If you hear the name Beyoncé and immediately think of a giant metal chicken, then Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, is for you. Yes, The Bloggess, has written an hilariously funny, yet sensitive, memoir. It’s the best autobiography I have laughed through since Tina Fey’s Bossypants.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Jenny Lawson (AKA The Bloggess), she has an amazing … you guessed it … blog! She has garnered a huge following on both her blog and on Twitter. Her fans include actors Wil Wheaton (Big Bang Theory/Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Nathan Fillion (Castle/Firefly). In her “mostly true” memoir, she vividly describes her childhood in rural Texas filled with taxidermied animals and pet raccoons.
She jumps around a bit chronologically, but she warns the reader, and it all works out. Her adventures as a human resources employee are quite possibly the highlight (or lowpoint, depending on how one looks at it) of the book. Her accounts of what people will send through their work email is completely unfiltered and absolutely mind-boggling.
The exchanges between Lawson and her husband, Victor, are the most entertaining and endearing of tales. For example, she and Victor argue about the possibility of a zombie Jesus: “And when I see another couple who seem normal and conventional who aren’t having a loud, recurring argument in the park about whether Jesus was a zombie, I don’t feel envious. I feel contentment and pride as Victor and I pause our shouting to share a smug, knowing smile with each other as we pass the baffled couple, who move to give us room on the sidewalk.”
- Review by Amy Galante, Interlibrary Loan Supervisor/Assistant Manager of Library Services
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a #1 New York Times bestseller. You can read an excerpt from the book in the Parade 2012 Summer Reading Guide.
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Check the Bentley Library catalog to see if Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is available. If it’s checked out, you can place a hold on it. If you need help placing a hold, feel free to contact the Library Services desk at email@example.com or (781) 891-2168.
Gone Girl is a completely addictive true-crime thriller. On her five-year wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing from her home. Did her husband Nick kill her? Told in alternating chapters by Amy and Nick, there are twists and turns with brutal insights into marriage. To say more would ruin your enjoyment! If you like Dateline, Investigation Discovery, and the like (and even if you don’t!), you will like this engrossing novel.
- Review by Donna Bacchiocchi, Manager of Technical Services
Gone Girl has been a fixture on the bestseller lists this summer and was selected by Barnes and Noble as a Top 25 Summer Read. The novel has also been reviewed extensively, including by Janet Maslin in the The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly (Flynn was once a TV critic for the magazine), and Kirkus Reviews. Gillian Flynn can be found online at http://gillian-flynn.com/ and on Facebook.
Check the library catalog to see if Gone Girl is on the shelf. Current Bentley students, faculty and staff may also download Gone Girl as an eBook (Kindle and ePub formats) or audiobook via our downloadable books site (Overdrive).
If, like me, you loved Jeffrey Eugenides’ 2002 book Middlesex, you were probably also very excited for him to publish something new. The Marriage Plot, while a very different book from Middlesex, does not disappoint.
The novel opens on graduation day, 1982, at Brown University, and follows three characters – Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell – through the year following graduation, with plenty of well-timed flashbacks to give insight into how the characters act. One of my favorite things about the book is the way Eugenides would revisit a scene from earlier in the book from a different character’s point of view, giving a totally different take on it.
Here’s a warning: The first section can be a little slow-going. There is some serious literary theory being thrown around in Madeleine’s English courses, but once I realized that the students discussing it (for the most part) didn’t know much more than my bare-bones understanding, I relaxed and just observed what it revealed about the characters. I also had a hard time at first because some characters seemed like silver-spoon, pretentious snobs – but you just have to get to know them.
A lot of this book is about what it’s like to be in that time of life – the last year of college, and the year following graduation. Both you and others in your life (like your parents) expect you to know what you’re doing, and the realization comes that not only do you not know now, but you may never know. This realization comes slowly to all three characters, and it’s sort of comforting.
A lot of the book also, of course, is about marriage, and love, and the ways those both manifest themselves both in the books the characters read, and in the characters’ lives (who, of course, are in a book themselves). In the video interview (linked below), Jeffrey Eugenides talks about the way people write about love and marriage now.
See Jeffrey Eugenides talk about religion, love, literature, and other themes in the book in this video interview with The Guardian. You can also find interviews at the Christian Science Monitor and at NPR Books (which also includes an excerpt).
Check It Out
Click here to see if The Marriage Plot is available to check out in either book or audiobook form, and click here for other books by Jeffrey Eugenides, as well as the film based on The Virgin Suicides.
You probably don’t need me to recommend Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, Freedom, to you. Pretty much every media outlet, from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal to The Independent , has reviewed it, and to call the reviews favorable would be understating it. President Obama himself handpicked the novel for his “beach reading” this summer. And as I write this, there are already 3 holds on the library’s 2 copies. So instead, I’ll try to address a few of the reasons you might not want to read this book.
It’s 562 pages long. While I can’t refute this fact, I can tell you that it doesn’t feel that long. The characters are so absorbing that reading for long stretches at a time feels like the opposite of a chore.
Jonathan Franzen was mean to Oprah. Nine years ago, Oprah wanted to pick Franzen’s just-published novel The Corrections for her book club, and Franzen refused. Since then, however, the two seem to be getting along. Oprah recently chose Freedom as her book club’s next selection, and Franzen seems to be on board this time, judging from his participation in Oprah’s useful Reading Guide to the book.
This is one of those New York Times / NPR books that everyone loves to say they read, but isn’t actually enjoyable. Recently, author Jennifer Weiner complained that this book was getting way too much press, and that the New York Times in particular concentrated too much on white male authors. While she may have a point, the fact is that this book is really, really good. It’s serious, yes, but I can’t remember the last time I was so engaged by a book. I actually teared up at the end, which I do not do. While Franzen may not be the most politically correct interviewee around, his writing more than makes up for it. As Benjamin Alsup writes for Esquire, “It’s not that Franzen’s prose makes other writers seem untalented; it’s that he makes them seem so lazy, so irrelevant, so lacking in the kind of chutzpah we once expected from our best authors.”
-review by Liz Galoozis, Reference Librarian/Coordinator of User Education
Check it Out
Read an excerpt from the beginning of the novel from the New York Times website.
American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld, is a fictional account of a woman who may or may not be someone similar to former First Wife Laura Bush. Once I got over my initial, “Is this what really happened to Laura Bush?” ponderings, I enjoyed this humorous, sometimes bawdy, tale. Sittenfeld’s heroine, Alice Lindgren, is very likeable. If you’re a fan of political chick lit, I recommend checking this book out.
-Amy E. Galante, Interlibrary Loan Supervisor
Check It Out!
Click here to see if American Wife is available to check out.
Read an excerpt of the book on Curtis Sittenfeld’s website.
Looking for Jane Hamilton’s new book on the New Arrivals display , I almost overlooked Laura Rider’s Masterpiece, a compact novel with a pulp-fiction-y illustration on its cover. Hamilton is one of my favorite authors, but fun, humor, and romance aren’t exactly qualities I associate with her books (whose topics have included cancer, illiteracy, divorce, and the death of a child). Reading this book was a really pleasant surprise, because it combines Hamilton’s great eye for detail and character with a lighthearted story.
Hamilton writes well about smart and thoughtful characters who find themselves surrounded by the clueless and narrow-minded. That includes Jenna Faroli, one of the three main characters who narrate Laura Rider’s Masterpiece. Jenna is the host of a Fresh Air-style Wisconsin public radio program, and “the single famous person in the town of Hartley.” Laura Rider, another Hartley citizen, thinks she has learned everything she needs to know about writing and intellectual life from the interviews on Jenna’s show, and is ready to write what she thinks will be a groundbreaking romance novel. One night, Laura’s unassertive husband Charlie and Jenna meet by chance, and Laura decides to do research for her novel by writing romantic e-mails from her husband to Jenna. The descriptions of each of the characters’ thought processes throughout the inevitable fallout are hilarious. The book’s bawdiness, and its examination of what happens when people meddle in others’ affairs, reminded me of the funny parts of Shakespeare. Laura Rider’s Masterpiece is also about what it means, and what it takes, to be a writer. Jane Hamilton is constantly commenting on herself and other writers through Laura’s assumptions and ideas about writing. It’s an interesting undercurrent that puts some meat on the bones of the story.
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Read What Others Are Saying
- Review by Liz Galoozis, Reference Librarian/Coordinator of User Education
Set in the fictional New England college town of Williston, The Senator’s Wife tells the story of two women leading strangely parallel lives in a shared townhouse. Newly married, Meri and Nathan move from Ohio to Williston when he is offered a tenure-track position in the college’s history department. Living in to the adjoining half of their residence is Delia, a stylish older woman who is the wife of a progressive and well-known former politician. Shortly after moving in, Meri become pregnant unexpectedly. Uncertain about the prospect of motherhood, the changes occurring within her body, and the state of her marriage, Meri seeks the attention and advice of the self-possessed older woman. Isolated in this new town and without any friends or family, Meri becomes increasingly attached to Delia, dependent and needy. As she begins to seek out Delia’s friendship and company, the elder woman retreats. Meri uncovers the history behind Delia’s curious marital arrangement, violates her neighbor’s privacy by reading through her personal letters while house-sitting. The book’s climax comes at a point when both women are most vulnerable — Meri caring for her infant and Delia with her infirmed husband — and Miller uses this moment to question the reader’s definition of love.
This book is about self-discovery and betrayal, marriage and motherhood, the public and the intensely personal and Miller’s characters are compelling in their flaws and idiosyncrasies. As engaging as her novel was, I had reservations about the characterizations of the women at many points during the book. I was left feeling disappointed by the ending that Miller presents and ambivalent about what I should feel towards the characters. At times, the actions or descriptions of Delia and Meri seemed to be either too predictable or too out of place. Despite these reservations, I did enjoy the writing and felt that the story is unforgettable.
–review by Colleen Mullally, reference librarian
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Read More About the Book
The Senator’s Wife received a good deal of press when it was published earlier this year. Read what others had to say from The New York Times (story and review), NPR, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly.