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13 May 2009


I loved the Big Necessity, thanks for the other ideas. I am especially interested in the Sullivan book. Like you Thoreau doesn't do much for me (I went to Walden Pond and thought "Hey, nice pond.") but a great writer can make anything fun.

I loved Lambs first two books. I have The Hour I First Believed waiting for the right time to read it. I haven't read a Lamb book since I've read Picoult, so I can't really compare. But maybe it's time for me to start reading Hour.

I really loved Lamb's first two books, and his non-fiction projects "Couldn't Keep It To Myself" and "I'll Fly Away". I had Hour on my desk, but as many other fellow librarians do, I accumulate quite the stack of books I don't get to, and thus brought it back with only the first chapter having been read (which I really liked).
I can't stand Jodi Picoult, but haven't read Hour so don't know how it compares to Picoult, but I would never have put them in the same category based on Lamb's first two novels.

P.S. As a non-fiction buyer for my library, I love love love reading your blog. Just fyi.

"Would it be fair to describe him as trumped-up, literary Jodi Picoult?"

Yes. Actually, I wouldn't even really add the literary part. Or possibly even the trumped-up part. I have read exactly one book by each of them (She's Come Undone and My Sister's Keeper), which is far more than enough for one life time, from my point of view, but perhaps I should let those who've read more be the judge. . . although I think I won't.

I was shocked at how great "The Big Necessity" was--and I can't wait to get it back. Why I was surprised I don't know; "investigative" books like that are my favorites, but it does sound a little funny announcing that you can't wait to read a book about poo.

You will totally love the Robert Sullivan book. I read a few chapters and he addresses right up front how some people view Thoreau as a tiresome old windbag. That is exactly how I viewed Thoreau, so it made me laugh! I'd still like to see Walden, though, even if it is just a "nice pond." :)

Melanie, Beth,
This is precisely why I asked--I've known a lot of people who love Wally Lamb--not like, mind you, LOVE--and am feeling rather badly that I don't think he's going to be for me. Even if you wouldn't consider him Jodi Picoultish, what do you think about comparing his books to "Edgar Sawtelle" (if you've read that one?)?

I'm so glad if I can be of help. God, I love nonfiction, and reading more fiction is only making me realize how much I depend on nonfiction for my recreational reading. Bought any good nonfiction yourself lately that you'd like to recommend?

Yeah, I just don't know. I think perhaps I am unfairly judging Wally because I have never been an Oprah book fan. Also because his books are too damn long. I just was not put on this earth to read 700-page novels. But I was looking for some sort of idea of why people love him, although I'm still not really sure why people love Jodi P., so perhaps I am destined just never to understand a large part of the reading public.

Although I am not overly sociable, that idea just makes me kind of sad, though.

I think you'd be right about Lamb. Didn't the Oprah sticker set off your alarm bells? I've never read him, and have never wanted to. Like you said above, I don't understand what possesses people to read Lamb and stuff like that. Then again, I have weird taste in books, so the feelings are reciprocal, I'm sure.

Have you ever read "The Lucky Bones"? If you haven't, steer clear. I hated that book with every fiber of my being. Like Sebold, Lamb just reeks of emotional manipulation. Oprah and her acolytes gobble it up--which is fine, I suppose--but I always get suspicious when a book or author is "universally acclaimed." If there aren't a few naysayers, then I figure the book is a complete waste of time.

Well, all I can really say to your post is "Amen, Brother." I'm not usually a big fan of the emotional manipulation either (although I tend to think of it as "sentimentality") but there must be something that people get out of these books. I really do want to understand. I have this feeling that I would be a happier person if I could.

I did not care for "The Lovely Bones," but have you read Sebold's memoir "Lucky"? Holy shit. I don't care if that book was manipulative, it was unbelievably good. You know, as good as a horrifying memoir about rape and its equally horrifying aftermath can be. I wonder, am I more forgiving of manipulation in nonfiction? I don't know. Either way, I'll give Sebold a pass on her novels in recognition of the achievement of her memoir.

p.s. I love being a naysayer--let's face it, sometimes that's more fun for purposes of book discussion. I also don't think you have "weird" taste, I think you just like the offbeat. Although---"2666" has been pretty universally acclaimed. What do you have to say for yourself on that one, bub?

I wouldn't say "2666" was universally acclaimed. Did you follow the Tournament of Books this year? Plenty of people were pissed when it took round one. Even I waffled on it. I liked it at times, and at others just wished it would be over. The difference, though, is that folks like Sebold go for the quick fix. Instant coffee, if you will. Some books need time to percolate.

Come to think of it, I don't remember anything about "The Lovely Bones," other than my hatred for it. It's one of those things where I know I've read it, but I have no idea what happens in it. The same thing happened with "Special Topics in Calamity Physics."

I'll pass on "Lucky," though. For the longest time, I thought it was about a dog. Then I read a review of it, by Joyce Carol Oates. Oops. Still, there are a few authors I dislike enough to know I'll never read them again. Roth is one. Sebold is another.

That nonfiction stack looks tasty.

I've read 2 of Lamb's novels, and I can tell you what they were about, but they don't really lodge themselves in my mind.

I haven't even read the post, but all I can say is you are incredible. You're like my vet who "retired" ten years ago but is at the office everyday. Instead of dandelions, she had one rose bush. What are we underachievers supposed to do????

Touche. I had mainly noted the glowing reviews for "2666" and no, I didn't much follow the Tournament of Books. (I never do; I think I always come to the exact opposite conclusion as do all the judges, and that sort of thing gets old.) Your point about the quick fix is also a valid one.

God, "Special Topics." I was annoyed by that book too.

Do pass on "Lucky." Although I rather think all boys should read it at some time. I just do.

And thank you for not liking Roth--who IS reading and liking that guy? Someone must be.

Mmm, tasty nonfiction. I've got a whole new stack staring me in the face now too that probably also isn't going to get read. I need more time in the day, and also a trust fund.

Oh goodness, I'd love to be anything as useful as a vet. As it is I'll just keep sitting in my house reading too much and then blabbing too much. About the farthest thing from the definition of "incredible" that I can think of! :)

Oh I've bought TONS lately that I want to read, but I've been obsessing over film lately. I did watch Young @Heart about the incredible Senior Citizen Chorus. It's an amazing documentary. If you haven't watched it already, you absolutely should :)

AHA! I knew I shouldn't have taken that dandelion's hiatus stuff seriously! Who do you think you are anyway, attempting to have a life outside of the bookbloggingsphere?! Silly.

Wally and Jodi sitting in a tree, K.I.S.S.I.N.G....yes, they are the same, except at least Wally hasn't tried to bank in by writing 18 books in 2 years. or maybe he has, who knows.

I also though Lucky was a very good book, I liked it in the same way that I really liked Strange Piece of Paradise by Terri Jentz.

You're the second person to tell me I must watch Young @ Heart. I had it, from the library, but never got it watched, so now I will have to get it back!!

Dearest darling Bookie,
Thank you for putting the image of Jodi and Wally making out in my head. Would the baby in their baby carriage be Nicholas Sparks? :)

Yes, "Lucky." I still can't decide if every girl should have to read that book in high school or if no girl should ever read it. I still can't believe she wrote the whole thing down. Brandon may not like her for "The Lovely Bones," but I have to give Alice Sebold credit for being one tough broad, to live through all of that.

Also, Bookie:
I totally agree with you about "Strange Piece of Paradise." Terri Jentz is another woman who I'd really like to meet, just to feel her charisma. Unbelievable. If such a thing had happened to me I'm pretty sure I would have just given up...much less hunted down the guy who did it! Holy cow. People stun me.

It's true, it seems so compelling to me the way some victims of attacks seem to get obsessed with their crimes as a sort of defense mechanism. Somehow, I feel like this gives them some feeling of control back in a situation in which they had previously no control over. I always think back to that part in Lucky when she is at the table with her family and she is starting to describe all the details of what her rapist did to her, and they don't want to hear it. I feel like I would have wanted to hear just to be able to step into her horror with her so that she didn't have to feel so alone. It would have terrified me to know that my rapist was walking around out there and I know I wouldn't have had the courage or spirit to hunt him down.

Jentz was amazing in that she was so relentless about finding her attacker, she was obsessed to the point of annoyance. But wow, what a great story, and then when she hears the name of her attacker for the first time...CHILLS!!!!!

I don't think I can compare Lamb and Wroblewski. I hated Sawtelle and couldn't finish it. I have book club tomorrow so I've been focusing on reading the Bridge of Sighs. After book club I'll give Lamb some serious reading time to decide why I like him so much and think more about how he compares to Picoult/Wroblewski.

Good to know about comparing Lamb and Wroblewski. Please know that I certainly don't mean to disparage readers of Lamb, I'm just looking for connections to other books that Lamb readers might like, and since I didn't feel a real personal affinity for his stuff, I was just kind of casting about ("aboot," as the Canadians would say). Good luck with your book group and I ver much look forward to hearing more of your thoughts about Wally. I do think his writing is superior to Picoult's but it seemed rather similar to me in storyline, that's all.

What are you thinking about "The Bridge of Sighs"?

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