Archive for August, 2009

17th August
2009
written by Steph

First, I need to start off by apologizing for being so late to the party with this section. July was an incredibly hectic month for us over here at Steph & Tony Investigate in real life, what with getting married, so I kind of let my reading slide for a while… and then when I knew I should be picking up 2666 and tackling Part Three, I kind of just didn’t have it in me. I know, I know, I’ve been a terrible co-hostess, but thank you so much to Claire for taking one for the team and rounding up all of your thoughtful and insightful reflections on “The Part About Fate”. I think as we’re about to see, you all came up with a lot more than I did with respect to this section…

So, what to say about this section? Well, as I mentioned above, I was really dragging my heels when it came to getting around to actually reading this part, and I attribute this largely to Section Two. If you recall, I found Section Two really aimless and I didn’t get a lot out of it, and I really felt like it sapped my momentum and eagerness to keep reading 2666. If it were not for the read-along, I probably would have stopped reading after Section Two, so little was my interest in continuing this massive tomb, especially if it were more in the vein of Section Two, which really felt was impenetrable.

(more…)

14th August
2009
written by Steph
AKA "Joy in the Morning" (to our UK readers)... and what a joy it is!

AKA "Joy in the Morning" (to our UK readers)... and what a joy it is!

How come no one told me how amazing Jeeves & Wooster are? OK, not entirely true, since pretty much everyone I know who has ever read these books has told me that they are smart and funny and that I would love them. So, my bad, I guess for not having read any of these until now. But don’t let yourself fall into the same trap, because Jeeves & Wooster? Hilarious!

After the slow death that was Amsterdam I needed a book that would thrill me and whisk me away. It didn’t have to be funny, but I’m never one to turn down a few chuckles. Enter Jeeves in the Morning (or if we’re being true to the novel itself, it would probably be more appropriate to say the book shimmered in… Jeeves does a lot of shimmering when he enters and exits a room.), which was just the ticket.

(more…)

13th August
2009
written by Steph
Maybe this one should have been called Atonement... or Agony

Maybe this one should have been called Atonement... or Agony

A few years back, my real-life book club selected Atonement by Ian McEwan for our monthly read. I borrowed the book from the public library (in large print, because all the tiny print versions were checked out with massive queues) and got to reading. And it was agony! Some people love Ian McEwan’s style, but that first part of the novel (which I fondly refer to as “before dinner”) is so arduous and horrifically slow. A friend of mine had already read the book and she said that once I could make it to dinner (and beyond) things would pick up so I really should stick with it. So I did, and true to her word, the book did pick up and many shocking things happened, culminating in the ultimate shock ending. While my initial experience with the book was not so good, I did come to appreciate the book, to the extent that I did eventually buy myself a copy of it. The more I thought about it, the more I came to like it (I especially like Part Two, and I’m not really one for war writing). Based on that experience, I figured it might be worthwhile to check out some of McEwan’s other work, so when I saw a decently priced copy of Amsterdam at McKay’s I bought it. (more…)
11th August
2009
written by Tony
One of the many grand houses in the historic district

One of the many grand houses in the historic district

Part 1 of our honeymoon extravaganza: Charleston, South Carolina. We had contemplated going to quite a few different places, but ultimately with the time we had (9 days) we had to rule out most places that involved long flights simply because we didn't want our honeymoon to turn into some frantic never-ending tour where we spend our entire day running around only to be exhausted at the end and never really get to slow down and enjoy ourselves. I don't remember exactly how we got turned on to Charleston (and Savannah by extension, they're too close not to see both) but I'm really glad we did. We both agree that if we could move there tomorrow, we would. Our hotel was amazing, the restaurants were delicious and flawless (Steph has a pending food post) and the city was welcoming and beautiful. It is not without merit that trip adviser has declared Charleston one of the top three cities to visit in the world, as our inaugural trip has guaranteed a return visit as soon as we can arrange it. (more…)
7th August
2009
written by Steph
We went all the way to Bon Aventure cemetary to see this famous statue only to find she's no longer there!  Curse you popularity!

We went all the way to Bon Aventure cemetary to see this famous statue only to find she's no longer there! Curse you fame!

In my search to find region-appropriate reading fare for our honeymoon vacation, I had a heck of a time finding books set in Charleston, and the ones that I did find didn’t exactly look like my kind of reading.  But when it came to Savannah, the choice was pretty clear: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil.  Heck, Savannah has walking tours dedicated to taking tourists round the places made famous throughout the book!  What could be better for our short stay there? I always get a kick out of reading books set in places that I’ve been.  It always gives me such a thrill when an author mentions a street name or a local institution that I actually know; it somehow makes the story feel all that more real to me, as though I’ve entered into a more private sanctum within its folds where a genuine shared experience can blossom. So, it’s no surprise then that it was immensely fun to read about all the scandals and gossip of Savannah after having strolled along Broughton St myself.  Just imagine how cool it was to be lounging out near the old lighthouse on Tybee Island while characters were attending a soirée at the DeSoto Beach Hotel, sharing the same swath of sand as myself! For those not in the know, the basic premise behind the book is that Berendt first visits Savannah on a whim, becomes enamored with the city, and decides to spend some time there living amongst the locals.  The first part of the book is like a series of short stories as he recounts his various experiences in the city and the zany folk he encounters and who more or less embrace him as a native.  In the second-half of the book, things take a turn for the more sinister when one of the more prominent Savannahians is charged with murder.  The rest of the book traces the trials and the ultimate verdict that ensue. (more…)
6th August
2009
written by Steph
He'll be back... but will we?

He'll be back... but will we?

When I was younger, I remember being obsessed with Terminator 2.  My parents gave me this little TV that had a built in video recorder, and one of the few things I remember recording was Terminator 2 off of one of the local tv stations (that and a clip off of Entertainment Tonight or some such entertainment new program about Jonathan Taylor Thomas when he was filming Tom and Huck… what?!?  I would have been 12 years old at the time!  Clearly that’s a forgivable offense!).  Flash forward to 2009 at the ripe old age of 26, and while I still remember thinking T2 was awesome, I pretty much only know that it starred Edward Furlong as John Connor, had a shapeshifting T1000, and ends with Arnie giving us a big old thumbs up as he is lowered into a pit of molten metal... And maybe there is something with a playground?  Clearly I had some gaps to fill in. (more…)
5th August
2009
written by Steph

Isn't that cover gorgeous?

Several years ago, my real-life bookclub selected Cloudstreet from a series of Australian novels as our next read.  I don’t remember a whole lot about the book, to be honest, though I do remember being equal parts amused and flummoxed by the inundation of Australian slang.  Today I would say the book painted a vivid portrait of families in Australia and the Aussie mentality, and Winton isn’t afraid of getting down into the dirty underbelly of working-class families and the hands Fate deals us.  I didn’t blog back then, but I did jot down a few notes about each book I read in my Excel spreadsheet, so here’s what I thought of Cloudstreet at the time:
Took me much longer to finish than it should have; was not a difficult read despite the reviews; characters were compelling at times, but overall I didn't feel that I learned or took anything from this book, and none of the characters were all that vivid to me; do see the somewhat hopeless yet hopeful aspects to the family, I don't necessarily get why we're supposed to care about them... also what was with the serial killer plotline? 3 out of 5.
Hmmm… apparently with time, my appraisal of Cloudstreet has somewhat softened, as that review doesn’t sound all that positive.  Perhaps it’s for the best I didn’t revisit that review before purchasing a few more Winton volumes on my recent trip to the used bookstore!  My line of thinking had essentially been, “Tim Winton!  I’ve read a book by him… Cloudstreet was alright, and I do want to read some more Australian fiction.  Why not give these a go?  They’re cheap!  Done!”  And that is how I came to own copies of Breath and The Riders. How I came to actually read Breath is a different story, but not really all that complicated either.  Sometimes I finish a book and have no idea what I want to read next.  I just want to dive into a great story and let it take me away.  Given how voluminous my TBR pile is, I can sometimes find it daunting to pick a new book since I tend to want to read them all right then!  In times like that, I find it can be really helpful to not overthink but to just pick up a book and start reading.  The genius with Breath is that it was a relatively slender volume (so not intimidating), and I also didn’t know anything at all about what it was about so there was nothing to overthink.  I just had to jump in feet first and hope for the best! (more…)
4th August
2009
written by Steph
My August read for BookPage

My August read for BookPage

Since it's a new month, it also means I have a new review up in the current issue of BookPage.  For the August issue I read Victor LaValle's second novel, Big Machine.  What can I say?  I loved this book, and I hope you will too.  If you enjoy mysteries, fantasy, sci-fi, or just a rolicking adventure story with a pretty biting sense of humor, there's a good chance you will!  When this one hits the shelves, I'll probably buy a hard-cover copy because I liked it that much.  In my own personal reading loI gave this book a 4.5 out of 5 rating, which says a lot.  Also, I made Tony read it after I finished it and now both of us are interested in reading LaValle's back catalog.  He's likely an author you haven't heard of before, but now all of that's changed so you have no excuse not to give Big Machine a shot! I'm pretty proud of this review, and was extra excited to see that it got "Feature" billing (and also kicks off the Fiction reviews in the print edition of the magazine).  Please check it out and let me know what you think!
3rd August
2009
written by Steph
In 2.5 hours, does the past unravel or just get more tangled?

In 2.5 hours, does the past unravel or just get more tangled?

I’ll kick off a review by sharing a honeymoon story with you:  Tony & I were really excited to find out that the new Harry Potter movie would be premiering while we were in Charleston.  Another thing to celebrate!  I jumped online and bought us some tickets to the midnight showing at the theater closest to our hotel and then just counted down the days.  When the night finally arrived, we drove up to the theater and we were a bit confused to see that there were several police cars stationed about.  Are Charlestonians violently passionate about Harry Potter?  And what was with all the lawn-chairs that the people in line were toting about?  Surely they couldn’t have been waiting in line that long to necessitate seating!  We swiftly discovered that the movie theater had decided it would capitalize on the rabid fandom by airing the midnight showing out in the parking lot, thereby allowing them to sell an unlimited number of tickets.  Needless to say, Tony & I were not amused; I didn’t pay for full-price tickets to sit in a dirty, humid parking lot (we hadn’t known to bring chairs…) to watch the film with crummy outdoor speakers on a building wall.  So, it was with heavy hearts that we decided to bail out on the midnight showing and just catch another show the next day.  In the end, I’m glad we made the choice we did since the theater itself was really cool – it actually had a full service bar, and in the individual movie viewing rooms themselves you actually had a table in front of you and could order full meals (that someone delivered to you!).  It was definitely a new experience for us, and one I’m glad we got to have. So, onto the movie itself!  I don’t really know where to begin or how to break this all down.  I guess I’ll start by saying that this will obviously involve plot spoilers and discussion of the books and movies to-date, so if you don’t want to read that kind of stuff, you should probably not keep reading.  Also, I have A LOT of thoughts on the movie... (more…)
2nd August
2009
written by Tony
When I first moved to Tennessee one of the first lessons I learned is that, due to the temperate winters, everything gets bigger down here. One of the first places I lived in had a tool shed that was inhabited by the biggest Black Widow spider I have ever seen, it was seriously the size of a half dollar coin and after spraying every chemical on it I could find I ended up having to use a 2x4 and smash it to bits. For years I thought that this freakish southern oversizing was limited to spiders, snakes and pick-up truck mufflers, but the last week has taught me otherwise. (more…)
Previous
Next