Monday, October 5, 2009

Project 50: September

I just have to get through one more book, then I've accomplished my goal for the year and can concentrate on National Novel Writing Month in November!

“The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal” by Jonathan Mooney
The author, labeled “learning disabled” because of dyslexia had grown up being looked down upon, but graduated from Brown University with a degree in English literature. The book is not a story of “short bussers” overcoming the odds to become awesome. Mooney bought a little yellow bus and set out to see the experience of living with a disability label. I feel that his writing was really honest. Before meeting a young man with cerebral palsy, he gets really nervous because he’d thought he would only interview people with learning disabilities like himself, not conditions like cerebral palsy or Down’s Syndrome, but naming his own fears of encounters with people who are “different” gives a lot of depth to his project. A

“Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and the musical Rent” by Anthony Rapp
I really like Rent, so when I stumbled on this while looking for books on bereavement, I nabbed it. Rapp focuses on three areas of his life: his mother’s illness and death, his sexuality and relationships, and anything involved with Rent, from the workshop where it began to the film version. It was emotional and touching. I didn’t find scenes from his sex life as a gay teenager to be too graphic. I laughed at the scene where he and a bunch of friends played Spin the Bottle and gave each other “ear sex.” The only thing that I didn’t like was that the only language he used to convey excitement was “shivers ran up my spine.” Over and over and over, especially when first hearing songs from Rent. I wish those scenes had had a little more varied language. B+

“Doctor Who: The City of the Dead” by Lloyd Rose
This book starts off like a good whodunit mystery but as questions are answered, it gets more confusing than before and crumbles into a bunch of disjointed scenes. Maybe it’s an 8th Doctor thing, but there was too much dark magic and other wacky stuff going on for my taste. At the end, I really didn’t have any clue what had happened in relation to the murder at the beginning. C

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” by Mark Haddon
I liked this book mostly because of the structure. The author writes from the perspective of an autistic 15-year old who wants to discover the murderer of his neighbor’s dog. The structure of the writing is such that every action or sense that he experiences gets processed and analyzed, right down to seeing a certain number of cars of a particular color in a day. The book jacket said that it was about a young man who can’t experience emotion, but I don’t think that whoever wrote that must have read the book, because he definitely reacts to his emotions. As the plot gets more intense for the main character, the sentences start to run together and you feel his panic translating to the inability to separate his thoughts. A

“The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards
This was a good story that went on for a bit too long and didn’t end the way that I thought it should have. It’s about a couple who have twins, and one is born with Down’s Syndrome. The husband is a doctor and delivers the babies in his office during a snowstorm, and the only other person there is a nurse. He gives the baby to the nurse and tells her to put her in an institution, but she ends up running away and raising the baby as her own. The husband tells the wife that the baby died and the secret creates an emotional rift between them for the next 20 years. I found the story, mm, a little too feminine, all about children and housewives and insensitive husbands, and clich├ęd in that the wife becomes an alcoholic housewife, bitter about her role in life. C+

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