A while ago I made this post reviewing three books that I read the week prior. I was going to make that a regular occurrence but eventually figured it would be better to do book reviews monthly versus weekly. So on the 1st Monday of the month I will be posting a blog based on the book’s I’ve read.
Due to school starting I didn’t read many books in September. I read one actual novel, a novella, and six short stories. I am hoping this will change since I have gotten used to my school schedule. You can also read my reviews on goodreads as well, although my reviews on there are shorter.
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Review: Normally a book of this length would take me two days to read, but at times I wanted to quit, and delete it from my kindle. It took me roughly six days to read this book. I don’t even know where to begin with this review honestly. Those who praise this book are 100% right and those who hate the book are also 100% right. It is interesting, awesome, groundbreaking, disturbing, dark, gut wrenching, graphic, boring, and utter trash. There were times where I didn’t know what I wanted to rate this, one chapter deserved 5 stars and then on some chapters it deserved no stars.
The main character is Patrick Bateman, he is a hot shot who works as a specialist in mergers & acquisitions, it’s a job title that sounds important but ironically we never read once about Patrick doing actual work. He prides himself on what he wears and what he looks like. I’ve never came across a character in a book where I wouldn’t trust them with a box of tissues. He gets off inflicting pain to anybody and anything that isn’t him. He is charming and handsome, so initially when you come across him you are awed. But in reality is a narcissistic, serial rapist, murderer who is obsessed with Donald Trump, fancy restaurants, and himself.
He is cruel to children, prostitutes, women, the homeless, and animals. He murdered a child to see what it would feel like (he didn’t like it because it was too quick), and he forces the women he sleeps with have abortions without feeling a single bit of remorse. Ellis did a great job on the character, he truly is a work of psychotic art. I do think that the novel was written waaaay before it’s time, I don’t think 1990’s America appreciated this work of fiction, however even for 2016 standards it could be a bit much for some people.
I didn’t mind the graphic brutality, but I just didn’t like the times where it was boring. I didn’t need an entire chapters dedicated to Whitney Houston and Bowie. I would have love to see how he became the way he did. He mentions raping his maid and murdering a woman in college but I would have love to read about how it all manifested. The first one hundred pages or so we just see Patrick complaining about his life, talking about expensive suits, and hanging out with his peers that are equally ignorant.
Spoilers: Patrick takes his fiance out to dinner and served her a urinal cake covered in chocolate as dessert. She actually ate some of it, thinking it was a fancy cake. I thought that was hilarious, even though it was messed up.
The Good: Patrick Bateman.
The Bad: The novel follows no plot.
One Last Note: Read the book first then watch the film. I never thought I would actually say this but I enjoyed the film way more than the book. At times I wanted to give up but then at times I was hooked. The best I can say is read it if you want to know what I am talking about, maybe you’ll be the one that fully enjoys it… You can get it on Amazon.
Final Rating: ★★★☆☆
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates
Review: This masterpiece was published in 1966, a time where women were just supposed to cook, and be told what to do. In this story we meet the naive 15 year old Connie who is your typical non-caring teenager. She has some issues within herself and when she wishes she was dead it is sort of a foreshadow of what is to come.
When her family decides to go out she stays home and this is where we are introduced to another character, Arnold Friend. If you remove some letters, Arnold Friend turns into, “A Fiend”, and that’s exactly the vibe that this dude gives. The story shows you how, young girls, if not taught how to stand up for themselves can become a victim of a sadistic fool. He simply tells Connie that if she doesn’t come out she will kill her family, he doesn’t really do anything, just talks to her.
This short story is creepy. I liked it because Arnold is very articulate and does some serious mind games to Connie.
“Soon as you touch the phone I don’t need to keep my promise and can come inside. You won’t want that.”
She rushed forward and tried to lock the door. Her fingers were shaking. “But why lock it,” Arnold Friend said gently, talking right into her face. “It’s just a screen door. It’s just nothing.”
Connie is so naive and stupid I wanted to punch her. As a character she doesn’t think outside of the box. Sure, she is alone but there are so many options for her to do. Instead she just believes everything Arnold says.
Spoilers: Connie walks out of her house in the end but we do not know what happens to her next.
The Good: Oates did an amazing job with the characterization of Arnold. He was definitely creepy and to a child he could be very charismatic.
The Bad: The ending felt flat.
One Last Note: I recommend reading this to learn that looks can be deceiving. I think teenage girls across all of the universe should read this. It opens your eyes to the world and we see that people aren’t always what they seem.The short story was actually inspired by real murders you can read more about here. Rose McGowan wrote and directed a short film called Dawn based on the murders, you can watch it on Youtube. Read Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? free here
Final Rating: ★★★★☆
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
Review: Another piece of perfection. This was written in the 1940’s and was way ahead of its time. This is truly a classic that shows what happen when you follow faith and tradition blindly. I don’t want to give away everything because if someone decides to read it I do not want the impact of this to diminish.
This is worth reading 100%. The author describes a horrific scene in a magnificent way that you will not know it was horrific until the very end.
Spoilers: Not this time! Read the short story!
The Good: The irony of the title.
The Bad: No clear reason of the lottery. People have been doing it for years but they never explain in depth why.
One Last Note: Read for free here
Final Rating: ★★★★☆
The Man on the Stairs by Miranda July
Review: I didn’t read No One Belongs Here More Than You, I am just reviewing this short story I came across.
The narrator is a nameless woman that is woken up by a noise and she hears someone coming up the stairs in her apartment. Instead of getting up to kick some ass, she does nothing. She lays in bed, has an inner conversation with herself, and thinks about her life. Not only is she unarmed with an intruder in her house, but she leaves her boyfriend asleep next to her, and does nothing.
While having this unnecessary epiphany, the narrator unintentionally draws parallels with the intruder and her boyfriend. It is evident she doesn’t love him and he is a stranger to her, like the man on the stairs. The story had potential but was overall disappointing. I was angry with the woman for not standing up for herself and not trying to fight for her life
Spoilers: In the end the unarmed woman in her pajamas stands in her doorway of her room and shouts for the intruder to leave. Yeah… like that is going to work.
The Good: The epiphany, although unnecessary, was good for the character in the sense that she realized all the mistakes she had made in her life. It was sort of like her life was flashing before her eyes.
The Bad: When someone breaks into your house at night that means they are trying to kill you. Thieves rob during the day when people are at work. Murderers come in at night to kill. The woman made me so angry at her lack of common sense. She is so focused on her relationship she doesn’t think clearly.
One Last Note: I do not recommend this short story, but I will be reading No One Belongs Here More Than You if I can find it on amazon since it has some good reviews. Read The Man on the Stairs for free here if you want to ignore my review.
Final Rating: ★★☆☆☆
A Tiny Feast by Chris Adrian
Review: This short story ripped out my heart and tossed it out of the window. This was a dark, happy, and sad story all rolled into one. It is about love, loss, confusion, humanity, and compassion. I don’t normally like cancer stories, but this one captivated me.
After one of their many fights, King Oberon gifts Titania with a human child as a pet. Titania and Oberon grow to love the child and we see how the modern world mystifies the King and Queen of faeries. Queen Titania in particular does not understand why humans get sick and we see her struggle with that when her pet gets cancer. I don’t want to give too much away because you should go read it but, the language used throughout the piece is intriguing, and vivid. Obviously the story is unrealistic but the topic of losing someone you love is not and this story tackles it marvelously.
Spoilers: Queen Titania breast feeds the boy chocolate and other things because she’s a fairy and I found that part to be hysterical.
The Good: Everything. This piece is very strong and it left me pretty emotional. It is rare for literature to do that to me.
The Bad: Unfortunately, it is never really addressed why the King & Queen love the boy so much. They have had other pets before so, I do not understand why the boy is different. Is it because he is sick? Is it because he slept in their bed? Regardless of that, I still give it 5 stars.
One Last Note: I recommend this 100%. You can read it for free here.
Final Rating: ★★★★★
The Zero Meter Diving Team by Jim Shepard
Review: I did not read, Like You’d Understand, Anyway. I am just reviewing the short story I found online. The Zero Meter Diving Team was an interesting read. This story is about three brothers caught in the Chernobyl disaster that happened in the 1980’s. I had to google some Russian words and phrases I was not familiar with.
I found myself relating to the narrator who happened to be the eldest brother. His reaction to the disaster and it’s after math is astonishing. A lot of things needed to be said by the brothers that were not said. I believe this was written to explore the relationships of siblings and the Chernobyl disaster was used as a back drop of some sorts.
The story felt genuine and true, as if I was reading a diary into the thoughts of an ordinary man with family problems. The author was able to capture the horrific scene of the Chernobyl disaster and put it into his short story without missing a beat. You would think a disaster of this size required more pages but it did not, Shepard made it work flawlessly.
Spoilers: The love for one brother over the other isn’t spoken but the interaction between the brothers show it.
The Good: The combination of family drama and an ill-fated disaster really played on my emotions. I felt connected to the characters and understood a bit of their family dynamic.
The Bad: I really wished the author explored the brothers upbringing a bit more. From what I was able to understand the father treated the half-brother poorly. I do not know if he was born out of wedlock but making him the youngest can certainly seem that he was.
One Last Note: Read it for free here. You won’t be disappointed.
Final Rating: ★★★★☆
Blackwater Lake by Maggie James
Review: I was surprised by this short piece of work, I didn’t think it would end the way would, and I enjoyed the various plot twists.
Matt is the main character who is embarrassed by his mother’s hoarding, then there is Evie who had a problem throwing things away, and finally soft spoken Joe who just wanted to care for his wife and son. People joke around and say they are hoarders but Evie was truly a hoarder. She kept all kinds of things in her house for the last 30 something years. I liked how Matt was able to see a different side of his parents he didn’t know existed while going through their endless boxes of books, papers, and other things.
Spoilers: I am going to be blunt. Matt was an asshole and will forever regret treating his parents like garbage.
The Good: The plot was good. A son who finds secrets looking through his parent’s belongings. It was like a lifetime movie in book form.
The Bad: I liked the characters, but they were between really good and Mary Sue like.
One Last Note: If you want a quick mystery / thriller to read during your lunch break, then head over to Amazon because it is currently free. It isn’t the next great classic, but it’s a nice read.
Final Rating: ★★★☆☆
Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
Review: I believe there are currently a bunch of different editions to this short story. The one I read and am reviewing is the free one that was published in the New Yorker.
I don’t particularly like love stories, but the story is essentially about love itself, and it is about how you cannot deny who you are. Needless to say this short story surprised me. Just a warning, there is no happy ending at all.
This is another piece that I do not want to give too much away. The story pans out 20 years or so, starting in 1963 where we meet two young men, Ennis and Jack. Out of the blue we see these two unexpectedly fall in love. Although we do not really know the characters well we get little snip bits on why they do certain things and act the way they do. Ennis and Jack are two star crossed lovers that never got the change to be who they wanted to be.
Spoilers: Ennis is never going to love another person the way he loved Jack
The Good: The love Jack had for Ennis. He was willing to risk everything for him.
The Bad: We do not know the characters well and therefore I feel no compassion for them, other than the pain Ennis goes through. Ennis and Jack were both selfish and living a lie. They should have bit the bullet and ran away with each other.
One Last Note: I recommend it for those who enjoy a good love story. Read it for free here.
Final Rating: ★★★★☆
I hope you enjoyed this scheduled post, it took me a while to write on Sunday but I am happy with how this turned out. Once more, please leave a comment of your favorite books as I am always looking for new reads. Did you guys read anything good last month? Let me know and I hope you guys have an awesome Monday!