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Tanja L. Walker "Tanja L. Walker" (Norman, OK USA)
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The Dying Animal
The Dying Animal
by Philip Roth
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 11.55
50 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars What struck me is the hypocricy, Aug. 9 2003
This review is from: The Dying Animal (Paperback)
A friend of mine warned me I could not handle this book, but I read it, anyway, and I found I could not only handle it, but I had much to gain from the insights. First, of course, is the obvious juxtaposition between youth and old age, the fleetingness of one and the wisdom (or perceived wisdom) of the other. But what caught my eye was all the hypocricy. (Hypocrisy? Darn the spelling!) For example, David Kepesh, our narrator, bemoans the fact that his beautiful and youthful Consuela has had other lovers, then blythly reveals that even as he is seeing her, he is seeing someone else. (After all, HE can have the freedom the 1960s promises, but what about everyone else?) As for his son, the hypocricy is so glaring, I'll let you read about it for yourself. For a small book, this packs a powerful punch, and I especially like the powerlessness of Kepesh when he is on his knees in front of Consuela, but again, you'll have to read that for yourself.

What is not clear, though, is why Consuela holds so much power over him. She may have a perfect body, but Kepesh seems to want something more from his women. Then again, maybe he is that shallow.

Geek Love: A Novel
Geek Love: A Novel
by Katherine Dunn
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.96
46 used & new from CDN$ 6.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Turns the concept of "normal" upside down, July 21 2003
This review is from: Geek Love: A Novel (Paperback)
This book is definitely not for the faint of heart. Nor is this book about anything even approaching a normal family. Art and Lil set about to create a freak show of a family, and they succeed mightily, only they lose control when Arty, the boy with flippers for limbs, takes over in his Machevelian manner. Arty manipulates his audience, and his family, and starts something of a cult that can best be described as bizarre and macabre. What is even more macabre is the devotion he instills in Oly, the narrator and albino dwarf, and in Chick, the seemingly normal boy with mysterious telekinetic powers that he uses in service to Arty's cult. Only one of the Siamese twins seems immune to Arty's control, and she pays for it. Boy, does she pay for it.

The story doesn't end with Arty, though, but with Miss Lick, who engages in her own cult of fleshly sacrifice. Only she goes after Oly's daughter, whose disfigurement becomes something of a sexual turn-on, and Oly doesn't want Miranda to lose it. How that gets worked out is a little lame, but suspenseful nonetheless. Overall a good read.

Good in Bed
Good in Bed
by Jennifer Weiner
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.64
177 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars As a larger woman, I could relate, July 13 2003
This review is from: Good in Bed (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book about the trials and tribulations--not to mention the successes and joys--of a larger woman. Interestingly, it wasn't just her size that troubled Cannie, though it was a significant factor in making her who she was. She had abandonment issues with her father, and that played a role in how she dealt with what can only be described as the betrayal by her ex, Bruce. (Who wants the world to know you weigh more than your boyfriend?) Some have commented on the fairy tale qualities of the story, but what I think is important is that the fairy tale things that happen to her didn't save her; she still faced a major crisis that she had to work through, and she didn't always do it well. Yes, a guy came along and "saved" her, but in a way, she saved herself. She realized she was worthwhile, not only to a man, but to herself and to her friends. And that is important.

Soul Survivor: Why I am Still a Christian
Soul Survivor: Why I am Still a Christian
by Philip Yancey
Edition: Hardcover
55 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A nice mix of people who are great Christian influences, June 24 2003
First, I must express my deepest jealousies that Philip Yancey got to meet Henri Nouwen. He is one of my favorite Christian authors, and it pains me that I will never get to meet him in this lifetime. (That's the main reason I omitted the fifth star!)
Anyway, it took me a little bit to get into this book. What was the point of reading the biographies of 13 people to explain Mr. Yancey's conflicting feelings about the church? I could relate to what he went through, though--I only spent a few years in a fundamentalist church, but it was enough to warp me and make me second-guess my faith, even in my strong belief and faithfulness in God and faithful attendance at a liberal church. But I enjoyed the biographies and saw how each helped Mr. Yancey's faith grow, and helped mine, too.

I appreciated that he did not stick to white, conservative, fundamentalists. Indeed, he chose people who were black, Asian, liberal, and in one case, not even Christian. (Though Gandhi, in my mind, was probably a better "Christian" than most people who claim the title--and I'll bet he even knew the Bible and Jesus's teachings better. He certainly lived like a Christian, but I digress.) He included the famous and not so famous, but what they all had in common was that they were writers--either by profession or as a sidelight to their main callings. Which is great because we get the chance to read about these 13 men and women for ourselves.

Dry: A Memoir
Dry: A Memoir
by Augusten Burroughs
Edition: Hardcover
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.04

5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly better than his first!, June 23 2003
This review is from: Dry: A Memoir (Hardcover)
(I thought I had written a review, but I'll write one again, anyway!)

I really enjoyed this honest, moving, yet funny portrayal of Augusten's recovery from alcohol addiction. What I liked was that he didn't pull any punches. He didn't do his recovery perfectly, yet he took it seriously, for the most part. I liked that most of the book was on his recovery, how he tried to stay sober in a world that was still full of users and glorifying using. Most of the book is about what happens after he gets out of treatment, when he has to face the real world. I can relate to that. They say that treatment is about discovery and the 12 steps are about recovery, and Augusten really illustrates that point.

This book brings out more honest and heart-felt emotions than in "Running with Scissors," even underneath the wry sense of humor. I got the feeling by the end of the book Augusten becomes more truly human. I wanted to get to know Augusten by the end of his first memoir; by the end of this one, I wanted to become his friend.

Dry: A Memoir
Dry: A Memoir
by Augusten Burroughs
Edition: Hardcover
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.04

5.0 out of 5 stars Augusten does it again!, June 11 2003
This review is from: Dry: A Memoir (Hardcover)
"Dry" is possibly better than "Running With Scissors." In it, Augusten Burroughs gives us a funny, but hardly light-hearted, look at his alcohol addiction and recovery. At first he pooh-poohs the idea he might have a problem, and wants to run away from the run-down rehab center he checks himself into. But along the way, something clicks, and he realizes that yes, he does have a problem, and he has to do something about it. Recovery, though, proves to be more difficult than it's advertised to be, and most of the book is dedicated to Augusten adjusting to trying to maintain sobriety in a hostile world, complete with a friend dying of AIDS, a forbidden lover whose first love is crack, and a jealous co-worker who tries to tip Augusten off the wagon. Sobriety is not for wimps, and Augusten -- and the readers -- learn this lesson the hard way. A must read for all Augusten fans and those who are struggling with any kind of addiction.

Anyone You Want Me to Be: A True Story of Sex and Death on the Internet
Anyone You Want Me to Be: A True Story of Sex and Death on the Internet
by John Douglas
Edition: Hardcover
45 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A true story of a truly scary individual, June 9 2003
I first heard about John Robinson at a time in my life where, let's just say, there but for the grace of God go I. So I picked up this book with much trepidation, wondering what memories and fears it would trigger. Well, it certainly did both. If I needed any more reminders of how dangerous the world of chat is, this book hammered it home. Boy, did it hammer it home. Sometimes, I found his descriptions of the S&M sex Robinson engaged in with his victims a little too graphic for a true crime book. I could have done without it, thank you very much. (I'm getting more sensitive in my old age, I guess.)

If anything was missing, I wanted more in the psyche of Robinson. Maybe there wasn't more to be had. But I wanted to know why he did what he did. An alcoholic dad and a strict mom weren't reasons enough--his other siblings came out fine. Perhaps we will never know. What I also didn't like was the author's moralizing and blanket assumption that people like Robinson could not be rehabilitated. I wonder, if Robinson had gotten the psychological help he needed early on, when he was first starting his cons, maybe none of this would have happened. And I mean real, on-going and in-depth psychological help, not just the superficial treatment of the penal system. He is probably too far gone now, at least for anything but divine intervention, but I'll bet he wasn't when he was 25. Despite all that, it was still an interesting and absorbing book.

The New Captain Underpants Collection
The New Captain Underpants Collection
by Dav Pilkey
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.77
35 used & new from CDN$ 14.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Horrible, sick, disgusting . . . My kids love 'em!, June 7 2003
I first got these books for my son a couple years ago when I couldn't get him to read anything else. Well, he read these books and really enjoyed them. Now he will read other books, but these are still among his favorite. My daughter is much more interested in reading, but she loves Captain Underpants, too, and thinks it's great fun to read the books out loud to me. And they are pretty funny. Some of the humor is even aimed at adults! The Captain Underpants series even inspired my daughter to write a little book about Captain Cam the Mysterious Man for an assignment that, if I may brag, was much more advanced in terms of plot development and in the creation of a protagonist and an antagonist than what her other first grade peers came up with. True, these books encourage that potty humor that kids of this age seem to find so darned amusing, but they grow out of it. You can always offer other books in addition to these, and in the meantime, Captain Underpants gets them to read. 'Nuff said.

Like,Omigod! 80's..Culture Box
Like,Omigod! 80's..Culture Box
3 used & new from CDN$ 199.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Is this enough '80s music for you?, June 6 2003
My biggest gripe is this: there are seven CDs in this package, and my CD player only holds five CDs! :-(

OK, seriously, this is quite a comprehensive collection of 80's music, and just about every genre is represented to some extent. There's Eddie Rabbit, Blondie, New Edition, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Devo, Simple Minds, Duran Duran, just to name a few. Of course, though, it is heavy on the pop numbers, and it certainly brings back memories of high school for me, particularly since the collection seems to lean heavily toward early to mid '80s music. There's not much on it after 1987, which doesn't bother me personally, but I would have liked, for example, "We Didn't Start the Fire," by Billy Joel.

Indeed, that is the one problem with this collection, but that can be said for any collection. For all the wonderful songs on there, so many more were left off. There's nothing by A Flock of Seagulls, Journey, Michael Jackson, Madonna, and each artist that is there is represented only once. Why was The Thompson Twins represented with "Lies" and not "Hold Me Now" or "Doctor Doctor"? Where was Howard Jones? Still, it was well worth the money.

Now, I just need a CD player with more spaces . . .

A Million Little Pieces
A Million Little Pieces
by James Frey
Edition: Hardcover
61 used & new from CDN$ 0.28

5.0 out of 5 stars Should be read by everyone touched by addiction, June 6 2003
James Frey pulls no punches in this harrowing, rage-fueled book about his descent into addiction, and, more importantly, about his recovery. I could relate to his struggles (though my addictions are not the same as his) and his rebellious attitudes toward the treatment "party line." Though unlike him I ultimately embraced the 12 steps, there were many aspects of my treatment I surely didn't buy, and like him I went kicking and screaming and sometimes just did my own thing. I could relate to The Fury he described, the feelings of self-loathing, the struggles he and his fellow patients went through. I've heard their stories; they are at once the same and yet unique, and I think he captures that well. I think he also captures the joy that can come from recovery. I was amazed at how many times people smiled and laughed in the book. Yet I can remember all the smiles and laughter in my own three months in treatment.

As for the question about the 12 steps, here's my take on it. First, I think Mr. Frey doesn't totally understand the concept. He seems to think that people who believe in the 12 steps take no responsibility for their actions. That is not the case. True, we see addictions as diseases, brought on genetically, fueled by childhood traumas. But there is still choice involved, especially once we understand our addictions. I know food is an addiction for me; obviously, I can't stop eating, but I can choose not to have that dessert. The 12-step program gives me tools--people to call, a sponsor, meetings, readings--to help me make the choice not to eat compulsively. That said, the 12 step program is not a perfect program, and it doesn't work for everyone. One of the other things we learn is not to do other people's inventory. Mr. Frey has been sober for 10 years, so who am I to say that what he is doing isn't working? I will say that if someone is reading this book and is facing an addiction problem, don't give up on the 12-step method, but don't believe it is your only option, either.

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