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Joyful Girl

Andrea Blythe's blog about writing, reading, and everything else


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Books Completed in July
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1. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
2. A Good Indian Wife, by Anne Cherian
3. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying: Lessons from a Life in Comedy, by Carol Leifer
4. TEN (chapbook), by Val Dering Rojas

Still in progress at the end of the month: Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Echo and We’re All Infected: Essays on AMC’s the Walking Dead and the Fate of the Human by Dawn Keetley — these two books are the reason why it’s been such a slow reading month for me.

REVIEWS:

The 1920s, horrifying Nosferatu best reflects the image of novel Dracula.

1. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
The writing’s not always great and the heroes are rather flat, but Stoker gets tons of kudos for creating a rudely iconic vampire. I was surprised by how readable this was and once the characters finally pulled together and went on the hunt, the story was thrilling.

One thing I thought interesting was that this seemed to be the birth of the monster fighting team (maybe, I don’t know what earlier stories there might have been), in which a group of disparate people come together to fight what goes bump in the night. This kind of group is typically four or five and has to keep their deeds secret (think Buffy the Vampire Slayer), which causes it’s own logistical and financial challenges. While Dracula ends with everyone settled and into domestic bliss, I could just as easily see the group carrying on the battle, seaking out new monsters to destroy.

2. A Good Indian Wife, by Anne Cherian
From Amazon: “Handsome anesthesiologist Neel is sure he can resist his family’s pleas that he marry a “good” Indian girl. With a girlfriend and a career back in San Francisco, the last thing Neel needs is an arranged marriage. But that’s precisely what he gets. His bride, Leila, a thirty-year-old teacher, comes with her own complications. They struggle to reconcile their own desires with others’ expectations in this story of two people, two countries, and two ways of life that may be more compatible than they seem.”

This was such a lovely story. I really sympathized the Leila, even though her cultural point of view is very different than my own. From an American point of view, she could be seen as naive, but it’s very clear that she’s trying to find a balance between finding a life that works for herself and honoring her culture and family.

Neel, too, is a fascinating character in how he has given up so much traditional it’s almost at the cost of his true self. And yet, he has strength in most of his choices too. In some ways he seems like a jerk, but his reasoning makes enough sense that I get why he does what he does.

It’s really interesting to see how these characters end up together and how everything falls into place. This book has a lot of heart and I really enjoyed it.

3. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying: Lessons from a Life in Comedy, by Carol Leifer
Carol Leifer has had an interesting carrier as a comedian and writer on such shows as Seinfeld and Saturday Night Live. Unfortunately, this book was just okay for me. It was filled with a lot of generalizations and one line zingers (some cute, some funny, some kinda stupid). I like her attitude in general, but the book seems to be confused as to whether it wants to be a an advice book or a memoir. The result is that the advice bits is very beginner level, like a blog, and the memoir bits lacked the in depth connection to draw the reader fully in. I kind a wish she has stuck to the memoir format because I would have loved to learn more about her life as a comedian and how she pulled through the challenges she faced. Oh, well. Not for me.

4. TEN (chapbook), by Val Dering Rojas
Discussed elsewhere.

Originally published at Andrea Blythe. You can comment here or there.


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