Review & Giveaway: What the Zhang Boys Know, by Clifford Garstang

What the Zhang Boys Know is, as the subtitle suggests, a novel of stories: more than ten interlinked short stories that tell the story Nanking Mansion, an up-scale condo building in a less-than-upscale neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The residents of the building--a lawyer, a painter, a sculptor, a young couple, a widower and his two boys--are generally unhappy with the neighborhood, living on the forefront of gentrification as they do.

But they are also unhappy with their lots: a painter who pines for his lover and whose work is not popular; a widower who struggles to cope with his two young boys (the Zhang boys) in the wake of his wife's early death; a young woman who is no longer happy with her long-term boyfriend but does not know how to leave him; a recent divorcee who cannot pay her mortgage, let alone feed herself. In each story, we are treated to a different narrator, getting a glimpse further into a life that was mere backdrop in the stories preceding. In this way, Clifford Garstang reveals the inner workings of the residents of the Nanking Mansion, at once making us know and not know the characters we encounter.

Though there are a lot of characters here -- nearly a dozen narrators and even more supporting roles -- the ways in which Garstang brings them neatly to the forefront and then sets them back again keeps them from ever becoming burdensome. Instead, they are what keep the stor(y/ies) engaging, as characters re-emerge in new lights and from new perspectives. The resulting collection of their tales is at once delightful and haunting, giving readers insight into the myriad lives that can live in one building, so close together and yet so distinct from one another.


Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours, I am able to offer one copy of this title as a giveaway. To enter, simply leave a comment below. +1 for followers, +1 for sharing this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter. Giveaway closes Monday, Nov 5 and I will announce the winner on Tuesday, Nov 6.


Thoughts from other bookworms (via TLC Book Tours)


Note: Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for the review copy.
What the Zhang Boys Know | Clifford Garstang | Press 53 | October 2012 | 218 pages | Buy from an independent near you

Books Are Mirrors

Audiobook Review: Shine, Shine, Shine by Lydia Netzer

Shine Shine Shine, a beautiful, sweeping debut from Lydia Netzer, is a powerful novel that centers on the question of normalcy (or is it normality? Thanks to President Harding, I'm never sure which is correct). When Maxon and Sunny first met as children, they were both different -- Maxon struggling to relate to the world with normal human emotions and reactions, and Sunny as a beautiful bald child with not a lick of hair on her head or body. Twenty years later, they are married and have a helmeted, autistic son named Bubber and Sunny has taken to wearing wigs to fit in and Maxon has gone to space to start a colony with robots.

Until an accident rips Sunny's wig from her head, and her whole perfect, stuffy neighborhood knows of her secret baldness, and Sunny's world begins to shift. Now she wants Maxon home, she wants to reconcile with her mother, she wants to take Bubber off his personality-stunting medications and let him be his own autistic self. She wants to wear her baldness proudly, but the "normal" life she has insisted on creating for the last decade is in the way.

Shine Shine Shine is charmingly odd from the start, with Sunny and Maxon and Bubber's quirks making them some of the most lovable dysfunctional characters I've ever encountered. Even the story's structure is odd, with flashbacks accounting for what feels like more than half of the narration, but never proving cumbersome or too bulky for the present-day storyline. Lots of things happen to Maxon and Sunny, things that affect them differently, things that do not fit into the equations of life that Maxon is keen on writing out for Sunny. As we learn about these things, we begin to understand both Maxon and Sunny in their own way, in their own fashion, and how perfectly quirkily they fit together, and how hard they have both worked, in their own way, to get where they want to be--or where they thought they wanted to be.

Netzer's imagination has run wild in her debut novel, carried through with strong writing skills that weave multiple stories and multiple time periods and multiple characters together into one seamless novel that will at once make you laugh, cry, and sigh with exasperation and understanding at once.

A note on the audio: Well produced, clearly narrated, with a narrator that sucks you into Sunny's world and keeps you there for days.


Thoughts from other bookworms:

The New Dork Review of Books
Lettore Bella
Book Riot Review GPA


Note: Thanks to the publisher for an e-audio copy of this title tor review, received from my Shelf Awareness editor.
Shine Shine Shine | Lydia Netzer, nar. Joshilyn Jackson | July 2012 | Macmillan Audio | Buy from an independent near you

The Grapes of Wrath Readalong: Part the Third

This is the third post for a readalong of The Grapes of Wrath hosted by Laura at Devouring Texts.

This section contained what might be my favorite scene of the novel so far (except for maybe the turtle, because who doesn't love the damn turtle?P): the scene with the little kids scaring each other about the toilet, not understanding how it works:
"Winfield was embarrassed. His hand twisted the flushing lever. There was a roar of water. Ruthie leapt into the air and jumped away. She and Winfield stood in the middle of  the room and looked at the toilet. The hiss of water continued in it. 'You done it,' Ruthie said. 'You went an' broke it. I seen you.'"
Ain't that hilarious? Can't you just picture the two of them in a room full of toilets, and bossy Ruthie giving Winfield a hard time about the water in the toilet, not understanding? And can you imagine what it must be like to encounter a toilet for the first time, not knowing what it is or how it works?

It's a good thing we get a bit of humor, because the rest of this section felt thick with sadness, as the realization that there really is no work settles down upon the Joads:
"Tom looked about at the grimy tens, the junk equipment, at the old cars, the lumpy mattresses out in the sun, at the blackened cans on fire-blackened holes where the people cooked. He asked quietly, 'Ain't there no work?'"
And even when they find relief in the government camp, complete with running (hot!) water, there is a sense of doom and gloom that seems to hang over the people there, the idea that their stay is temporary, meant to end, and a constant, nagging knowledge that work is not available no matter where they turn.

And the persistent hunger that seems to haunt each family, the hunger that the Joads have not yet known but we are quick to gather they will know, someday not too far away, and Steinbeck's ranting and raving about the food that grows and goes to rot because it cannot be profitable, while not a mile away, children die of starvation and the coroners lie on the death certificates and make up causes of death. Oh, Ruthie and Winfield, I hope you live.

When they do settle into the government camp, fortunate enough to have found a spot after weeks on the road and days spent being mocked and taunted by locals, Ma (still my favorite, really) is able to think, really think, about all that has happened:
"Funny, ain't it. All the time we was a-movin' an' shovin,' I never thought none. An' now these here folks been nice to me, been awful nice; an' what's the first thing I do? I go right back over the sad things--that night Grampa died an' we buried him. I was all full up of the road, and bumpin' and movin', an' it wasn't so bad. But now I come out here, an' it's worse now. An' Granma-an' Noah walkin' away like that! ...I didn't give 'em brain room before, but now they're a-flockin' back. An' I oughta be glad 'cause we're in a nice place."

I've been afraid Ma would break, and now I'm even more afraid, that after all of the hardness and meanness she and the Joads have seen in the people around them, she will break under the sadness of the world and of her broken family. But then Pa steps in and they remember together and Ma snaps back to herself and makes "somepin nice" for the family and probably helps Rosasharn stop crying (again) and everything else she does.

Is anyone else struck by the continued importance of the issues that Steinbeck raises, albeit not-so-delicately at times? There are certain parallels that one could draw between the small farmers and the big corporate farmers of the 1930s with the small businesses and the big corporate businesses of 2012. And though we may not like to admit it, the Californians fear of the "damn Okies" doesn't sound so far off from the issues of immigration we face in the United States today.

And so, on to the last quarter of the book. I'm still scared of what is going to happen to the Joads, with the threat of violence and hunger and otherwise painful deaths in the air. Don't worry, I have ice cream and tissues at the ready.


Thoughts from other bookworms:

Devouring Texts
What Red Read


The Grapes of Wrath | John Steinbeck | Originally published 1939 | 619 pages | Buy from an independent near you

On Reading Anna Karenina

I went into Anna Karenina expecting the worst, though I'd be hard-pressed to explain what, exactly, I meant by "the worst." Difficult sentence structure? Long, rambling paragraphs? Unnecessary chapters? Impossible-to-navigate plot?

Imagine my surprise, then, when Anna Karenina turned out to be relatively... simple? Yes, it's long, weighing in at 800+ pages, and yes, there are some long rambling paragraphs and one entire section that felt dedicated to Levin and his damn farm theory, but the novel itself did not prove difficult in any particular way. I actually found it took more brain power to read a paragraph of Emma than of Anna Karenina (apparently I'm on a books-with-women's-names-as-the-title kick), though I ultimately enjoyed Anna Karenina more.

For those who don't already know, Anna Karenina centers on--you guessed it!--Anna Karenina, a married aristocrat who finds herself taken with a young Russian soldier and quickly becomes the talk of the town. But then in addition to this story, there is Levin, a stumbling gentleman who is hopelessly in love with Kitty (for reasons I can never understand, because I found her perfectly annoying throughout the entire novel). There are several other side stories as well, with brothers and brothers-in-law and sisters and friends and I think an aunt and maybe some cousins?

But the main beauty of Anna Karenina, and perhaps the reason it has persisted so long in our American awareness, is its continual importance despite the changing times. Tolstoy raises crucial questions about the education of the lower classes, the importance of government programs, the corruption of government offices, the rights of women, and--perhaps most important in Anna Karenina's sad tale--the hypocrisy of society in its treatment of men vs. women.

There is not much I can say about Tolstoy's great work that has not already been said; scholars far more dedicated and educated than myself have spent entire careers studying the work. But for those intimidated by its size, or its length, or its reputation, I can say this--don't be. Read it. Read it and you will find that not only are you struck by how accessible the story truly is, and how relevant even in modern times, but you are touched by the poignancy with which Tolstoy writes of love and regret and pain and joy and the kindness and cruelty of individuals to one another.

But don't read the introduction first, even though it is in the beginning of the book, especially in this edition, because it will give away the entire story without you even knowing what's happening.

So... who's excited for the movie?


Thoughts from other bookworms:

Loving Books
The New Dork Review of Books
James Meek: Re-reading Anna Karenina


You might also like:
Why Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina transcends the ages
And it pains me to link to Oprah's Book Club, but: Your Guide to Understanding Anna Karenina
War and Peace


This marks one more book for the Classics Club, as well as a book translated from its original language for the 2012 Back to the Classics Challenge.


Anna Karenina | Leo Tolstoy, trans. Richard Peaver & Larissa Volokhonsky | orig. published 1877 | 817 pages | Buy from an independent near you

The Grapes of Wrath Readalong: Part II, A Day Late

This is the second post for a readalong of The Grapes of Wrath hosted by Laura at Devouring Texts.

Spoilers may (definitely do) follow.

Ho boy. I knew after reading the first 150-or-so pages of The Grapes of Wrath that Steinbeck was setting us up for some sadness, but he really did start to lay it on thick in these next 150-or-so-pages, didn't he? We went from one BIG happy family rolling along in a homemade truck towards California to two big happy families rolling along in a homemade truck and a broken-down car (yes, a car, right?) towards California.

But then there is some serious sickness going on and some pain and then the family is slightly less big. And then less big again.

And suddenly there is no more Grampa with his silly off-buttoned pants and his rants about never leaving his home, because really he died when he left his land, they say, and then Granma dies of... a broken heart? And Ma, the greatest woman of all time (and one who flies in the face of the traditional sexism of the time, yeah?), just lays up on the mattress with dead Granma so that the family can keep moving and your heart just breaks a little bit and you have to pause because it's just too much to keep reading all at once. Or at least that's how it was for me.

Then there is Chapter Seventeen, which for some reason really got under my skin. All these poor people building a new life every night, and breaking it down every morning:
"Every night a world created, complete with furniture--friends made and enemies established; a world completed with braggarts and with cowards, with quiet men, with humble men, with kindly men. Every night relationships that make a world, established; and every morning the world torn down like a circus."
I cannot imagine such a journey, such an undertaking, rolling on day into night into day into night, based on nothing but the hope of something better in the future. Steinbeck addresses this, of course, with the simple idea that a tough life isn't so tough when you consider the tougher alternative that you've left behind; it's as much a matter of what you're running from as what you're running to. But still. That's hard living, especially when people start to tell you that what you are running to is really not all that great. Or even worse than what you ran from.
Go home.
I do find there are some places--particularly the in-between chapters--where Steinbeck hits us over the head with sadness and heartache and general rants about the evils of the banks (Steinbeck really hates him some banks, don't he?) and how the migrants should all team together and stick it to the man but they don't because they are fending for themselves.

But I am willing to forgive all of this because he also makes us feel all the things, so many things, and because the scene in Chapter Fifteen with the little kids eyeballing the candies and the tough old diner lady caving in and giving them two candies for a penny even though they are nickel candies.

All the feelings.
Also, what's with all the people so avidly running over animals in their cars? Anyone?

Halfway point summation: I really like this book, although I am glad to be reading it interspersed with other things because there is a lot of feeling happening. And animals (and people) dying. And kids starving.


Thoughts from other bookworms:


The Grapes of Wrath | John Steinbeck | Originally published 1939 | 619 pages | Buy from an independent near you

Book Review: The Casual Vacancy, by JK Rowling (and Readalong, Part II)

This is the second of two readalong posts for The Casual Vacancy Readalong over at Literary Musings and co-hosted by Beth of Bookworm Meets Bookworm.

The Casual Vacancy was panned by most of the big critics, with some reviews (NYT, I'm looking at you) bordering on downright cruel. So I went into this readalong with more than a little bit of apprehension. As I mentioned last week: WHAT IF I DON'T LIKE SOMETHING ROWLING HAS WRITTEN!?

Which is precisely the wrong way to go into this book, because it is not like anything Rowling has written before. In that it has no pointy hats, no wizards, and no clever and convenient spells to make real life--or real wizarding life, at least--just a little bit easier.

Nope, this is a book of real life cast in the harshest and most unforgiving life, focusing on the small town of Pagford and the far-reaching consequences of a local Parish Councilor's premature death. Through Pagford, Rowling presents a scathing portrait of the small-town rumor mill, the destructive power of gossip (and of secrets), and of the often devastating consequences of meddling in others' affairs--be it through local politics or public shaming or illicit romances.

The world of Pagford residents is mundane, bordering on banal, but to me, that is precisely the beauty of The Casual Vacancy. Thought epic fantasies (yes, insert inevitable Harry Potter comparison here) can teach us a lot about ourselves and human nature and the forces in our real lives, so too can the most boring of everyday details: the bully at the local high school, the anxieties of an insecure wife, and the family struggles of a single mother raising two children in deep poverty. Are these the most fascinating of subjects? Perhaps not--but they are important, nonetheless.

Similarly, Rowling's characters at first seem overdone, perhaps characterizations of themselves--but just as the characters in the office are far-fetched and yet reminiscent of real co-workers in real offices, so too are Rowling's characters far-fetched and yet familiar.

Perhaps it is merely a question of timing, because I started reading Jane Austen's Emma while also reading The Casual Vacancy, but I found unmistakable parallels between the two novels. They are set in different time periods, and are written in completely different styles (there's no chance of one mistaking Rowling's pen for Austen's, of course). But they do so in a way so subtle that only those that can see past the "blah-blah-so-and-so-said-to-so-and-so-and-Jane-Fairfax-wrote-a-long-letter-and-Barry-Fairbrother's-wife-is-sad" retellings that can appreciate the art of what both Austen and Rowling have done: highlighting the most important social issues of a time and place through the most normal characters one can imagine.

I'm not saying that Rowling is on par with Austen--that's a literary argument I am not prepared to make or defend--but I really did enjoy The Casual Vacancy and the questions it raised as I read it. Rowling's depictions of the hypocrisies of adulthood, coupled with the stumbling, idiotic, but often well-meaning attempts of adolescents to find their way into that grown-up world, is at once poignant and important; if you can manage to forget that Rowling also wrote Harry Potter, and embrace the sex, cruelty, and drugs in her first novel for adults (key words: for adults), this should be one you can enjoy.

P.S. I'm sorry that this is less a review and more a defense of The Casual Vacancy. Except I'm not really sorry, because I'm really disappointed to have seen/heard so many people questioning it before reading it based solely on the initial reviews, which still feel completely unwarranted to me. It may not be the Greatest British Novel of all time, or even of 2012, but it is, in fact, a solid, well-written, and thoughtful book. [Steps off soapbox.]


Thoughts from other bookworms:
Book Jay
Book Riot Review GPA
Bookworm Meets Bookworm


The Casual Vacancy | JK Rowling | Little, Brown, and Company | Hardcover | 512 pages | September 2012 | Buy from an independent near you

The Grapes of Wrath Readalong: Part I

I apologize in advance for this post, because I have just taken NyQuil and am writing with only one eye open and one functioning nostril. TMI?

My first pass at the first section of The Grapes of Wrath and all its grapey wrathful dustiness was the perfect reminder of why I really do love Steinbeck, leaving me with tons of underlines and a bagillion dogeared pages and a few pages with dogears on the top and bottom. That good. (For directions on how to dog ear a page, click here. PS -- I have no idea why that article needs to exist. Dogearing pages is not freaking complicated, even if it is a polarizing topic.)

I did not read the introduction, despite being tempted to do so in order to put this oh-so-important title into its proper context. I read the introduction to Anna Karenina and it GAVE AWAY THE ENDING so never again, I tell you, never again.

So I started with Chapter 1, and was blown away (pun!) by all the dust. Dust everywhere, coating everything, lots of crop failures, dust, dust, dust.

And then we meet the truck driver and the hitchhiker and are left to wonder for a bit which of them is the important one, or if they both are, until the hitchhiker is dropped off and meets the preacher (ex-preacher, I suppose), and suddenly people have names and the truck driver is gone. But not before we meet the turtle.

The first part of this book is not depressing, except for the bits that are (the slimey car dealer and the ongoing churnings of the man, and the forced departure from the land they've lived in all the while), but I can tell that Steinbeck is about to take us on a crazy up-down ride of emotions, no? These poor people, the Joads and their neighbors and even Muley, are so damn hopeful and adamant in their decisions, so dependent on things turning out ok in the end, that it is like Steinbeck has hung a sign on the first page that says: Caution. Sad ending ahead.

Part of me knows this gif doesn't belong here,
but a larger part of me thinks it is too fun not to include.
There's also the incredibly heartbreaking scene(s?) where the Joads pack up their things, and all of the bits that make up a life--and makes you think about all of the STUFF you know you own, and what you'd take with you vs. what you'd burn (because obviously burning things is the most practical solution here)--and all of memories that are inherently tied to a place, to an object, to a thing:
"There's a premium goes with this pile of junk and the bay horses-so beautiful-a packet of bitterness to grow in your house and flower, some day." 
"How can we live without our past lives? How will we know it's us without our past? No. Leave it. Burn it."
There's a lot more here, but NyQuil is making me stop now. I promise I'll be better next week. For now, though, I can just say I really like this book. So far. And I haven't cried. Yet.

26 by 26 Update: I Ran 3.11 Miles!

One of the items on my 26 by 26 list (on which I have not made nearly enough progress, folks!) was to run a 5K (3.11 miles), and this past weekend, I did it!

Pre-race (I was freezing!)
I don't have any finish-line photos because my husband's phone died while I was running.
Cross another one off the list, and call me crazy, because I just signed up for a half-marathon this winter.

The Casual Vacancy: A Readalong, Part I

This is the first of two readalong posts for The Casual Vacancy Readalong over at Literary Musings and co-hosted by Beth of Bookworm Meets Bookworm.

The Casual Vacancy, that long-awaited, uber-secret book of JK Rowling's, has been on sale for a week now. Time flies, don't it? Reviews started flooding in the morning of the release, and critics, in general, were not particularly fond of the novel. Some were even downright cruel. And so when I started The Casual Vacancy, it was with more than a little bit of trepidation. Was it really as bad as all that? Was I setting myself up for disappointment? WHAT IF I DON'T LIKE SOMETHING ROWLING HAS WRITTEN!?

Luckily for me (and for everyone within earshot while I was reading this), I could not disagree with the critics more. The novel does start off slowly, introducing new characters every couple of pages, but this feels both necessary and intentional; Rowling, yet again, has imagined a complex world that requires some settling in.

We learn first of Barry Fairbrother's early death (that's not a spoiler -- it happens on about page 3), and then are left to watch the rest of the small town of Pagford hear the news for themselves, the story rippling through the town from one ear to the next. And Pagford is the epitome of a small town, practically a characterization of itself: every one knows every one else, and the daily grind of the town seems based on gossip and hearsay and that ever-churning rumor-mill. Something like the death of a Parish Council member is big news, folks.

What I found most touching about the first half of The Casual Vacancy is the skill with which Rowling captures the far-reaching impact of Fairbrother's death, ranging from those who long for his seat on the Parish Council to those who are forced, of a sudden, to question their own mortality. The funeral scene, which does not come until we are 150 pages into the novel (despite the dude dying on the aforementioned page 3), is at once absurd and heartbreaking, laughable and sad:
"Two pews back, Colin Wall was sobbing, with small but audible gasps, into a large wet handkerchief... Tessa [Wall] was scared of what the loss of Barry Fairbrother would mean to the man beside her; scared of how they would manage to accommodate this huge, ragged absence... And all through Tessa's anxiety and sorry was threaded the usual worry, like an itchy little worm: Fats, and how she was going to avert an explosion, how she would make him come to the burial, or how she might hide from Colin that he had not come--which might, after all, be easier."
Rowling's language is simple and plain, but with her words she manages to convey big truths about everyday life: what is it to be an adult driven by greed and self-interest, or an adult driven by love and passion; what it is to love and what it is to hate; what it is to grow up and try to understand the crazy, fucked-up world we live in. One of the biggest criticisms of the novel was it's obsession with the mundane, but to me, that's what's made the book so interesting so far--like life, it is full of the mundane (I'm also reading Emma at the same time, so perhaps I'm just particularly drawn to life's little details at the moment).

I'm move on with great hopes for the second half of the book. Have you read it? Agree with the critics? Disagree? Like it? Love it? Hate it?


Thoughts from other bookworms:
Literary Musings
Book Riot Review GPA
The Blue Bookcase
The Book Case


The Casual Vacancy | JK Rowling | Little, Brown, and Company | Hardcover | 512 pages | September 2012 | Buy from an independent near you

Pseudo-Review: A Study in Scarlet, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

First Edition in Annual Cover 1887, from Wikipedia.
From A Study in Sherlock to the Robert Downey Jr. depiction of the detective in the recent movies to the modernization of the stories in BBC's adaptation, "Sherlock," there are as many versions of Sherlock Holmes as there are original stories--and that's no small number. Holmes (and his dear sidekick, Watson) has probably been riffed more than any other character in literature (a claim I make with absolutely no evidence, factual or anecdotal, to back it up).

A Study in Scarlet marks the very first appearance of the now-renowned detective, originally published as a novella in 1887. The story introduces Holmes as a strange guy with even stranger habits, ranging from the quintessential violin plucking (I can't even imagine how annoying that would be to live with, Watson) to his somewhat obnoxious tendency to run off mid-sentence, swept into action by his thoughts before he is able to put them into words. A Study in Scarlet also introduces Dr. Watson, who quickly falls in with Holmes as flatmate, friend, and accomplice.

The short novel weighs in at only 121 pages in my edition of the collected Holmes stories, but even at that short length, it really contains two stories in one: first that of a murderer on the streets of London, and then one of love and revenge in Mormon-settled Utah. Despite the seeming disconnect between the two stories (the jump from London to the cliffs of Utah is pretty jarring at first), they are, in fact, intertwined--you just have to be patient enough for the brilliant Sherlock Holmes to get to the explaining bits.

Because that's Sherlock Holmes in a nutshell: master of deductions, discoverer of invisible connections, postponer of explanations. While his explanations and rationales border on the absurd, they are also so simple as to prove perfectly reasonable. We as the reader struggle along just as Watson does, trying to keep up with the inimitable mind of the great consulting detective while he remains a steady three paces ahead of us. When we finally catch up, it is one part I CAN'T BELIEVE IT and one part BUT OF COURSE!

funny gifs

Despite his genius, though, Holmes is also somewhat of a pitiful figure: lonely, distracted, hyper-focused to the point of ignorance (at one point he admits to Watson that he knows nothing of the workings of the solar system, as he did not deem it worthy of his attention). His inability to socialize with those around him is at once a blessing and a curse: it allows him to see what others miss, operating for no motive other than pure knowledge, but it also isolates him from what everyone else experiences.

It is easy to see why the Holmes presented in A Study in Scarlet captivated readers as he did, proving to be a character unique and mysterious enough to leave us longing for more tales of his adventures, despite the rather neat conclusion at which A Study in Scarlet arrives. I know I'm looking forward to the second novella of Holmes and Watson, The Sign of the Four, followed by a re-read of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and other stories in the canon.


You might also like:
Sherlock Holmes, the Complete Novels and Stories Vol I, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Sherlockian, by Graham Moore
A Study in Scarlet, ed. by Laurie King & Leslie Klinger

The Grapes of Wrath Readalong: One Part Crazy, Another Part Thrilled

Yesterday, I stumbled into a Grapes of Wrath Readalong over at Devouring Texts, and even though the sane part of my brain said not to, I decided to join.

I am one part this:

And one part this:

The Grapes of Wrath is on my list of potential books to read to complete one of the final categories of the Back to the Classics Challenge, and there are some really great participants... so how could I say no? It's like it was destiny.

The only Steinbeck I've read that I actually remember is East of Eden. I know I read Of Mice and Men in middle school (high school?) and that it was sad. Really, really, really sad. But this is my first pass at Grapes of Wrath, and despite the fact that it is one of Steinbeck's most famous novels, I'm ashamed to say I know very little about it. Except that the dude on the cover of my Penguin edition is kind of a stud, and that the book is set during the Great Depression, and therefore I expect it to be great and depressing.

Forward, ho! Reactions to Chapters 1-11 to come next week.