Sunday, September 12, 2010

How to Trash Talk Like Scout

Just thought this was witty and celebratory of one of my favorite books' 50th year anniversary.

Definitely trying to work "big wet hen" and "morphodite" into my insult vocab, pretty sure "whore-lady" may have been uttered once or twice.

It's Complicated

I thought this was an interesting list and definitely needs some adding on to. Totally agree with a commenter's suggestion of Great Gatsby's Nick and Daisy.

Seeing if I can add more to the I dare say Bella and Edward of Twilight, however their true obstacle is relatively fixable so perhaps not.

Comments? Suggestions?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There- Lewis Carroll

I thought I would review both of Carroll's Alice tales together since they were both short reads that blend seamlessly together. Wonderland is world of enchanting, strange, temperamental, odd characters and atmosphere that Alice journeys into by following a perpetually late white rabbit. As she descends down a hole, the world's intriguing atmosphere grips Alice's curious nature through a keyhole revealing a lovely garden which becomes her ultimate destination. The question is how to get there. Her quest becomes even more challenging as she finds digesting makes her either grow or shrink and the inhabitants of Wonderland contain a peculiar manner than what she is used to.

Along her journey she joins a caucus race, finds the white rabbit's house, runs into a forest to stubble upon a caterpillar, comes upon the peppery atmospheric house of a Duchess who has a pig for a child and a pet Cheshire cat whose grinning nature is expected, follows a path to the Mad Hatter's tea party where she is riddled why is a raven like a writing desk and finally finds the beautiful garden which belongs to the Queen of Hearts whose entourage is made of cards and plays croquet using hedgehogs as balls and flamingos as mallets.

As her journey seems to take a turn, she awakes to find herself underneath a tree beside her sister, listening to her daily lessons. Her sister sits, listening to Alice's tale, and thinks, " she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days."
The thoughts parallel those with mine, as the story becomes a delightful child's tale of a curious and honest girl who is full of wonderment that perhaps leads her to unpleasant encounters but never a dull moment. The following quote perfectly sums up the philosophy of Wonderland and a mantra for dreamers:
"Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might
appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise
than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise."

Through the Looking Glass, begins another day in Alice's life, playing with kittens, one who has a mischievous nature so Alice threatens to place the kitten into the parallel world through the glass vanity above the fireplace. As she climbs above the mantle, pondering what the opposing world is like, she soon finds herself on the other side engaged in a battle between two colored armies. Upon closer inspection, Alice finds they are chess pieces come to life and the world is made up of a large chessboard. She soon finds herself on a quest to move about the land as a pawn through eight squares to end as a queen beside the red and white who already reign. Through this journey, she finds herself conversing with flowers, encountering Tweedledee and Tweedledum who tell her the tale of The Walrus and The Carpenter, leading her onto Humpty Dumpty who questions her manners, eventually turning her around to find herself at dinner beside the two queens with a crown placed upon her head. Once again the theory behind Wonderland can be found in quotes said by its inhabitants:
"Contrariwise," continued Tweedledee, "if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be: but as it isn't, it ain't. 'That's logic."

Alice awakes to find herself in a chair with her kitten, pondering once again what reality exists and what world did she find herself in.

Carroll's delightful imagination gives us a curious world filled with odd characters and worlds that seem impossible to the mind, however Carroll teaches us that nothing is impossible if you just ponder on the possibility of it. Filled with literary prose and unique language, it is easy to see why Alice's tale continues to be an inspiration and muse for many.

Here's an awesome link to Carroll's life and inspiration for his tales:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lay The Favorite - Beth Raymer

Lay The Favorite-Beth Raymer/Spiegel&Grau/2010/p226
Memoir/Gambling/Travel/Life Insight

In 2001, Beth Raymer finds herself in Vegas, broke, reeling admist the bouts of a recent break-up, working in former boyfriend's parents' Thai restaurant, planning how to afford her $17 a night hotel room banking on cocktail waitressing as her best bet, all within the first few pages. In walks, Amy, a regular customer, who tips Beth on a job that will change her whole life. Dink, Inc. is run by Douglas "Dink" Heimowitz, CEO, operator and Beth's new boss who forays her into the world of underground sports-betting. As part of Dink's crew, Beth learns the in and outs of point spreads, betting lines and gambling lingo amid hundred dollar dinners and business trips that include five star hotel suites and first class air. Dink gladly takes Beth under his wing and she soon starts to have amorous feelings for him which quickly result in her termination.

To work off her steam, she begins to box at Johnny Tocco's where she is catapulted into a career as a professional with aspirations to win the amateur Golden Gloves tournament in Madison Square Gardens, exactly where Oscar De La Hoya got his start. However, money is always tight and she begins to itch for the taste of seedy money-making involvement she once had.
Beth becomes Bernard's Girl Friday, a quizzical mathematician turned bookie with a great pension and love for food. Beth simply gets him Boston creme doughnuts every morning. Bernard gets an idea to set up shop in the Caribbean where off-shoring gambling is risky but legal and takes Beth with him. Curacao is filled with exotic views and hot climates that reflect her testosterone and attitude-filled co-workers. She eventually finds herself back in NY, home with her dog and a man she loves, but itching to get back to Vegas and Dink who proves to be her mentor through and through. Exacting rightful revenge, she find herself flying to South America, going on the expedition she always dreamed of at the conclusion of the book.

I love the idea of this book. The world of gambling has become a prominent face in my life recently and much of its manner and characteristics have found a place in my world. It definitely reflected the gamblers who aren't the cliche mobsters with guns and drug addictions, betting everything on the line, although that's in there too. Beth is a great story teller, noting the detail and nature of her surroundings, definitely living a life full of stories and her endless travel-bound feet make sure the adventure never ends. However, by the end of the book I wanted to know more about Dinky and Bernard. I would love to read a book about them! They are characters within themselves, highly intelligent men gambling in order to create a challenge for themselves, yet yearning for some sort of stability that they can never settle down to reach, both full of insecurities and superstitions. Raymer puts a lot of detail into these men and their stories which I happen to like but doesn't really resonate much of a personal connection to her as a reader. The story had good pacing, moving fairly quickly between Beth's highs and lows, resulting in a quick, enjoyable read.
Definitely a great summer afternoon read! I read that it's being made into a movie, interested in who will be casted and how it will all play out.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cakewalk - Kate Moses

Cakewalk: a memoir by Kate Moses/ The Dial Press/ 2010/pgs 347
Memoir/Family Mother-Daughter relationship/Cooking

Kate Moses has a weakness for sugar. As do I. I found myself smiling at her sometimes devious wonderment of sugar in all its forms. Sugar seems to be the only stabilizing force in her estranged family. From a father who doles out approval in frosted animal cookies to a mother who keeps every packaged snack in stock to her own culinary efforts to win approval from her peers and self. However, sugar does not fix everything in her life. She chronicles her awkward growing years, changing schools, trying to make friends, issues of weight, getting a career, motherhood, all on the background of trying to deal with a dramatic, over-bearing, beautiful mother who at her core loves her daughter but constantly places strains on their relationship all throughout Kate's life. I would definitely recommend the book to someone interested in mother-daughter relationships especially trying to understand the pressures place between them.

The added bonus is that it is laced with wonderful recipes that usually center around a story or theme within the chapter she writes. The recipes range from cakes and fudge to bread and candy. However, most seem to require more finesse than just boiling water especially since Moses seems to be a noted baker granting praise from M.F.K. Fisher and Kay Boyle.

She writes with a simple, lyrical prose detailing her surroundings with a nice narrative writing. Overall, I liked the book, wasn't quite in love or enthusiastic about it as I thought I would be but I do think she is a lovely writer, not over-dramatizing her living situations, very realistic, pointing out that time is a great virtue in all facets of life.