Friday, January 23, 2009

More Caffeine, Please

David Liss
Random House
390 pages

Set in 17th century Amsterdam, this book concerns itself with on Miguel Lienzo, a Portugese Jewish commodities trader....In an attempt to rebuild his fortune and reputation, Miguel goes into partnership with a comely Dutch widow in a scheme to corner the market on some new-fangled thing called Coffee...and the games begin...Financial skulduggery, personal vendettas, comely lasses in doorways, and the ruling body of the Jewish community, all conspire to thwart Miguel at every turn. but he is his own worst enemy

i was disappointed in this book, more for its pacing than anything...with a wealth of historical information and obviously thorough research...the “story” started to drag about halfway through..and , while i finished the book it was a chore..too bad, that because the ending is very good...given that no character herein was very appealing...none was the end Miguel may have recovered his position...but he lost much more..... not his self-confidence, however.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Love and Marriage

Ian McEwan
211 pages
Nan A Talese/Doubleday

a heartbreaker of a book that takes place in 1962....on the wedding night of Edward & Florence...1962, which was still pretty much "the 50s" as far as social/sexual mores....fears, disgust, hubris, hope, two lives were changed forever (?) by words not spoken...i didn't think i would even Like this book, but i was seriously moved by the sadness underlying the story..and i wonder which is better (if that is the word) the sexual attitudes of today, when people start boning each other as soon as they are able(or so it would seem)..or the attitudes of the 50s-early 60s...when the whole business was a mystery and a mishmash of old wive's tales and serious misinformation.....i don't know

I want to thank everyone who has posted a comment on this Baby Blog....and all my Followers..i think you're nuts, but what the hell.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I was notified that i won some kind of award through for my baby a blog worth watching..okay, i's taking me a while to get this thing off the ground , as it were...but i soldier on...thanks for the vote of i need to find other blogs to pass this gift to...hmmmm...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Black/White...and all the shades of Grey

Joyce Carol Oates
272 pages
Ecco Press/Harper Collins
Contrary to what the title implies, i did not see this book as being primarily concerned with Race/Racism (although both are endemic to our society and cannot be disregarded). i saw it as a story about the search for identity....the forging of..through the minefield of one's family dynamic..two young women, one black...on white..roommates at an exclusive women's college in PA 1975...both ill-prepared for the experience

MINETTE(Black Girl): surly, "unattractive", aloof..."She doesn't act Black"...unprepared academically for the school,which she attends as a Merit Scholar...her accusations of Racist Harrassment/Harrassment in General, begin early on and escalate as academic struggles become worse and her mental state deteriorates..the daughter of a prominent Black Minister in Washington D C ..Minette comes from a conservative home.....her constant references to Jesus as her only, ultimate "savior" become frightening...could anyone have saved Minette from the fire that killed her?

GENNA (White Girl: forcefully outgoing yet painfully introverted...through her "upbringing" by Radical Chic parents (her father a prominent Civil Rights lawyer, whose character is oddly one-dimensional) she has learned Tolerance to the point of self-denial...feels it to be her Duty to protect Minette (from whom, i wondered..folks like herself?)..the book eventually turns into a Father/Daughter tango...with Minette as unwitting catalyst..or maybe the "idea" of Minette..Genna begins to forge her own identity only after ratting her Father out to the Feds..after which she becomes surly, aloof, and separate from what she "should" later years...after Minette's death...Genna spends an inordinate amount of time compiling a "text without a title" investigation into the death of Minette, her college roommate.....

as in most of JCOates' work, Obsession plays a large part...which makes for a claustrophobic atmosphere and severely neurotic characters...given the time in which this book is set...mid-1970s..i think the tone was perfect.....i also think this is a fine exposition of the Shades of Grey we all deal with in becoming Ourselves...this is also a puzzling, frustrating read...too many clues herrings...and, ultimately questions...i liked this book.