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Ellen Etc has commented on (13) products.

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
Vanessa and Her Sister

Ellen Etc, December 11, 2014

London’s Bloomsbury Group consisted of economists, historians, artists, and, of course, writers. Most modern attention focuses on brilliant Virginia Woolf, but her older sister Vanessa Bell, a painter, takes the narrator’s voice in this novel through journal entries and letters. The formation of the group was founded with the Cambridge friends of the Stephen brothers, but it was the self-educated Stephen sisters -- maternal Vanessa and witty but unstable Virginia -- that kept the lads coming back for conversation and intellectual sparring.

This vibrant novel brings the group to life, including fictional letters from others such as art critic Roger Fry and romantic Lytton Strachey. Hard to put down, this novel will annoy Bloomsbury scholars, introduce new readers to a fractious yet loyal group of intellectual friends, and delight those who can’t help wishing to eavesdrop on fascinating conversations.
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I Knocked Up Satan's Daughter: A Demonic Romantic Comedy by Carlton, III Mellick
I Knocked Up Satan's Daughter: A Demonic Romantic Comedy

Ellen Etc, November 20, 2014

A thrilling 136-page novel in the recent genre of “bizarro fiction,” "I Knocked Up Satan’s Daughter" is much more than a provocative title and cute cover. It’s shorter than similar books and reads like a pitch or film treatment. You get characters, plot, scenes, and dialogue, but not a lot of fancy filler.
It’s pretty basic writing, so I was thinking, “I could do this.” As I read on, I thought, “This is great!” And by the dénouement, I had to admit the genius that is Carlton Mellick III, which is like that of Jackson Pollock or Charles Bukowski. On the surface, it looks simple, but YOU CAN’T DO IT.
That said, this particular novel is a satire of the romantic comedy, but it is also weirdly touching, with genuine comic pacing. I’m not a fast reader, and I prefer to sleep on a good novel, but this one had such inventiveness and breakneck speed that I read it all in an evening.
Still, did the book itself live up to the cartoon cover and satirical title? Yes. Yes, it did.
I’m Ellen Etc., and I approve this review.
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Virginia Woolf in 90 Minutes (Great Writers in 90 Minutes) by Paul Strathern
Virginia Woolf in 90 Minutes (Great Writers in 90 Minutes)

Ellen Etc, September 8, 2014

Decent simple overview of VW's life and work. (I found only one glaring error -- the author referred to Quentin Bell, VW’s biographer, as her “brother-in-law,” when Quentin was her nephew. CLIVE Bell was her brother-in-law.)
The author indulges in a bit of cleverness here and there that falls a bit flat, but overall, this was a fair and interesting introduction to the life and major works of this canonical 20th century author.
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Sweet Charlotte's Seventh Mistake by Cori Crooks
Sweet Charlotte's Seventh Mistake

Ellen Etc, August 17, 2014

A wild child, CeAnne was brought up hard, and as the 1950s turned into the 1960s, she became reckless, promiscuous, dangerous, drug-addled, hungry for adventure and love, a compulsive liar. By turns fun, erotic, and vindictive, she became the fatal attraction for a number of men, to the detriment of seven children -- two of whom she bore in prison at the age of 18.
Now imagine that you’re the best friend of this enigmatic, feral woman-child, because you’re the baby from her great love, your father, who is now dead in a foolish accident. Cori Crooks tells her story in this intense, scrapbook style memoir, reminiscent of Michele Tea’s "Rent Girl." The characters in "Sweet Charlotte’s Seventh Mistake" will continue to haunt you as you grasp how much damage one irresponsible woman can do to so many children, how much they will depend on the kindness of strangers, and how, eventually, one can make some peace with an unimaginable childhood.
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Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
Boy, Snow, Bird

Ellen Etc, August 3, 2014

Boy Novak is doomed from the start. Daughter of a capricious and brutal rat exterminator in New York City, she escapes in the late 1950s to marry Arturo Whitman, a widower with a charming little daughter, Snow. But when Boy and Arturo’s daughter Bird is born and dark family secrets come to light, Boy’s heart hardens against her step-daughter Snow. The novel illuminates the national divides in the first half of the 20th century, with resonances before and beyond, suggesting the many different Americas we may inhabit, depending on our backgrounds and the ability of previous generations to truthfully reveal our heritages. When a narrator’s “voice” becomes unrealistic for the character, read it as allegory -- the book is deliberately layered and fantastic.
The novel also brings to mind the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau. "Missing mothers" and "family secrets," yes indeed, but I suggest the novel’s best benefit is like that of Jack London's working-class novel "Martin Eden," in that it shows the privileged how long the lingering effects of injustice and the corrosion of inequality continue to resonate.

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