Ra(w)R: Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

Published first in 1928 in Italy, this book wasn’t published in the U.K. until 1960 (I would assume it was published around then in the U.S. as well). It took me a few weeks to read it, and it’s another example of how it just takes time to fall into the rhythms and patterns of the book, but it’s just so flippin’ beautiful.

Review:

This was part of my tour de history of romance novels- kicked off by Fifty Shades of Grey and continued by Fanny Hill.

Connie, the daughter of the upper-middle class intelligentsia, goes through her youth sure that art and politics are the end-all and be-all; she and her sister use their sex to manipulate men, but keep them at arm’s length. The connection is mental; physical connection is power, and Connie and her sister know how to use it.

Connie marries Clifford Chatterley, who sadly comes back from the war paralyzed from the waist down; this doesn’t do good things for them in the bedroom. Connie is bored; she and Clifford are not cut from the same bolt of cloth, and it shows. Their views on the changing social and economic climate of England don’t align, especially when it comes to what should be done with the failing coal mine at Wragby, their country home. The relationship between the two is disjointed and limited by their lack of emotional, intellectual, and sexual connections, and so Connie takes a lover.

Oliver Mellors is the Chatterley’s gamekeeper; he and Connie find their connection, but at a cost- he was sure that he would never be able to find physical satisfaction with a woman again after his ex-wife tormented him and she thought that physical connections  were worthless. Clearly the point of the book is that they are both wrong.

There are about a thousand more details to this book, but that’s kind of sort of the general gist of it. Connie needs more than intellectual stimulation to be happy; she has to be connected physically as well.

I really loved this book; the blush count wasn’t as high as it was when I read Fanny Hill (or Fifty Shades!), which was nice, but it’s very obvious why it was so controversial when it was published. Definitely some unprintable words; and we dare to suggest that relationships might be more than intellectual! Heavens!

Is this a romance novel? No. I don’t really think so. Romance novels have a hero, a heroine, a problem, a solution, and sexytimes. This book has more- it’s a commentary on the changing structure of England, it’s a commentary on what is love (baby don’t hurt me), it’s a commentary on how money changes people and how they interact and what a fustercluck that can be. It’s a commentary on sex and it’s role in the world, which is clearly ALWAYS a giant mess. It’s a commentary on communism even.

I highly recommend this book; it’s terribly romantic and the words are beautiful and if I ever got a card with a bit of Lady  Chatterley’s Lover written inside I’d be very impressed. Go read it!

Some of my favorite quotes:

Sex and a cocktail: they both lasted about as long, had the same effect, and amounted to about the same thing. 

But it was a truth that killed.

At the top of the hill they rested, and Connie was glad to let go. She had had fugitive dreams of friendship between these two men: one her husband, the other the father of her child. Now she saw the screaming absurdity of her dreams. The two males were as hostile as fire and water. They mutually exterminated one another. And she realized for the first time what a queer subtle thing hate is.

(sorry I don’t have any page numbers; my kindle copy only gives me locations)

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Ra(w)R: The Bright Forever by Lee Martin

The Bright Forever: A Novel by Lee Martin

Published May 3, 2005 by Shaye Areheart books

Allie stats:

Difficulty: just your average fiction novel

Time to Completion: a day (started it in the morning on my way to Solstice in Times Square, while I was waiting, the ride home, and at lunch)

Stars: many stars. Stars may be too happy for this book.

Review:

One summer evening, Katie Mackey takes off for the library to return her almost-overdue books. She doesn’t come home. This is the story of the after, during, and before of her disappearance. On one level, it’s a crime novel- solve the mystery, find out who “did it.” On a completely separate, spiritual level, Martin asks us to reconsider the difference between who did it, and who is responsible. The question is uncomfortable, the answer is unbearable.

The story is told through multiple points of view, mostly after the fact, but sometimes not. Time isn’t important, just the fact that things happen. I mean, you’re given the date and whatever, but as people tell their stories, time slowly unravels, to where the only thing that matters is that something happened and it made waves or ripples or just barely disturbed the surface of this little town in Indiana during the first week of July sometime in the 1960s. By going through multiple points of view, it becomes abundantly obvious that there is no such thing as “the truth.” There simply isn’t. There can’t be. No one person has the power to say that “this is true and this isn’t.” There are things that happened and things that didn’t; events happen or they don’t. But I think this book shows that the “truth” we want to attach to events is too complicated for such a little word. There’s so much more than meets the eye or the ear or the hand and reconciling ourselves to this mystifying aspect of life is borderline impossible.

This is a really gorgeous, uncomfortable book. The center of the plot is every parent’s worst nightmare, in multiple respects, and I applaud Lee Martin for writing this book- there is more than one reviewer on Amazon who didn’t like the book because of the subject. By the time I reached the end I was more than aware of how strange I felt, but it forced me to stop and feel, and that doesn’t happen everyday.

I went to ALA Annual Conference and gathered 43 books.

Fact: ALA Annual Conference was in Anaheim, CA this past weekend.

Fact: I am blogging about it here. Go read it.

Fact: there were 5,000 vendors in attendance and many, many, many of them were publishers.

Fact: these publishers give away a lot of Advanced Reading Copies (or ARCs), or books not yet published, but almost there, for reviewers to…read and review.

Fact: I have a lot of these ARCs

Fact: I’m going to Read and Review them here on my book blog.

Be prepared.

Ra(w)R: Slaughterhouse-5

Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut

This was published in 1969. It took me a few days to read, and while it wasn’t difficult, I couldn’t speed read it like normal. I think this is because I was afraid to miss something.

8 out of 10 optometrists say this book is awesome.

Review:

This book was amazing. Completely whack, and I feel like just by reading it you get high, but amazing. It starts, I believe, with the author himself narrating, from his point of view. He tells us what the book is about, who it’s about, some of the stuff that is important, the first and last sentence of the book, why it’s named the way it is- basically if you have any questions, he answers them there. And then you read the book, which tells the tale of Billy Pilgrim, a sad sort of fellow who, like Kurt, had the misfortune of being present at the fire-bombing of Dresden in February of 1945. He also was abducted by aliens who exist in every moment of time that they exist, and he has come unstuck in time. Thus you experience everything out of order, just like Billy. The worst experience is probably the fire-bombing. The abduction is crappy too, but the only thing that is bad is that no one believes him (would you?).  Because of his un-stuck-in-time-ness, Billy knows when things are going to happen, and so do you. The book ends just like Kurt says it will end.

Mind-blowing. Navel contemplatingly deep. Hysterical. Terrifying.

I can’t believe I’ve never read anything by Kurt Vonnegut before, and I totally get why people would want to ban this book. You gotta think to read it, and that’s some dangerous shit man.

So it goes.

Ra(w)R: Arthur and George

Arthur and George by Julian Barnes

Published: 2006

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

Allie stats:

Difficulty: it was a real live novel folks; I actually had to read it.

Time to completion: about a week- a few days to get into in and then nonstop for about a day and a half, whenever I had the time.

Rating: twenty million stars out of 10. Yes, that many.

Review:

This beautiful book, recommended to me by a beloved friend of mine, is one of the best books I have ever read. It’s about two men- Arthur and George- and how their lives reflect the kind of men that they are in the world they are forced to live in. Neither is particularly happy with their respective world, but each forges a life that is a direct picture of his identity.

Arthur grows up in a not unhappy family situation, but a poor one, and resolves to rescue his mother and siblings one day by becoming very successful, which he does after training as a doctor, but finding his place as an author. George grows up the son of a vicar in the countryside, shy, but smart, and becomes a local solicitor. Possible spoiler, but one you’ll find out if you read the back cover of the book, so try very hard to avoid it if you want to be totally surprised. Otherwise, highlight this blank spot:

What we find out is that Arthur is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, our very favorite mystery writer who invents the eternally famous Sherlock Holmes, who haunts him for the rest of his life. George is the son of a Parsee vicar and his Scottish wife, raising the question of prejudice and its place in turn of the century England. This book is based on a true story. But it is also a novel. It is a majestic, astonishingly well-researched story of these two men, drawing on newspaper articles, reports, letters, and the papers of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I found that bit out at the end, so I’m counting it as a spoiler. Also, I loved that the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle I made up in my mind while reading Sherlock Holmes seemed to coincide so well with the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  of the book.

While life happens to both George and Arthur, George gets it harder and hits a rough spot, which eventually Arthur becomes involved in, and so goes the story.

The writing in this book is beyond words. I think it works against the author and the reader a little bit at the beginning, where it seems a bit slow, but later you come to realize that it must be that way because without those fifty pages, the book wouldn’t mean nearly as much as it does. It is so well researched that you can’t help but fall right into it and not even realize you haven’t come up for air for hours.

Go, read this book. Now, please.