Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

Title: Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

Author: Ayelet Waldman

Short Summary:
Emilia is a young New York woman who married a co-worker, Jack, who left his wife to be with her. Along with the marriage comes Jack’s son, William. This child is a know-it-all who Emilia has a very difficult time dealing with, especially while she is mourning the loss of her daughter who died after only a few days of life. This book follows the ups and downs of life as a new wife, step-mother, and woman trying to figure it all out.

My Thoughts:
It’s now been some time since I’ve read this book and before looking through it again, I couldn’t remember too much about it. Obviously, it did not leave a huge impression on me. This was somewhat disappointing since I absolutely adored Waldman’s Daughter’s Keeper.

I found the characters in this book very difficult to like. While I could sympathize with Emilia at times, other times I just wanted to scream at her. William, unlike Emilia, was very difficult to sympathize with. It did not feel like I was reading about a five year old at all. I work with children and can never imagine even the most intelligent five year old say some of the things that came out of this child’s mouth. There were even times when he reminded me of Kevin from We Need to Talk About Kevin, which is disturbing. He turned out to be not nearly as terrible as Kevin, but he still sometimes made my skin crawl.

Although the characters were not always the most pleasant to read, there were redeeming qualities of this book. The book was written with wit and comic relief that often brought a smile to my lips. I also really enjoyed the details and descriptions of New York. I often enjoy when a location plays such an important role in a story, and this one brought New York to life.

I know from IMDB.com (internet movie database) that there is a movie based on this book staring Natalie Portman as Emilia. I can’t seem to find it on Amazon or Netflix, and am not sure where it was released. I would be curious to see how the story plays out on film.

This book fell a little bit more into the chick-lit category than I was expecting. Although it was not my favorite book, I would still recommend it as a quick, light read with some quirky characters and heartfelt moments to lovers of chick lit.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Writers on the Record Featuring Lionel Shriver

On Thursday night I made my way to Harold Washington Library, a gorgeous library by the way, to hear one of my favorite authors, Lionel Shriver, speak. She was interviewed by Victoria Lautman who does a radio show called Writers on the Record. The audience got to hear the live taping of this show.

Lionel was pretty similar to how I imagined her to be. Extremely witty and brutally honest. Plus, she was wearing some kick ass red boots that I loved! Victoria described her as a “smartypants” which she took as a great compliment!

The majority of the interview was spent talking about Shriver’s new release, So Much For That. This is a novel that deals with sickness, how it affects families, and the role the American Health Care System plays in it all. I found it interesting to learn that Shriver wrote this book due to personal experience with a best friend who suffered from mesothelioma, the same sickness a main character in the book suffers from.  She did two readings from the book, talked about where the ideas came from, and about the characters reactions in the story. It was really interesting to hear the back story before actually reading the book.

One point she wanted to get across in the book is the role that health care now plays in our lives and affects our decisions. I can relate. My dream is to own an independent book store one day and be self employed, but needing health care as badly as I do makes that dream seem unrealistic.

She also talked a little bit about past books such as We Need To Talk About Kevin and The Post-Birthday World. She confirmed that We Need To Talk about Kevin is officially being made into a MOVIE staring John C. Reilly and Tilda Swinton! I’ll definitely be curious to see that one. She admited that she is married to a man very similar to “Ramsey” in The Post-Birthday World, although Ramsey played Snooker while her husband plays jazz drums. She also said that she is not working on another book at the moment, but the next topic she hopes to tackle is immigration.

Just a quick reminder to everyone that the giveaway for Cutting for Stoneends March 21st, so don’t forget to enter HERE.

The hour long interview was very entertaining and often times extremely funny. It was the first author talk I’ve heard in a very long time and it made me want to go to more! I ended up buying So Much For That and got it signed. My other reading plans will be put on hold til I read this one!

This interview will be accessible as a podcast on Victoria Lautman’s Website. She has interviewed a number of distinguished authors for her Writers on the Record Series which is in its last season. Audrey Niffenegger, Elizabeth Strout, Augusten Burroughs, and Ann Packer are just a few examples. Go have a listen!

Lionel Shriver in Chicago

This Thursday Lionel Shriver, author of We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Post-Birthday World is coming to Chicago to speak about her new book, So Much For That. I’m really looking forward to this event. I loved both books I read by her and can’t wait to hear what she has to say about her upcoming one. For any Chicagoans out there, here is the info:

Writers on the Record with Victoria Lautman presents Lionel Shriver

Date: Thu. March 11, 2010

Time: 6:00 pm

Location:
Harold Washington Library Center
Cindy Pritzker Auditorium
400 S. State Street
60605

Program: Writers on the Record with Victoria Lautman

About this event:
American-born writer Lionel Shriver has lived in the UK for two decades, and wrote seven novels before achieving international successes with We Have To Talk About Kevin and The Post-Birthday World. 

She joins host Victoria Lautman to discuss her anticipated tenth novel, So Much For That, which presents a crumbling marriage resurrected in the face of illness, and one family’s struggle to survive the odds.
 
Writers on the Record with Victoria Lautman is a partnership with the Chicago Public Library and 98.7WFMT Radio. The interview will be broadcast on Sunday, March 14th, at noon.

I’ll be sure to write an entry on it afterwards.

I’m having a bit of a slow reading month, still reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson. I hope to finish in the next day or two. Then it’s possibly on to The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry, which has been sitting on my shelf for a while. I am currently listening to Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky and next up on my audio list is Little Bee by Chris Cleave.

Happy reading everyone!

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Book: We Need To Talk About Kevin

Author: Lionel Shriver

Short Summary:
We Need to Talk About Kevin book coverIn a series of letters written to her estranged husband, Franklin, the narrator, Eva, describes her thoughts, fears, and relationship with Kevin, their son. At fifteen years old, Kevin is in jail for the murder of several classmates and a teacher at his high school. Eva describes to Franklyn things she has told him in the past and fears and feelings she had never revealed about their son. Eva always saw a dark side to Kevin and struggled with feeling love for him, while it seemed to come easily to Franklin, who was clearly in denial. The book starts with Eva and Franklyn deciding to have children and follows Kevin’s growth through the incident Eva refers to as “Thursday”. This is the infamous day that Kevin performs the school massacre. The book also describes the aftermath and how everyone deals with the tragic events of the day.

My Thoughts:
It is difficult to say I liked this book because it was extremely disturbing and is without question one of the most haunting books I’ve ever read. I will never forget the character of Kevin and the way in which he murdered so many. Continue reading