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Customer Comments

Janet has commented on (4) products.

The diving bell and the butterfly by Jean Dominiqu Bauby
The diving bell and the butterfly

Janet, May 4, 2007

A totally haunting glimpse inside disability that will leave you changed. Bauby wrote the book after falling victim to Locked-In Syndrome, a near-total body paralysis that left his mind intact and his one eyelid the sole means he had to communicate. The book's precious few words were dictated by this method and the image of a young, once able man rattling around inside the prison his body has become, committing his thoughts to memory and awaiting his "stenographer" each day to capture them by this painstaking method before they evaporate can't fail to move. Interestingly I got the impression he was not a particularly kind or likeable man; somehow this made the stirring empathy his writing provoked even more profound. Not even remotely sentimental or sappy; just spare and haunting.
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(9 of 14 readers found this comment helpful)

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
The Memory Keeper's Daughter

janet, January 11, 2007

A few years ago, I trained myself to give up on books that don't work for me, rather than force myself to finish every book I start. This leap has served me well, but occasionally a book comes along that is so convincing in its attempt to be worth reading that I am suckered in, slogging along through the trade-offs and waiting to hit pay-dirt. This book, a movie-of-the-week script in literature's clothing, is the worst offender yet. The buzz is correct--Edwards had a fascinating idea for a book, but the book she wrote doesn't live up to (or even meaningfully explore) that idea. The wise and wonderful Nancy Packer told her writing students, "If you hang a gun on the wall in chapter one, you'd better make sure it fires before the book is over." The Memory Keeper's Daughter has a gun hanging on every wall, and though the reader is carefully manipulated to appreciate the pathos or irony or drama of a whole slew of Moments, the most important guns never fire. Too tidy of plot and too shallow of character. Skip it. There's plenty of other fish in the sea.
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(44 of 73 readers found this comment helpful)

The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank
The Wonder Spot

Janet, November 22, 2006

A perfect read for the start of the family get-together season. But be forewarned: The Wonder Spot might make you late for dinner--Banks' writing is crisply funny and poignant and great, her characters recognizable and the story so engaging that I couldn't put it down even while I wanted to stretch out the pleasure of reading it. There are some descriptions of people and interactions that are so perfectly and economically captured--"'You were whistling,' he said, with real concern."--that they made me want to just stop trying to write anything myself because Banks got it all just right.
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(14 of 29 readers found this comment helpful)

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Janet, May 5, 2006

I was taken aback by the author's unremittingly dark vision of OZ (and by extrapolation, everywhere else). The concept of OZ as a dystopia was unexpected and not well supported. Many intriguing side-plots were dropped or barely explored (Boq, Nessarose, the breakdown, the Animals -- I don't want to be more specific and include spoilers). I enjoyed much of the book. as I do all things "OZ", but in the end felt unsatisfied with the development of characters and ideas.
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(28 of 57 readers found this comment helpful)

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