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miss contraire's little library

Zet's book reviews and book photography. Read more about this blog or check out the list so far. Visit my main tumblr.

Palo AltoBy James Franco
I think I know better than to complain about a book that a lot of people have warned me about. I haven’t finished all of the stories, but I have formed an opinion about it.
This collection is full of teenage angst and constant whining. Maybe that’s where people get the whole “Catcher in The Rye” comparison. The difference is that I enjoyed Holden’s thoughts a lot more. I’m not a professional fiction writer or anything, but there is that phase in writing (at least, for me) wherein you get stuck in one voice for too long that it gets hard to break away from it. I don’t know if James Franco intended his stories to be this way, but the they all feel the same to me.
I haven’t decided if I want to keep reading.
One thing I really can’t figure out is the deal with his author portrait. I can’t tell if he was being serious or not when he chose it. Was he mocking himself or was he seriously trying to look literary in it? I’d rather think the former.

Palo Alto
By James Franco

I think I know better than to complain about a book that a lot of people have warned me about. I haven’t finished all of the stories, but I have formed an opinion about it.

This collection is full of teenage angst and constant whining. Maybe that’s where people get the whole “Catcher in The Rye” comparison. The difference is that I enjoyed Holden’s thoughts a lot more. I’m not a professional fiction writer or anything, but there is that phase in writing (at least, for me) wherein you get stuck in one voice for too long that it gets hard to break away from it. I don’t know if James Franco intended his stories to be this way, but the they all feel the same to me.

I haven’t decided if I want to keep reading.

One thing I really can’t figure out is the deal with his author portrait. I can’t tell if he was being serious or not when he chose it. Was he mocking himself or was he seriously trying to look literary in it? I’d rather think the former.

I would absolutely love to share books with you. I've added so many to my wishlist that you've reviewed.

I think it's safe to say that I'm in love with your taste in books and music as well :3 asked by lettersfromthemountains-deactiv

Thank you! Makes me feel a little guilty though for neglecting this. I’ve yet to review a couple of books I’ve read in the past month or so. But it’s good to know that this blog has some sort of purpose after all! Thanks again. :)

ShortcomingsBy Adrian Tomine
My main problem with this graphic novel is that it ended. I was having such a great time reading it that by the time I reached the last page, I couldn’t believe how Adrian Tomine could betray me like that. Dammit.
Needless to say, this graphic novel is awesome. I only borrowed a friend’s copy, but I am determined to get my own and re-read it many, many times. Its accurate depiction of an aimless life after college and during semi-adulthood really affected me. It also touched issues of race (Asians in the US, to be specific), fidelity, and important life decisions. Beautiful art plus deadpan humor and the depressing reality of each of the characters’ lives made Shortcomings an incredibly enjoyable book. I would seriously recommend it to everyone.

Shortcomings
By Adrian Tomine

My main problem with this graphic novel is that it ended. I was having such a great time reading it that by the time I reached the last page, I couldn’t believe how Adrian Tomine could betray me like that. Dammit.

Needless to say, this graphic novel is awesome. I only borrowed a friend’s copy, but I am determined to get my own and re-read it many, many times. Its accurate depiction of an aimless life after college and during semi-adulthood really affected me. It also touched issues of race (Asians in the US, to be specific), fidelity, and important life decisions. Beautiful art plus deadpan humor and the depressing reality of each of the characters’ lives made Shortcomings an incredibly enjoyable book. I would seriously recommend it to everyone.

Hello! Just recently followed you. I don't usually send out a formspring question to those I follow even if I really, really want to. But I just fell in love with your tumblrs and I just had to tell you that. <3 Anyway, my question is where do you usually buy your books? :) asked by bebemacheko

Thank you so much. Definitely made me smile. :D I often buy books online (Amazon or McSweeney’s online store) because I like collecting hardcover editions of my favorite titles. However, most of my books were bought locally, either from Fully Booked or Powerbooks. :)

No One Belongs Here More Than YouBy Miranda July
This collection in three words: candid, heartfelt, and a little bit pesky. The challenge with reviewing this short story collection is that I&#8217;d give one story five stars out of five and another, a star or maybe none at all. But that&#8217;s to be expected of collections and anthologies.
I&#8217;ll say it straight-out: Miranda July&#8217;s writing is not for everyone. I loved &#8220;The Shared Patio&#8221; so much that I wanted to quote the whole story. On the other hand, a particular story made me want to throw away the damn book. Sometimes, she gets so brutally honest that it&#8217;s hard to continue reading. I&#8217;m not sure of her intentions, but I really cringed at some of them.
Some people think she&#8217;s pretentious, but I think her mind is really just&#8230; all over the place. Her thoughts go from this to that so fast that you sometimes lose track of the whole point of it all. But when she&#8217;s good, she&#8217;s damn good.
What am I trying to say? This book is worth it. I think she&#8217;s a brilliant, multi-talented person (with the coolest hair). It&#8217;s a lovely collection with more hits than misses. She&#8217;s nasty sometimes, but aren&#8217;t we all a little bit of this and that?
(I&#8217;m not sure if this review even made any sense.)

No One Belongs Here More Than You
By Miranda July

This collection in three words: candid, heartfelt, and a little bit pesky. The challenge with reviewing this short story collection is that I’d give one story five stars out of five and another, a star or maybe none at all. But that’s to be expected of collections and anthologies.

I’ll say it straight-out: Miranda July’s writing is not for everyone. I loved “The Shared Patio” so much that I wanted to quote the whole story. On the other hand, a particular story made me want to throw away the damn book. Sometimes, she gets so brutally honest that it’s hard to continue reading. I’m not sure of her intentions, but I really cringed at some of them.

Some people think she’s pretentious, but I think her mind is really just… all over the place. Her thoughts go from this to that so fast that you sometimes lose track of the whole point of it all. But when she’s good, she’s damn good.

What am I trying to say? This book is worth it. I think she’s a brilliant, multi-talented person (with the coolest hair). It’s a lovely collection with more hits than misses. She’s nasty sometimes, but aren’t we all a little bit of this and that?

(I’m not sure if this review even made any sense.)

(Source: planetickets)

I gotta say, I love your blogs. All of them! But especially this one, since I really love reading.
I was wondering if you could recommend me to a book. I'm working on a summer list as well, but it be nice to have more books added on for the future :) asked by powdered-root-of-asphodel

Hi there. Thank you so much for reading my blogs. :D Right now, I am reading “The History of Love” by Nicole Krauss and I’m really loving it so far. Why not try that one if you haven’t read it yet? Also, some books that should be part of your “Must Read” list, if ever you keep one or are planning to:

  1. Vacation by Deb Olin Unferth
  2. The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon
  3. You Shall Know Our Velocity! by Dave Eggers
  4. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Enjoy! :)

Sexing The CherryBy Jeanette Winterson
I&#8217;m actually not done with this book yet, but it is BEAUTIFUL. I&#8217;ll try to post the review before the week ends. :)

Sexing The Cherry
By Jeanette Winterson

I’m actually not done with this book yet, but it is BEAUTIFUL. I’ll try to post the review before the week ends. :)

Hey, so I stumbled upon your account after doing a bit of googling on Dave Eggers. It seems you're taking on Infinite Jest right now because of your love for Eggers and I'm doing just the opposite. I'm pretty much enamoured with David Foster Wallace and thought Eggers' introduction on Infinite Jest was spot-on so I wanted to read something of his. Which book do you recommend I start with? P.S. I know Infinite Jest is really bulky, but I assure you that it is well worth the time and effort once you finish it. Keep reading. Thanks. asked by damikewazowskis

Hello there! I’ve kind of stopped reading “Infinite Jest” due to my busy schedule, but I do plan on picking it up again soon. As for your question, I’m a bit torn with which to recommend. My favorite of his is “You Shall Know Our Velocity!” but it may not be the best one to start with. I think it is still “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” because it is the book in which he introduced so much of himself to his readers—his family life, his crazy thoughts, his early beginnings. It’s a memoir, but it is quite similar to “You Shall Know Our Velocity!” (which you should read also) because of how the protagonists of both books go through grief and a major transformation in their lives.

Good luck and do update me if you decide to read them! :)

Currently! I am so bored at work right now. Seriously.

Currently! I am so bored at work right now. Seriously.

ElephantBy Raymond Carver
After so many predictable book choices (my taste is heavily skewed towards metafiction), I decided to go with a recommendation by a friend. I started with this collection which I later learned isn&#8217;t his best and shouldn&#8217;t be the one you start with if you&#8217;re new to Carver.
Carver&#8217;s short stories seem simple and straightforward at first with its characters mostly dealing with internal squabble. I say simple because his writing is entirely without pretensions and almost always precise. He&#8217;s quite the minimalist and his stories do not affect you much after a first reading. After a second reading, however, you slowly get the smaller details within seemingly uncomplicated sentences, or statements, and they just end up blowing you away with the kind of impact that just hits you right where it should.
The best part about Carver&#8217;s stories is how relatable and humane his characters are. They are among us. Heck, they are us. We all face these things and think these thoughts. Carver&#8217;s talent in putting our fragile, human feelings into words is so apparent in this collection. And this isn&#8217;t even his best collection. I am definitely eager to read more.
Because I usually mention my favorites in short story collections, I will mention one which affected me the most. &#8220;Intimacy&#8221; is about a writer who visits his ex-wife without notice and she ends up giving him a passionate soliloquy about all the hurt she has experienced since he left her. Its end lacks a resolution that we typically search for in stories (beginning, middle, and end), but Carver follows no such structure. His stories often leave you confused and discontented. In need of an answer or two. Maybe if you read them once or twice more and you just might get a clue, at the very least. There&#8217;s also the possibility of getting no such answers, just like in life where experiences are often open-ended or without resolve.

Elephant
By Raymond Carver

After so many predictable book choices (my taste is heavily skewed towards metafiction), I decided to go with a recommendation by a friend. I started with this collection which I later learned isn’t his best and shouldn’t be the one you start with if you’re new to Carver.

Carver’s short stories seem simple and straightforward at first with its characters mostly dealing with internal squabble. I say simple because his writing is entirely without pretensions and almost always precise. He’s quite the minimalist and his stories do not affect you much after a first reading. After a second reading, however, you slowly get the smaller details within seemingly uncomplicated sentences, or statements, and they just end up blowing you away with the kind of impact that just hits you right where it should.

The best part about Carver’s stories is how relatable and humane his characters are. They are among us. Heck, they are us. We all face these things and think these thoughts. Carver’s talent in putting our fragile, human feelings into words is so apparent in this collection. And this isn’t even his best collection. I am definitely eager to read more.

Because I usually mention my favorites in short story collections, I will mention one which affected me the most. “Intimacy” is about a writer who visits his ex-wife without notice and she ends up giving him a passionate soliloquy about all the hurt she has experienced since he left her. Its end lacks a resolution that we typically search for in stories (beginning, middle, and end), but Carver follows no such structure. His stories often leave you confused and discontented. In need of an answer or two. Maybe if you read them once or twice more and you just might get a clue, at the very least. There’s also the possibility of getting no such answers, just like in life where experiences are often open-ended or without resolve.

What did you think of Marisha Pessl (Special Topics in Calamity Physics)? asked by cynicaltouchstone-deactivated20

Well, I recently put it back on the shelf for a couple of reasons. I really, really enjoyed it at first and thought it was very promising. However, after 7-8 chapters, I started rolling my eyes at the gratuitous display of just how intelligent and cultured the van Meers were. Hannah especially seemed too pretentious to me, like a hipster girl from Lookbook. (I’m sorry if this offends anyone. I have an account too.) So I’ve decided to take a break from it and go back to it when I’m in the mood for something like that. :)

How We Are HungryBy Dave Eggers 
I don&#8217;t know why I didn&#8217;t review this before. Maybe it was because I didn&#8217;t want to flood Miss Contraire with consecutive reviews of Dave Eggers&#8217;s books. But anyway. I&#8217;m reviewing it now because I re-read it today and it made me feel all sorts of wonderful. Just like the first time.
You probably consider me an unreliable reviewer when it comes to Dave Eggers because I so obviously love everything he does. Well, I concur. I don&#8217;t even know if I could ever hate anything he&#8217;s written or done.
How We Are Hungry is a collection of fourteen short stories about all sorts of things. One of my favorites is &#8220;The Only Meaning of the Oil-Wet Water&#8221; because of Hand&#8217;s appearance which reminded me of just how much I miss him and Will. It&#8217;s a wonderful short story of a love between two friends that can&#8217;t decide if it wants to take that jump to the other side or not, while concurrently tackling other things such as surfing, foreign lands, and strange men. It&#8217;s pretty long compared to the others and for good reason.
Another favorite is &#8220;She Waits, Seething, Blooming,&#8221; which is about a mother waiting for her son to get home way past his curfew while imagining the things she&#8217;d say and do to him once gets in. It&#8217;s a very familiar story that takes place in the mind of a worried mom who&#8217;s also aware of her authority over a delinquent teenager. I can&#8217;t remember how many times I&#8217;ve felt that way; scheming in my head all the things I&#8217;d say and do only to end up tongue-tied in the end.
All in all, it&#8217;s a wonderful collection. I didn&#8217;t love every single one of the stories, but none of them disappointed me either. As a big fan, I was reminded of all the things I love about Dave Eggers as a writer, a constructor of beautiful words, and an observer of people. Corny as it may sound, but I am hungry for more.

How We Are Hungry
By Dave Eggers 

I don’t know why I didn’t review this before. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to flood Miss Contraire with consecutive reviews of Dave Eggers’s books. But anyway. I’m reviewing it now because I re-read it today and it made me feel all sorts of wonderful. Just like the first time.

You probably consider me an unreliable reviewer when it comes to Dave Eggers because I so obviously love everything he does. Well, I concur. I don’t even know if I could ever hate anything he’s written or done.

How We Are Hungry is a collection of fourteen short stories about all sorts of things. One of my favorites is “The Only Meaning of the Oil-Wet Water” because of Hand’s appearance which reminded me of just how much I miss him and Will. It’s a wonderful short story of a love between two friends that can’t decide if it wants to take that jump to the other side or not, while concurrently tackling other things such as surfing, foreign lands, and strange men. It’s pretty long compared to the others and for good reason.

Another favorite is “She Waits, Seething, Blooming,” which is about a mother waiting for her son to get home way past his curfew while imagining the things she’d say and do to him once gets in. It’s a very familiar story that takes place in the mind of a worried mom who’s also aware of her authority over a delinquent teenager. I can’t remember how many times I’ve felt that way; scheming in my head all the things I’d say and do only to end up tongue-tied in the end.

All in all, it’s a wonderful collection. I didn’t love every single one of the stories, but none of them disappointed me either. As a big fan, I was reminded of all the things I love about Dave Eggers as a writer, a constructor of beautiful words, and an observer of people. Corny as it may sound, but I am hungry for more.

VacationBy Deb Olin Unferth

"Between us we had space, silence. We had longing shooting one direction and nothing coming back. His despondency tied me to him. His jagged wanderings. His sad starlight vigils. I gave in to it. I went along."

How do I even begin? I loved this book so much. So much that it pained me to finish it. I took my time with this because despite how depressing it was, I kind of enjoyed it. Ugh. Let&#8217;s get real. I really, really loved it.
Deb Olin Unferth is unlike any other. Her way with words is amazing, as I&#8217;ve said before, and reading this book just made me feel so lucky. More people should read her stories. You have no idea just how much you&#8217;re missing out on.
Okay. Enough gushing.
This book is about a man who follows his wife while she follows a stranger. That stranger goes out of town and the man goes after him. But that&#8217;s not all. The book shifts from narrator to narrator adding so much mystery to the story. The first chapter will get you hooked. You will not rest until you finish the whole thing. Trust me on this. (It&#8217;s so hard not to gush about a book as good as this.)
Please. Do yourself a favor and read Vacation. It will change you and make you feel things you&#8217;ve never felt about a book before.

Vacation
By Deb Olin Unferth

"Between us we had space, silence. We had longing shooting one direction and nothing coming back. His despondency tied me to him. His jagged wanderings. His sad starlight vigils. I gave in to it. I went along."

How do I even begin? I loved this book so much. So much that it pained me to finish it. I took my time with this because despite how depressing it was, I kind of enjoyed it. Ugh. Let’s get real. I really, really loved it.

Deb Olin Unferth is unlike any other. Her way with words is amazing, as I’ve said before, and reading this book just made me feel so lucky. More people should read her stories. You have no idea just how much you’re missing out on.

Okay. Enough gushing.

This book is about a man who follows his wife while she follows a stranger. That stranger goes out of town and the man goes after him. But that’s not all. The book shifts from narrator to narrator adding so much mystery to the story. The first chapter will get you hooked. You will not rest until you finish the whole thing. Trust me on this. (It’s so hard not to gush about a book as good as this.)

Please. Do yourself a favor and read Vacation. It will change you and make you feel things you’ve never felt about a book before.

BOOKFACES This book is huge and pretty! Edition
Currently reading. I&#8217;m sorry, Colum McCann. I&#8217;ll get back to you soon.

BOOKFACES This book is huge and pretty! Edition

Currently reading. I’m sorry, Colum McCann. I’ll get back to you soon.

Minor RobberiesBy Deb Olin Unferth
This is a particularly difficult book, or author, to review. Deb Olin Unferth made me feel so many different kinds of emotions with this short short story collection. In fact, I immediately started on &#8220;Vacation&#8221; right after this one simply because I couldn&#8217;t get enough. Though in comparison, &#8220;Minor Robberies&#8221; has more wordplay which may annoy a few and delight the rest.
Let me give you an example of her marvelous writing if you&#8217;re unconvinced:

And now, he says, after being so honest he feels like he must be in an exceedingly healthy relationship with someone he can tell everything to. But the fact is, he says, he feels like he is, or he felt like was a second ago, but that doesn&#8217;t mean that he is and, in fact, he probably isn&#8217;t, so he tells me that in order to be honest too. And now, he says, he&#8217;s feeling many things connected to memories and ideas and each thought is a revision of the last thought, each thought is a new emotion requiring honesty and each thought changes him and he can&#8217;t explain to me each shift quickly enough before a new shift occurs and so the only way he can be honest is to sit across from me and say, &#8220;I&#8217;ve changed. I&#8217;ve changed. I&#8217;ve changed. I&#8217;ve changed. I&#8217;ve changed.&#8221;

The very obvious verdict is this: I loved this book. I am in love with Deb Olin Unferth. I can&#8217;t get her words out of my head.
The cheesier version of the very obvious verdict is this: I am forever changed by Deb Olin Unferth. I&#8217;m not even done with &#8220;Vacation&#8221; yet!
And that&#8217;s all I have to say about this.

Minor Robberies
By Deb Olin Unferth

This is a particularly difficult book, or author, to review. Deb Olin Unferth made me feel so many different kinds of emotions with this short short story collection. In fact, I immediately started on “Vacation” right after this one simply because I couldn’t get enough. Though in comparison, “Minor Robberies” has more wordplay which may annoy a few and delight the rest.

Let me give you an example of her marvelous writing if you’re unconvinced:

And now, he says, after being so honest he feels like he must be in an exceedingly healthy relationship with someone he can tell everything to. But the fact is, he says, he feels like he is, or he felt like was a second ago, but that doesn’t mean that he is and, in fact, he probably isn’t, so he tells me that in order to be honest too. And now, he says, he’s feeling many things connected to memories and ideas and each thought is a revision of the last thought, each thought is a new emotion requiring honesty and each thought changes him and he can’t explain to me each shift quickly enough before a new shift occurs and so the only way he can be honest is to sit across from me and say, “I’ve changed. I’ve changed. I’ve changed. I’ve changed. I’ve changed.”

The very obvious verdict is this: I loved this book. I am in love with Deb Olin Unferth. I can’t get her words out of my head.

The cheesier version of the very obvious verdict is this: I am forever changed by Deb Olin Unferth. I’m not even done with “Vacation” yet!

And that’s all I have to say about this.

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