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BookLust: A Tale of Two Cities June 5, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in BookLust, Life List.
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I read this one a while back, but it’s taken me a while to get around to posting the review.  If you’re interested, this was on the BBC Top 100 list.

Let me say, I entered this reading expecting a lot.  I’m not a Dickensonian or anything like that (is that what they’re even called?), but I really, really liked Great Expectations.  I mean, A LOT.  Let’s just get this out of the way now: A Tale of Two Cities is not Great Expectations.  Not even close.

The plotline itself is interesting enough and centers around the French Revolution.  The main character has been imprisoned in the Batille for years and reenters the world a changed, desolate man.  Only finding his long lost daughter can bring him out of his revere, but he finds himself pitched back into chaos.  The story moves from England to France and back to England in parallel storylines, which can get confusing at times; overall, though, I found the book easy to navigate.

The main problem is that, for being about the French Revolution, the book is just so incredibly dull.  We see little of Dickens’ wit here, and compared to Great Expectations, it’s practically nonexistent.  Even more problematic was how heavy-handed Dickens was here.  He practically bashes the reader over the head with his “Pro-England, the French are savages” message.  There’s little delicacy, and I found myself balking at Dickens’ agenda here.

2 out of 5 stars (not Dickens’ best)

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I’m Lovin’: Birth Control is Sinful in the Christian Marriages and also Robbing God of Priesthood Children!!! December 21, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in BookLust, Lovin'.
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PREACH IT SISTER>>>!!!!

Need a pick-me-up?  I swear to God, the reviews of this book made me laugh so hard I cried.  Also, bless my soul, you can look inside!  Trust me, IT IS ALL CAPS FABULOUS* BECAUSE JESUS THE HOLYGHOSTCHRISTCHILD TOLD ME>>>: ALSO I’M NEVER ROBBING GODTHESAVIOREMMANUELL OF CHILLIN’ FOR HIS PRIESTHOOD THANK YOU FOR CHANGING MY** LIFE!

Winter Read-a-thon December 13, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in BookLust, Life.
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I should start this post with a big ol’ HAPPY BIRTHDAY to JohnJohn.  I gave him Modern Warfare 2, and he’s been playing while I type/blog/bake him a cake.  We’re going to see The Blind Side tonight…I’ll let you know how it is.

I can’t even begin to tell you how behind I am on Christmas.  I mean, seriously.  I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off since Thanksgiving; as a matter of fact, the longest conversation I’ve had with John since Turkey Day was last night over dinner.  Ugh, it’s been awful, but it’s done now.  One more stack of papers to grade and I’m home free until January.  I need it: I am seriously burned out.  I have some nifty crafts planned in the next week, too.  Woot for free time.

Part of what I love most about Christmas break is the chance to read things that I’m interested in, though this break will be peppered with texts for my thesis and/or school.  That’s fine, though, they’ll be interesting enough.  Here’s the list of what, in an idea world, I’d like to read this break, including a section of MUSTS.

MUST READ:

  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  • Heading West by Doris Betts
  • The Sharp Teeth of Love by Doris Betts
  • No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (I’m teaching this one)

WANT TO READ:

  • Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton (my guilty pleasure, har har)
  • All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg (a southern memoir.  You might like this one, Bunny)
  • That Feminist Book that LindseyBunny Wants to Read (need title)
  • Belladonna by Anne Bishop
  • Hunger Games by I Don’t Know Who

So, what are you all planning to read this Christmas?  Any titles I need to add but haven’t?  Also, anyone up for a read-a-long?  Could be fun!

BookLust: The Devil’s Highway October 16, 2009

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Tough read.  Important read.  Must read.

Tough read. Important read. Must read.

I’m going to post this separately from a recap about Luis Alberto Urrea’s visit to campus, just for posterity’s sake.  Oh, and also, then I have TWO blog entries.

I don’t read a whole lot of non-fiction.  Unless it’s a cookbook, craft anthology, or magazine, I tend to gravitate towards fiction.  When I’ve got a down moment, I’m much more likely to pick up Lorrie Moore than I am Jon Krakauer, in other words.  When we were told that we had to teach this in class, I didn’t quite know what to expect, not only from the book but from my students.  I have to admit, I thought the book would be a series of redundancies for me–after all, who better to know the border than a girl who grew up there?  The fact that the book had been a finalist for a Pulitzer didn’t really sway me one way or the other; I expected a dull read full of outdated statistics, gross over-generalizations, and liberal propaganda (honestly).

What I found was an absolutely riveting piece of creative non-fiction.  Urrea writes beautifully.  He carefully picks his language and metaphors so that they are honest but impactful.  The story itself focuses on the Yuma 14/Wellton 26, a group of illegal Mexican immigrants who lose their lives in the middle of the Arizona desert.  Instead of starting from the group’s first step into Arizona, Urrea begins at the beginning, and the book’s success and readability hinges on this move.  He sets up the book by giving the reader an in-depth look at the border patrol and the Devil’s Highway, and explains key terminology which factors into the rest of the text.  I have to admit, the first part of the book is slow going and a little schizophrenic; Urrea frontloads The Devil’s Highway with information, and hops around substantially while he delivers it.

If you can stick with the book, it skyrockets in parts two and three.  Urrea is incredibly careful with the story he has been given. Urrea’s compassion for the men and their families colors the text as he paints the “walkers” in vivid detail.  The reader is immediately taken by the dramatic irony in the book, for Urrea never lets us forget that as we meet these “real” people, we are doomed to powerlessly follow them to their deaths.  We walk with the illegals step for step as Urrea painstakingly pieces together their story from survivor testimonials.  In terms of perspective, I felt like I was reading a first-person account of the tragedy rather than investigative journalism.

The real beauty of this book lies in its humanistic take on illegal immigration.  From the border patrol to the gang that organizes the death march, Urrea portrays each person as an actual person, not just a “group.”  For example, the reader gets to know many of the Yuma 14 along with their motives for running the border, and we realize that these people are more than just “Mexicans who steal our jobs,” but are fathers, sons,and providers.  The border patrol agents do their job and do it well, but The Devil’s Highway shows them as “missionaries” of a sort, a kind of cavalry dedicated to saving the lives of immigrants just as they protect the American people.  Though the book is tangibly biased, Urrea’s opinion is fairly hard to pin down: he seems to sympathize wholly with the immigrants, but he’s understanding of the American fear that surrounds the immigration issue in general.

Not only did I learn a ton from the book itself, I could not help but be moved by the Yuma 14’s story.  It’s tragic from beginning to end, and I honestly had to set the book aside more than once because the horror had become too acute.  Urrea pulls no punches and tells it like it is, even in death.  He forces us to count the steps to one man’s final resting place, watch as the men go insane from hyperthermia, and experience the tragedy of rescue.  The work is beautifully done, and I think that it should be a must read for all American citizens.  Though he sometimes downplays the complexity of the immigration situation–who truly understands it?–the work he does to make immigrants more than just a group is astounding.

The scope of this book is undeniable.  Regardless of your stance on immigration (and regardless of your citizenship!), you will learn something about yourself after you close the back cover of The Devil’s Highway.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5 (a gripping and critical text)

BookLust: Jane Eyre October 7, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in BookLust, Life List.
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Jane: Just Plain Wonderful

Jane: Just Plain Wonderful

When Jane Eyre popped up on my Victorian Novel syllabus, I had two immediate reactions:  a) it is on the BBC 100 list I’m working on and b) ugh.  I’d like to say that I had no expectations when I began the book, but that would be a lie.  I seriously thought it would be awful.  No, I mean, a “pulling teeth” kind of terrible.  Many of my friends had been forced to read the book in high school, and when I asked them about it, they stared off into the distance like a Vietnam vet and told their horror stories.  My hopes?  Not high, to say the least.
However, dear readers:  I.  Loved.  It.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Jane.  She was saucy and strong-willed without being one of those characters that just has to make life difficult for herself.  Her charm is subtle but present; it’s easy to like Jane, which makes it easy to like Jane’s story.  The book is written in first person, so as the reader you walk in Jane’s shoes.  I can’t say what this would be like as a male reader, but as a girl it was just so natural to follow through with Jane’s narrative.
And a narrative it is.  For a book that’s just shy of 600 pages, Jane Eyre was a book I couldn’t put down.  Unlike Les Miserables, there are no random, boring interludes.  Bronte sticks to what she knows–Jane–and adeptly skips chunks of time to keep the story engaging and relevant.  In addition, Bronte paints gorgeous, Gothic pictures of the English countryside as Jane moves from Gateshead to Rochester’s estate.
All said, Jane Eyre is still a sweeping romance (despite its fascinating commentary on the position of women).  Rochester is a poor substitute for the Mr. Darcy I wanted this narrative to have.  As a reader, I didn’t like him one whit.  As a reader walking in Jane’s shoes, her love for him was totally understandable.  For me, Rochester was one hiccup in the plot.  The best way to describe him is “House-ian”: he does just enough to make you like him but is pretty much detestable through the rest of the narrative.  Let me just say, he gets exactly what he deserves at the end.
There’s so much to say about the book, but I think I’m going to leave it there.  It’s delightful but not for everyone, and if you’re looking for another Austen-esque jaunty romance, this isn’t it.  Regardless, there is certainly a reason that Jane Eyre remains on syllabi everywhere.
5 out of 5 stars (a winter month classic)
P.S:  I have no idea what’s up with the paragraph spacing.  I can’t seem to fix it.  Sad day.

Hahaha! May 27, 2009

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I’ve been looking for a good InDesign CS3 book lately, and I spent about half an hour last night looking at different books on Amazon.  I just so happened to stumble upon the following review, which made me laugh out loud.  I couldn’t resist sharing it with y’all:

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

By Bob barker “The reviewer” (nashville, tn) – See all my reviews

I bought this book thinking i would learn more about InDesign then i knew. Although i feel it has brought some knowledge to the table, i do NOT feel this book is worth the review of stars others have given and the price. The maker of the book, i give him two thumbs up if he really designed this whole book in InDesign, BUT, he should have used spell check!!! For a book that is telling you that it will help you master InDesign, he has not and this is the worst representation of a typesetter. I feel if someone is telling me i would master something he would of atleast spell checked it. Thats why im giving this book a two. There is sooooooooo much grammer errors, type spelling, and run-ons going to left field that if i didnt know what i was doing, i would throw this book away!!!!! So for any of you that know how spelling, grammer and punctuation is a must for any typsetter, the author gives a bad name to us. Though, this book can be a great intro or a way to freshen your skills, but i would NOT recommend this book for anyone that hasn’t touched InDesign. It does not have any hands-on or come with a CD in lamens terms. Its for a moderate typesetter. Hope that helps you.

*****

I can definitively say that no, Mr. Bob Barker, your review was decidedly unhelpful, especially because it was barely written in ENGLISH.

BookLust: Free Range Chickens May 20, 2009

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Very Clucking Funny

Very Clucking Funny

Simon Rich’s frolicking romp of a book is one of the most unique, and funniest, I’ve read*.  The book–actually recommended by Dooce at some point, I can’t be bothered to sift through her website to find the exact post–was the first I’d read via Lexcycle’s e-book reader, Stanza.  Stanza itself is an application for the iPhone that allows you to download full e-texts onto the mobile device to flip through.  There are some bugs in it, but hey, the price is right (free!) and who am I to turn down free reading material.

Anyway, Free Range Chickens was my first ever Stanza download.  I figured I’d need something funny to get me through Easter in Berryville, because I seriously suspected the whole holiday would be an EPIC FAIL.

When I first flipped (fingered?) through the book, I was surprised to find that the entire thing is written in script form.  These mini-episodes, which are grouped into major parts, are short.  The longest isn’t more than a few pages long.  The unique structure of Rich’s book gave me pause.  On the one hand, I was intrigued by the unfamiliar form, but I worried that I’d downloaded a total junker.  Scripts are hard things to pull off well (just ask any playwright!).

I began the first part, Childhood, and within the first few pages I had actually laughed out loud. As a reader, I catch myself smiling occasionally, but I rarely outwardly demonstrate any emotions the book may elicit.  Rich’s history as a writer for Mad TV and Saturday Night Live shines in the vignettes that he creates.  The dialogue is ironic and poignant; Rich is able to use his own possibly legitimate experiences to touch chords in readers.  For example, one of his first pieces has to do with how a child imagines the conversation between the monsters that live in his closet.  As a grown-ass adult woman who is still afraid of her closet, I completely sympathize. This one, along with the boxing and dissection pieces, have been oft reread and repeated.  I still cannot read The Rules of Boxing out loud without laughing so hard I cry.

Overall, the book is a quick read, which is a little disappointing.  I was able to burn through the thing in slightly over an hour.  I would have regretted this a little more, except that the last few parts of the book–namely the Relationship and God sections–were lackluster compared to the rollicking good time the first half of the book provides.  It seemed as if Rich front-loaded all of his great material and just sort of parsed in a few other pieces in order to make the book brief rather than ridiculously/unforgivably short.  It’s those last two sections that keep this book from being a journal publication (think: literary magazines).

Rich’s brand of humor isn’t for everyone.  Flip through the book before you purchase it: if you like what you see, this book would be invaluable as a pick-me-up addition to any bibliophile’s collection.

4 bookmarks: stylistically unique and very funny, but the end bogs down

* In the true-blue comedy genre…**

** Recently, anyway.

BookLust: The Vagina Monologues April 7, 2009

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Okay, so I admit, this isn’t technically a book.  However, it is literature, so I’m reviewing it anyway.

Chant with me now...

Chant with me now...

For those of you who are not familiar with the play, it was first produced in the late 90s. The monologues Ensler writes are either a) transcriptions of or b) inspired by interviews Ensler conducted with “hundreds” of women.  The result?  A piece of shock theatre meant to empower anyone with a va-jay-jay.  The Vagina Monologues have been performed across the nation since its inception, and has boasted celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Nagimi, Gloria Steinem, and Melissa Joan Hart (i.e. Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) in its playbill.

On to the review.  First, let’s begin with what this piece does right.  Throughout the monologues, Ensler fights to reclaim language that she believes has been taken away from women.  For Ensler, “cunt,” “vagina,” “vulva,” and “clitoris” should not be dirty words.  I agree: it’s pretty undeniable that body-specific language has been labelled “improper” in society today, except in doctors’ offices.  The male counterparts–“dick,” “cock,” “penis”–are more widely accepted, Ensler’s argument continues.  I think that this part of her motivation for writing The Vagina Monologues is laudable.  Women should have a right to, and be comfortable using, language that describes their own bodies.  We shouldn’t be satisfied with cute little euphemisms; I, like Ensler, think there is a legitimate position to be had in reclaiming wholly female vocabulary from where it was shelved by patriarchal structures long ago.

Having said that, Ensler’s piece is designed to be shock theatre.  Clinically specific terms are bandied about in almost every monologue, and at one point the audience is asked to chant “cunt” with the speaker.  Fine, okay.  I’ll grant Ensler her methodology here.  Did I find it shocking?  Not really; at least, not as a reader.  Perhaps in production it has more sway.

Also, Ensler draws a very disturbing parallel between selfhood and the body.  In multiple monologues (like “The Vagina Workshop”) Ensler equates understanding oneself with understanding one’s body.  To me, this seems regressive.  In race studies, academics balk at the idea that race is innately tied to the body, that somehow because one’s skin is a certain color his/her body must be corrupt.  In other words, it grates me that she would rely on such a basic and stereotypical method to convey the self-worth of women.  Yes, okay, I should be comfortable being a woman, but I am not my clitoris, thank you.

Equally disturbing is Ensler’s double-speak on where men come into this role of self-definition.  In her opening monologue, Ensler features a woman who has been bullied by her husband to shave her vagina.  Here, Ensler makes the case that a woman’s body should never be controlled, or altered, by or for men.  However, in a later monologue, a woman is only able to come to terms with her body through a man–one who violates all of her personal boundaries in a poorly disguised rape which just happens to turn out fine in the end.  Women, whether positively or negatively, seem to be intrinsically linked to the perceptions of man.  Ensler can argue against that all she wants, but the structure of her monologues keep harkening back to this interrelation.

Contradictions like these are what makes The Vagina Monologues so scary.  The play is being canonized as a quintessential piece of feminist theatre.  There is a real danger in this is that The Vagina Monologues only represent one brand of feminism.  To use it as the flagship feminist drama of the 21st century is intensely problematic; for someone to think that reading this play automatically equates to an understanding of the feminist dialectic is not only wrong but teeters on the verge of misinformation.

Having said all of this, I can say that the play reads quickly, and is understandable.  It just didn’t live up to its hype.

3 bookmarks:  worth reading once, but not a life-changing experience as advertised.

BBC’s 100 Books February 19, 2009

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Stolen off of Facebook:

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

Instructions:
1) Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read.
2) Add a ‘+’ to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Tally your total at the bottom.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen X+ (Thank you for encouraging me to read this, Lindsey)
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte X+ (Completed October 1, 2009.  Excellent.)
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling X
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee X+
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte X+
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell X+
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman X (how did this make the list?  I mean, seriously)
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens X+ (I didn’t like this book in high school, but loved it when I read it again in college)
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy X
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare X+  (Okay, so I’ve only read most of the works, but I’m counting it anyway)
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien X  (I loathe and detest this book.  It’s the reason that Lord of the Rings–which, apparently, is amazing according to this list, is unchecked.  This book makes me thankful that Tolkien is dead.)
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell X
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald X+
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck X+
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll *
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis *
34 Emma – Jane Austen *
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen *
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis X+
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hossein
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell X+
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown X
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood X+
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding X+
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen *
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley X+
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon (So, funny story on this one.  I picked it up in the bookstore and flipped through it without reading the dust cover, and some of the comments reminded me of John’s neuroses.  So I showed him the book, and he got all huffy.  I couldn’t figure out why–turns out he DID read the summary, and the book is about autism.  Oops.)
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold X+
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie *
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville X (One of those that I’m sad to put an X by)
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker X+ (Despite writing my thesis on this book, I still love it)
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt (Has anyone ever heard of this?)
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker X
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White X+
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom X+
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle X+
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad X (I liked this the first time I read it, but having read it a subsequent 7 times in college has taken the shine off)
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare X+ (How is this separate from the Complete Works of Shakespeare again?)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo X+ (Long read, should be higher on the list)

Total: 30.  Not bad, considering!  Really, though, some of the titles on this list I haven’t even heard of, much less considered reading.  And really?  Phillip Pullman?  In the top 10?  Makes me doubt the validity of this list entirely.

BookLust: Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann February 8, 2009

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One baaaaad book.

One baaaaad book.

I originally grabbed this book at Barnes & Noble because my one of my office mates had a student give an oral report on it.  The premise sounded interesting enough, and it just so happened to be on a 2 for 1 table, so I brought it home.  

The idea behind this mystery novel is, well, novel:  a herd of Irish sheep, upon finding their shepard murdered, decide to unravel (haha, get it?) the mystery.  The book follows their hunt for justice from a third person limited point of view, with full focus being on the sheep.  Swann does a decent job capturing what the human world might seem like from a sheep’s perspective (I suppose, I’ve never spoken to a sheep before), and her sheepy characters are enjoyable.  That’s about where the rollicking good time promised on the cover ends. 

This book was originally written in German, and has since been translated into fifteen languages.  Leonie Swann–not her real name, she was working on a dissertation at the time of the book’s publishing and decided to go with a pseudonym should writing about sheep detectives kill her academic credibility–has a clipped and oftentimes confusing writing style.  Imagery is sparse, the narrative is stilted, and it’s hard to access the motivations behind her characters.  The plot itself begins as a murder, but morphs into this completely unbelievable murder/suicide/drug running plot that could have been interesting, but instead reads ridiculous.  To boot, there are too many loose ends by the conclusion of the story to leave the reader even marginally satisfied.  

This was one of those books that I had to force myself to finish.  The idea was cute enough, but it completely failed in execution.  Hopefully Swann will stick to academics, where one can only hope her prose is more manageable than in Three Bags Full. 

Rating: 2 stars (won’t read again, wouldn’t recommend)