Lou. It captured the essence of his 'Best before: 19 March 2007' self, and the person he wished he could be with her. While alive he reflected upon his inability to love Lou to the extent he wanted, saying quote so eloquently phrased like “I can't do this because I can't...I can't be the man I want to be with you. And that means that this - this just becomes...another reminder of what I am not.

He was finally able to give Lou what he wanted to give her all along; a Lou who could sit at 'Rue Des Francs Bourgeois, accompanied by croissants and a large cafe creme'. A Lou who could develop her passions, love for life and adventure, and to a very large extent integrate in that life the spirit and essence of Will.

the ending DO NOT READ if you haven't yet read the book.

3. This novel followed behind love stories/tragic narratives such as the fault in our stars and romeo and juliet. The connection between this novel and the fault in our stars is obvious; people fall in love, someone dies, albeit this time there was the little added element of self-determination.

Echos of romeo and juliet were threaded throughout. Simply, it was about two people who fell in love through adversity, and at the very end the safety and comfort of love was jerked out of their hands. In other ways it reflected the relentless, enduring love that blinds two individuals. Interestingly this was more my personal perspective. I really thought the author wasn't going to end it in suicide. Heart-crushed-sadness.

4. the characters are flat. Well yes, Will's father and mother are a bit cardboardish but it doesn't really impact the entire book, and thus this really isn't a relevant point. This was more a failure to build characters who were distant stand-ins. But, on the other hand i thought it worked. I really just didn't care about the mother or the father and any further focus on them would have just bored me. I thought that the father/mothers only purpose was to show strife in a relationship and provide a contrast to Will and Lou's blooming love.

5. Ok, this one is mine, and I don't really know how to justify it. The novel starts off with Will's accident. For some reason that i can't really articulate, I would have preferred it as the last chapter. It would have illustrate the will he imagined while dreaming, and the will that escaped his grasp so quickly. a will that he found, through his own self-agency, by killing himself

In the end this was a novel that took common elements, turned them on their head and raised the bar of this genre perhaps too high. Good freaking luck for authors who want to venture into love stories. like i said before, there are books you desire... lust after, like that nice looking lad on the street corner, mind wondering bla bla, sexually laced thoughts. and your mind soon drifts, as you find faults in his... whatever you once admired. I often find myself in this position, mid book, gazing to goodreads for the next read. this book, i wanted. I needed. Its an unflinching, unwavering NEED.

I read into the faint glow of daybreak for two days straight, making sure the apartment was hushed, my boyfriend sound asleep. The cat leaving me the fuck alone. this is a novel that demands the luxury of contemplation, introspection, and mindfulness. Common intrusions (i even felt that the birds chirping at day break distracted me) will certainly deplete the overall meaning... but more importantly the potential for you to learn, cry, argue, laugh, love, and evolve alongside the characters. in reality this small line from the book captures its essence perfectly, Push yourself. Don't Settle. Just live well. Just LIVE.”

Now for favorite quotes:

"I turned in my seat. Will's face was in shadow and I couldn't quite make it out.
Just hold on. Just for a minute.
Are you all right? I found my gaze dropping towards his chair, afraid some part of him was pinched, or trapped, that I had got something wrong.
‘I'm fine. I just . . .
I could see his pale collar, his dark suit jacket a contrast against it.
I don't want to go in just yet. I just want to sit and not have to think about . . . He swallowed.
Even in the half-dark it seemed effortful.
‘I just . . . want to be a man who has been to a concert with a girl in a red dress. Just for a few minutes more.
I released the door handle.
I closed my eyes and lay my head against the headrest, and we sat there together for a while longer, two people lost in remembered music, half hidden in the shadow of a castle on a moonlit hill."

"I leant through the front seats, and tugged at his shirt, peeling back the piece of gauze beneath. There, dark against his pale skin was a black and white striped ink rectangle, small enough that I had to look twice before I realised what it said.

Best before: 19 March 2007

I stared at it. I half laughed, and then my eyes filled with tears. Is that-

Date of my acident. Yes. He raised his eyes to the heavens. Oh, for Christ sake, don't get maudlin, Clark. It was meant to be funny.

Crash. There was a brief hush as his stereo met the path.
He looked up in disbelief: You crazy bitch!
Her: You're shagging that disease-ridden cross-eyed troll from the garage, and I'm the crazy bitch? (still makes me laugh).