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Posts Tagged ‘The Night Strangers’

She takes a little time in making up her mind She doesn’t want to fight against the tide -Garbage

“Yays, dat too, but stuff be in da air dat slice da spirits ta pieces. It pains dem.” -Kenneth J. Harvey

In a small Newfoundland fishing village Joseph Blackwood, recently divorced, takes his daughter, Robin, to Bareneed to spend some time with her and to get some rest. The vacation isn’t as restful as it should be and as soon as father and daughter arrive in town strange things start happening: centuries old corpses rise from the water appearing as if they had drowned just yesterday, ghosts come out to play, sea monsters appear, an epidemic plagues the town causing the residents to not be able to automatically breathe on their own any more and peoples behaviors take a turn towards violent.

This book was reminiscent of Chris Bohjalain’s The Night Strangers in that waterlogged little girls try to steal away a human daughter from an affected father, ghosts only reveal themselves to certain characters, the fathers personality takes a dive, eccentric old ladies run about the town and water is a main theme of both novels. The plot was obviously more character-driven than action driven. It was also a very Stephen King-esq book where it was an atmospheric spooky story without the cheap, scary overkill. Since the book was so character-driven I really liked how there was no actual one “main character” and instead we got a group of characters from a seven year old girl to a ninty-plus year old woman. The story was told in third person narration and I think that was best as I was more likley to believe a third person narrator, especially when dealing with topics like dementia and sea creatures. I didn’t care for the fact that none of the characters were particularly likeable save for the Tommy character and the Miss Laracy character. The book is a hefty one coming in at 468 pages which gave Harvey ample time to flesh out each character, which he did very well- he just forgot to make them likeable and as a result, I didn’t much care what happened to them. Let them eat cake (and drown).

The book could move very slowly at times and I found myself wondering if Harvey wrote in some of the descriptions and some of the scenes just to add page numbers. This book is definitely not the theatrical version I would have prefered, instead it had ALL of the deleted scenes intact. Towards then end I found myself skipping parts. The one good thing about the ending was the epilogue which is told from one of the main characters first person POV many years later. If you find yourself skipping parts towards the end, you’re really not going to miss anything, but do make sure to read the epilogue!

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The newspapers says, says, say it’s true it’s true… and we can break through, though torn in two, we can be one -U2

Welcome to 2012! To start off the year, I had considered doing a post on my pick for my 2011 book of the year which I selected as The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I am not going to do another post on this book as I have done one previously and I direct you to it here. I should mention that I do realize that this book was technically published in early 2010 and so it technically should have been my 2010 pick for best book, but it was my pick for the best book that I READ in 2011. I just spent a good 15 minutes browsing the books that were published in 2011 and I honestly only have read one on the list (The Night Strangers) and I am not about to name it my book of 2011. Instead, I will let you know which book of 2011 I am most excited to read: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. This book was on every “best of 2011” list I browsed! I want to read more by her! I have only so far read The Bel Canto for a class in college and I loved it. Why the hell haven’t I read more of her? Alas! A 2012 resolution!

As noted in my last post, my reading challenge for 2011 was to read 61 books. As it turns out, I read 63! Huzzah! This year I have set my goal at only 26 books. Why such a low number? I want to discover new authors this year and I want to read the books that aren’t just the ones on the bestsellers list. There are 26 letters in the alphabet and so I want to go down the alphabet and select a book by an author whos first or last name begins with the letter I’m on. For instance, “A” is the first letter of the alphabet and so my first book in the reading challenge will be something like Oryx And Crake by Margaret Atwood or State of Wonder by Ann Patchett! I haven’t started either one yet because last weekend I started Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander Book 2). If you have been reading my blog along, you’ll know that I read Outlander this past summer and enjoyed it. The books are super long (Dragonfly… is 752 pages!) so it does take some time and patience to read the books. I have 365 days to read 26 books so I belive that I am safe! I will try to update for each letter and let you know of any great new authors I discover.

To end this post, I want to share some good and exciting news with you. This past week I started the application process to return to school to obtain my second Master’s Degree. I previously received a MLIS in Library and Information Science and now I am hoping to work towards a Master’s of Art in English Literature. I am super excited about this. I can’t wait to get back into a college classroom where we’re all discussing books and ideas and authors and meaning and simile and metaphors and history!! I am practically giddy with the anticipation. If you’re out there reading this, send me some good vibes so I’ll be accepted to the program! I can’t wait to share what we read and discuss in class with you all!

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 Some things are melting now, well what’s it gonna take till my baby’s alright? -Tori Amos

On GoodReads I challenged myself to read sixty-one books this year. Tonight, December 20, 2011 at 8:45 PM I reached my goal. My (possible) last book of 2011 was The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian. (side note, I highly recommend you watch that interview with Bohjalian that can be found by following that link. It was great to hear how he came up with the idea for the book and how he himself had moved into a creepy house much like the Linton’s do in his novel.) I have given this book three stars on GoodReads which means I liked it. I did. I liked it. Right up until the epilogue. I sat for a moment thinking about what kind of post I wanted to do tonight. Perhaps one expressing my ire at poor epilogues. How can one futuristic look at the lives of beloved characters ruin an entire story? I’m not sure how, but I know that it sure can.

I came into the office and recorded my book on GoodReads as read. I was then greeted with a congratulatory box stating that I had reached my goal. I then decided to look at all of the books that I have read over this past year. Looking at the covers brings back a specific memory of exactly where I was at (physically) and where I was (emotionally) when I was reading that book. The first book I read in 2011 was To The Lighthouse by Virgina Woolf. This brings back memories of last Christmas at my parent’s house. It was a horrific holiday. I was snowed in and missed two trains that were to take me to see my boyfriend who I was in a very long-distance relationship with at the time. I spent too much time cooped up with my parents and as a result we fought. Big time. I retreated into my bedroom (slamming the door and screaming as if I were right back in high school again despite the fact that I am a 26 year old adult) with the Ramsay’s. I didn’t care for this book at all. In fact it is still sitting in a basket in my old bedroom at my parent’s house. I gave it two stars. As I look back at the reviews of it on GoodReads I have to wonder if it was truly the book that I didn’t care for, or was it the prisoner-like way I was being held against my will and being treated?

I read the entire Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larrson (read my post on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo here) this year. I remember reading all of them in my second-story bedroom in coastal, NC. The first I read as a borrowed copy from G’s mom. I started it on the road back from Raleigh where we spent New Year’s Eve. I remember reading it in G’s jeep as we crossed the entire state. I read the second two as borrowed copies from the library. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest was read in late spring, mostly on the beach.

I read the last two books of the Hunger Games trilogy this year. Both on my Nook that I got for my birthday in March (read about that adventure here).

I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in May. It took me five days to read it. I read it in the midst of an emotional crisis. I remember finishing it on the beach on a breezy, cool day by myself. I remember people walking by, but I don’t remember anything specific about those people because I was so engrossed in the book. I was alone as I read it. I went to the end of the island and turned off my phone and I faced my towel towards the horizon and I devoured the atrocity that was the medical field.

This year, I am selecting The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks as my book of the year. I am selecting it for many reasons and before I do an entire post on it I feel the need to collect and focus my thoughts on the book a little bit more. However soon, look for my 2011 book-of-the-year post. Until then, revisit last year’s post on The Help which I selected as my 2010 book of the year.

Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Christmas, Have a blessed new year. Until Next Time…

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