Author: katee

A Shining Starr

I hate to stay a timely piece. I feel that because a book like this has never NOT been timely. Perhaps its impact is potentially more grand because of the current cultural narrative.  Regardless, I felt this book was everything it was meant to be. One of my favorite scenes in the book is one Kathryn H. referred to – when Starr, Seven, DeVante, and Chris are leaving the riots in the car. The conversation on names and race was one that I felt so delicately touched on the idea of the spectrum of racism. Chris is carefully constructed as a slightly awkward white guy with a level of caring for Starr that I just found so sweet. So when he asks about why black people don’t have “normal” names, was it awkward?  Sure largely because he asked it as gracefully as a dump truck on ice. But was it racist? Kind of, yea…but Starr, Seven, and DeVante go on tell him why that question is grounded in his perceptions of race and answer his question. …

What’s it about? Stuff. Really good stuff.

Commonwealth is an uncommon read.  It revolves around a family that is uncommon but somehow not uncommon at all. The relationships between families divided and rebuilt with scraps is a universal theme. Even if you come from a family never split by divorce, you definitely have something off about your family. (If you think there is nothing off about your family, you are probably the thing that is off about your family.) Through the complex narrative that Patchett slowly unfolds, you can find pieces of the story that make you feel at home – sometimes the chaotic, dysfunctional version of home that so often defines our family. It speaks to the excellence of Ann Patchett’s writing that she could develop little stories and relationships and build it into something greater than the sum of their parts. It is the way she describes seemingly innocuous parts of the scene that drew me in.  Describing a single mother’s struggles – “She was always arriving, always leaving, never there.” It’s an enormously complex struggle synthesized into one sentence. …

Bum Bum!

Ok so I totally agree with Katie – this is like an SVU episode. Which I love. Except that there is no Stabler. This book has no Stabler. So you can stop reading here. Just kidding – this book is not going rewire your whole literary life but it is fun, it is creepy, and it is a great autumn evening read. Brian Freeman hits the ground running from the first scene.  Probably the thing that he does, that I love the most, is that he keeps the story moving. There is very little dead time with the mystery and he manages to do that without making the scenario super convoluted. I mean its a crazy pants story but it isn’t muddled with characters or asides or distractors. Part of the downfall of the pace of the story is that not too many characters are well flushed out. Frankie – I thought she had to be a secret crazy psycho because she had so little of anything going on with her.  She had a weird …

A Voice

I struggled with this book. Not because the content scared me or made me uncomfortable. Not because it drew into question something I do not see or fail to acknowledge. But because what Coates tries to scratch the surface of is an extraordinarily complex network of invasive roots that both has strangled our collective culture and has consistently unearthed itself in a knotted fashion in places seemingly distanced from our country’s base. In a less metaphorical way, race is nearly always at the forefront of or a driving force of our societal (insert any word) – history, music, fashion, culture, vernacular. What is even more confusing is that we have created a narrative about race that in reality has so many dimensions and layers and colors but we have distilled it down into a simple dichotomy. What is black and what is white.   Coates is an astounding writer. He brings an eloquence, a voice, a personal experience that combined creates a feat of literature.  To improve our future, we must understand our past. That …

Stiff: An Interesting Case for Coping with Humor

  As a physician and, I guess more specifically, someone who has participated in a gross anatomy lab, I have a specific point of view about human cadavers.  I will start by saying this – the book provides some truly interesting history on the matter.  For that point alone, I would say Roach’s book is a worthy one. Albeit, it is not one for everyone. The subject is a bit – um – macabre.  If you didn’t know that from the cover, I’m not sure reading is for you. Now what I really took away from this book is that how we deal with things that make us uncomfortable is rather universal. I often wondered why I wasn’t more bothered by anatomy lab my first year of medical school. I didn’t particularly want to get physically sick or feel overwhelming guilt. But I also didn’t want to feel how I did – like it was normal. There was nothing normal about what I was doing. History may suggest otherwise. Personally, though, gross anatomy lab was …