September 30th 2006

and only $54!

Joy! Ana will be pleased to know that, in addition to the new “contoured fit” offerings at Banana, LOFT now has a “curvy fit” jean–yes, a JEAN–and it fits pretty much perfectly. (I say pretty much because my body is totally not standard and nothing that comes off rack is perfect on me.) The waist cuts in in the right place, the legs fit slim through the thighs, and they don’t show off my crack when I sit down. These things are all HUGE.

I’ll note that LOFT doesn’t have the curvy fit in petites, but that’s OK, because I think LOFT thinks that all short women wear pants with a 28″ inseam. That’s fine for highwaters, but if I want to wear even the slightest hint of a heel (which most short women do), I need at least a 31″ inseam. It’s all good, though–it’s much easier to have a pair of jeans hemmed (with the edge sown back on) than to have the waist taken in. And cheaper.

So, curvy women everywhere–REJOICE! The chains are getting it! Real women have curves!

August 20th 2006

movie blogging

Last night, Mr. Angst and I went to see Little Miss Sunshine and I have only one thing to say about it: drop what you are doing and get your ass to the closest movie theater showing it. It was hysterical, hilarious, heart-warming, and I left feeling so happy. I haven’t laughed that hard in a movie in a really long time–by the time it was over, I had laugh-cried all my mascara off, that’s how hard and much I laughed. I won’t say more, though, because half the fun is all the unexpected surprises it has to offer. (Although, I will say this: I totally called one plot device well before it actually came to pass but it STILL made me almost wet my pants, it was so funny. That, my friends, is the mark of a good movie. Even when you know what the next gag is, if you still fall over laughing, it’s worth the $9.50.)

GO SEE IT. It will rock your world.

February 26th 2006

Sunday blogging about things that make me happy

For Christmas, I got a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated for Christmas and I finally received my first issue yesterday. I love Cook’s Illustrated. So Much. This issue had a new recipe for pancakes, which I tried out this morning. Yum. (OK, it was a recipe for blueberry pancakes, but the author stated quite clearly that a good blueberry pancake starts with a cook pancake recipe. So I made them without blueberries. A bit fluffy, but tremendous.)

The other thing I love is America’s Test Kitchen, the companion TV show to Cook’s Illustrated. ATK airs on PBS and is like a 30 minute Cook’s Illustrated fix. Right now, I’m watching a (rerun) episode all about turkey. While it’s not Thanksgiving season right now, I can always use pointers on turkey. (Though I do make a wicked turkey. From a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, no less. This episode is about cooking a BIG turkey, though, and I’ve never done that.)

The thing that I love most about Cook’s and ATK is the common-sense approach. Every article in the magazine takes you through the numerous tests required to produce the “perfect” recipe, whether that recipe is for pancakes, pork tenderloin, or even pan-roasted asparagus. The ingredients are generally simple–the sort of thing you’d tend to have in your pantry, or could get at your local megamart. And they make sense. Instead of throwing out terms like “cream,” assuming the home cook knows what that is (FYI, beating softened butter and sugar together to introduce an aerated, whipped mix, often required in baking cookies or cakes), the recipes are clear, even for the novice cook.

And the magazine has no ads. (Nor, actually, does the TV show, since it airs on PBS.)

A final bonus: the magazine has beautiful illustrations on the back cover, of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and a variety of other food products. You can frame them! (I have a friend who has.) If you like to cook, then, check out the magazine, the TV show, the website. And fall in love.

[Update: Um, I wondered why the issue didn’t have a month listed on it; I also wondered why there was an envelope tucked into the plastic sleeve with it. Turns out, my gift subscription hasn’t arrived yet; this was just a “Please Renew!” compilation issue, since I let my old subscription lapse last summer. Sigh. I guess I have to call (through whom the gift subscription was ordered) after all.]

February 22nd 2006

a glimmer of goodness in a sea of drudgery

Since I don’t drive anymore, I don’t get the chance to listen to NPR news, Morning Edition, All Things Considered, or The World anymore. When we moved to Our New City, I looked up the public radio station number, just in case, but since I commute by public transportation, it doesn’t do me much good at the time of day when listening to the news is most convenient.

I had also looked for NPR podcasts, but found none. Perhaps I was too early–after all, the last time I looked, the only NPR program available was On the Media. A great show, but not exactly the news.

Well, guess what? Since that discouraging search, several months ago, NPR has gotten on the ball. NPR now publishes several podcasts, all of them available in iTunes. First, I can get news updates through the day. And while I can’t get the entire program of All Things Considered or Morning Edition, I can subscribe to the individual stories–NPR Technology, or NPR Music. Which means I get hours of NPR programming, ready to download to my iPod and listen to on the train, or in the library, or while I’m walking around the city.

Thank you, NPR, for publishing your podcasts online. Those of us who don’t drive have been waiting for this. And now that I can hear public radio again, I am more likely to subscribe to public radio.

February 19th 2006

a great new browser, but with a critical problem (or not)

I’ve been testing out Camino this week, after reading a review of the new, stable, 1.0 version.

And so far, I really like it. It renders certain pages better than Safari, but looks and feels more Mac-like than Firefox. It’s flexible and stable and, if you really like the idea of using a Mozilla browser but don’t like Firefox on the Mac, it’s a great alternative. In fact, I’ve been enjoying it so much, I kind of want to use it full-time.

Here’s why I can’t:

It does not treat certain kinds of redirect scripts properly. At least, I think that’s the problem. I have two pieces of evidence to support this conclusion. First, I can’t use Westlaw on Camino. If you’re a law student and use Westlaw, you know that getting to the search pages takes a couple of clicks. First you go to the main “” page, and then you click on the link for the research system. And you get a (very annoying, by the way) new window, which loads the research interface. If you watch what’s going on in that new window, though, you’ll see that the page loads first one URL, then redirects to another. (Basically.) Camino will open the new window, but the redirect never happens. I’ve tweaked settings–turning off popup blocking, for instance–to see if some security measure I use is causing problems, but to no avail. I simply can’t use Westlaw on Camino.

The second bit of evidence bolsters this. I can’t publish from Movable Type on Camino. I can compose my post with no problems and save it. Usually after saving, MT republishes the post page and the index page. That process involves a redirect of some kind, and Camino gets hung up. It never gets there. So I can compose and save in Camino, but I have to use another browser to re-save and get the post to show up. This is a hassle, since it also means I can’t use my “quickpost” bookmarklet. Or, rather, I can use the bookmarklet, but I still have to into another browser, and into MT, and re-save the post.

I’m still going to use Camino and play with it–a lot. But this one problem means I can’t use Camino as my main browser, and that’s too bad.

OK, I just retested Westlaw and MT, and both worked. But two days ago, neither one did. My head may explode.

Um, so, yay! Camino! If you’re using Mac OS X, try it out! It’s great!

August 21st 2005

Book #20

About a Boy, by Nick Hornby

I actually finished this one before A Civil Action, but it was right before we moved and things were crazy, so I didn’t post about it.

I enjoyed this book. It’s very British, which is always fun, and it’s pretty bald, not a lot of sugarcoating. I can’t really discuss which aspects are least sugarcoated without spoiling it, and I think everyone should read this book, so I don’t want to spoil it.

It’s also sort of depressing, in the description of social situations. Many unmarried parents, many irresponsible parents, many irresponsible people. Argh. Real, but hard, at times.

But funny, too. That’s Nick Hornby, though. Funny and real, all at the same time.

So, good book. Read it.

August 19th 2005

Book #19

A Civil Action, Jonathan Harr

I picked this up at Half Price Books before we moved and have been reading through it a bit at a time ever since.

I liked the first half; the middle was very dense, with lots of description of the trial; the end was maddening. I know this isn’t fiction, but it’s a hell of a book that leaves the reader with such a sense of dissatisfaction at the end of it all. Perhaps I was expecting something different because I’ve seen the movie (and the movie DOES have a nicer ending than the book), but I was just annoyed when I finished the last few pages.

One more thing: I was pretty sure I did not want to be a litigator BEFORE reading this book; now I am certain.

I can’t really recommend this book. I am sure a lot of my readers have read it already; some of you HAD to read it for your first year of law school. It’s not a bad book, but it’s not a book I’d suggest anyone run out and read right away.

July 23rd 2005


Per Janine’s pouty request, I will write a real review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I can’t write it without spoilers, though, so consider yourself warned. Lots and lots of spoilers after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »

July 22nd 2005

hm wow hum oh boy

Oh golly finished HP 6. Can NOT wait for 7. Heidi’s spoiler post + comments is now a very interesting read.

This isn’t a proper review becuase, duh, I am NOT a spoiler queen. But I enjoyed the book VERY MUCH and as soon as Mr. Angst finishes reading it, I’m diving in again.

July 11th 2005

have you ever danced with the devil by the pale moonlight?

As I mentioned, we saw Batman Begins at the IMAX over the weekend. We had tried to see it on the IMAX three weeks ago on our apartment-hunting trip, but all shows were sold out (it was opening weekend, after all). So as we were planning for the weekend away, Mr. Angst asked me to see where the nearest IMAX was to our hotel. Turns out, it was just a couple of miles away.

First, a note about the movie being shown in the IMAX—apparently, the powers that be have devised a way to shoot a movie for both regular movie screens and for the IMAX. So BB wasn’t just being projected onto IMAX, it was actually shot for IMAX. Which means the quality was really excellent.

Second, I find it just a little ironic (and somewhat amusing) that a movie about a quintessential American superhero was full of British actors. Major parts were played by Christian Bale (Welsh), Liam Neeson (Northern Irish), Gary Oldman (English), Tom Wilkinson (English), and Linus Roache (English). Add to that Rutger Hauer (Dutch) and Cillian Murphy (Irish) filling out the cast, and there’s barely a real American accent to be found in the movie. (Well, except for the always superb Morgan Freeman, of course.) Only Michael Caine got to play it natural—in Cockney, even!

More beyond the jump—including mild spoilers.
Read the rest of this entry »

July 6th 2005

Book #17

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

I picked this book up because so many people I know have read it and enjoyed it. I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew it wasn’t a novel, but I thought it might be written like a novel, and it’s not. Rather, it’s a personal history, a memoir, a diary almost, woven through with literary analysis.

Azar Nafisi was a professor of English Literature in Tehran at the time of the Iranian Revolution. She was eventually expelled from teaching and began a private class, in her home, with a hand-picked group of her female students. This book follows the class, but it also follows the paths Nafisi and many of her students took to get to her living room on Thursdays. Like the class itself, the book begins with a great deal of straightforward literary discussion but gradually, over time, becomes more layered—the literature and their reactions to the works begin overlay their lives and the political climate they live in.

Those phrases sound cold, don’t they? “Literary analysis.” “Literary discussion.” Unfortunate, because much of the story follows Nafisi trying to show her students the life in literature, literature that they have little context for. How can you teach Gatsby, with all its contradictions and it’s bald American-ness, to students living under a regime that decries anything Western as decadent and evil? [Ed.’s note: By the way, if you haven’t read The Great Gatsby, be warned that Nafisi gives away the ending.]

One thing I wished as I read through Nafisi’s story is that I had read more of the works she teaches. I have read no Nabokov or James. I have read Gatsby and Austen though, and I felt I absorbed more in the sections so named. I’ll also say that, because I was so young when the revolution in Iran occured, I didn’t know much of the actual history that unfolds as Nafisi’s story unfolds. I think I’m glad I didn’t have that perspective, that bias, from remembering the news stories and the Western reaction.

At any rate, I enjoyed this book, even as I struggled with it. The form itself is out of my comfort zone, as was the content. I am a pragmatist and at times fought with Nafisi’s principled stands—refusing to wear the veil, for instance. (I cheered inwardly when a colleague convinced her to give in so that she could continue doing what she loved, teaching.) Of course I see the danger in the incremental sacrifice of rights—one day, you wake up and discover you have no freedoms left!—but that practical devil on my shoulder pushes for the “greater good.”

So, I recommend. I’m glad I read it. Not everyone would enjoy this book, but I think most people would take something important away from it.

June 29th 2005

Book #16

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

I loved this book. Loved. Very excellent.

This book, apparently, is an American classic. And I see why. It is the story of a young girl, Francie, growing up in Brooklyn, child of the child of immigrants. They are poor but seeking greater things. The plot is not traditional—this is not a typical story, with exposition, climax, and denoument. Rather, it is memoir-like, meandering. As Francie grows, the storytelling grows along with her. Her childhood is filled with the observations of a child; as she gets older, the writing reflects her age, becoming sharper, tighter, more adult.

One of the critical “characters” in this novel is Brooklyn, the Brooklyn of early 20th-century immigration, the Brooklyn of poor, working class men and women, the Brooklyn of Tammany Hall. It is lovingly, but fairly, treated by Smith. I think anyone whose family came to America at that time should pick up this book for no other reason than to feel these descriptions.

Highly recommended.

June 27th 2005

this is what we do when we run out of ideas

Why do drivers of giant pickup trucks like to ride my little red bumper? Every time I get on the highway, some idiot in a 20-ton diesel truck with 4-foot wheels comes crawling up on my butt. Look, you’re bigger than me! Your vehicle probably (probably? definitely!) has more get-up-and-go power than mine. So GO AROUND ME.

With that little rant, I have exhausted my stockpile of post ideas for the day. Therefore, I’m announcing an ALL REQUEST WEEK. Yes, that’s right folks, I’ll be here ALL WEEK and I’ll be TAKING YOUR REQUESTS.

What do you want to know about me? Or what do you want me to make up about the world? How can I help you and would you like fries with that? Email or comment your requests and I’ll take ‘em on.

June 12th 2005

Book #15

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

The book was good. Having seen the movie, the twist was a little ruined for me. Mr. Angst tried to fake me out by saying, “What if I told you the twist was different in the book than in the movie?” but I was already far enough into the book at that point that I could easily see that the twist was the same as in the movie.

Mr. Angst saw me reading this and told me this was the one book he read that he thought was WORSE than the movie made from it.

I don’t know if that’s fair; I just think the movie was a really fair representation of the book. I mean, it’s a short book, so there’s not a lot that gets left out in the movie, and Palahniuk writes in a very terse, clipped way that I can see lending itself to a screenplay adaptation.

So I guess the best I can say is that I enjoyed the read mostly because it was a refreshing shift from the other book I’m currently reading (a Pulitzer-Prize-winnning biography of Hirohito). The story was good, if not a new story to me, and the writing was clean and easy.

I’d recommend this as a summer read. Sure, the story is sort of bizarre and graphic in places, but it was still a good poolside book.

May 30th 2005

Books 10-14

The Harry Potter books, by J.K. Rowling

Yes, these were all re-reads for me, but I’m gearing up for the upcoming release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which I have already ordered and which will be shipped to me, from England, in about three weeks. Yee!

So I think almost everyone knows the basic plot of the Harry Potter books—it’s the basic orphan-makes-good story, with some twistiness. (If you’ve been living in a cave, maybe you don’t know the story, so stop reading now if you don’t want to know anything about the plot.) Harry lives with his dreadful aunt and uncle because his parents have died. He discovers on his 11th birthday that he is a wizard and that his parents were killed by an evil wizard. And that he gets to go to school at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Each book recounts a year at school, and each year at school brings a fresh adventure that features Harry facing down the evil Lord Voldemort, as he returns to power.

I like the Harry Potter books. The stories are good—engaging, lively, humorous at times, and easily relatable. (Did I say that right? Anyone can relate to these books, really.) The writing is pretty good. Rowling isn’t a master of language, but the writing is clean and age-appropriate (these are YA books, after all).

All in all, I recommend these books. I’ll keep re-reading them every time a new release comes out (after Half-Blood Prince, there will only be one more, though) and I’ll keep enjoying them.

May 19th 2005

Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars!

Like Chris, I saw Revenge of the Sith last night.

Before I begin my actual review, let me point out that half the fun of seeing Star Wars, any Star Wars, even the rereleases of the original movies, on opening night is the people-watching. Lots of costumes, some good, some bad. One guy had the whole Anakin-look down pat—black leather outfit with the big shoulders, greasy man-hair. (Man-hair! Best one-liner from line-standing!) One smaller fellow was obviously trying to be a Jedi but coming off more like a Jawa. “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” So we had a good time, even when the movie theater managers came out to tell an enterprising pizza guy that he had to leave. (Kudos to the pizza guy, though, for showing up with a stack of hot pizzas and selling them cheap.) At least the manager let him sell what was in his bag, but then he told him not to come back. Too bad.

OK, to the show. Anything that might be a spoiler will be whited out. Select-highlight to read if you really want to know.

First, the writing, while better in than Episodes I and II, was still pretty bad. That being said, there seemed to be less crappy dialog and more fighting. This can only be a Good Thing when it comes to Star Wars.

Second, the acting, while, again, better than in Episodes I and II (particularly from Natalie Portman, who shows that she’s really not a wooden doll), was not tremendous. Still, the lack of good acting only showed up in scenes where acting would have been helpful (as opposed to just a nice perk). Since those scenes are mostly dialog-y scenes and this movie doesn’t have a lot of those, there wasn’t much to miss. (Yes, there were a few cringe-worthy scenes between Padme and Anakin, of course, but you get past them and move on.)

Third, the visuals were stunning. So stunning, in fact, that there were times when I couldn’t tell if something had been CGId or not. I don’t like that. When you give me an overhead shot of a group of people, and you zoom in on them and I can’t tell if they’re CGI avatars because everything about them and their surroundings is so smooth…well, it’s just distracting.

There. Technical details taken care of.

To the story. A review I read (sometime last week? I don’t remember) mentioned that there’s not a lot of suspense to the plot of this movie—after all, we all know what happens. Anakin becomes Vader, all the Jedi die, except Yoda and Obi-Wan, who go into hiding. Somewhere in there, Luke and Leia are born, without Anakin/Vader knowing, and they grow up apart, with no knowledge of each other or who they really are. So we know where we’re eventually going; is the how and why of Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side worth it’s own movie?

I’ll say yes. The road from Anakin to Vader had a lot of cool fighting, at least. Yes, the fighting, the fighting, the fighting was terrific. Yoda kicks some ass, and then gets his ass kicked. (That’s not REALLY a spoiler, but I’ll white it out anyway.) Obi-Wan shows his stuff. Anakin shows his stuff (and yes, also bares his chest). Christopher Lee as Count Dooku didn’t really impress, but he’s not around for too long. Even Ian McDiarmid kicked some ass. (And I should mention—that man can ACT.)

Everyone has been telling us for weeks/months that Episode III was going to be darker, and it was. Things happened that made me gasp at their brutality. I like movies to surprise me, so this is also a Good Thing. Even though I had been spoiled to some of the more shocking moments in the movie (damn Kevin Smith and his rave review!) I was still stunned watching those moments play out.

So I liked it. I thought Anakin’s struggle came across well—I felt for him, as he fought with himself over doing the right thing or giving into his fear. There are some interesting issues, too, that occurred to me, as far as Anakin’s prescience goes—he forsees an event that he desperately wants to prevent, but in trying to prevent it, he puts himself in a situation where he causes the event to occur. Deep, man, deep.

Finally, here are two random thoughts that don’t really have much import, as far as the greater plot, etc., go, but that I think are worth mentioning:

  • R2D2 takes on some comic responsibilities. I was OK with this, but there was a little too much of it.
  • At the end of the movie, fashions suddenly take a left turn, and suddenly the look of various starships and uniforms align more closely with the original movie. I liked this, but it was sort of abrupt.Also, at the very end, as Vader and the Emperor overlook the construction of the Death Star (which apparently is going to take twenty years to build, unlike the SECOND Death Star, which only takes a few months), there’s a Grand Moff Tarkin lookalike standing alongside them. That’s a little too much Continuity Fairy for me.)

So there you have it. If you’re a Star Wars fan (and I mean only that you’ve liked the movies or the storyline, since hardcore fans all saw the thing last night), go see this. It’s worth it. Worlds better than Episodes I and II. Really.

May 16th 2005

Book #whatever (I think it’s 9)

Man, I’m really falling behind on this Book Challenge thing. Whatever, we moved and reading has been falling by the wayside—or, rather, has become something I try to catch 30 minutes of before going to sleep at night, between working all day, cooking dinner, spending time with my husband, doing laundry, and (oy) reading blogs. Also, I read magazines at the pool because I don’t care if they get wet and I can read little snippets in between tanning rotations.

Not that I’m trying to excuse myself for falling down on the book challenge thing. Or maybe I am.

In any case, here’s my review of my latest read.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

So this was a re-read for me. I read it the first time on our honeymoon, starting it about two days before we left Italy, when I finished the books I’d brought/bought, and finishing it on the flight home. International flights are great for reading.

I liked the book then, but I wanted to revisit it, hoping to pick up some of the subtleties I missed the first time. Knowing what happens in the end helps with these kinds of books, I find, because you enjoy picking up the clues even more. Besides, this book isn’t much about the suspense of the story, it’s more about the journey.

And that’s the crux of my only gripe with this book. For all the time Stephenson spends building up the big climax at the end of the book, he speeds through it in about 10 pages. This from a writer who can spend twenty pages dragging you through a character’s momentary sexual frustrations. He creates a really interesting group of characters with some very complex interactions—across generations, no less!—but when they finally all intersect, he races through telling THAT story.

It irked me the first time I read it, and it irks me still. Maybe it’s just that I’m a girl, and I wanted a little more detail about what the characters were FEELING and EXPERIENCING at those critical moments, there at the apex of this story. And Stephenson doesn’t exactly fall down when writing abotu FEELINGS and EXPERIENCES, he just seems tired of it all by the end. I get the feeling he got to the last chapters and realized he’d gone 10,000 words over his target, so he just tied up all his plot strings and stopped writing.

Ah well. No big deal. I enjoyed getting there, so I’m not too disappointed at the destination. This is a good book, part historical fiction, part techno-thriller. Stephenson doesn’t give you a lot of warning before plunging you into the story, and I like that—I don’t want a writer to coddle me through the backstory, just let me figure it out on my own—and he really does create very interesting characters. It’s worth your time if you’re a history buff (particularly a WWII history buff) and if you are interested in technology.

April 21st 2005

Book #8

A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

This is the third book in the series A Song of Fire and Ice. I like these books—the story is interesting, complex, grand—but these books also frustrate me.

Most of my frustration is due to the architecture of the novel. Each chapter tells a part of the story from the perspective of a different character. When the plot is moving quickly and characters are converging, this is a very Good Thing. But when characters are far away, only moving toward a destination or an event, this is annoying. No chapter is long enough to satisfy me, and when it ends, I’m left wanting more of THAT character and not the character forthcoming.

Swords was pretty slow, then, for me, for the first half or so. There’s a lot of traveling going on, a lot of political intrigue without much action. Only in the second half of the book do the storylines start to really come together as characters and plotlines converge. The second half was a fast read for me, and I breezed through it in the Orlando airport and on the two planes we took.

I will recommend this book—or, perhaps I should just recommend the series. Martin has really created something terrific. I just wish his chapters were a little longer, or he tinkered a bit with their order, so the slow parts would flow more readily.

April 3rd 2005

gore, of the intense variety

Mr. Angst and I went to see Sin City today while we were avoiding our house (three agents showed today! Whoo hoo!).

As an artistic expression, the movie was amazing. Rodriguez managed to capture the feel of Miller’s graphic novels unerringly. This movie was comic-come-to-life. The use of color was brilliant, particulary when employed as a characterization. Lots of sillouhetting and a few grainier moments reminiscent of halftone printing added depth, and fight scenes had a comic flavor—bodies flying, single-punch knockouts, improbable wounds.

But the stories—they were intense. Seriously intense. Hard-core. Brutal characters, brutal situations, brutal brutal brutal. And there’s no shortage of gore—stylized gore, but gore nonetheless. I’m not totally squeamish, but there were moments that I had to look away. Apparently, the MPA approved it for an “R” rating without requesting any cuts—they “got” the stylized nature of the movie—but it was still almost too hard for me. No real relief—though a couple of comic characters do show up later. (Speaking of characters, Michael Madsen’s line readings in the beginning of the movie were really awful—stilted and with poor timing. When he shows up again, he’s better, but that first scene with him almost turned me off the movie. Oh, and Frodo, when he shows up, is SERIOUSLY creepy. Brrr. Creepy creepy.)

I thought the movie went about half an hour too long, particularly considering the plots. Two hours was almost too much to take.

So I give it a thumbs up—definitely see it, particularly if you like graphic novels. If you don’t do well at gory movies, you might have problems sitting through portions of the film, but it IS very stylized. But it’s worth it to see something new and different on the big screen.

March 19th 2005

Book #7

The Mineral Palace by Heidi Julavits

I admit it, I bought this because the cover looked interesting, the backblurb was well-written and, oh yes, it was $5.

So, it was OK. The story is of Bena, a housewife in the Depression, whose husband relocates them to Pueblo, Colorado, where they don’t know anyone. They have a new baby and Bena has a thing for numbers.

That part of it seemed really interesting to me—numbers! Depression! anomie and displacement!

What it became, though, was a familiar story. Marital discord, an intriguing stranger or two, a scandal to be investigated and to insert oneself into. As that story goes, it was OK. Nothing about it, though, really gripped me. In fact, the last quarter or so, I practically skimmed, trying to get through the damn thing and figure out what happens in the end.

I think at least part of my problem with the book was the author’s tendency to play with the language a little too much. At times, I wasn’t sure if the paragraph I was reading was in the present or a flashback to an earlier event. Her cues were not strong. I appreciate innovation in writing, but the reader always has to come first. I don’t think I’m an unsophisticated reader, but I do get impatient, and her style wasn’t very appealing to me because of that.

So, it was an OK book. I might read it again, maybe on vacation sometime, when I have hours to spend sitting in the sun and relaxing. Reading it now, when I have too much going on in my own life, was probably the biggest problem with this book. My brain is moving too fast lately to be willing to slow down and pore through an inexpensive novel.