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02 September 2008


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I'm new to blogging but have been reading around for a while. What an engaging, fun, funny, serious, and satisfying blog you have going here. And I love your blog's title. (And thanks for the work you do on behalf of nonfiction! I enjoyed the links from your "about" page.) ~ I'm sure I'll skip this book. I may have a higher tolerance than you for Shakespeare re-tellings, but animal narrators are the last straw. Thanks again. ~sadie

You hated "A Thousand Acres"?

I tried reading Edgar Sawtelle, and was only able to get 80 pages into it before I had to return it to the library. Then I got it from BookSwim because I thought I should finish it. Now I'm not so sure, even though Stephen King liked it. (j/k)

Personally I love YA novels! They're definitely underrated.

I almost picked this one up. I probably would have too without knowing that parts of it were told from the dog's point of view. I love dogs, but I do NOT like animal narrators (unless they're in "Animal Farm" or something).

What did you hate about "A Thousand Acres"? I haven't read it, but it is on my TBR list. I wondering if I want to take it off now...

You're very welcome. Thanks for reading. And thanks for reading nonfiction! It's still where my heart lives, after all.

I'm not quite sure what Stephen King got out of this one. Although I like him all right, his books are always too long for me too, so maybe it's a solidarity thing? There certainly wasn't any suspense in this title; at least not enough to be sustained over nearly 600 pages.

Yeah, "A Thousand Acres." I just don't like Jane Smiley. I find her a weird mix of literary pretentiousness mixed with extreme sentimentality and a dash of "ripped from the headlines" Oprah-like subject matter. Not an appealing mix, for me. She reminds me of Jodi Picoult, actually. I didn't like A Thousand Acres because I grew up on a farm and enough can go wrong without a big dark icky secret--I don't want to give away too much, because I firmly believe you should read it if you've been meaning to--at the center of the story. The icky secret felt like too easy of a ploy to me, frankly. But, to each his own.

Yeah, animal narrators. It's just not right. Not in a book like this, anyway.

Thanks for this one CR, i was going to get a copy at the library (in a few months when it comes up off the holds list.) Now I will not waste the precious space in my hold list (my library only allows 15)

OMG, only 15?!?!?!?! How do you STAND it? Wow, I must immediately start being more thankful for my public library system.

I'd still say read it and some point, because there must be some appeal to it that I'm missing, but I'd definitely wait until there wasn't a waiting list for it. Actually, if you browsed it a bookstore you could probably see if it was going to be for you, and I'd recommend that. Fiction is more a fickle master than nonfiction, I think, so I probably shouldn't be making such sweeping pronouncements.

The 15 thing is truly tragic. A few years back, they went to that thanks to very large hold lists and the trouble of maintaining them. I had 80 odd holds at the time. Long lists were grandfathered, but you couldn't add new ones until you got down to 15.

Now I prune the list quite often and I end up balancing long wait holds with quick turnarounds. Otherwise I would surely go mad.

I have been a fan of your blog since I read your review of "Marley and Me" back when your blog was still nonanon. I have always been amazed at how closely your reviews mirrored my thoughts. I dislike Jodi Picoult and Barbara Ehrenreich and found "Eat Pray Love" to be entirely overrated, but my most hated book ever is "A Thousand Acres". I too grew up on a farm and found the icky secret to be a bit much. It literally pushed me over the edge - to nonfiction that is - which is what I now read almost exclusively. I did go through a Barbara Kingsolver phase when I was younger and kind of liked "Poisonwood Bible". I hope you don’t hold it against me. Thanks for making my day, again.

Savvy Working Gal,
I enjoy your blog too--thanks for writing it. Doesn't it feel good when you find a kindred spirit in hating a book? I'm glad I wasn't alone on "A Thousand Acres"--and from another former farm girl! I feel vindicated.

Although I feel like I should thank Jane Smiley for helping to make us hardcore nonfiction readers--what a world we found, huh? Thanks, Jane.

I would never hold Kingsolver against you. I've not yet read "Poisonwood Bible" but mean to one of these days.

Just wanted to add another book to the informal list of recent Hamlet retellings. The Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig has gotten good buzz on some of the YA blogs, but I haven't read it yet myself.

Thanks for the suggestion. I really am enjoying YA books this year (for one thing, they tend not to be so pointlessly long, I guess I still have the attention span of a teenager) so I'm going to look into it!

I hated A Thousand Acres too!

"...a massive American epic marriage between Hamlet and Huck Finn (God help us)..."

If I'd ever been planning to read this book, that would slap it right off the TBR. Unbelievable.

I work in one of the big category-killer retail bookstores (sorry -- insurance coverage, job availability, excuse #3, excuse #4), and we've got a ton of this book...and I do mean a ton. Hefty bastard, inn't? We keep getting more, though, so I assume it must be selling. Sigh. Stick one of those "this is LITERARY fiction!" covers on a book (and an Oprah stamp thingy, of course), and people will buy anything. Whatever.

Count me in if we're forming a "YA books are underrated" club, by the way. I think they're often much better than the books technically set out for the grown-ups, and some of my favorite stories definitely live in the YA section. (And thanks for the Lin Enger recommendation, by the way; I plan to check it out tomorrow.)

I'm so glad I found your review. Although I love dogs, I do NOT like animal movies, more so animal narrators. I've been intrigued by Edgar Sawtelle but was waiting for it in paperback and it was going on my TBR pile for 2009. Not anymore, I think.

Jane Smiley and Jodi Picoult have been recommended to me many times but I refuse to pick them up precisely because I was afraid they might turn out the way you described. There is one that reminds me of this, though. Have you read Alice Hoffman's Here on Earth? A good friend lent it to me as she loved it. I don't like saying negative things about books and authors but that book turned me off to Alice Hoffman completely. I don't know if I'll ever read her again. It was a bad modern retelling of Wuthering Heights.

Also, may I add that Jane Smiley and Jodi Picoult must surely not be in the league of Barbara Kingsolver. At least to me. :D

I see I never answered you. Sorry about that. Did you ever get to read the Lin Enger? Any other good YA titles you've read lately? I must admit that I enjoyed a ton of YA books this year, including the new one by John Green and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.

I like animals too, but I simply don't need them narrating my books. All of the "cat mysteries" by authors like Lillian Jackson Braun and Rita Mae Brown drive me nutty bars too--so I know it's not just dogs.

Alice Hoffman--interesting--I've been meaning to read her for so long. I might just have to look into Here on Earth; sounds like you didn't like it but books are so hard to call sometimes. Or maybe not. I still want to read her so might start with a different title.

Don't even get me started on Jodi Picoult. My new year's resolution should be to be kinder to Picoult, I think.

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