Inventing the Abbotts and Other Stories
You know, I don't really like to be one of those types who automatically brand all literary fiction, even literary fiction where not a lot happens and it's mostly about suburban ennui, as automatically sucky. I've read a couple of anthologies, and there's a lot of depth and emotion that comes across in a lot of litfic short stories. And if they have enough of an interesting theme or writing style or viewpoint, I can really enjoy them.

This book ... not so much. I liked the first story and the one with the old lady but ... eck. Most of this really came under the "Why should I care?" banner. "I once kept slides of me naked my ex-husband took. Then I showed them to my boyfriend. Then I burned them." Honey, I do not care. I also don't get the mess that was the last story in the book with the divorced dad. If the point was how ineffectual he was in his life, a LOT of those scenes could have been cut out.

I'm not sure if I want to see the "Inventing the Abbotts" movie, given that was one of the few stories I liked. I'm thinking no, though.

The Secret Life of Bees
OK, as anyone who read this blog for the past month knows, I really didn't like this book for a few reasons.

1.) I don't feel like it ever got away from the "expanded short story" feel. Rozaleen really is pretty much a MacGuffin for Lily. She KIND OF gets her out of the house (although Lily's mom is really the bigger motivation), but spends most of the book just being in the shadows to August, June and May's crone-middle age woman-maiden bit. Maybe she explains Lily's character if you squint a lot, but for most of the book she DOES NOTHING and the book itself comes off as some bizarre sequel for the first chapter.

2.) I didn't buy T. Ray. This sounds weird, because I've believed far more demonic abusive parents in literature, but I felt like he was a way too obvious, boo-for-this-guy character. Especially when he did things that didn't even make sense, like rip the toast out of her hand and throw it to the dog. I can KIND of buy that it may be some intimidation tactic, but a lot of times it just seemed so ... obviously bad. It was like when little Esther got her shawl stolen in The Gilded Chamber. Very over-the-top villainy.

3.) MAGICAL NEGROS AHOY! Sheesh. August seemed more upset about Lily's problems than the death of May. And wasn't that so, so, so poorly done? May kills herself in a fit of despair but writes a "Get on without me! I believe in you!" suicide note that conveniently allows the other characters to be totally happy and okay with everything despite her death? Just ... URGH.

4.) Language of excessive beauty! BEAUTY! BEAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-TEEEEEEEEE! When I thought of writing this review, I had planned to say "This woman would have been excessively flowery about taking a piss" but at one point in the book SHE ACTUALLY WAS!!!!

That being said, I am glad the book reached it's highest stupid point in the beginning with that stupid MLK's magical max factor spit. The rest of the book was sort of at a stupid lull throughout, and I wasn't throwing things around in a rage. Small favors, I guess.

Oh and ... yeah, don't read this book. It sucks.

Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture
Damn, I was obsessed with owning this book. Like REALLY obsessed with it. After Slacktivist pimped this book I wanted it so badly that if I was an 8-year-old I would have been drawing pictures of it and writing school essays titled "Why I Want the Book 'Rapture Ready.'" I couldn't help myself in my squee for the potential of owning this book, even though I knew my disproportionate squee wasn't really appropriate for a book about a secular Jewish guy who learns about Dance Praise and visits Hell Houses, was both 1.) really fucking bizarre and 2.) bound to set the book up to a standard to which it could never live up. And it didn't live up to the squee, but I really liked it anyway and wish new material would magically appear within the pages so I can continue to read it.

Yeah, I'm fucked up.

I don't know what the obsession is ... maybe it goes back to reading too much of that wretched CAPalert site in my pre-teens. And it's not always a benign one. I've actually told myself I can't go to Jack Chick's Web site because it makes me too angry, but I don't know. I mean, there's something about, well, just look at everything here that I can't help but stare at in awe and terror. (Also, the Hell House abortion video is triggery for anyone who has a squick about women being humiliated for being women. Although the Hollywood Hell House video is worth watching for the sheer mind-fuckery of hearing Patton Oswalt say, "She's out! Let's rape her!" No, I don't believe those two sentences are contradictory.)

Anyway, this book is really good, partly because of what he finds (The SMILING CROSS) but also because Radosh seems to genuinely want to build bridges and, while he can mock (like his "fake" interview with Stephen Baldwin) he more often than not does try to come to an understanding, even with people you wouldn't expect. In one of the most surprising chapters of the book, he meets Frank Peretti, a Christian author who wrote a whole series of books on how liberals are evil and possessed by demons, and finds Peretti to actually be regretful and apologetic about what he used to write, as well as a warm and friendly guy. And he came away with such a greater respect for Christian rock he actually made a playlist of his favorites.

So ... yeah, if you have interest in this stuff, like if you like to read people's horrified thoughts on Left Behind and Fireproof, you owe it to yourself to get this book and see all the stuff that's out there. You may be surprised.

The Lunatic Cafe
Ah, Laurell K. Hamilton, you and your issues. Still, I enjoyed it in general, although the relationship stuff made me cross my eyes and sometimes I was like, "Man, Laurell, would it kill you to give Anita a full night's sleep before you send her out on adventure again?" And ... I don't seem to remember there being quite the bad deux ex machina ending as the others. I'm right, right? She didn't throw a power out of her ass to save the day, right?

Oh well. It was fun. Not as fun as The Laughing Corpse, because nothing is better than zombies when it comes to Laurell K. Hamilton, but I dug it. And I'll enjoy the next one and the next one, all the way to when the series ends with Obsidian Butterfly. [nod nod]

And at least I now have something fun to talk about with Pop. Oh God I can't believe this he's so crazy.


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