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About Binker

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    Dallas, Texas

Profile Information

  • Location
    Dallas, Texas
  • Current Book
    Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday (for IRLbook group)
  1. Face to Face Book Groups...

    I will have to look at that book. I haven't read it and, as I've said before, I think you and I have similar reading tastes. I'm already plotting what I will choose for next March. One of the great things about BGO is that I am introduced to books that have not made their way across the pond, so I will probably pick a book like that. Unless I don't and pick an American writer no one else has read either (probably Susan Straight or Tim Johnston).
  2. Face to Face Book Groups...

    As I mentioned in the discussion of Any Human Heart, I was joined to a Book Club pretty much without my consent by and old friend who normally doesn't do stuff like that, which made me decide to give it a try. I have been to 2 meetings since I joined, one of which I hosted, and it has been fine, but the jury is still out. April's choice is Asymmetry, which I reviewed here. I liked it okay, but I would never have read it on my own. Not sure that's much of an endorsement for a book club. Will report in after a few months.
  3. Asymmetry

    I somehow managed not to know about the backstory. I'm glad I didn't. I found that aspect of the story repulsive. But I will share it at my book club. Still not sure I enjoy being in a real life book club.
  4. As I have mentioned, I joined, with a great deal of trepidation, a real-life book group. It was more of a forcible joining by a friend who thinks I would enjoy it. I was in charge of the second meeting (including food for 12) and assigned Any Human Heart, which everyone loved. This book was for the April book club. We haven't met yet (meeting is set for April 30), so I don't know what anyone else thinks except my friend who joined me to this book club. He doesn't seem to be much of a fan so far. This book is divided into 3 parts: the first part is the story of a passionate love affair between a well-known 73-year old writer (so a literary celebrity, rather than a celebrity celebrity) and a 23-year old woman. They spend a lot of time watching and discussing baseball, which I consider to be the most boring sport in the history of the universe. Still the writing was good and I made my way through it. The middle part is the shorter story of a Kurdish Iraqi, who is trying to come to London for a short visit, but is detained. This part is very good and engrossing. The final part is the old writer being interviewed on the radio about his life and what music he'd take with him to a desert island. He also mentions something very good that a young friend of his has written. This is what I think the story is really about: I think the young woman is the author of the middle part and she's really a very good writer. She arranged to have the love affair so that she could use him to get attention for her work. And it worked. He knew it at some level, which makes the story of their love affair a lot easier to believe. In the last section, the writer talks about how he wants to write something that could be read in any order and I think this book would work that way, too, in part because the 3 sections are so disconnected. I haven't gone back and read them in a different order (I didn't like the book enough to do that), but I think it would probably work if read that way. When I was in college, I read Rayuela by Julio Cortazar, which has the same conceit, but much more complicated. At the end of the book, the author suggests a different order in which the reader could read the chapters. Since I read it in Spanish, I just didn't have the fortitude to tackle it in the different order, so I will never know, with either of these books, if reading them in a different order would work. I haven't read any reviews and so I don't know if there's anyone else who has come to these same conclusions. I think brightphoebus read this book last year, but I don't think wrote a review.
  5. I had the same problem at the end and felt that the strong hand of a good editor would have helped. That being said, I really enjoyed reading it and recommended it to a friend who loves time travel. Were I to have read it for a class or something, I would have had to prepare charts and such. As it was, I got along pretty well most of the time and just didn't worry about trying to tie all of it together. Even the main character has trouble holding it all together. In fact, one of the things I liked the best about this book is that his actual personality almost gets swallowed up by the people he inhabits and their memories and feelings clog his brain.
  6. Any Human Heart

    I have been joined to a Book Club, more or less against my will, about a month ago and got assigned March! It's really a supper club for book nerds, so I had to host a pretty substantial gathering a week after I got back from Istanbul. It was, miraculously, a big success. The book I picked was Any Human Heart. Boyd is not anywhere near as well known here as he is in the U.K., so I thought I was safe. And I was. One woman had read it, but no one else. They all loved it, although it was mixed about whether they loved LMS, which surprised me, since I do, even though he's not a real person and all. One woman asked me how I had heard about the book and I mentioned that I belonged to an online book discussion group. They were flabbergasted that such a thing existed and one guy said it was like "porn for English majors." That seemed a bit much and besides, I was a History major. But I just want you all to know that I have 10 new Boyd converts in the U.S. And I'm not sure I would ever have read what is one of my favorite books if it weren't for BGO.
  7. Educated

    I am always surprised when I hear stories from someone who is about my age about parents not valuing education for their girls. I was the 6th generation of women in my mother's family to go to college and so I never got any of that. My mother's family always seemed very much like the March family in Little Women, including not wanting the girls to be "silly" about boys. But, I, too, was fascinated. Her childhood was almost like being brought up in a very small, closely-related cult. I think most families have their oddities and the children don't really understand that until they leave home. But this family goes WAY beyond oddities.
  8. Tara Westover is a young woman who was raised in rural Idaho on her parents' property (it's too much to call it a farm). The father and mother both embraced an extreme version of apocalyptic religion (allegedly Mormon in origin, but the beliefs don't have much in common with any Mormon beliefs I know about). They were constantly afraid of government getting its claws into them and everyone constituted an arm of government (doctors, hospitals, etc.), so that the were "home schooled" (not much schooling took place) and preparing for the end of the world, where they would be the only people with enough food and water. Y2K gave her father lots of opportunities for paranoia run amuck, but his paranoia was a constant theme in their world. The mother was a midwife who prepared herbal remedies. Tara and her siblings didn't go to school. Tara helped her mother with her endeavors and all of the children helped their father in his scrapyard. The children and their father often suffered terrible injuries in the scrapyard work that really could have been avoided. One brother is unusually aggressive with her (and others) and never seems to improve. Much of what happens is shocking. The children all appear to have been very bright, so that half of them escaped, but the other half did not. Tara barely made it into college and when she did, she had no idea what was going on (in one class, she didn't recognize the word "Holocaust" and asked what it meant, which everyone assumed was some sort of bad joke on her part). She is repeatedly embarrassed by her lack of knowledge, but perseveres with some help from everyone in her family other than her father and the aggressive older brother, both of whom oppose her efforts. But all those educators see a very bright spark and encourage her in her education (they are all, naturally, horrified by what they can glean about her upbringing). Her successes are interesting, but what is fascinating is watching her process her childhood and continued relations with her family. This book has been getting a lot of press in the United States. My daughter is the one who recommended it to me. The family has disputed some of the story, but that's consistent with their constant gaslighting of her and the other children. If you wonder why she wrote the book, I think it is so that she could insist that what she experienced was true, notwithstanding what the family says.
  9. Currently Reading

    I loved Bossypants. And you should do that and let us know how he reacts.
  10. Currently Reading

    Me, too, Onion Budgie. I cannot imagine where we are going to end up and am enjoying the inventive story telling.
  11. what is everyone doing?

    So sorry about your sad news, Meg! So difficult. I am back from Istanbul and it was just as wonderful as I had hoped. We had a great guide and ate like kings (queens, I guess) because my daughter is a foodie and had organized every dinner for us. Our guide took us to more "home cooking" restaurants, so we had every level of food, all of which was delicious. I have wanted to see the Hagia Sophia for decades and I can't believe I finally did it. I will say that the Blue Mosque is being heavily renovated and so there wasn't all that much to see. This is the story of my life when I travel, so I was philosophical about it. Maybe next time...
  12. Very Long Books - Are they worth it?

    I don't remember being bothered by either of those things, so I must not be quite as attentive a reader as I think I am. Or maybe I skimmed...
  13. Very Long Books - Are they worth it?

    A Suitable Boy was a wonderful wonderful read. Everyone I recommended it to who read it just loved it. I also loved every moment of War and Peace. I remember being mystified about why the masonic rituals were so emphasized and so asked my mother if the Masons were or had ever been controversial. She said they were considered shocking at the time of this novel because they emphasized equality of men (not women, of course) and so to have Prince join the Masons was a very revolutionary act. I also loved the battle scenes, but I think I'm generally a sucker for those because I liked them in the "Aubrey/Maturin" novels, too.
  14. Rest in Peace

    Princess Lee Radziwell and Bruno Ganz, both on February 16, 2019. I was not familiar with Ganz until I saw him in "Unknown." Quite a part.
  15. what is everyone doing?

    It's perfect for that trip! Someone on BGO went to Croatia at the same time I did in 2015, too, but I don't think it was you. Your trip won't be as brutal as ours. I have managed to not retain the knowledge of how long we will be in the air. It's going to be great. Momac, we don't get winter like you do, but it can be cold and a bit wet. We rarely get snow. Last night, I walked out of the grocery store to misting rain, which is not typical here, and a man and I stopped on the sidewalk in stunned surprise. Today is sunny, but colder than I would like.