Thursday, July 31, 2014

Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful RuinsBeautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm glad I made it to the end. If it had not been a selection for one of my book clubs, I would have quit somewhere in the middle.

I had no problem with going back and forth through time from present day California, to World War II Italy. The problem was finding a character I could care about. Too many vulgar men making a wreck of their lives, too many women with no self-respect. And the story was going in so many directions, too much repetition. How many times did we have to read about the young actress going to Porto Vergogna by mistake when she probably meant to go to Portovenere. How many times did we read about the writer who went to Italy every year to write a novel that never materialized.

In between there were the tabloid stories of Liz and Dick and their romances while filming Cleopatra, and a movie producer bargaining to stay in business.

The pitch chapters were garbage as far as I'm concerned. Donner! really? And The Rejected First Chapter of Michael Deane's Memoir More repetition. And the big fight scene...PUHLEEZ!! I was begging for somebody to come and get me out of my misery. And the pages and pages of wrapping up the lives of EVERY character in the book, including the guy whose only contribution to the story was getting shot in the foot, and the Germans we never saw hiding out in the bunker.

But I'm a good book club member. I almost ALWAYS read the whole book. And that son-of-a-gun tricked me. My Kindle said I was at 94% complete when the story ended. AHHH Relief! There were more pages of Acknowledgements and Insights, etc. for me to skim...and I do mean skim.

But there was a good part. It was the ending, sweet and beautifully written about the only two people in the book I really cared about. That much was worth the two stars.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Coming Clean

Coming Clean: A MemoirComing Clean: A Memoir by Kimberly Rae Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway.

This is a true story written by Kimberly Rae Miller, the daughter of two hoarders. They were hoarders before she was born, so that growing up in squalor was her "normal." She was able to compensate for her parents' mess because she loved them, and they always treated her with love and affection.

It wasn't until she entered the outside world that she came to recognize her parents' mess for what it was. Piles of papers stacked so high and wide, it was difficult to get through the door. Every surface in the house covered with stuff, so there was no place prepare a meal or even sit down to eat. Their meals became fast-food and their eating space was the corner of the bed.

As Kim became smart enough to avoid having friends come inside the house, and even pretended to live a a house around the corner where she could be picked up or dropped off, the fantasy in her head became her survival.

She was smart enough to go away for college where she developed friendships with normal people, and planned for a future away from her parents. But she was never able to get away. Her parents continued living in filth so deep and wide, it was infested with rats, roaches, and other vermin. Every few years they had to move, once because the house burned down, another time when the house was condemned. Each time they moved they had to call on Kim to help clean up and pack them up for the move.

The story is so overwhelming, I even started to dream about the piles of mess they lived in. Kim caved in many times under the pressure of taking care of the parents she never stopped loving them.

It's a powerful story with no happy ending.

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