Thursday, July 17, 2014

Double Thorsday Book Review: Duds

I read two books recently that were duds, and thought I'd get them out of my pea sized brain by warning everyone about them.

THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I found this in my attic a couple of weeks ago, when I went upstairs to clean out the central air conditioning filter and check the drainage line for leaks. (No leaks, filter was OK, I have no idea why the ceiling below it was wet.  Not that it matters.)  I was pretty excited, because, well, it's good ol' F. Scott himself.  Someone must have paid a quarter or so for this at a used book sale, because it's a paperback, printed before the US had zip codes.

This is the story of Amory Blaine, a child of privilege, whose mother rarely resides with his father; his childhood in Switzerland and Minnesota, private high school and Princeton University.  It's a self-absorbed, frankly boring story.  I've since read that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote this book and had it published at the age of 23 to impress Zelda.  I'm glad that worked out for him, because it didn't impress me.  2/5

THE DOGS OF BABEL
by Carolyn Parkhurst

I bought this at a used book sale because of the dog on the cover, with the intention of sending it to the relative in Denver.  It's a large print edition (she has vision issues), so I thought she would enjoy it.  But I decided to read it first, and I'm glad I did.

Paul Iverson, a professor of linguistics, came home from work one day to find emergency crews in his yard. His wife, Lexi, had fallen from the top of an apple tree in their yard, and only their dog, Lorelei, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, was there.  Paul decides that he should take a sabbatical and teach the dog to speak, so she can tell him what happened to Lexi: was it an accident or suicide?

The book bothered me.  I understand being distraught over the loss of a spouse. However (and don't lynch me for this if you disagree), I don't think dogs can relate a third person's experience and feelings.  Not that dogs don't remember people - they do - just that they can't understand what's going on in someone else's head, and identify what they did.  Paul starts trying to make Lorelei talk, learn sounds, for things like water, with the idea that he can get her to narrate Lexi's demise to him.  I found that creepy.

And then he began corresponding with someone who had been arrested for performing gruesome surgeries on dogs to render them capable of speech.  Ick.  Double ick.  Ultimately, Paul figured out on his own what had happened, but by that time, I was just scanning the book.  It's not going to Denver, because I don't want to upset its intended recipient; I'll donate it to Goodwill instead.  Maybe someone else will like it.  2/5

This Thorsday Book Review is brought to you by Winston, surveying the world from the comfort of what he would surely describe as his window.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!


7 comments:

Blond Duck said...

Just dropping in to say I love you and miss you!

altadenahiker said...

You really have to read TSOP between the ages 15-18, when your world is still small enough that you, like Amory, really do know it all. Otherwise, it is interesting only from the perspective that this is the same writer who would one day pen a masterpiece.

Rhodesia said...

Happy Thorsday and have a good weekend Diane

Sue said...

When I lived on the beach I got into a Fitzgerald kick and read everything my local library had. It was per-Amazon days. I really didn't care a lot for his writing. I found it a bit boring.

The talking animals isn't something I would like at all. I read a book which is very popular, though I can't think of the title offhand, where the man talks to his dog a lot. That's OK but his dog answered him and I didn't care for it. Though I love my dogs and carry on conversations with them all the time, I do know they aren't really talking to me in English.

SissySees said...

Winston is adorable!

I only love The Great Gatsby if we're talking FSG, and even then, as Altadenahiker said, I have never enjoyed it as much as I did at 15.

Sorry you had two duds in short order.

STELLA and RORY from Down Under said...

Hi Marjie. My daughter gave me a system regarding reading books. You take your age away from 100 (i.e. for me, 100 - 54 = 46) and that's how many pages you give a book to get you involved. If it hasn't worked by then, ditch it hehe. This is because the older you get the less time you have to spend on books that aren't any good for you. I thought it was a great idea :-)
No worries, and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)

Dexter said...

Oh gross. So totally not reading that book. As for F. Scott, well, he never really did it for me, so I wasn't at risk of picking up the other one either.

Mango Momma