Daily Archives: 07/14/2013

Bonus Review! Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger


Raven GirlAnother short story that doesn’t count toward my CBR goal.

This wasn’t a great read for me.

A human and a raven fall in love and have a daughter who is neither human nor raven. She knows something is wrong and doesn’t fit into either world. Science tries to make her whole but will she become what she was born to be?

This is a super quick read, complete with Niffengger’s illustrations. I’m not sure why I didn’t like it. I think part of it was the Detective Boy who follows the Raven Girl on her secret travels. Although his character and the scientist do play against each other, making you wonder if either is the bad guy.

Not a favorite, but in no way a waste of ink and paper.

#19: A Scarecrow’s Bible by Martin Hyatt

Scarecrow's BibleI found this book in a used bookstore.  I was wandering around the shelves randomly flipping through books, as you do.  I didn’t have any specific titles or authors I was looking for, so it was a purely random visit.

A Scarecrow’s Bible had good cover so I took it off the shelf.  By the start of the second paragraph I knew it was coming home with me, and I didn’t even know what it was about.  Well, except for the back cover, but that can’t always be trusted.

So, why did I pick this?  Second person narrative.  And it looked like it was done really well.

It’s rare that you read a book where you’re the main character.  Well, it’s not actually you, but it’s You.  You sit and watch TV.  You wait until no one is watching so you can take a few more prescription pain killers.  You wash them down with whiskey.  You close your eyes and wonder if you’ll wake up back in Vietnam.  You wonder how long it will take before your wife looks at you with disappointment before she goes to bed.

You are Gary and you live near New Orleans, but not quite close enough.  Sure, there’s a secret gay bar you can escape to, but you’re surrounded by guys who drive trucks, drink beer, and probably secretly long to bash a queer in the skull with a crowbar.  You have a truck.  You drink beer.  You secretly long for something you know, but don’t know, but know you can’t name.

You meet Zachary by chance and he scares you.  He’s too young and too frail and you want to love him but you know he needs to teach you how.  He’s gay, he lives in the rural South, and it’s no use to try and hide it.

Life fell apart for you, maybe before you went to Vietnam.  When you were there too much happened.  The man you loved, or whatever it was you were doing, ends his story with a toe tag.  And now you’re back home and your wife is afraid of her new life and what you are.

What are you?

You go to your doctor, you get your pills, you act the way you think you’re supposed to as a husband.  You go to work, you try to ignore the sounds of helicopters and gunfire that no one else can hear.

You keep going crazy.

And you find Zachary.

And he saves you.

But you don’t know for how long.

This book was beautiful.  Gary’s character is incredibly complicated but at the same time completely straight forward.  Everything he does makes sense – he doesn’t make decisions that don’t fit with anything that’s happened so far in the book.  He’s a solid character from beginning to end, and sitting in his head you get to watch him watch the world and then slowly piece together what he knew was already there.

When things fall apart, they do so violently.  Very little happens in this book that isn’t extreme.  There are no quiet deaths, quick arguments that are forgiven, nights that don’t end in blackouts.  Quiet moments are too quiet and when a truck goes by you reach for a knife that isn’t there and dive under the kitchen table to survive.

It’s heartbreaking and I wanted him to stop circling Zachary and reach out for him, or for Zachary to step in and grab him.  Their relationship is pure and somehow completely uncomplicated.  It simply exists.  Gary doesn’t struggle with how things are supposed to be or who he’s supposed to be or what life is supposed to be.  He doesn’t need to close his eyes to hear the sounds and screams and voices and explosions from Vietnam, so nothing is the way it’s supposed to be.

The two find each other, things fall apart, things are destroyed, and Gary and everyone around him has to decide what happens next in order to live.

I read this book cover to cover in one sitting and it was incredibly satisfying.  The language, the characters, the structure, the story itself… it gave me a physical sensation of solidness.  It made me glad that this book was written.

#18: Man Up!: Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence by Ross Mathews

Man Up

Quick and dirty celebrity memoir review:

  • If you like Ross Mathews, read this book.
  • If you really like Ross Mathews, listen to this book.
  • If you do not like Ross Mathews, why are you even looking at this book?

And now, my thoughts:

I adore Ross Mathews, although I just this second realized I’ve been spelling his last name wrong.  I’m a fan of Chelsea Lately and always love when he’s on the round table.  This is where I first “met” him, if you will.  I knew he was on the Tonight Show, but I didn’t know anything about him until I saw him on Chelsea, perfectly dressed, complete with pocket square.

I was super excited to find out he was writing a book, and my fingers were crossed that he’d do an audio version.  He had to do an audio version!  It’s Ross Mathews!  Part of the reason why I love him is because of his voice!  Even when he’s being snarky, he sounds so sweet and innocent.  There’s nothing like a cheery voice delivering a well deserved disappointed pun at a celebrity who has let him down.

The planet had to have known the second he emerged into the world that he was far too fabulous to stay in Washington and be kept from us.  It’s possible this happened at this moment of his conception.  His stories about growing up in spinach land and crafting swears to make his father proud clearly point to where he would later end up.  This was a boy who was happy screaming obscenities at a lake to make fish appear (it totally works) and then pick out just the right outfit to wear for an elementary school rap performance.  (Spoiler: the rap results in heartbreak.)

He knew from an early age that he wanted to be on TV, and he really wanted to host his own talk show.  Sitting on the couch with his beloved mom watching Oprah, he saw the potential of fame and how it brought people together.  It was an opportunity for him to share his love of life with all of us!

His writing is hilarious.  I love memoirs when it’s clear the author did the writing.  This book is 100% Ross.  From the alliteration to the puns, it’s everything I could have dreamed.  I knew I had to have the audio version and it was even more fantastic that I could have imagined.  He’s the type of celebrity that is able to be your best friend, and he actually wants to be your best friend!  He’s sweet and honest and humble and truly grateful for where he is in his life.  It feels like he’s reading the book for you and only you.

Listening him talk about his first (and only!) encounter with a vagina to coming out to his mom (who already knew) to his secret Lane Bryant shame (banned for life!), I liked him more and more with each chapter.  He is sweet and kind, but he will curse you out on a bus of teenagers if you are hateful.

I especially liked the parts with his mom because he does a hilarious and loving imitation of her.  I felt like I knew her after a few sentences.  It was beautiful hearing such unconditional love and pride.

The book is a wonderful journey of little Ross to Hello Ross and I’m thrilled that he decided to write his book.  Squash, dogs, drugs, mascara goo, stolen food – it’s all here.   And there is alliteration!  And puns!  Such wonderful puns!

I adore Ross, I love this book, and if you are at all a fan of his, you need to get it.  And you must get the audio version.