Monday, August 10, 2009

The Bridges of Madison County- Robert James Waller

The Bridges of Madison County The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

My rating:
1 of 5 stars

I will preface all of this by saying that I don't generally read romance, so please don't be offended. And, everyone likes different things, so don't let my review taint you if you want to read this novel.

I hated this book. In fact, I think I would give it zero stars if that didn't seem too mean. I thought it was absolutely terrible.

Very basically the novel is about a photographer who goes to Iowa to photograph some covered bridges for National Geographic. He gets lost, meets a farm wife whose family is away at the fair and they have a torrid affair for a week, exciting all of the passion that she has never felt and all of the commitment that he has never felt. At the end of the week they part and return to their normal lives but never forget their one true love.

There are a wide variety of things that I disliked about the book, so I think I'll just list them. 1. I hate (HATE!) the writing technique where the "writer" has been approached to tell some story and then proceeds to tell it and wraps the whole book up with "well, that's their story." I don't care whether you were actually approached and commissioned or something to write this book. Don't tell me.

2. The actual story is so contrite. It's played and there wasn't enough plot to it. Really? Boy meets girl, boy can't have girl, boy and girl always wonder what would have been.

3. There is no depth to the characters. I hated the descriptions. If I had to read the female character describing her love as "hard" one more time, I might have thrown up. I didn't care about them. I couldn't relate to them.

4. Waller switches between points of view like a forth grader. I had a really hard time following whose head I was in. The reader is bounced around so much, I started to feel dizzy. The transitions aren't smooth. It wasn't well balanced between POVs either.

5. Waller also gets preachy at points. He had his characters spout off some long monologue that you can tell is just the author expressing his own viewpoint. It wasn't good and didn't feel natural.

6. The ending was awful. It ends with an interview of some random guy that knew one of the characters. No, just no.

Now, one might ask, if I thought this book was so terrible, why did I finish it? Because I thought it would get better. It was a bestseller. I honestly thought that something good had to happen in it. Nope, wrong. I really don't know how so many people purchased this book. My only guess is that there are a lot of desperate housewives out there.

As an aside, I got this book from my husband's bookshelf. It apparently was a gift or something. I knew he had read it and when I finished I tentatively asked him if he had liked it. Thank God he said it was awful too. If he loved this book, that might have been grounds for a divorce.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Good Dose of Panic

I figured I haven't panicked here on the blog in a little while, so it seems about time. Knitting might some tomorrow... if I decide that I'm in a good enough mood to work on it.

I'm starting a new job here in a couple of weeks, back to teaching, though I'll be teaching at a new school and a new subject. That in and of itself isn't particularly panic inducing, but the way that it has evolved it. I currently have no classroom. Well, technically I have rooms in which I'll be teaching, but not one of my own and I don't even have an office. I'll not explain why I don't have an office, but I'm thoroughly unamused by the fact that I don't have anywhere to sit down and do work. I also have no curriculum. Again, that might not be terrible, but in addition to the no office thing, it's a little irritating. Also, my schedule appears to involve a longer day that I had originally thought I was getting into and I'm just generally mad at the whole situation right now. I really didn't want to go back to work in the first place. I'd much rather be sitting on my butt here at my desk working on my novel, but money just won't allow for that. And, when I got this job I thought it would be pretty perfect at jobs go. Too good to be true I suppose. So, we shall see how this all plays out. I'm trying really hard not to get very angry and to just be all calm and zen, but it's not really working for me. Maybe some good Thursday night TV will help. :) Ugh.

Eleven Great Links for Writers

Well, I know that Wednesdays are supposed to be for knitting, but since I skipped Writing Tuesday and also because my current knitting project is soaking in a bucket waiting to be blocked, I'm going to share some of my favorite writing links. It's like a top ten list but better, since it's eleven. :)

In my own writing news, the book is coming along. I'm working out some subplots and trying to get the beginning to line up better with the new ending that I have in mind. I'm also revising a short story that I'd like to start submitting sometime soon. So, we shall see.

But, if you're a writer, or at all interested in the publishing industry you have to be reading these blogs:

I love reading agent blogs and if you aren't already following Nathan, Janet, Colleen, Rachelle, Jonathan and Jessica go add them to you reader now. Their insights into the industry are invaluable and they offer lots of advice on queries and managing a writing career.

Moon Rat is the Editorial Ass(istant) who is hilarious and always brings a ray of light to a sometimes dismal publishing industry.

The Intern is an intern at a New York publisher and her posts are funny, insightful and always make me feel a little better about the fact that I at least get paid for my toils. She offers an inside view to the editorial meetings, which is definitely interesting.

Eric over at Pimp My Novel works in sales at a major publisher and he offers a different point of view of the publishing industry. His posts are very informative and I'm pretty sure he's the only blog of his kind on the web.

John Upchurch runs More Novel by the Week, in which he offers tips for writers varying from common grammar mistakes to definitions of obscure literary terms. He also trolls the web looking for fantastic new websites related to reading and writing.

And finally, last but certainly not least is the Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck. He gives updates on new agents, tells stories of how real authors landed their agents and keeps me in the loop of his Cover Band drama. :) He has interviews from some of the greatest names in the biz and it is a great blog for advice and information.

Hopefully this will keep you all satisfied in the writing department for at least a week. I'll try to post pictures of the latest knitting project later this week.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Wonder Boys- Michael Chabon

Somehow Mondays seem to be good for blogging. Who would have guessed? I've been working through The Bridges of Madison County and am still unimpressed. I hope that it gets better. But, this week I have at least finished a book and can give my full review of it. So... here goes:

Wonder Boys: A Novel Wonder Boys: A Novel by Michael Chabon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow. This wasn't my first foray in the the wonderful world of Michael Chabon, but it was his first adult novel that I have read. I had previously read Summerland which is a fantastic Young Adult fantasy. I'd seen the movie version of Wonder Boys ages ago and loved it, so I was definitely excited to pick up the book. I had high expectations and Chabon exceeded them.

In brief, Wonder Boys is about a college professor, Grady Tripp, who is also a bit of a has been writer. Tripp saw great success with his first couple of novels, hence the professor job, but has been unable to finish his thousand page epic Wonder Boys, due partly to his marijuana addiction, partly to his disastrous marriage and affair, and partly to the fact that he's just trying to cram far too much into this novel. When Grady's neurotic and addict editor rolls into town for the college's LitFest, the pair end up on an epic adventure involving a suicidal student, Tripp's ex-in-laws, a dead dog and a lot of drugs.

While the plot of this novel is hilarious and well crafted, I enjoyed the writing the most. What I wouldn't kill to have Chabon's gift. He is a beautiful writer and each sentence is so melodiously crafted that they are hard to get out of your head. He finds uniques ways of saying things and his comparisons are superb. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone because it's a great book, but I would especially recommend this novel to writers. Seriously, study how this man crafts a sentence, a paragraph, a book. It's beautiful and lyrical. Well worth the read.

View all my reviews >>


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