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Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha - Roddy Doyle "Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha is an appropriate title for this book. This stream of consciousness narrative puts you into the mind of a ten-year old where at one moment you can be communicating one thing and at a drop of a hat you can become fixated on another. The author channels his inner child, complete with the voice that gives this book its conspicuous character. My problem with this book was that there was no story or plot to speak of. The humor involved in this novel is one of Nelson Muntz from The Simpsons who relishes in others pain and disadvantage only to retort with his world famous HA HA, much like Paddy when it comes to his friends or his family. They may be together as one in this claustrophobic neighborhood, but for the most part it's simply circumstantial; just ask little brother Francis.

""I looked at Sinbad. He was just my little brother. I hated him. He never wiped his nose. He cried. He wet the bed. He got away with not eating his dinner. He had to wear specs with one black lens. He ran to get the ball. No one else did that. They all waited for it to come then. He went through them all, no bother. He was brilliant. He wasn't selfish like most fellas who could dribble. It was weird, looking at him. It was great, and I wanted to kill him. You couldn't be proud of your little brother.""

1968 ten-year-old Patrick ""Paddy"" Clarke is feeling his way through the streets of Ireland. Between getting strapped in school, smacked by his parents, dead legged by his friends and dealing with common environmental hazards in surrounding areas, Paddy is having a difficult time establishing himself in the community. Better to be the hammer than the nail, and Paddy finds himself pushing himself onto others rather than waiting for permission.
Meatloaf Monday, Wednesday Stew, Fish Friday, Shepherd Pie Saturday...Growing up on Barrytown Road in Northern Ireland, Paddy is a child intent on discovery. With his brother Francis (who is referred to as Sinbad because he looks like the sailor from all the stories) friends Liam and Aidan and ring leader Kevin they find themselves travelling through sewage systems, setting fires, trampling through gardens, unintentionally-intentionally killing varmint, shoplifting, playing nicky nicky nine doors and other typical childish time killers. With nothing much to do from a more structured standpoint they find themselves going off the beaten path unlike their family's dinner menu's. With trouble around the corner, Paddy still maintains a level of playfulness that exemplifies many children's opinions growing up across many nations including the odd fabrication.

""When he was in Africa he had a salad for his tea and when he came back from his holidays he started getting pains in his stomach and they brought him into Jervis Street because he was screaming in agony - they brought him in in a taxi - and the doctor couldn't tell what was wrong with him and the boy couldn't say anything because he couldn't stop screaming because of the pain, so they did an operation on him and they found lizards inside him, in his stomach, twenty of them; they'd made a nest. They were eating the stomach out of him. -You're still to eat your lettuce, said my ma.""

All Paddy ever wanted was to be like his father. They shared the same name as well as the love they had for Northern Ireland Footballer George Best. He hoped it would come to a point where they would be the same man. Throughout the story Paddy remains an interesting child as he takes great pleasure in the accumulation of knowledge. At various points in the novel Paddy learns how to read and write braille, he learns about early priesthood and lepers, Geronimo and the Apache Tribe, he also shows enthusiasm about wanting to become a missionary. Our young lad Paddy truly is a renaissance man in the making. For the most part Paddy may be a tough nut to crack, but he's still a kid and like most kids is scared of the dark. His mom Mary and dad Patrick have varying perspectives on parenthood and with four children, arguments tend to rear their head frequently. With respect to their children they often fight in the dark but words are one thing to reason, blackened eyes are another. As much as Paddy needs his little brother Francis at these times, he can't help but treat him badly. All the praying, crying, and sleep deprivation in the world wouldn't stop the fighting. As time goes on his choice of role model transforms from a person he wished he could become into a person he felt like he needed to become. His starry-eyed image of his father turned into a stone cold image of hardness, disassociation, freedom, and opportunity.

I enjoyed the first number of pages, the fact that the author is able to channel his inner child's voice was quite compelling. It offered some new cultural vocabulary that seems purposeful like: drawing room, hairy mickey, feeling thick, in the que, covered in gick (I think there’s a poem there somewhere). By the middle sections I was done with the book, there remained no point to the story and seemed more like a daily journal until the end pages. After all of the various pranks and bullying tactics you begin to wonder what the whole point the author was trying to convey to the reader. You finally get there near the end which was very well done and tied a neat little bow, but I feel that the majority of readers may not make it to that point after giving up or having it let them down. So if you're into novels with beginnings and ends but terribly lacking middle sections then I recommend this book, otherwise I suggest taking a pass. Not funny, not terribly sad, not insightful there's really not much to say other than I begrudge the fact that I will have to put this gick on my bookshelf. I don't know who Booker is but Man did he/she let me down.

""When you were doing a funny face or pretending you had a stammer and the wind changed or someone thumped your back you stayed that way for ever. Declan Fanning - he was fourteen and his parents were thinking of sending him off to boarding school because he smoked - he had a stammer and he got it because he was jeering someone with a stammer and someone else thumped him in the back. Uncle Eddie didn't have a stammer but he could only say two words, Grand, grand.""



Haven - Richard Dube "
""The civil dead, that's what I am in this hellish monstrosity, civil dead. Hitler's regime had more civil liberties than this sinister stinkhole. Caesar and the Romans tolerated the Christians more under their laws. Romans - when in Rome, do as the Romans. Living among psychos, I've become a psycho.""

Richard Dube lives in a home that is seven feet wide, nine feet long and twelve feet high. Small enough to be a closet in a reasonably-priced home, Richard must eat, shit, and sleep in this hovel; all the while maintaining a level of sanity with a cricket somewhere in the vicinity and a bellowing child molester as his neighbour. Any day is a good day to die. Often times he urinates on the ground in order to preserve the cold toilet water to drink from or save for when he is maced or pepper sprayed, because he knows he is going to be given the treatment sooner or later. After spending four hundred days in various solitary confinement holes across Ontario it's still something that takes some getting used too, he just has to keep his head and remember that vengeance is his.

Millhaven federal penitentiary is a super maximum security institution that houses some of Canada's most ruthless and deviant residents. A tough place for anyone to get used too, but especially a twenty-year-old young man. This is not only the place where he will learn the ropes, but where Richard finds himself after his first conviction which is not normal protocol, but due to his reputation for destructive behaviour; this is the place he will call home for the next five years. A place where there are no friends, only acquaintances. A place where you keep your eyes fixed low and your mouth shut, but are always on heightened awareness for the danger that lurks around every corner or in your blind spot. Ultimately this is a place where you have to push it to the limit, be prepared to kill because in there they always play for keeps. Being a trained boxer, Richard has a good base for survival, but what he needs to gather is the intangibles that can only come with experience and a lot of pain either inflicted onto or delivered by others. Richard quickly realizes that no one in that institution can match his intensity, his desire, his pain tolerance, his determination; making him one of the prison's true alpha dog's when really, he’s just a pup.

""I was sent into the valley of death among the callous, the psychos, the criminally insane... Your puppet soldiers had mastered the head games. They drove me crazy, and now I'll show you the results of your creation. I despise everything you stand for. You like to power-trip, don't you? A little dynamite under your car pales in comparison to seven long years of hellish torture, provocation and constant antagonism. I owe you...""

When Richard is not spending his time being a disturbance or plotting his plan for revenge upon release he reads and studies classic novels and philosophy. With the likes of Descartes, Voltaire, Shakespeare, Nietzsche, Euclid, Rousseau and other great novelists and free-thinkers Richard has spent time reconciling his day-to-day mind altering experiences to the preservation of his mental state. Without them who knows where he would be living under this totalitarian regime as a prisoner of every state but psychological.

There are 3 narratives that carry a tone similar to that of a man with an agenda but maintain residence in distinct places in the mental state of Richard Dubè. They centre around flashbacks to times when he was growing up as a kid in Sudbury with a sociopath for an older brother, younger sisters, alcoholic parents, and abuse. The book also catalogues his own troubles with others and authority which leads to stays in and out of correctional facilities. This narrative gives the reader the understanding of where he has come from and perhaps how he got to this point, but not much to where he is going. There is also a narrative focusing on fantasies involving revenge. This is a no holds barred approach complete with hell-fire and brimstone leaving nothing in his wake. The other narrative is as calming as you're going to get in The Haven. He reflects on his daily rituals in the hole as he is getting ready for his parole hearing and his upcoming release.

""Penitence and punishment are irreconcilable. They can never bring about change because one destroys the other. We who are inside are stripped of all sensibilities. The killers, recidivism and violent crimes prove the system is failing. Christ, my own mental state speaks volumes about your barbaric practices...""

A story about one man's desire to fight the system and the blows he takes in doing so. If the prison system was King Kong than Richard was fighting to break a toe. If all else fails and Richard dies, Mr.Kong will feel the pain tomorrow; to Mr.Dubè it would all be worth it. In prison Richard conjures up a plan to take revenge on the people responsible for convicting him, the screws (officers) he had to deal with on a day-to-day, and the inmates that crossed him. Through all the real, raw, and vitriolic language there is a potential for redemption. Through all dark clouds there is always a silver lining.

I think this book should have had a collision course with The Belly of the Beast by Jack Henry Abbott to make them both more balanced. While The Haven focuses more on glamorizing the bad boy attitude complete with the rage and paranoia that consumes the prisoners, The Beast is more of a thinking man's approach that is contemplative, philosophical and methodical which take's away from the power of their narrative. A nice blend would have served to be more interesting and a more cherished experience which I found lacking in both. If you are looking for a raw and uncut look at the prison system then The Haven is a good choice, I just hope you don’t read out loud.

""What's the sense in going on? Nothing has any meaning...everything is a game with people playing rote roles. I exist in an empty cosmos, traveling through this wasteland with murderous rage as my only constant. I can't go on like this. Life's overvalued...it's a death sentence...a burden to bear...a hellish dimension imposed without my consent...I've been catapulted into the realm of insanity and can't reverse the damage, but my vision is clear and my mind is lucid.""


The Woman Upstairs

The Woman Upstairs - Claire Messud "
""The person I am in my head is so far from the person I am in the world. Nobody would know me from my own description of myself; which is why, when called upon (rarely, I grant) to provide an account, I tailor it, I adapt, I try to provide an outline that can, in some way, correlate to the outline that people understand me to have—that, I suppose, I actually have, at this point. But who I am in my head, very few people really get to see that. Almost none. It's the most precious gift I can give, to bring her out of hiding. Maybe I've learned it's a mistake to reveal her at all.”

Nora Marie Eldridge lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and works as a grade three teacher at Appleton Elementary. She's a well-meaning daughter, a willing teacher, a solid as a rock friend and a good law-abiding citizen; and by all intents and purposes is an all-around solid person. But something seems to be missing in her life and at her age it is continually haunting her cold, empty days. With little fight she has become resigned to her fate. Growing up she never wanted to feel the emptiness that loneliness can bring, or the desperation that breeds desolation, or the emotional, mental, and physical danger that wanting can produce. With today bringing the same end results of yesterday, Nora still holds out hope that there is still wonder out there to be experienced through the sights, smells, sounds and tastes that only the world can bring. Who knew that Nora would soon realize herself, distract herself from death, and change her life's narrative after encountering mid-term, a new student at the produce section of the local grocery store.

To Nora eight-years-old is the perfect age. Not yet a pubescent monstrosity of gangly limbs, plimples, and pitchy voices. Nor far from the whiny, destructive, needy and careless years where constant attention is paid. Nora has found her calling as a grade three school teacher at Appleton Elementary. Having been a teacher for quite some time now after living life as a struggling artist, she has developed into the perfect teacher. One that although she has no children of her own, she understands children, and she thinks she has found her perfect student in the olive-skinned wonder Reza Shahid. Transfixed by his charm, his worldly appearance and his willingness to learn, Nora sees an opportunity for greatness with this young man. With the destruction of September 11 2001 fresh in everyone's mind and undocumented civil uprising all across the globe, the children of Ms. Eldridge's grade three class don't take too kindly to strangers.

The Shahid's are an Arab, middle-eastern Christian Muslim family from Paris that have uprooted only to land in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Through time, sheltered, drab and encumbered Nora quickly becomes enamored with the technicolor Shahid family. Each member of the Shahid family brings their own unique quality that proves to be beneficial for Nora's livelihood. They allow her to open herself up, but to experience them all at once would have been too much for her to handle. Matriarch Sirena inspires Nora as a true artistic presence, she makes her feel alive and in tune with her thoughts and feelings that brought about action akin to being reawakened to the life that left her behind long ago. Nora can't help but think that Sirena's life was what her's should've or could've been. Head of the household Skandar brings love, conversation, seduction, the experience of marriage and the realization that Nora has much to give too this world. Reza has a charm that allows Nora to experience a type of motherhood that she hadn't experienced up to that point, and in all likelihood wouldn't ever. Life for Nora requires three acts, and with the Shahid's she's experiencing them all at a blazing pace. But what happens when you want something so bad you drop your guard? At this point does it even matter?

""Above all, in my anger, I was sad. Isn’t that always the way, that at the heart of the fire is a frozen kernel of sorrow that the fire is trying—valiantly, fruitlessly—to eradicate. And I was aware, in all this emotion, that as soon as she called - if she called - all would be forgiven. Every time my phone rang, my heart turned on vain hope. It was a reflex; I couldn't control it.""

From the outset you realize that this lady is pissed. You get the feeling that her life is crashing down before her after being ambushed and made a mockery of. Throughout your life you become different versions of yourself, and in this story you see many lighter and darker shades of Ms. Eldridge; hey a lot can happen in five years. Great tone to set, but one that got my hopes up and really meandered throughout, failing to reconcile my initial feelings. The author provides an outlet for her message for people to live their lives to the fullest while demonstrating the dangers of a life that can spoil at the blink of an eye. Message encouraging people to embrace and overcome their fear, let go of your emotions, let joy take over your world and don't let sadness take over your soul. Very in touch with this feeling it lends itself to a unique reading experience, albeit one that was difficult to stomach over and over again. Who are we kidding? The first few pages reveal to us in retrospect that there really was never any hope, the biggest question was how did she end up at this point enraged by the recent events and throwing a tantrum like a tiny tot being denied a snack before supper. The meek shall inherit the earth they said, well in The Woman Upstairs all the meek get is an invitation for emotional malfeasance. Anger has always been widely regarded as one of the greatest motivators, I believe the woman upstairs may have found a new purpose.

""When you’re the Woman Upstairs, nobody thinks of you first. Nobody calls you before anyone else, or sends you the first postcard. Once your mother dies, nobody loves you best of all. It’s a small thing, you might think; and maybe it depends upon your temperament; maybe for some people it’s a small thing. But for me, in that cul-de-sac outside Aunt Baby’s, with my father and aunt done dissecting death and shuffling off to bed behind the crimson farmhouse door, preparing for morning mass as blameless as lambs and as lifeless as the slaughtered—I felt forsaken by hope. I felt I’d been seen, and seen clearly, and discarded, dropped back into the undiscriminated pile like a shell upon the shore.”


Libra - Don DeLillo "The key ingredient was to find a person of perfect balance. A person willing to see both sides of the argument but to find an equilibrium permitting the completion of the task at hand. With two forces tugging at both ends, which way would he turn when the time called? The end result of every constructed and orchestrated plot is for the most part, demise. There are too many dumb people involved, arrogance, megalomania, external forces, and straight up unforeseen, which should be foreseen stupidity that comes into play. A deep fall for many characters who essentially feel like they're dying, desperately searching for a way out of their painted corner.The best recourse would have been a lone wolf, but they had gone too far, and everyone involved would pay in one way or another.

""In the evening he sat on the porch, thinking. He believed it was a natural law that men with secrets tend to be drawn to each other, not because they want to share what they know but because they need the company of the like-minded, the fellow afflicted - a respite from the other life, from the eerie realness of living with people who do not keep secrets as a profession or duty, or a business fixed to one's existence.""

Man do I love me some conspiracy theories. I even have my own tinfoil hat in the closet that I constructed a few inches larger because I'm paranoid my head is getting bigger by the day. Speaking of conspiracy theories, did you hear that Elvis Presley is alive in well in the home of the smallest jail house in Canada; Tweed, Ontario. Or that Mother Teresa was actually an undercover agent for America to help curb Russian influence in India during the Cold War. Great foreshadowing for the doozy that comes in Don Delillo's Libra. It seems that for every big event you get a new conspiracy, and for every big conspiracy the ""truthers"" come out in droves. I personally don't believe in a lot of what they spew, but damn it is very interesting and amazing the lengths they will go to support their claim.

Perhaps, I enjoy conspiracies because it is a trip to a not so ordinary life where everything is not how it is presented to be. Like the preacher's wife with a beaming smile in the department store developed picture with her husband and two children in their coordinated outfits. There's no way in hell she can be that happy, can she? Maybe it says more about the theorist than it does the realist, perhaps it's the pessimism in most people that hope that there's more too it than meets the eye. For me its more the whole ""loch ness monster"" effect that drives me to conspiracies. Being exposed to the unbelivable is a lot more interesting even if you know its not really there. Maybe it's fear or just wishful thinking, but as long as there are major events there will always be conspiracies. No greater event has caused more controversy and conspiring thoughts than the John Fitzgerald Kennedy assassination, which brings me to Don Delillo's Libra.

During a time when Pearl Harbor, The Cold War and The Cuban Missile Crisis brought about a feeling of insecurity among Americans, there has been a sudden corresponding rise in civilian paranoia and haste reactions. The majority had found solace in the youthful exuberance and faithful optimism of their nation's new young leader with the funny accent, while a small minority regarded him with a disdain that would see him take the country down due to his cooperative nature. Some people will remain patient and hope for the best, while others will take it upon themselves to be the protectors of ideologies and values that their country, as well as themselves hold dear.

A man with a history of abandonment, truancy and violence in a militaristic time has manifested into delusions of grandeur, but a man that still appreciates life's struggles. A misplaced martyr, a too the core mama's boy, a leftist sympathizer, Castro pawn; how can you ask a person with his history to fail? Sounds to me like failure due to over analysis, or the perfect plan. Lee was always searching for something to identify with. Always searching for a truth in the world so he could have a new beginning. Spending countless hours in the library reading everything he could get his hands on but always going back to Russian manifestos and aviation, he would soon get the answer he had been searching for.

""A family expects you to be one thing when you're another. They twist you out of shape. You have a brother with a good job and a nice wife and nice kids and they want you to be a person they will recognize. And a mother in a white uniform who grips your arms and weeps. You are trapped in their minds. They shape and hammer you. Going away is what you do to see yourself plain.""

Enlisting in the Marines has brought about its own seperate challenges. Military imprisonment has transformed Lee from a man of great thought to a man with a true call to action for his thoughts. By learning the full force of the system he has become a vicious, hardened and ruthless person. Looking for an alias, who knew he would find it in Lee Harvey Oswald. He knew that from watching how national as well as municipal media would add a middle name that previously had served little purpose outside of a measly initial on a military recruitment application. What you can't deny is the power of the spoken middle name, just ask my fourth grade french teacher.

Postcards from the edge of reason, narratives that are constantly switching time and place setting, narration congruent to the mind state of Mr.Oswald. Definitely not an accommodating flow of information but one that grants you a residency inside the mind where the decision to hold secrets reign supreme. A story of contradictions that allows you to see both sides. I didn't really enjoy this book at all. I have never met a JFK assassination documentary that I haven't enjoyed, but enough is enough. I believe if I had read this at the time of the books release I would have enjoyed it more, but reading it now; it never really had a chance. I guess when I found it was written by Don Delillo I was hoping for something way off the wall and genre-bending. I feel it kind of stayed too much on the path and was overall too serious and boring. One thing is for sure, is that this reads like it may have been a work of non-fiction, the writing is that convincing and my mind is already that impressionable.

"" 'There is politics, there is emotion, there is psychology. I know him quite well but I wouldn't be completely honest if I said I could put him down, pin him right to the spot. He may be a pure Marxist, the purest of believers. Or he may be an actor in real life. What I know with absolute certainty is that he's poor, he's dreadfully, grindingly poor. What's the expression I want? '
'Piss poor.' ""


The Girl Who Slept with God: A Novel

The Girl Who Slept with God: A Novel - Val Brelinski "The 1970's brought about many new feelings for a whole slew of people across America. To the front of the list was the realization that change was a coming whether you were ready for it or not. For example you have: 1) The traditional male facing the liberation of females through their protestations of their overall role in society, 2) The emergence of a gay rights movement that made religious zealots squirm in their seats, and 3) The freedom of expression in the form of individualism that made everyone take a second look. While we hold on to the values and principles we hold dear, as times go on, changes in perspective need to be addressed. The Girl Who Slept With God addresses many of the social commentary that made the early seventies a unique time, but also a powder keg as well.

"" 'No,' said her father. 'I believe in god because it dissolves the edges.' He removed his hand from her leg and Jory shivered slightly, the evening's cool air seeming almost autumnlike. ' If there's a god, then there doesn't have to be an end to things,"" he said, ' to space, to time, to life. Things can be bigger than whatever it is we're merely able to see or measure. 'But they already are.' said Jory. 'Molecules and atoms and black holes and quarks. Everything is plenty huge even without god.' 'Well,' her father said, 'yes, so to speak.' ""

The Quanbeck's appear to be a family that you could only dream to have. They are ideological, they have dreams, they love literature, and they go to church and are musically-inclined. On the surface they seem to have it all together, but underneath trouble is about to reveal itself. Oren and Esther Quanbeck camouflage their campaign of hate and prejudice through the utilization of their Evangelical Christian values in Arco, Idaho, the heartland of America. They go about employing their agenda by isolating their three children from the outside world, sheltering them from life experiences, stifling their social and independent growth all for the sake of their professional reputation, social expectations, and most importantly their religious beliefs. Arco is not the most exciting town in the world, a place where 'for Pete's sake' is the worst thing you could possibly say, The Quandeck's are able to make it more restricting within their own walls. No circuses with side shows and scantily clad performers, no bowling alleys, pool halls, or card playing that promote a frivolity, no dancing and movie watching which can lead to a provoked or sporadic hunger or even makeup, pierced ears, bling bling of any kind. Arco in conjunction with their own house rules has made their job a whole lot easier in circumventing any missteps.

""And yet, and yet, she also longed to be as beautiful and lovely as the teeny-footed geisha on her grandmother's paper fan, or the coconut-shell-wearing girl on the Tahitian vanilla bottle. She wanted to have people (men and boys, in particular) be awestruck and speechless at the sight of her feminine beauty. She wanted to be powerful, but with a power she could control. She didn't even know what that meant.""

Oren is a science professor who graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Astronomy. He seems to have a small dose of megalomania in that he always has an answer for everything that goes beyond his field of expertise. He is a man that means to do well for his family, but his constant overseeing and controlling behaviour has a psychological impact that even he could not have foreseen. Esther is the matriarch of the Quanbeck clan, and rather than sitting on her throne, she resides, for the most part incapacitated laying in her bed. Not much is said except that plenty of rest is required and the only feelings exhibited when roused are feelings of disdain, shame, and complete embarassment. Frances is the youngest of the bunch and eventhough not much of the story is devoted to her, her parents love and attention never goes without notice. Grace is the eldest and exhibits the devotion to god that her parents have been instilling in her since she was a child. She has even taken it upon herself to go on a mission to Mexico to help spread the word of the lord. Jory is the middle child and acts much like a middle child would act. She's the proverbial wrench in the American Midwestern family which makes her an interesting character.

""Jory felt as if she had a missing tooth, as if there were a raw and seeping gap somewhere that ached and bled whenever she ran her tongue against the spot. Which she did over and over, as if it were some kind of test. As if her tooth might be back if she checked just once more, just once more, one last time. Everyone else seemed fine: Mrs. Kleinfelter, the people at school - no one but Jory seemed to realize that there was a horrible hole in the world.""

Jory is a cute young thirteen-year-old girl longing for the day she can become a beautiful young woman. With her budding sexuality she’s waiting for the day her body can catch up to her mind, unfortunately for her she doesn't know much about the art of femininity. Given her sheltered upbringing, Jory doesn’t belong anywhere, not to any group, she saw herself as an alien delegated to life on the outside looking in. Jory is more free-spirited, more willing to follow the wills of her heart and less vulnerable to struggling with the aftermath. As she becomes more human, she welcomes the struggle.

This is a story where the feeling of being a stranger in your own family wrongly enforces an opinion that a more suitable world beyond your front yard is waiting. A feeling of freedom leads to a feeling of further isolation and a world where there is no place to fit in, a reality of always being an outsider. The land of milk and honey gives you freedom, but if ill-prepared it can lead to loneliness which leads to the hiding of secrets. Like the moon the dark side of people is always hidden away from onlookers no matter how hard you look. This book grabbed me from the beginning. The author presented a unique story, told in a unique way with a distinct narrative. This is not your typical, run-of-the-mill coming of age story; there is plenty going on and many experiences to be gained. You get the feeling after reading this novel that the author is not presenting a heavy-handed agenda to influence others opinions. She is presenting arguments for both sides where in which they each experience their own successes, struggles and consequences. The suggestion is that everyone makes their own determination with god. I most certainly can appreciate that way of delivery and am amazed that it went that way given the subject matter. I still don’t think I know where my opinion lies.

""Jory crane her head up at the sky again, at the stars that were sprinkled across its velvet darkness like some sort of enormous spangled sash. Did anyone ever really know anyone else? Really, truly know them, so much so that you never even had to doubt their thoughts or intentions? Maybe this was a rhetorical question. Her father once told her that most people who ask questions aren't looking for information, but affirmation. Jory guessed this was true now in her case as well.""


Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep - Stephen King "Godzilla has Mothra, Freddy Krueger has Jason Voorhees, Sheldon Cooper has Wil Wheaton, now Rose the Hat O'Hara has Abra the Bitchgirl Stone in a rather unique adversarial relationship brought to you by the incomparable Stephen King. A literal clash of the telepathic titans; this is the kind of stuff that cross country good vs evil wars are built upon. One party is trying to prolong their stay on earth through the demise of the lives of the far-seeing, while the other is trying to harness their tremendous powers in order to get justice for a young man unjustly killed for unmerited and truly selfish reasons. Which one will come out on top?

A story that spans thirty-two years starting from the Torrance family’s exit from the now condemned Overlook Hotel in Colorado when Danny was a young lad in 1981. To Florida where Wendy and Danny tried their best to resume their lives after the tragic events that fateful night that saw their lives forever changed. To Wilmington, North Carolina where Dan has flown the coop in search for his own identity and a clearer path for the rest of his life. All the way to Dan’s life as it currently stands in 2013 at forty-years-old in the sleepy town or ‘teenytown’ of Frazier, New Hampshire. As much as things have changed there is one glaring situation with Dan that has endured and has reconciled the commonalities that he shares with his dead father; more than he would care to admit.

""The rational part of his mind told him she was just a fragment of unremembered bad dream that had followed him out of sleep and across the hall to the bathroom. That part insisted that if he opened the door again, there would be nothing there. Surely there wouldn’t be, now that he was awake. But another part of him, a part that shone, knew better. The Overlook wasn’t done with him.”

Dan has resorted to alcoholism in order to keep the visions away. Dan believes that the mind was the vehicle that induced such visions and alcohol was the great agent that numbed it all. He doesn't know it yet but his rock bottom is coming, and his rock bottom will haunt him more than any other vision. In order to save himself and garner employment, Dan joins Alcoholics Anonymous at the behest of his hopeful employer to prove that his word and worth in fact means something. He goes everyday for ninety days and while he succeeds in kicking the bottle, the shining continues to make it harder and harder to go on. He has taken a job as an orderly at a hospice called the Rivengton House where he can use his powers for good and send the sick and the dead to their afterlife in peace. Dan’s past is constantly rearing its ugly head until he realizes after meeting a young girl in trouble that in order to help himself he must help her in the process.

Abra Stone has been different from childhood. From her toddle years as a piano savant to her birthday where she was her own entertainment and inadvertently performed her own magic show for the guests. As she enters the dreaded teenage years her vocal outbursts have a Carrie-like effect, and at one point takes it to a level Carrie could never imagine. In her core Abra is a good natured young child with a heart of gold, but deep down tucked away in a corner, Abra has a fierce temper, a bloodthirsty soul and many questions that demand to be answered.While Dan refers to his shining as an imperceptible disfiguring birthmark, Abra sees it as a tool with great potential. When Dan finally meets Abra he quickly realizes that her shining is far more brighter than his.
Like he did in The Stand, Mr. King has two factions at play (representing good vs evil) traveling cross country as they set out on a collision course that will see one of them succumb to the others will. True Knot are a group of vagrant-looking, recreational vehicle driving, spirit-sucking vampires who prey on children that have nurtured psychic abilities. What does it say about America when these monsters dress hideously the way they do in order to fit in with the rest of the population? Must have done their research at Wal-Mart. Anyway, they relish in killing these children slowly and painfully to help in prolonging their own lives and enabling them to have greater abilities. The leader of the cult is an Irish woman named Rose the Hat O'Hara who, unlike her cohorts is a beautiful seductress that sits on her thrown throwing her weight around when the situation demands it.

""He saw a Farmall tractor with a striped umbrella raised over the seat. He smelled bacon and heard Frank Sinatra singing ‘Come Fly with Me’ from a cracked Motorola radio sitting on a worktable littered with tools. He saw a hubcap full of rain reflecting a red barn. He tasted blueberries and gutted a deer and fished in some distant lake whose surface was dappled by steady autumn rain. He was sixty, dancing with his wife in the American Legion hall. He was thirty, splitting wood. He was five, wearing shorts and pulling a red wagon. Then the pictures blurred together, the way cards do when they’re shuffled in the hands of an expert, and the wind was blowing big snow down from the mountains, and in here was the silence and Azzie’s solemn watching eyes.”

I enjoyed the way the author handled the whole differences in which death can be realized by the enveloped onlooker. On one hand he was able to highlight the beauty and amazement that death can bring through the feeling of a life made complete with a deep sleep. On the other hand he showcased the ugliness and selfishness that death can bring through the note taking of ones 'cycling' and the looking at ones own mortality. Sure some of that is sensible, but I felt that there was a great procedural effect that showcased more concern for themselves than the painstakened perishers.

""They’re no more remarkable than a flock of birds on a telephone wire or a herd of cows grazing beside the road. Oh, you might wonder how they can afford to fill those fuel guzzling monstrosities, because they must be on comfy fixed incomes how else could they spend all their time driving around like they do? And you might puzzle over why anyone would want to spend their golden cruising all those endless American miles between hoot and holler, but beyond that you probably never spared them a thought.""

To tell you all the truth, I can't really get behind Stephen King as a horror writer or as a writer in general. I was more accepting of his work as a teenager, but as I get older I have found his stuff to be more cartoony, soft and comical and more importantly, less impactful from an emotional standpoint. I won't give up, but looking forward in anticipation is non-existent. I think I need to read The Shining.

American MaleWhore in Tokyo

American MaleWhore in Tokyo - Rowen Boozewell, John Box "
""He's this complete goon with zero imagination or creativity. He's always sitting on my dreams and telling me to fall in line. Like I could ever be happy as a corporate lackey. Just cause he's traded in his dreams for financial security doesn't mean I have to. He's like this pigeon spending his life eating stale bread off the city street and dropping gooey white turds all over the place; while I'm like this falcon, soaring through the skies, taking what's mine with these massive talons, and getting paid by chick's to drink with them. It's like, where the fuck did I come from? You know?""

Received a copy of American MaleWhore in Tokyo from John Box, (yes, The Great White Host himself ) in exchange for a four or five-star review on GoodReads. Seeing that I am a man that is easily bought I have decided to acquiesce on his request and in doing so compromise my integrity in the process; it's not the first time and I am sure it won't be the last.

There really is not a whole lot to say about this book that hasn't already been said. A man child from the suburbs of New York hastily decides to take flight from the grips of a possible mundane existence by flinging himself from his parents hair, selling his mom's car to fund his trip to Japan. The plan is simple; get paid to get drunk and hit on women, or young girls, the line gets a tad bit blurry with Mr. Box when a bottle of Jack is in the vicinity. Where most Americans go for a year to teach English, Mr. Box has another sort of role playing game on his mind that will definitely make the juice far more worth the squeeze.

"" 'Fair enough. This one stands out too but I'm not sure that 'frightening the ship out of children' counts as a skill.' 'Sure it does. But you know what, I just remembered something else I should put on there. Get this. I've only eaten one Lay's potato chip...Ever.' 'Holy shit dude, I'll pencil that in for ya.' ""

All is going great as he learns the in's and out's of being a host, the proper decorum, precautions against stalkers, on-the-job training, icebreakers like ""what's your blood type?"", wardrobe and coiffure alterations and other key requirements that will enable him to hit the ground running. But with the alcohol tolerance of a fifteen-year-old girl, the virility of a twenty-one-year old, the physical capability of a fifty-year-old, and the emotional intelligence of a zagnut, Mr. Box is bound to have a few missteps along the way. Mr.Box finds a job at a club called Cirrus, a place where 80% of the hosts have sex with their customers, he just hasn't found one. He works under the alias Piston Honda, who happens to be a video game boxing character from Mike Tyson's Punch Out. This seems like a weird moniker to assume because when faced with problematic situations Mr. Box prefers the flight rather than the fight. Perhaps Woody Woodpecker, The Fuji Dream or Mugimaki Fly Catcher would be more appropriate.

Japan, a place where heartbreak leads to jumping off ledges or disembowelment, sounds rationale. A place where seemingly jovial and innocent young ladies can turn on a dime like the lead antagonist from the Japanese film Audition. Daddy always told me not to play with dolls, but I take it you don't go fucking with them either. A place with original tattoo choices unlike the terribly trite tribal and lame lyrical selections commonly found in the western world, (I have both by the way). A place where male customers understand the lack of emotional investment in the sex trade market while females continue to set the movement back. Like for real, get a clue.

"" 'But I've got chicks figured out. I know what'z going on.' 'Oh, you do, do you?' 'Yup. Chicks are like ize cream. There'z like 31 flavors, and most of them are azzanine concoctionz that shouldn't even exist in thiz world. But there'z a handful that're really tasty. And although you nibble on thoze tasty ones from time to time, there'z alwayz that one - mint chocolate chip - that you keep coming home to over and over ...' ""

To be frank with all of you reading this; I didn't really find this book all that funny. I smirked a few times but that's about it. I will also say that as much as I love to laugh not a whole lot out there induces that type of response. To be honest it is hard to translate the action of a stupid drunk guy sticking his tongue out to have a baby crocodile take a chomp, only to have him dance a two step screaming bloody murder. You see it doesn't translate well in a literary sense, but damn it's funny. I thought my correspondence with John, the acknowledgements at the start, some of the fun facts, and the appendices at the back showcased his humour better than the meatclump in the middle. I don't know how much authority he had in the writing process but I would have liked to see him have more control. Good luck in all of your future endeavors, whatever they may be.

The Gargoyle

The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson "
“This is the truth: we all desire to conquer the comely one, because it affirms our own worth. Speaking for the men of the world, we want to own the beauty of the woman we're fucking. We want to grasp that beauty, tightly in our greedy little fingers, to well and truly possess it, to make it ours. We want to do this as the woman shines her way through an orgasm. That's perfection. And while I can't speak for women, I imagine that they-whether they admit it or not-want the same thing: to possess the man, to own his rough handsomeness, if only for a few seconds.”

An atheist on a drug binge is speeding down the highway with a cracked mirror and a rail of coke on the dashbord and a bottle of Bourbon in between his legs. Live fast die young and slowwww, our protagonist quickly finds himself on a one-way ticket to hell as he crashes his car on the highway. Hell is a tad bit presumptious, but considering he once killed a person I believe it's safe to say that our man is going down. Trapped in the wreck he is left burning like aerosol can's at a whitetrash bonfire. He is unconscious for seven weeks before waking up in a hospital with an odd feeling that a snake living within his body is talking to him, threatening him to behave and feed her or face the consequences. Before I forget, in this rendition death/devil is a woman and a snake with little charm but great influence. Silenced, the narrator realizes that he has been burned beyond recognition. The princely facial features and hard body that men and women alike deeply desired have been stolen from him by fourth degree burns to the majority of his body and muscle atrophy due to his induced coma. I will admit that I couldn't read most of the details surrounding the burns, the procedures, the rehabilitation; my stomach could only take so much. I could seriously feel the gastric acids in my stomach moving feverishly like magma in a volcano getting ready to blow. This book forced me to experience my deepest fears and I dislike the author for making me do so. I may have avoided some of the passages but the effect was not lost. My mom is also a nurse and an avid book reader, and me telling her of my ails reading this book, she made it a point to tell me about even more disgusting medical practice that goes far beyond the use of maggots for necrosis or wound therapy. I have revealed my weakness and I am scared for my future.

""The doctors removed my wasteland exterior by debriding me, scraping away the charred flesh. they brought in tanks of liquid nitrogen containing skin recently harvested from corpses. The sheets were thawed in pans of water, then neatly arranged on my back and stapled into place. Just like that, as if they were laying strips of sod over the problem areas behind their summer cabins, they wrapped me in the skin of the dead. My body was cleaned constantly but I rejected these sheets of necro-flesh anyway; I've never played well with others. So over and over again, I was sheeted with cadaver skin.”

The narrator is nameless, but I kept referring to him as One. I don't know where I got that from or if he is ever referred to with that moniker, but that's what I did so I am going to go with it to avoid confusion. Before the accident, One had lived one hell of a life (Sorry had to do it). He was brought into this world in a tumultuous state, his mother died during delivery and his father split shortly after. He was raised, no sorry, he lived with his aunt and uncle who spent most of their time cooking up meth and neglecting the child in order to feed their addiction. One took a liking to reading books to escape his living hell, and he especially gravitated towards Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei. He consumed books like an amber does dry bush, he made libraries his primary place of residence, which served to be a good safe haven as his aunt and uncle's home exploded due to their manufacturing of their primary source of income and entertainment. Needless to say life's been tough for One and it doesn't surprise me that he doubts God's existence even if other's are trying to convince him to keep the faith.

“God cannot be referred to as 'good,' 'better,' or 'best' because He is above all things. If a man says that God is wise, the man is lying because anything that is wise can become wiser. Anything that a man might say about God is incorrect... The best a man can do is to remain silent...The true master knows that if he had a God he could understand, he would never hold Him to be God.”

While recovering in the burn unit One meets a strange woman who appears to have strayed a little too far from the psychiatric ward and made her way into his room. Seven weeks without action may make a sex - crazed man like one delirious, but this one requires a more thoughtful approach. Not having the ability to talk for extended lengths of time is troubling in itself, but when you have a crazy person talking about the difference between gargoyles and grotesques, love and past lives, then you have to muster something up. When the proverbial shit is about to hit the fan Marianne reveals something that only One would know about; an event that happened during childhood, a revelation of sorts. Overtime they develop a relationship that centre's on One talking about his life, all the while Marianne slowly reveals herself to One through the art of storytelling. Marianne's stories about love were utilized to help chip away at the stone surrounding One's heart. They varied in setting and specifics but were motivated by a common factor. They included one about an Italian iron worker, a Parisian woman waiting for her lost love, an English apprentice glass blower, and an Icelandic viking tale. These tales showcase the lengths people will go for love and will test One on how far he is willing to go too save himself.

Overall, I didn't like this book. Not a fantasy fan, my lack of imagination makes books like these hard to relate too or even care about. Where I do appreciate the effort is in the ending. It was really effective in stirring my emotions which made the juice worth the squeeze. To be honest, I don't know why I made a point to buy this book, perhaps it was the reviews or a drunken visitation to Goodreads and a misstep on my To-Read shelf. Better a bad experience with a book than a fourth degree burn; I guess I'll take it.

""There's a gentle sigh which descends like billowing silk upon the soul that accepts its coming death. It's a gentle pocket of air in the turbulence of everyday life... the silk settles around you as if it has been drifting towards the earth forever and has finally found it's target. The flag of defeat has been mercifully dropped and, in this action, the loss is not so bad. Defeat itself is defeated by the embrace of defeat, and death is swallowed up in victory.”


The Corrections

The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen "
""It offended his sense of proportion and economy to throw away a ninety-percent serviceable string of lights. It offended his sense of himself, because he was an individual from an age of individuals, and a string of lights was, like him, an individual thing. No matter how little the thing had cost, to throw it away was to deny its value and, by extension, the value of individuals generally: to willfully designate as trash an object that you knew wasn't trash. Modernity expected this designation and Alfred resisted it. Unfortunately, he didn't know how to fix the lights.""

That's not the man I married. That's not the boy I raised. My mother's a pain in the ass and the parent I can withstand is never home. What the hell is unconditional love? And why does immediate family receive it outright? The Corrections takes one mid-western family and delves into their problems and pain while addressing the questions that seem to go against worldly conventions.

At one time Enid loved her husband Alfred, she would have done anything for him, short of murder of course, but there was a time. Over time she has given up and has even come to realize that at once was thought to be the greatest moment of her life had ultimately been a forty year regret. Alfred was everything a woman would want; an honorable, strapping, hard-working, and successful man with his life ahead of him. Enid was smitten and together they forged a relationship, got married, moved into the suburbs and had three children. Everything seemed so perfect. So why is Alfred, a man in his sixties spending every waking hour in his metallurgical laboratory sitting in his thread-bare chair in the basement, and peeing in coffee cans? And why won't their beloved children and grandchildren make the trip to visit them in St.Jude?

Alfred and Enid Lambert are both retired living in an empty nest. A messy and disorganized nest, but an ""empty"" nest just the same. Alfred spent his life working hard long hours as an engineer for Midland Pacific Railroad, Enid spent her time handling the homestead, now Enid can't understand Alfred's passivity when it comes to continuing on with their life together in their golden years. Alfred has a desperate need for privacy while Enid has plans to put another pushpin on the map of the world. With retirement set in and the kids gone Alfred doesn't know what to do with his life while Enid doesn't know where to go first.

""The pleasure in this world, it has been said, outweighs the pain; or, at any rate, there is an even balance between the two. If the reader wishes to see shortly whether this statement is true, let him compare the respective feelings of two animals, one of which is engaged in eating the other. What to believe about Al Lambert? There were the old-man things he said about himself and the young-man way he looked. Enid had chosen to believe the promise of his looks. Life then became a matter of waiting for his personality to change.""

Chipper is a thirty-nine-year-old man who lives in New York where his existence in summation is that of a failed college professor who now occupies his time as a part-time contributor to a local transgressive journal, a proofreader and is running around with his movie screenplay that he can't get anybody to read let alone greenlight. He truly has an identity problem and is definitely in need for some balance in his life, or some ritalin. You get the feeling that his calling is that of an anti-corporate disappointment who leaches onto others while he espouses his bitterness and cynicism to people that could give two shakes. What he has going for him is that he will always have his mother and father in his back pocket, what they don't know is that he dislikes them very much and everything they stand for.

Gary is a vice president of a bank who lives in Philadelphia with his wife Caroline and three children Jonah, Aaron, and Caleb. Externally Gary gives people the perception that he is professional and rock steady. Internally, Gary's mental health is slowly being chipped away with delusions of familial recruitment for intentions of war, which is in stark contrast to his desire for his family to go to St.Jude for Christmas one last time. Gary is also a depressed, paranoid, obsessive-compulsive, control freak who is having trouble coming to terms with his father's business decisions and his mother's plans for real estate accommodations. He may make it to St.Jude, but against his mother's wishes, it will be only him, and he will have plenty to talk about.

Denise is the youngest of the Lambert clan and at times struggles with how she wants to represent herself to the world. Having a hard time identifying with her mother, her ideals as a woman have been muddied along the way. At times she would like to be regarded as a hard worker, not just for a girl, but overall. She was one of the top workers at Midland Pacific Railroad and she attributes her work ethic to her father. In other cases she wants to feel beautiful and lusted over. She encounters all these perspectives at Midland, and she can't identify what she wants more. Between sexual experimentation and issues with solitude infecting her career, Denise finds herself having difficulty balancing relationship and professional development with that of her own individuality.

The children just want to escape the traps that captured their parents and live their respected lives the way they want, far away from St.Jude and in truth, far, far away from their parents.

"" 'I'm saying, Melissa, that children are not supposed to get along with their parents. Your parents are not supposed to be your best friends. There's supposed to some element of rebellion. That's how you define yourself as a person.' 'Maybe it's how you define yourself,' she said. 'But then you're not exactly an advertisement for happy adulthood.' ""

With Christmas being a central event for the Lambert's one final get together, I thought the events leading up to the conclusion reminded of my favourite Christmas movies. While most people prefer to watch feel good staples such as Miracle On 34th St. or It's a Wonderful Life, I watch Le père Noël est une Ordure, Rare Exports, Mixed Nuts and The Ref. Don't get me wrong I love all of the other movies, but there's something about family's and black comedy and the cynicism that can plague the season. The Corrections takes all the optimism of the holiday and crushes it with the bleakness that encompasses the Lambert family. It is safe to say that they do put the fun in dysfunctional.

The story gives me the feeling that while everyone has their own independent psychological restraints, the author was really trying to give the males in the world a voice. From the time this book was written to now, I believe social consciousness has heightened with respect to anxieties, fears, and depressions that are often regarded as taboo for the male sex. Don't get me wrong, the ladies in this story are a collective mess themselves, but I was really taken a back by the focus on the Lambert men. There really is no tone that elicits a condescending reaction, just a background for the reader to see how little the family knows with respect to how they act around one another. Clearly an honest, unsanitary, realistic look at a dysfunctional mid-western family as they go through various successes and failures over the course of a fifty-some year marriage, three children and one final Christmas.

""His affliction offended his sense of ownership. These shaking hands belonged to nobody but him, and yet they refused to obey him. They were like bad children. Unreasoning two-year-olds in a tantrum of selfish misery. The more sternly he gave orders, the less they listened and the more miserable and out of control they got. He'd always been vulnerable to a child's recalcitrance and refusal to behave like an adult. Irresponsibility and undiscipline were the bane of his existence, and it ww another instance of that Devil's logic that his own untimely affliction should consist of his body's refusal to obey him.""


The End of Everything

The End of Everything - Megan Abbott "
"" Savoring my war wounds, I sit, and feel I deserve rich rewards. Spotting my mother's secret Benson & Hedges pack crammed into the wet dirt of a gangly potted geranium, I think about pulling one out and lighting up. Evie and I did it once. It hurt our throats, but the good kind of hurt. That's what we said. Are there cigarettes in every backyard, every garage, every toolshed or bird feeder?""

This is a book that you have to take your time with. You may believe that you can steamroll your way through it given that it is a ""coming of age"" story involving ""young teenage girls"", but I am telling you right now, there is plenty more to it than typical teenage drama. If you skim through a page you will soon realize that you're lost in the passages, but you haven't missed anything at all, if that makes any sense. There's love, yet hate. Fear, yet wanting. Victimization, yet appreciation. Confusion, yet complete understanding. With a beautifully-confounding trance like prose you feel that you are always trying to catch up with the author as you read her story, yet in reality she's there running at your side. Never getting a firm grasp of the truth you realize that maybe it's for the best and the odd obscurity wouldn't do that much harm. This story exemplifies the destructive nature of people's ""little"" secrets.

Evie Verver and Lizzie Hood know each other bone deep. The two of them are blood-thick and are at the most of times inseparable. As neighbours, school mates, field hockey teammates and best friends they are about to embark on an experience they've been waiting all year for. Together they are on the cusp of young adolescence as they enter high school after their upcoming Summer vacation. They also share some common, yet circumstantial family dynamics. Lizzie has a father living in California while Evie has a mother who is physically present, but emotionally far far away. Ghostly figures in a place where they are there in body or correspondence, but not there in body or spirit. From another point the two friends have distinct differences with their other residing parental figure as: Lizzie's mother seems more concerned with a married doctor than her own daughter while Evie's father goes above and beyond the amount of attention he pays his children. It's easy to see why Lizzie spends most of her time at the Verner household and how fascination of the Verner family has extended far past Evie.

"" 'I don't know,' she says. 'There's always just been something about them...' There's almost a blush on her, like she's been caught without her clothes. She can't quite look at me.' 'I don't know,' she says. 'Like something had to break. It could only go on for so long, before something had to break.' 'That doesn't make any sense at all,' I say, shaking off a flinch deep insiee. 'You're not making any sense at all.' ""

They still do childish things like having sleepovers, playing bloody murder, telling secrets, and enjoying fireworks with family. But they are extending their focus to more present needs such as experiencing their sexual infantilism, playing ""boycrush"" games, an awareness of the other sex, and deep emotional conversations. All is the same, just different. On one seemingly innocuous day everything changes. Hidden faces are revealed, thoughts and feelings are shared, but questions remain unanswered.

Unattainable fathers and girls and attainable daughters and men. The idea that one youthful teenager can become an object of fantasy for a man from nearby, plainly with her elemental purity and her inherent effervescence. Evie has a magic about her that makes people stand, watch, and take note; something concurrently that has made Lizzie crazy about her friend, her family and their illuminating beings. Without warning, Evie starts disengaging from Lizzie. Unfortunately for Lizzie she didn't realize until it was too late and she may never know why.

To have all the time in the world to be in adult, your life as a child is short lived. Once you lose it, it's hard to get back. Innocence of youth, corruption of adulthood. The most wonderful of all things can be the most complex to fully understand. Men's hunger for sex supercedes all other motivations especially when you primarily have a secret longing to relive a misspent youth. As young adults you want your lovers to be wild and free, as adults you want stability. Consistency can be more than fine even if it's not as fun. The making of something pure, innocent, and beautiful and making it tarnished, sick, disturbed, and soiled. As disturbing as some of the content may seem I get the feeling that there is plenty to be learned about love and living with regret. As teenage characters adjust to their final hours as young innocence, men and woman are living with the idea of lost love and true desire. There is a distinct feeling of desperation from beginning to end. As some are waiting for their first kiss, some are waiting for something more physical as immoral as it may be.

""What did it feel like to her, seeing him there, trapped in his shadow, him leaning over as she sat on the bed? Evie, she had a jaw that clicked when she opened her mouth wide or when she ate sometimes. When he kissed her, did he hear it click, like a cocked gun? Did she open her mouth wide, like an animal, for him and did he hear it click like the say safety on a gun?""

Reminded me of the innocence and mutually-beneficial relationship between Guy Montag and Clarisse McClellan in Fahrenheit 451, Ted Demme's Beautiful Girls with Natalie Portman as the object of affection, Koethi Zan's best friends forever quandry in The Never List and even to a lesser degree with a slight reversal of roles, Nabokov's Lolita. The search for truth through innocence is one that is difficult to swallow in a lot of ways for a lot of people, but one I can see as being mutually agreeable if the hearts and minds are in the right place. I also believe that children have just as much ability to positively influence the lives of adults as adults are made to do with children. This does not have to be a one sided relationship, but there are obvious boundaries that must be respected. Protection, not destruction of spirit is always the name of the game, especially when it comes to our youth.

The author tip-toes on touchy subjects that has the effect of water torture. How could one drop have that much psychological impact? This book will challenge you, but I believe it is a book that treats reprehensible behaviour in a different kind of light. Haunting and interesting, I recommend it.

""When I told Evie about it, in the quiet of our sleeping bags, she didn't say anything for the longest time, but I could hear her breathing. Then she said sometimes the ways boys need things so badly, like they could never stop needing, it almost scared her. But, she said, sometimes I feel like that too. She said, Lizzie, do you ever find yourself wanting so much you feel like you might disappear? Like all that you are is the wanting, and the rest of you just burns away?""


The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver "It is the year 1959 and The Price family are making the move from their home town of Bethlehem, Georgia to a rather isolated village in the Congo and a confounding place overall. So isolated, that it is commonly referred to as the place where everything is hidden. So confounding, that it is a place where one word can mean two totally different things and it may be good and bad at the same time. A place where searching for the truth can leave a person enslaved for the rest of their lives. Perhaps, it is a solid choice for a young family of six to go for a vacation, but instead they are going for a purpose of a twelve month mission spreading the good word to a society longing for some stability in their lives. It seems like this story will not have a happy ending. The head of the household is Nathan Price, and he is a Southern Baptist Reverend who relishes the responsibility to serve the lord. He throws himself fully into whatever decision he makes and brings his family along for the ride whether they like it or not. Being good soldiers and devoted followers of the lord, they stand by their husband and father even if it means going to the land of the unknown that is the Congo.

""In the depths of my sleepless nights I would turn to the Bible for comfort, only to find myself regaled yet again. Unto the woman God said: I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception, in sorrow though shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. Oh, mercy. If it catches you in the wrong frame of mind, the King James Bible can make you want to drink poison in no uncertain terms.""

In there new environment there is more to get accustomed too than just the idea of poisonous snakes scurrying across the floor of your home, or avoiding certain brush that would make your skin crawl or tarantulas taking up residence in your cooking pots. There was plenty more to comprehend and understand than to have the ability to come to terms with the native tongue or the local flora and fauna. There was a rich history built on greed, violence, and political turmoil that needed to be learned and many people were willing to tell it, whether the family Price were willing to listen to it was a question for another day and one that would definitely be answered in due time.

When they initially touch down in Africa, the Price children truly believe that they carrying out God's work by bringing some hope to the silenced natives. Leah seems to be the most enthusiastic as she is also identifiable as a father's daughter. When they get to their village in Kilanga the girls quickly realize that there aren't many people like them and probably never will be again. There were rumours going around that the previous missionary, Brother Fowles, had gone crazy after dealing with the natives and the current environment for so long. This is also a place where witch doctors have garnered more support than those of any other faith, leaving most of the congregation to be made of the sick and social outcasts. Fowles left a talking parrot named Methuselah as a housewarming gift, that eventually overstay's it's welcome as he showcases his breadth and affinity for curse words. In a household of devout Christians, somethings got to give, and quickly the children begin to wonder if their beloved father has made a deal with the devil and a return home to the land of the free likely a falsehood.

""He noticed the children less and less. He was hardly a father except in the vocational sense, as a potter with clay to be molded. Their individual laughter he couldn't recognize, nor their anguish. He never saw how Adah chose her own exile; how Rachel was dying for the normal life of slumber parties and record albums she was missing. And poor Leah. Leah followed him like an underpaid waitress hoping for the tip. It broke my heart. I sent her away from him on every pretense I knew. It did no good.""

Narrated by the mother and the four Price children, the reader is able to establish an identity and become able to interpret the true feelings that each one has during their year-long journey. Orleanna is the matriarch of the Price family and is an agreeable mother who has stood by her husband through many trying times. As deferential as she may seem, she maintains a level of independence of thought when certain conflicts arise and calls to action need to be addressed. Her narrative centers around the telling of secrets, a confession of sorts in a world where there is no such thing as a clear conscience. Intriguing state of mind to say the least and one where guilt and resentment reign supreme. Oldest daughter Rachel is the fair maiden who longs for America and hates everything about her new surroundings. She is the object of the Congolese people's attention which seems to instill a certain attitude that she carries with her throughout the book. The youngest daughter Ruth May admittedly, is at times bad, but does her best to be good in the eyes of the lord. Adventurous and snoopy she never let's a moment go to waste. Twin daughters Leah and Adah are both very gifted children. Leah is the primary narrator of the children and is more of the tomboy type who does a lot of work in the garden and is very competitive. Adah is born with a neurological condition that weakened the left side of her body, she is very observant, descriptive, non-judgmental and an introspective character that makes games out of language and it's ingrained intricacies. Very interesting personalities in complex situations makes the journey of the Price brood emotional, and heavily drawn out.

Most of the girls bring their prejudices from back home with them to Africa and can't shake the feeling that the natives given their state of disrepair are cursed, evil, odorous, and uneducated savages. And what's with their fascination with plants, animals and superstitious beliefs? What's strange is that as much as they regard their new neighbour's as odd, those same people view the white, clothed family as freaks of nature or straight up devil's. What the Price children view as shameful and hideous is reciprocated in a different way by the Africans. Cultural divide in many ways. Adah is able to understand the judgments put upon the natives due to the colour of their skin in relation to her physical handicap. Common themes of racism and sexism plague this book as each culture experience how the other one was nurtured to live and if adaptation proves to be beneficial for those involved in changing their futures.

"" 'He is the one wife belonging to many white men.' Anatole explained it this way:Like a princess in a story Congo was born too rich for her own good, and attracted attention far and wide from men who desire to rob her blind. The United States has now become the husband of Zaire's economy, and not a very nice one. Exploiting and condescending, in the name of steering her clear of the moral decline inevitable to her nature. 'Oh, I understand that kind of marriage all right,' I said. 'I grew up witnessing one just like that.' ""

Nathan parents with the same fury he uses in his sermons, ruling with an iron fist as he uses the bible as well as a leather strap to punish his children for common behaviours. Nathan slowly becomes the embodiment of evil for the Price family as they settle into their lives in the Congo. Serving up his children's punishment with a heavy hand of physical abuse or transcribing bible verses which after frequent “transgressions”, they know from heart. The Price children are normal children acting out the way many children do, but with a minister for a father and living in an alien country where you are perceived as the aliens; nothing seems normal anymore.

Looking for my next book to read I had The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach in my hands content with my selection, but then I picked up The Poisonwood Bible. I must say that Orleanna's narrative from the first page drew me in. It was so dark, mysterious, chilling, and exciting that after reading the first few pages I knew this was going to jump the line. Unfortunately my level of enthusiasm waned from then on. It is obviously well-written but weighed down by unnecessary detail and a persistent agenda that got tiresome. Any reader should want to give this book a shot, whether you like it or not is up to you.

""Silicon emas. There is no stepping in the same river twice. So say the Greek philosophers, and the crocodiles make sure. Ruth May is not the same Ruth May she was. Yam Htur. None of us is the same: Lehcar, Hael, Hada. Annaelro. Only Nathan remains essentially himself, the same man however you look at him. The other of us have two sides. We go to bed ourselves and like poor Dr. Jekyll we wake up changed.""


The Fixer

The Fixer - Joseph Finder "Received a copy of The Fixer by Joseph Finder through the Goodreads FirstReads giveaway program in exchange for an honest review

""A lot of money changed hands, true. None of this shocks me. You know what Robert Penn Warren said in All the King's Men. 'Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption, and he passes from the stench of the didie to the stink of the shroud.' Or something very close to that. Just because my hands happen to be clean doesn't mean I judge. I do not. So tell me what you've found. ""

A wayward son of sixteen years finds himself back home after a whirlwind of personal misfortunes. Rick Hoffman has recently returned home after getting his job as an executive editor of a glossy print magazine called Back Bay unceremoniously eliminated. The decision came as a surprise to him, but for people in the business it was an inevitability as it was made to establish themselves as a presence in the digital age. As a result his fiancée has decided for the both of them that it would be best if they parted ways. After collecting one another's belongings and paying off any outstanding debts they would themselves travelling to opposite ends of the country, but first Rick must get out of their shared apartment. It would have been a lot more complicated if they had been married, so there is that positive aspect, but other than that Rick Hoffman has hit rock bottom. While Holly has the world at her fingertips and Miami as her personal and professional playground Rick is back in his decrepit childhood home on Clayton Street in Boston recalibrating and figuring out his next step.

Being in his safe haven has allowed him the ability to reminisce about his more happy times as an investigative journalist for the Boston Globe where he exposed corruption, fraud and other conspiracies. Being at home has also forced him to think about his beloved father Leonard who suffered a massive stroke twenty years prior and is currently residing in a home care facility. Leonard has been declared a global aphasic meaning he can't read, write, or even speak. Given that Leonard made his living as an attorney this has been hard for not only Rick and his sister Wendy to take, but especially Leonard. By his friends accounts, ""Lenny"" was a man of great integrity. A man that fought for the rights and freedoms for the city's disenfranchised. A regional hero who stood tall, side-by-side and defended the outcasts and the rejects who had no other place to turn for justice resulting in pro bono work with no reservations. Unfortunately, what resulted was Leonard compromising his integrity and doing work on the side that he did not revel in, in order to support his family. He took on sketchy clients with his goal being to protect the first amendment. However low he may have sank he never broke his word even if it meant keeping secrets buried beneath the ground and away from his family.

""In one of the boxes he found a familiar looking book: Walden & Other Writings of Henry David Thoreau, with a very sixties dust jacket, a curvy, groovy Peter Max - like font. He'd often see that book on his father's desk, open to one of Thoreau's little essays. Sometimes he'd read from it at night. Lenny had loved Thoreau. He liked to quote one of Thoreau's maxims: 'The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.' He wondered whether his father had lived a life of quiet desperation. Probably so. At least he heard the beat of a different drummer, that was for sure.""

As Rick unwillingly settles in he can't help but notice the dilapidated state of the house. In order to get the house ready for the market it would need a hope and a prayer or a discounted construction company, whatever comes first. Insert childhood neighbour and builder extraordinaire Jeff Hollenbeck. After a quick inspection and estimation Rick notices packets of banknotes hidden in a hole in a wall. Desperately needing to do some counting, Rick quickly kicks an inquisitive Jeff out of the house. What follows next will allow him to better understand his confounding father, will put Rick back on the investigative journalist horse, but also may put him into an early grave.

""Rick decided to drive over to Hyde Square in the Boston suburb of Jamaica Plain and just start asking questions. Sometimes you could pick up details from the ground. His old boss at the Globe, a gruff editor who favored bow ties and boldly striped shirts with white contrasting collars, was always ordering his reporters to get out of their cubicles and get off their phones and their butt and start poking around. 'Just showing up,' he liked to say, 'is half of good reporting.' It was time to show up.""

This book is very involved. With Irish gangs, rehabilitated ex-con's, bagmen, contract killers, philanthropists, the adult entertainment industry, municipal officials and terrorists this book covers a lot of ground without escaping the realm of possibility. It's really nice to have a quick, fun, and overall enjoyable when the weather gets warm and the brain starts to fry out in the hot, hazy and humid conditions. Being the page turner that this story happened to be, I was also able to get a little colour on my pasty Canadian body and achieve some sort of spotty base. There was not really anything quote worthy from this book, no literary ornamentation just a straightforward suspenseful novel that provided a nice change of pace. With the beach beckoning I recommend you to get cozy and sink your feet into the sand and read this novel, but don't forget to wear your sunscreen and protect yourself from that harmful ultraviolet radiation because time may in fact fly.

""He was weak with terror, and the terror came from uncertainty, not knowing why he was here and what was about to happen. The money, of course - that was obvious: it was the money that put him here. But what his abductors planned to do with him he had no idea. That was even more terrifying, the not knowing.""


Selected Stories

Selected Stories - Andre Dubus "
""I have often imagined him returning home a week early that summer, to a mother, to a father; and having to watch his father's face as the boy told him he failed because he was weak. A trifling incident in a whole lifetime, you may say. Not true. It could have changed him forever, his life with other men, with women, with daughters, and especially sons. We like to believe that in this last quarter of the century, we know and are untouched by everything; yet it takes only a very small jolt, at the right time, to knock us off balance for the rest of our lives.""

After reading this collection of short stories you can really see where the author's interest lay outside of the complexities that is the human condition. Besides speaking of common domestic situations, with common everyday people, from your common run-of-the-mill cities, Mr. Dubus has some common threads that tend to make an appearance throughout the course of the book. Where familiarity is found is in the way the author intertwines common themes of religion, family, indulgence, and love. Or more specifically Catholicism, quaaludes, cigarettes, alcohol and sex. He also has an ability to channel the internal voices of the character as they struggle with various principles, conflicts of interest or external circumstances and use detail, tone, and action to contradict a lot of what they inherently feel. For the most part his characters don't command much sympathy, but where he achieves it is in his subtleties, by alerting the reader that there are some redeemable qualities deep down inside. As a reader I find myself, more often than not, able to put a face to the various characters I come across when reading. This is a direct reflection on the talents of the writer and a little credit to one's own imagination. With these stories that pleasure was not allotted to me and the stories were not worse for wear as a result.

""She accused him of having a double standard and he said no; no, she was as free as she was before she met him. She asked him how long he had felt this way, had he always been like this or was it just some French bullshit he had picked up this winter. He had always felt this way. By now she could not weep. Nor rage either. All she could feel and say was: Why didn't I ever know any of this? You never asked, he said.""

Loneliness is one of the central feelings from this collection. In the opening story Miranda Over the Valley sets the tone when she leaves California for school in Boston. Slowly losing touch with herself, life events have made her realize she needs love wherever she gets it to fill the void. In The Winter Father a three-day-a-week-father and recent divorcee learns to combat his loneliness while struggling to be an attentive father in the dead of winter. The winter eases his struggle to adapt to his new life while the summer will remain his true proving ground. In Killings small pleasures no longer garner the same reaction when you have vengeance on your mind. The justice system has failed you and there is no escape in your own city. You keep telling yourself that you thought the tough part of parenthood was over, now your trying to figure out the lesser of two evils between living through painful daily reminders or occasional grievances. The author calmly delivers this story of passion and violence. Reminiscent of Cronenberg's A History of Violence. The Pretty Girl is a tale of obsession. A woman who is too pretty for girlfriends, in turn she is lonely. A perfect victim for the mentally unstable. Three different narratives with heavy insight. An odd understanding for an overwhelmingly unsympathetic character.

""Her eyes are filling. Besides Steve, Vinnie is the only person outside her family she has told about the rape, but his eyes did not change when she said it; could not change, she knows, for the sorrow in them is so deep. She has known him in passion and mirth, and kissing his forehead, his unbridled left cheek, his chin, she feels as dangerous as Ray, more dangerous with her slender body and pretty face.""

If They Know Yvonne may irk some female readers as a pure at heart, just say no to masturbation, churchgoing young man is corrupted by a young vixen who opens his eyes to needful things. Story of guilt, yielding to vices, and living in conflict with down home southern values. In Rose the author details how evil is not reserved for the poor, it doesn't discriminate. The elderly can see the innocence in others in spite of how life has left them out in the cold. With no trust in your decision-making, self-loathing can lead to begrudgingly accepting a need for true love. In Anna a woman at odds with her place in life uses alcohol and sex as a distraction to her problems and to kill the pain. It's good to know you have something, but sometimes you want more, and sometimes more is never enough. Voices From the Moon is a family story where each member has a cross to bear. Why is it that you always hurt the ones you love the most? Story of love and all of its power, pain, and glory. Remember that you don't choose the ones you love, love chooses you. The Curse proves that it is sometimes better to be safe than sorry. Adultery shows that in some bizarre cases infidelity can bring your significant other closer to the person you hoped and imagined they would be, but you still can't help but feel a little sinful. A Father's Story restores the debate in the morality of the early riser and the night owl. Where the coffee drinking, opera aficionado, god fearing man is the same whiskey swilling, rock and roll listening, priesthood-reasoning person that looks for justification when the situation arises. He may not be misplaced, but he may be misguided.

The author writes these stories not with an image in mind, but a feeling to be communicated. Many times I found myself relating to these characters finding bits of me as I progressed from story to story. Whether it was Louise's internal conflicts with a mandatory element of day-to-day life, or Joan's realization that disappointment can be manufactured by one's own unrealistic expectations, or Gerry's slow boil as he continuously witnesses regionally-accepted behaviors promoting discrimination and abuse of ""power"" to the disenfranchised. Visualization will be absent, but identification among this breadth of characters will be present as you progress through the pages. I enjoyed the majority of these stories and if you don’t mind stories that have conclusions with loose ends, then you will too.

"" 'You know why I like my waitress friends so much? And what I learned from them? They don't have delusions. So when I'm alone at night - and I love it, Larry - I look out my window, and it comes to me: we don't have to live great lives, we just have to understand and survive the ones we've got. You're smiling again' 'Tears too.' 'Wipe them fast before my friends think something terrible is happening.' ""


Palace of Treason

Palace of Treason - Jason  Matthews "Received a copy of Palace of Treason by Jason Matthews through the Goodreads FirstReads giveaway program in exchange for an honest review

Captain Dominika Eragova is a Red Sparrow, famously trained in the art of seduction making her, much to ""man""kind's chagrin the ultimate tease, and she is damn good at it too. Sparrows would utilize their prowess as seductresses of the state to further the strategic goals of their home country. Sex and spying were melded together to reap great rewards while taking advantage of Russia's greatest skills and man biggest fatal flaw. For the select and hardened few, she will give in, but that only means that you have something very important to disclose, and if that happens to be the case, like a praying mantis she'll kill you after coitus or worse yet, someone of lower sympathy and a higher pay grade will. With the ability to arouse the coldest of men she has perfected her practice of leaving a man with testicles that are so blue Van Gogh himself would be jealous. Once things are on the up and up she knocks you down leaving you either in full compliance or stiff sending the rest of your on a path towards catching up with your groin. I can't imagine anything worse, that is until you meet Colonel Zyuganov, a man who makes Vladimir Putin himself hold his breath.

""Stalin came to Putin in his dream and told him how to rule Russia. 'Destroy all the democrats without mercy, then eliminate their parents, and hang their children, and incinerate their relatives and their friends, and kill their pets, and paint your Kremlin office blue,' said Stalin's ghost. 'Why blue?' Said Putin.""

The biggest favour the Kremlin could provide it's dutiful and loyal comrades was promotion within the hierarchy. And then you realize, a little too late that you had just sold your soul to the red devil. Personnel action equals death. Dominika initially started out as a true patriot, a loyal rezidente working for what once was known as the KGB, but now referred to as the Russian Intelligence Service. After years of living under Russian bureaucracy and witnessing established policies centered on abuse of power and constant strong-arming towards innocent citizens and businesses, Dominika has made it a point to get revenge for Russian beastliness. Taken in by the CIA, together with Nathaniel Nash, Marty Gable, and Tom Forsyth they have put together a mission called Project Diva which will feature Dominika as the star of the show. Dominika will be required to go back to her motherland (or rodina) to penetrate the red shield, get inside the Kremlin by infiltrating the SVR, gain President Putin's trust and hopefully bite her tongue in the process. She will have to battle behind the scenes with one of the most sociopathic, paranoid, tyrannical, rampaging top ranking Russian officials, that is in fact not named Putin.

""Dominika shuddered inside herself. The Kremlin. Majestic buildings, gilded ceilings, soaring halls, all filled to the rafters with deceit, rapacious greed, and cruelty. A Palace of Treason. And now Dominika - another sort of traitor - was coming to the palace, to smile and lick the impassive face of the tsar.""

While Dominika is working her way in the inside of the Kremlin, Nathaniel and his crew are working on there own mission in Washington. They are looking to foil Iran's plans to acquire parts that would make them have nuclear potential in a single year. As the plan unfolds the team realizes they have a mole of their own inside the CIA. Denied a promotion that is given to a rather unknown entity is a definite deflation of ego, for Sebastian Angevine, this was all he needed to welcome himself to his palace of treason and a future in espionage.

""At the end of their walk, she watched Thorstad in his ridiculous, wide brimmed slap a trudge up Thirty-First Street NW towards the lights of M street. Zarubina hoped this TRITON was intelligent. It didn't reassure her that he had chosen a code name for himself - a worrying possible indicator of the ego of a megalomaniac. Besides monarch of the sea, ""triton"" in Russian meant 'newt.' Not exactly the most heroic cryptonym for an agent, thought Zarubina, but perhaps naming oneself after a squirmy amphibian will prove to be apt.""

I enjoyed the banter between Nathiniel and Dominika and how he often referred to how she doesn't understand common North American idioms and expressions and how she would be constantly paranoid or insecure, desperately needing translations. This became a fixture from beginning to end and also brought some levity to the overall situation. A tad bit cliché when involving any American/European relationship, but still enjoyable as I saw it. I also enjoyed Dominika's synesthesia quality that made her more in tune with her body and gave her a clear understanding of how to read people which is a present feature throughout the novel. Really superhero-esque if you think about it. Palace of Treason was very complex with its operational terminology and intelligence specific jargon. There really isn't a lot of hand holding on behalf of the author, the reader is out on there own with this one. It is obvious by the way that the author writes that he has a tremendous amount of experience and credibility, and is even able to have some fun in the process. I thought it was a little too heavy on the various intelligence-baced technicalities for my liking. What I thought was weird, but enjoyed nonetheless were all the dietary references. I still don't know how it all fits, but being a foodie I thoroughly enjoyed the recipes. I knew beforehand that the Russians enjoyed their pickles, and hard-boiled eggs, and garlic, but I was happy to learn some new recipes with some very interesting food pairings.

""Olivier Salad - Boil potatoes, carrots, and eggs. Dice vegetables, eggs, and dill pickles into quarter-inch cubes and place into a bowl. Similarly dice boiled ham or shrimp, or both, and add to the bowl. Add sweet baby peas. Season aggressively and add fresh chopped dill. Incorporate with freshly made mayonnaise.""


I, Death

I, Death - Mark Leslie Received a copy of I, Death by Mark Leslie through the GoodReads First Reads Giveaway program in exchange for an honest review.

"No matter how much you run, no matter how hard you try, Death will find you and get what it wants. Death is the one thing that will not and can not be denied."

Like most children there are times where you have insurmountable challenges fitting in with different cliques in high school. Some people stick to one individual group with like-minded individuals, while others like to embrace their inner fauna and utilize chameleon or social butterfly like attributes to spread their wings or find their inner selves. Be it Sudbury or Levack, Ontario, high school's are not any different than any other high schools across North America or even the globe, except for this one thing afflicting this one young man.

Peter O'Mallick has been around death ever since he has been born. If you really want to nitpick, the reaper has been a presence before he was even granted entrance into the world. Scientifically speaking he was clinically dead in his mother's womb, but somehow regained consciousness to only have his mother die during the delivery. Living with his father was the only realization about life he ever understood, so not having a mother seemed like a luxury he would never comprehend. At the age of seven, Peter's life gets thrown upside down after his father is accidently ran over by a car in the family subdivision. Peter is distraught, heartbroken, and has feelings of guilt due to the fact that the last experience he had with his father before he died was a period of disregard and an aspiration of death. Now in his teenage years, Peter is back to some semblance of normalcy while living with his Uncle Bob and Aunt Shelley in Levack, Ontario. He has a small group of friends with varying personalities and physical differences, he has become a movie buff with the help of his Uncle Bob, and last but certainly not least, he has a girlfriend that he is crazy about named Sarah. Of course you wouldn't think that a book called I,Death would allow things to go so swimmingly for our protagonist, rest assured it doesnt. Slowly but surely, things again begin to unravel for Peter after his girlfriend Sarah breaks up with him, forcing Peter to look himself in the mirror and face his inner demons.

"I just got back from Sarah's place. I snuck into the back yard, crept down by her window, just to, you know, peek in. There were plenty of times when we were dating that I would show up at the window and she'd stand on a chair, open up the window and the screen. We'd talk like that, her standing on the chair and me lying in the grass, sometimes holding hands through the window, through half of the night."

There's this place on the Internet, I believe it is referred to as the "blogosphere". It is a place where people can talk about food, trade recipes, share their own personal art work, showcase their writing abilities, the places they've traveled, and the places they would like to travel too...These are all great ideas for people all across the globe with shared enjoyments to trade their own ideas and testimonials. There also happens to be a realm in the blogosphere where people lie for the accumulation of things, cheat people for personal information, reveal their inner most thoughts, steal other people's digital content, deceive for future exploitation, connive other followers into believing that what they are saying is 100% factual. It is a dangerous place out there in the dark vastness with all of its navigational complexities. The Internet can be a great resource for our own personal therapy, but it can also provide others with a key to our brain, and in turn our weaknesses, as are leading man Peter O'Mallick soon finds out.

"Couldn't sleep last night, or the night before that - the morbid memory was stuck in my head all night and I still can't get the image of Donnie out of my head. Every time I close my eyes he's sitting in the dirt, his face leaking eye pus and gore, looking up at me, pleading. Just wanting me to help."

I really didn't enjoy my time reading this book. Between all the whining, all the lusting, all the angst, the postulations. all the sex; all the whiny, lusting, angst-ridden, postulating, sex there wasn't much to this story beyond the blurb. The author takes some interesting plot points and finds the ability to soften the potential blows for the sake of over-the-top prototypical scenes focusing on immature mindsets. Remember Mr. Leslie you are only allowed one pelvic thrust per song on the dance floor, any more than that and things just get too creepy and perverted. I am most certainly not a prude, but this is the first time I have ever felt that the material didn't fit correctly with the writing. While reading I typically enjoy highlighting some hard-hitting passages or beautifully written excerpts for later use, with this book nothing grabbed my attention, by the middle of the novel I felt forced to find something to use. I hope other people will enjoy this story, but this simply was not for me and as much as I love life, death is not far behind.

"All day I waited for the sun to go down. Since it went down, I've still just been sitting here, waiting for it to come up. But I know that the sun coming up again won't make a difference. It won't change a God damned thing. Because I am finally beginning to understand what I am. I am death. And the death has to end. These nightmares I call 'life' have to end."

White Jazz

White Jazz - James Ellroy
"Excel stood up. 'A question before you go.' 'Sir?' 'Did a friend tell you to push Sanderline Johnson out the window?' 'No, sir. But aren't you glad he jumped?'"

Carhop's, mutilated dogs, bagmen, incestuous thoughts and acts, kickbacks, police informants, shakedowns, strikebreakers, conyinuous shows of force... This is the world that Lieutenant David D. Klein is held, and in some cases participates in as well. Lt. Klein is the commander of the LAPD's Administrative Vice division, he has six men from Internal Affairs working under him and one trusted partner George 'Junior' Stemmons. One side note is that Klein is also an accredited attorney which he exhibits at various times throughout the book in times when professionalism is in question or as a getaway hatch when in precarious situations.To say things are on the shady side in 1958 Los Angeles would be a gross misuse of the word shady. The Los Angeles Police Department is as bent as their K9 companion German Shepherd's back leg and it is difficult to decipher who is doing what, And to whom?

The initial focus of the story is on the work behind the scenes in severing the ties that organized crime has to the boxing industry. In doing so Klein shows how his professional and personal life is one big conflict of interest as he ends up killing a federal witness that he is by rule, required to protect. You soon understand that Klein had to consider outside work in order to compensate for his law degree. He did so by participating in mob hits which earned him the nickname "The Enforcer", buying real estate with his sister Meg and becoming slum lords, tax evasion, property transactions and kickbacks, and bribary. Now that he has climbed the ranks at the police department he realizes that getting out is easier said than done. Knowing that he can't escape his mob ties, he has been forced to maneuver his way around it, and by maneuver I mean kill people that are standing in his way from freedom. What turns everything on its head is when Klein is directed by the Captain of the Narcotics Division to investigate a buglary of a known family, and gets a side job from Howard Hughes (yes, the American aviation business tycoon Howard Hughes), to follow a young starlet named Glenda Bledsoe to see if she is in breach of contract. Soon Klein will realize that he is being pulled in many different directions by very powerful figures in the city and it finally is catching up with him. He will have to make a decision on what is most important in his life or he will be burning the candle at both ends leaving his life and the lives of his loved ones hanging in the balance.

"I never said I knew; she never pressed me. Biographies, gaps: I hid Meg, she bypassed whoring. I never said I kill people. I never said Lucille K. made me a voyeur. She said I used people up. She said I only bet on rigged games. She said ranking cop/lawyer put some distance on white trash. She said I never got burned. I said three out of four - not bad."

I found James Ellroy's White Jazz to be too busy. Between inside jobs, outside jobs, inside-outside jobs, outside-inside jobs, shakedowns, the plethora of characters, and not to mention the dialogue it was hard to keep up. I really believe that I would have enjoyed this story if it weren't for the convaluted nature of the story. I didn't find my groove until about fifty pages in when the plot started to reveal itself and things began to settle down. I hope it wasn't due to me not reading the earlier books because that has never been a problem that occurred to me before, and I don't believe the author would punish me in that way. I didn't read L.A. Confidential, but I saw the movie and thoroughly enjoyed the brutality and the corruption of the Los Angeles Police Department combined with the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.

Honestly Mr.Ellroy seemed much more interesting in the interviews that I read to get a better feel for what he is, than he did in this book. I believe he let the style of the story get ahead of his writing ability which inhibited my personal troubles with comprehension and overall enjoyment. As crazy as it sounds, if he would have let his natural delivery take hold, I believe the novel would have taken on an even more coarse tone than White Jazz did. In one interview he proclaimed himself to be the 'best crime writer in history', he also mentions that Dashiell Hammett is essentially a God of crime writing and Raymond Chandler is vastly overrated. While I can't agree or disagree with him on any of his claims, I can definitely see Hammett's influence while looking back at White Jazz. The narrative of White Jazz is one long, non-functioning stream of consciousness that went from tolerable to intolerable at the drop of a hat (or turn of a screw however you want to look at it). I enjoyed certain aspects of the story, and I believe the author can deliver the nasty that I love about books like this, but in the end White Jazz just didn't sing.

" Rattle rattle - I shoved Moms some change. 'Listen, have you ever seen the man staying in this room?' 'Praise Jehovah, I seen him from the back.' 'Have you ever seen him with someone else?' 'Praise Jehovah, no I hasn't.' 'When was the last time you saw the girl in my photographs?' 'Praise Jehovah, when she did that striptease at Bido's maybe four, or five days ago.' 'When was the last time she brought a trick to this front room here?' 'Praise Jehovah, maybe a week ago.' 'Where does she solicit her tricks?' 'Praise Jehovah, I don't know.' 'Has she brought the same man more than once? Does she have regular tricks?' 'Praise Jehovah, I has taught myself not to look at the faces of these sinners.' "