Book Reviews

  1. Metro Girl, by Janet Evanovich, is better than recent entries in the Stephanie Plum series. Granted, I haven't read Eleven on Top, but I found the previous couple of volumes...less than satisfying. Metro Girl, however, is fantastic. Short, sassy, genuinely funny but also full of easy laughs, sexy without overt sexuality, this is a good read.

    My only caveat is that Sam Hooker, the NASCAR-driving male lead, falls back on objectification a bit too often for my taste. I got the idea that he was attracted to Barney (a.k.a. Alexandra Barnaby, the female lead); it was not necessary to pound it into my head quite so much.

    That said, though, I would still recommend this to anyone looking for a fast, funny book.

  2. The Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, & Our Fantasies of the Exotic Orient by Sheridan Prasso. Hmm. Why did I read this book? If you know me at all, you're probably wondering why I would read a book whose subject headings range from Cultural Anthropology to "Foreign Public Opinion--Occide" to Sociology. I'm not a huge fan of nonfiction anyway, but this is way out of my purview. Yes?

    Well, no, not exactly. For one thing, I don't write and post reviews of every book that I read. This blog has expanded its scope over the past 6 months or so, and I'm now more comfortable revealing my varied (and sometimes bizarre) reading interests. So I'm happy to proclaim my interest in Asia. Specifically, in the interactions between "Westerners" and Asian people, whether at home or abroad.

    All this aside, I cannot review this book. I worked at it doggedly for several weeks, but could not force myself past the fourth chapter. It is well written, but so far beyond dry that I found my eyes crossing and puddles forming below my mouth. I can appreciate academic writing for what it is, and I think it may even appeal to me more than it does to the average bear. However, this is dry as toast.

    If you wanna try it, try it. If you want my opinion about it, don't read it. Here's the thesis: People from the "West" are arrogant, and take their understanding of People from the "East" from a few biased, ill-considered examples, e.g. the Empress Dowager and Lucy Liu. Overly sexualized yet submissive women and inscrutable, emasculated men are how "we" conceptualize "them".

    It doesn't seem to offer much hope of improvement. Granted, I read about 1/5 of the book, and there could have been a point somewhere, later. But I was left feeling somewhat Dances with Wolvesish, as if it's very much wrong to be "me"--and how stereotypical an 'American' or a 'Westerner' am I?

    In short: good subject. Less praise can be given to the execution.

  3. Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE Alisa Kwitney? I think that she's a fucking genius, and if I could write like she does, I'd live a happy life. I adored On the Couch, and I think that every person I know should read it and love it, too. And then you should go back and read Does She or Doesn't She, and The Dominant Blonde--each of which is in print--and then do whatever you have to do to find a used copy of 'Til the Fat Lady Sings, which is stupidly out of print. And if you're a graphic novel fan, you should also try The Sandman: King of Dreams. If I was into that genre, I'm sure that I would love that, too (but I don't, so I haven't read it, but since I think she's a flippin' genius, I'm comfortable with recommending it). She also wrote Destiny: A Chronicle of Deaths Foretold, Dreaming: Beyond the Shore of Night, and Vertigo Visions: Artwork from the Cutting Edge of Comics, and is a listed author on Bento: Story Art Box.

    So, On the Couch. The story of Marlowe Riddle, a psychologist, and Joe Kain, a cop. And about expectations, perceptions, and meaning. It is funny, tender, sad, and lovely. I know I've loved a book when I get to the end and realize that there are sticky-notes poking out of the top of it: lines or paragraphs that I didn't want to lose. Sharing those elements of this fantastic book is the best review I can give (beyond saying that I LOVED THIS BOOK and I wish I could send to everyone that I care about who cares about reading.)

    "And there it was, a big hunk of truth lying flat out there at her feet, because there's no better way to craft a lie than starting with something real."

    "Maybe I needed to get clearer on what I really wanted--a committed, mature relationship or a red balloon that defied the laws of gravity until it burst."

    "And all at once, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to be fiercely, intimately connected to someone, even if it was only for a little while. Because when you came right down to it, everything was temporary, not just passion and balloons."

    "There was a kind of violence to this desire that I had never experienced before; it was like I'd been swimming in a lot of pools and lakes, and here I was, on the edge of a goddamn ocean."

    "What was sexy was the tension between being honest and holding back, the fine line between tenderness and strength, aggression and affection, resistance and acceptance.

    What was sexy was being handcuffed, just for a little while, by someone you felt might really be falling in love with you, but was frightened by what that might mean.

    What was sexy was an assurance that your desire was reciprocated, coupled with an uncertainty as to the timing and manner of consummation."

    (Algernon Charles Swinburne's, 'A Match'):
    "If you were April's lady,
    And I were lord in May,

    If you were queen of pleasure,
    And I were king of pain,
    We'd hunt down love together,

    Pluck out his flying feather,
    And teach his feet a measure,
    and find his mouth a rein"
  4. [Note--The trade paperback of The Dominant Blonde is currently available as a bargain book from Amazon.com, temporarily, for $3.99.]

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