Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bad Book, Good Book (Review)

You remember when I said my complaints about Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife were a whole different rant? Well, this is that rant. I tried and tried to like that book, but I just couldn't. First strike against it was the first chapter, where Elizabeth is written like a complete psycho. What woman doesn't like her husband to take care of her when she's uncomfortable? It's this whole moronic scene in a carriage where Darcy offers her a pillow because apparently she's that sore from being boned, but she's offended that he offers it to her and so she sits and sulks. WTF? That's no Elizabeth Bennet I ever knew.

Then, the next worse thing (which got increasingly more annoying) was the author's decision to include totally random characters in the novel. Some person in FRANCE got an entire two chapters at the beginning of the book, but never showed up again! Then, all these random people that Darcy bumped into in the town got their own chapters and it was just so horribly boring that even the silly sexual metaphors couldn't keep me reading. What a piece of crap. I can't believe so many Austen fans like the horrid book. Ew.

But, to make up for it, the Universe sent me a damn fine book to read last week, An Ocean in Iowa. It's by the author of What's Eating Gilbert Grape which made quite an impression on me when I read it as a teenager. One reason was that I wasn't really exposed to "risque" stuff like that up to that point and it blew my mind, and the other reason was this scene where Gilbert uses the bathroom after the girl he likes did, just so he can sit on the same pot as her. I remember being suspicious for a long while afterwards that all boys were that disgusting. But I digress.

An Ocean in Iowa is about Danny Ocean's year as a seven y/o in 1969. He starts off with high expectations, telling his mom that it will be his best year ever. And while it doesn't necessarily meet those expectations, it is a crazy-ass year: his artist mom gets committed, then moves away while his dad, the Judge, tries to step up to the plate. His two sisters are exploring sexuality while he's trying to just grasp the concept that girls have holes between their legs. Danny develops crushes on his friends' mothers (to the extent of climbing into bed with one), finds a temporary role model and wisdom-sharer in his junior high neighbor, and learns how to tell time. Told with a simple elegance that lets you enjoy the foibles of childhood without any sense of nostalgia, I just freaking loved falling into this kid's world for a week.

What have you been reading lately?

Related posts:
Babes in History and Fiction, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
Hagakure on Homosexuality
Harry Potter is Changing the World
The Woman Warrior
My Top Ten Authors
Gunning for the Buddha

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Anonymous said...

I'm just now finishing 'Wicked' and I'm enjoying it quite a bit.

I loved 'What's Eating Gilbert Grape' as a kid, and will most definitely have to check out 'An Ocean in Iowa.'

I just wish I had more time to sit and read things that are not school related ...


May said...

I know what you mean! I went on a ready frenzy after I finally got out of school :)

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across this blog via facebook and the visual bookshelf because I just picked up this book (Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife) and Oh My Stars! I felt like I was a kid sneaking into my mom's Harlequin novels, reading the dirty parts. And it's characterized all wrong. I wanted this to be good.

I can't believe I spent 16 bucks on it!

May said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels that way!

Anonymous said...

Yes. I mean...I have no problem with fan fiction or continuation of novels...I've written a few myself. But there is such a thing as too much. It was just TOO blatantly sexual..and one of the best things about P & P is that the sexuality is all so understated. I didn't want to be reading about body fluids.