Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Summer Reading.

Latest novel read: The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank.

The type of women who read chick-lit can relate to chick-lit, and that's why the genre is so enjoyable and popular--because there's a lot of us singletons! Although people outside the genre might think it's "silly," it's really not. Or if if it is, then I guess most Western women's lives are silly. Sometimes women need to read about people who can be them or their friends and also realize that they aren't the only ones who experience the ordinary kinds of embarrassments, failures, and heartbreaks. We can't all be Scarlett O'Hara and Jane Eyre.

Portions of The Girls' Guide made me smile--amusedly or ruefully--because I understood how the narrator felt or I've been there. The Girls' Guide isn't the most successful chick-lit out there, for me, but it's mostly enjoyable. My main problem is that two chapters threw me completely out of the novel. Most of the book is a first-person POV of the character Jane. But then there is one chapter from the first-person POV of a character who has had no presence--or even a mention--in the novel at that point, and then she--and all of the strangers she brought with her--just disappear for the rest of the novel. I was left thinking, "what just happened here?" Another chapter is a second-person POV, which I dislike anyway, that is completely random and, again, "wtf?"

Also, Jane doesn't end up with the man I prefer! Urgh! And the synopsis on the book-flap is pretty much not-at-all what the book is about!

But I think it has a good "lesson" for women. Women are always told we have to follow certain "rules" of dating, even in modern times! Jane went her own way for most of her adult life, but then she got discouraged about dating, like we all do, and started to buy into "the rules." But eventually she realizes, hello!, men prefer her just the way she is, without those silly high school games.

So, yeah, it's enjoyable, but not recommendable. Go read Bridget Jones's Diary be Helen Fielding instead.

Three latest Oprah's Book Club books read: The Meanest Thing to Say, The Best Way to Play, and The Treasure Hunt by Bill Cosby.

Um. I still can't quite figure out why these books are on an adult's reading list. I guess they would be good for parents to read to their children, because they do offer up some alternate solutions to dealing with problems, such as bullies.

Latest memoir read (that is also part of Oprah’s Book Club): Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir. If this book were fiction, everyone would say it’s so unbelievable! But it’s a true story, and once again truth is stranger than fiction.

Stolen Lives is a memoir of Malika Oufkir, who was adopted by the King of Morocco when she was a young girl—not because her parents were dead or because they wanted her to be adopted, but because the king wanted his daughter to grow up with Malika. The king dies and his son takes the throne and raises Malika. When she is nineteen, her real father (Malika has been living with her real parents for several years at this point) tries to stage a coup de taut and assassinate the king. The attempt fails. Malika’s father is executed for this offense, and Malika, her mother, five siblings, and two servants are then put in prison for twenty years. One of her brothers was only three-years-old at the time of their imprisonment.

This memoir has a lot of promise, but I don’t think it lives up to it. The writing is merely decent. Background isn’t given, details are inconsistent, etc.

Also? As a girl, Malika was a spoiled brat (having lots of things isn’t what makes her spoiled, it’s her attitude) and she continues to be incredibly self-absorbed as a prisoner and adult, and at times I found her irritating and unsympathetic as a narrator. She barely acknowledges the sacrifice of two faithful servants who volunteered to go into exile with the family. She also barely comments on how the rest of the family cope and feel about their imprisonment—or what happens to them when they are finally released. I think two are mentioned to have had children, but that’s it.

And she’s so vain. During their imprisonment, she comments about how one of her sisters is “letting herself go” in terms of looks (in this case, meaning she’s getting fat), and they give this girl a nickname that has to do with fatness. They barely receive any food during their imprisonment, scraps that they have to divide between nine people, and Malika makes this sister go on a diet! Isn’t that outrageous? I v. much doubt that this sister was in any way overweight.

I also found her blasé attitude toward suicide troubling. I’m not talking about the various suicide attempts of the family during their imprisonment. I’m talking about how as an eight-year-old (and later again at fourteen), pampered little princess, Malika tried to kill herself. An eight-year-old shouldn’t even know what suicide is, let alone attempt it!

Ugh. So, yes, while Malika went through a horrible ideal and is admirable for surviving it (and so are the rest of the prisoners, which she tends to forget), I don’t like her as a person all that much.

iTune: Yo-Yo Ma--"Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: I. Prélude"
iMood: tired


[.chickadees.on.the.pavemen7] said...

have you ever considered being a critic?

Stefanie said...

Oh, I'm not v. good at expressing what I dislike and like about books and movies.

I do have a second interview at the job where I had the tests, so fingers crossed!

[.chickadees.on.the.pavemen7] said...

Best of luck w/ that! We'll have a big celebration if you get hired... + if you don't.... we'll still have one anyways but it wouldn't be the same, obviously. Come stay w/ me when I get back!! I'm gonna be back in 'Bula for a little bit. My fam. from NOLA is gonna be visiting! Aidan is soooo cute. + Alex pretty much rocks.

Stefanie said...


Hey, I might be living there on my own by the time you get back! Or prob. not...

Aw, that's cool that they're coming up to your place.