Skip to main content

Cannonball Read 2 #24: Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

I loaned this book to a friend, who read about half of it and then returned it saying, "Is nothing supposed to happen?" It's true that it's not a particularly exciting book--there are no explosions, hurricanes, or robot invasions. However, I found the story of Ruth Anne "Bone" Boatwright--a girl born into tough circumstances in a rough-and-tumble "white trash" family in South Carolina--to be utterly riveting.

The Boatwright clan is described brilliantly, and Bone's numerous aunts and uncles (as well as her mama, the youngest of the group) all take on a brightly-colored life of their own. Bone's coming of age story, her attempts to both fit in to her family and to perhaps find a way to rise above it, are excellent. Although it's not a happy story, as life never seems to cut Bone a break, it does a great job of illustrating her careful navigation of family dynamics. Bone has to discover her place, take her knocks, and "become a Boatwright."

I like Allison's style, and the character of Bone has a strong, distinctive voice. As I said, the descriptions of the family are quite good, and make what could be a difficult task (keeping track of all those aunts, uncles, and cousins) easier. On the whole, a great book for those who enjoy quiet character studies.

(The film version starring Jena Malone, Ron Eldard, and Jennifer Jason Leigh is also quite good and I highly recommend it.)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

CR3 # 17: Mount Misery by Samuel Shem

Mount Misery is the sequel to Samuel Shem's first book, House of God (review here). It follows Dr. Roy Basch as he leaves the House of God and moves to psychiatric hospital Mount Misery to begin his psychiatric residency. Unfortunately, it turns out that psychiatrists are just as crazy, confused, and often detrimental as medical doctors. As Dr. Basch cycles through the various sectors of the hospital (talk therapy, admissions, Freudian Analysis, drug therapy) he is horrified to discover that it seems everything he is being taught is not only wrong, but potentially dangerous. He begins to fall into terrible patterns of behavior, mirroring the problems his patients are having. Each area is worse than the last, with one doctor who thinks the best way to treat is to be aggressively hostile, one who cares only about insurance premiums and efficiency, one who treats with silence and "regression," and one who thinks the only viable treatment is to pump every patient full of exp…

CBR9 #2 - Southern Gods

I've had Southern Gods on my TBR list for so long I no longer remember why I put it there. Was it a recommendation from Amazon? From Goodreads? Did someone I know recommend it? Did it cross my path as a "If you liked __________ then you'll like this too!"

Maybe I heard it through the grapevine?

I only know that recently, I happened to come across it on my wishlist and decided to go ahead and splurge on it.

I'm glad I did.

In 1951 Memphis, war veteran and leg-breaker-for-hire Bull Ingraham gets a new assignment: a record company has lost one of their employees somewhere. Early Freeman set off to deliver new records to radio stations, and has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth. His boss at Helios Records is anxious to find him...and also anxious to find a mysterious blues musician whose music can do terrible things to the living -- and to the dead.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, Sarah Rheinhart leaves her abusive husband and returns to her family home, where …

CR3 #30: The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith

I saw the movie of The First Wives Club before I read the book. It's a cute chick flick, in which scorned women take comedic revenge on their former spouses. They become better friends and everyone winds up happy in the end. I was somewhat surprised (though not much--the differences between film and literature are often wide) at how different the book was--I am used to changes in plot or small character changes (combining two characters into one, or perhaps changing to a more pleasant ending) but the major change here between novel and movie was the tone.

The story is basically the same; After a close friend's suicide, three middle-aged female friends get together and beginning reviewing their lives. They realize that much like their late friend, they have been screwed over by the men in their lives--the men used them to get to their high social and financial positions, then screwed them over both personally and financially. The three women decide to use their wits and their co…