*Trumpet sounds* UTB continues our celebration of winter break with the return of our intermittent book club! Today’s selection is College Girl by Patricia Weitz.
As bona fide college students, we simply can’t ignore a novel that heralds itself as “a sharply observed portrait of campus life and all the many pressures–economic, academic, social–that are funneled into its culture.” A college-centric novel promises to be either really juicy or really lame, Tom Wolfe’s I am Charlotte Simmons being the gold standard for lameness. Wolfe’s book (which, ooooh, was partially based on research completed at Penn’s very own St. A’s) fell flat because each page couldn’t help but reveal how scandalized Wolfe was by “kids these days,” with their sex and drugs and loose morals (all of which provided the author with an excuse to seriously overuse the word “insouciant”). While the main character of Weitz’s book is, regrettably, a tad reminiscent of Charlotte Simmons, College Girl proves itself to be unsentimental, thought-provoking, and really compelling. Read the rest of this entry »
In the last installment of our book club, we fawned over Curtis Sittenfeld’s brilliant American Wife. Because we are apparently only capable of reading books with very similar-sounding titles, this time we’re reviewing American Widow, by Alissa Torres.
American Widow: from bn.com
The second we heard about American Widow, we added to our Amazon wishlist. A graphic memoir from a woman who, when she was seven months pregnant, lost her husband to 9/11–maybe we are sick, but um, yes please! Maus, Fun Home, and Persepolis–graphic memoirs, all–morphed us into huge fans of the genre. Graphic memoirs seemed to be the perfect medium for telling a certain kind of tragic story, when images or words alone can’t quite capture it all. So, yes, it’s fair to say we had pretty high expectations for American Widow.
The book depicts author Alissa Torres’s post-9/11 experiences of putting her husband to rest, having a baby, wading through the government red tape keeping her from aid for 9/11 families, and generally grieving her husband, a Colombian immigrant who worked in finance. Torres also describes what it was like to embody the human face of a national tragedy–she lost her husband, who couldn’t even get a greencard while he was alive, but died for his country. All she wanted was to grieve in peace, but there she was, an American widow. It’s a sad and poignant story, but also one that’s full of anger and regret. Read the rest of this entry »
Welcome to the first installment of our book club, in which we indulge the fantasy that people on this campus actually have time for pleasure reading! New book club selections will be posted sporadically, or maybe never again–it depends on whether we finish any other books this semester.
Curtis Sittenfeld, who you probably know as the author of Prep, or her less-popular-but-still-good second novel, The Man of My Dreams, came out with a new book last week. Perfectly timed for election-obsessed readers, Sittenfeld presents the story of Alice, a quiet and kind librarian who finds herself married to Charlie Blackwell, a rich, rowdy Republican and the future president of the United States. This should probably sound familiar: the book is indeed inspired by the lives and marriage of Laura and George W. Bush. The Blackwells come from Wisconsin, not Texas, and Charlie Blackwell calls himself a “tolerant traditionalist” rather than a “compassionate conservative,” but all the notable bits of Laura and George’s backgrounds remain: the tragic car accident in Laura’s past, George’s struggles with alcoholism and eventual conversion to devout Christian/baseball team-owner, the administration’s push for an unpopular war. Read the rest of this entry »