Wednesday, October 5, 2011

September Book Reviews

"How can the dead be truly dead when they still live in the souls of those who are left behind?"

I checked out The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers from the library back in June. I finished in September. This can tell you two things: one, it took me a really freaking long time to get through it and two, it cost me a lot of money in overdue fees. Sometimes, when I start reading a really heavy, serious book, it takes me a long time to get through it. This book in particular was depressing and monotone. One thing that I can tell you is, Carson McCullers amazed me. The book was published in 1933, and it takes place in a modern day (1930s) Georgia town. It follows five characters throughout the book that live in this town. Each character is connected to the others somehow, and each character deals with his or her own problems, dilemmas, and realizations. The thing that amazes me is that McCullers was 23 when she wrote this book. Let me say that again, McCullers, a woman in the 1930's had this book published when she was only 23. And this book is heavy. It talks about racism, religion, politics... every thing you would not expect to come from a 23-year-old girl.
The thing that astonished me the most was how ahead of her time McCullers was. In this book she talks about fascism and Hitler's treatment of the Jews (again, this was published in 1933. Perspective: World War II didn't start until 1939.) She also talks about racial inequality in the south. One of her characters is an African-American doctor who cannot stand the oppression of blacks in the south anymore. He encourages his fellow men to speak up, to educate themselves and to be heard. He even talks about organizing a march to Washington D.C. (Something Martin Luther King, Jr. would do 30 years later in 1963.) It blew my mind what she was writing about and discussing in this book. It's a lot to digest. It definitely isn't a Nicholas Sparks beach read. And it might take you 3 months to read, like me. But I think it's worth it.

"It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don't like something, it is empirically not good. I don't like Chinese food, but I don't write articles trying to prove it doesn't exist."

-Fey's reply to Jerry Lewis' comment about women not being funny.

I learned two things while reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: one, for the love of God, read something lighthearted and fun! and two, for the love of God, don't check anything else out from the library! So I decided to read Bossypants by Tina Fey. I've wanted to read this ever since it came out, but like I always say, I can't justify buying a new book when I have stacks of unread books at home. So I decided I didn't have to buy it-- I'd just borrow it. Luckily, my friend's mom had a copy that she so graciously let me borrow. Yay.
I should admit here that I don't watch 30 Rock. I watched some of one episode and I didn't think it was funny. Granted, I didn't really give it a fair shot, but I just don't think Tracy Morgan is funny at all. I do, though, think Tina Fey is funny. I loved her on SNL and Weekend Update. I also love just really genuinely funny women. There aren't a lot, so Fey is a rare gem. She pretty much makes me want to be a comedy writer. I know what you're thinking, "Emily, you're not even funny." I know, but those are just details that I will pick up along the way.
In the book she talks about her life growing up (and briefly mentions how she got her famous scar, and why she doesn't like talking about it.) She also talks about her starting out in improv and her interview with Lorne Michaels for Saturday Night Live. She dishes on what it's like to be an SNL writer, as well as creating 30 Rock and being a mom. The whole book is full of funny anecdotes and behind-the-scenes tid-bits about show business. It was a fun, interesting and even inspiring book to read. And it only took me a week to read it. Two thumbs up!


  1. Hmm..will have to check these out, I'm in need of some new books! Hope you are well! xx

  2. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter IS a heavy read...but if you liked Carson (and who wouldn't--she's fantastic!), you should read the Member of the Wedding. It's a little lighter, but still bears the McCullers stamp of solid, melancholic writing.

  3. I have to disagree; I think there are a lot of genuinely funny women. It's an age old sexist stereotype that women aren't funny. In fact, YOU are one of the genuinely funny people that initially come to my mind, my friend. :)

    I am exactly like you in the sense that I can't justify buying new books when I have a stack of unread books at home… but I guess I do it anyway, haha. Which is why I always have a stack of unread books! That, and school keeps me reading SO FREAKING MUCH that I rarely get to touch the books I'm reading for my own pleasure.

    Right now I am in the middle of a book called The History of Love (it's actually written by Jonathan Safran Foer's wife, for a fun fact about it, haha). It's really good so far, check it out if the description tickles your fancy. :D

  4. I've read the History of Love! I really liked it, but the mistake I made was reading it so soon after reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Foer because they are so eerily similar. It's kind of like, okay husband and wife both have books published the same year and they pretty much have the premise? They're both good books, but unfortunately, whichever one you read first you will like more than the other.

    And thanks for saying I'm funny :) I know there are a lot of funny women: Kristen Wiig, Amy Poehler, Emma Stone and of course Lucille Ball. But I think unfortunately a lot of women's funny roles are "the ditzy girl" or "the girlfriend" (ala Anna Faris.) But true, genuinely funny women that can hold their own against any comedic male star is rare. Tina Fey actually says something about this in her book, how the groups at Second City always were unequal in genders because the directors said "nobody wants to see two women in a skit together." and then she says how one of the most popular skits on SNL was her and Amy doing Sarah Palin and Hilary Clinton, which was ONLY two women in a skit. It's interesting.

  5. Oooh that's interesting about the Foer/Krauss connection. I haven't read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but I'd like to. I read Everything is Illuminated and only felt so/so about it so I never ended up picking up that one. I'm totally confused in The History of Love right now, is that normal in the middle of the book?! Haha. It kind of jumps around a lot from one story to the next, it seems. I'm hoping it kind of comes together more as it gets closer to the end.

    You must have written about it (The History of Love) online or something before, because I've been thinking of you while reading it, thinking you would like it, haha.

    You're right about a lot of women's roles being "the ditzy girl" or "the girlfriend" and it's unfortunate that television/movie producers can't see women as capable of playing more than these tired, ridiculous roles. Anna Faris, yes, can't say I've been a huge fan of the types of roles played by her, haha. That's interesting, the point that Tina Fey makes. I'll get back to you when I finally read her book! :D

  6. Enjoyed your review - I remember reading some McCullers from my English Lit degree, I feel equally amazed that a womam so young back then could achieve so much. If you want a similar 1930's novel, written by a woman, (but based in the U.K), read Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm, a satire of the then popular novels that romanticised farm life and happy endings, it sounds like it was a lighter read! Meanwhile I will go check out some McCullers, thanks for the rec : )


  7. two things...
    1: my dad has always raved about that book. he's a bibliophile and also a georgian. i'm a bit intimidated to pick it up now, but also intrigued!
    2: i know you don't need anyone to tell you this, but...give 30 rock another chance! i watched the first few season (or whatever they had instantly on netflix) and there are sooo many hilarious moments. and i think tracy morgan will win you over. ;)


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