The Dominant Potato Loves the Wallflower


028) Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, finished May 24

Great title, Perks of Being a Wallflower. And it's been recommended to me a number of times, most recently and critically by Tolkien Boy, who said it had the "the Bat sensibility, but more heart" and "Even if you don't like the book, it's worth picking up on its own terms."

I'm not sure I agree with the first part of that thought, as, except for it being about kids who are a little less mainstream (in this book's case, that's more purely a mere matter of perception), I found it entirely disparate in tone. Weetzie Bat is light and airy and floats in the breeze. Perks is heavy and sad. Both books are seasoned with bits of the other and I can certainly see how they could be grouped together, but it's not a grouping that would occur to me naturally.

I do agree though that the book was worth picking up, even if I'm not completely enamored with it. I suspect many people, reading it, will feel likeit's an accurate depiction of high school. It's nothing like the life I lived in high school, but it did help me understand why so many people I knew (and know) do the things they do.

It wants to be treated as archeology of high school, 1991. And I think you'll enjoy the book more if you let it convince you of such.
nine days


027) The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan, finished May 16

I've been hearing about Levithan from friends for a while (and while I remember mostly postive, in looking for a link, I realize it hasn't always been so). Anyway, I was at the library to pick up another book recommended by another friend and I saw this on the New Books shelf and grabbed it. Even though, when I saw it was a novel in dictonary form, I had a bad reaction.

Obviously it's a gimmick and not indicative of what lies behind the gimmick, but I had a bad reaction to the last such novel I attempted (and I attempted it more than once), so I was skeptical. But I read the first couple entries and decided it was worth the effort.

I've pulled out two entries---they're less storytelling, but almost thesis statements. The first for the form, the second for the tale:
ineffable, adj.

These words will ultimately end up being the barest of reflections, devoid of the sensations words cannot convey. Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how amny words there are, there will never be enough.

tenet, n.

At the end of the French movie, the lover sings, "Love me less, but love me for a long time."

People who read YA lit, serious people, explain to the skeptical that more formal experimentation---without the sacrifice of actual storytelling---happens in YA lit than adult lit. And so I'm happy to see a YA author bring that level of experimentation to adult lit. And, I'm happy to say, the book is essentially successful. He had the good sense to keep it short. He played different games with different words. He put together a cohesive story and well rounded characters.

That said, the book does have some of the flaws inherenet to experimental writing, and does have some obnoxious, deliberate ambiguities. But overall, I greatly enjoyed this read and commend it to you.

We should all write a dictionary now and then.
three days


026) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, finished May 10 (I'm astonished a month has passed since I've finished a book)

My colleague MM pressed this book into my hands and told me I must read it, which is much stronger than what she's said about other books she much liked such as Little Bee. And I can see why. This is a book which, I'm afraid, it's a crime to not to press upon fellow booklovers.

I've been aware of this book, of course. Naturally. It's been everywhere. (So I'm a little offended no one forced me to read it before.) I had not been that interested. It has a cutesy title and seemed, in appearance, too purely an example of unequivocal WOMEN's fiction. Then I took to school on Monday and read 100 pages.

I'm always skeptical of the epistolary form, but no question when done well, it is a joy. And this book is an utter joy. It's bright and cheerful and romantic and eccentric without being silly or quirky or fey or sentimental. It's a wonderful book and perfectly made a book lover to read in a day or four. Bitesize letters will keep you returning for just one more. And while you're enrapt with the charm and story, you'll also be aware of how the authors subtly narrow the points of view in order to tell the story properly. To cite a book mentioned in Guernsey, it's much like what Jane Austen did in Pride and Prejudice, starting omniscient and slowly focusing on Elizabeth.

Another virtue of this book is that it's made me want to check out some writers I've never considered before---Charles Lamb and Seneca, to name two.

Anyway, I thought it was going to be a big block of cheese, but I genuinely loved it. You should grab a copy for yourself.
four days


025) Dominant Traits by Eric Freeze, finished April 10

Read the full intereview at AMV.
two weeks or so

Previously in 2012 . . . . :

Read the reviews of 21-24.
024) The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White, finished April 2
023) UNTITLED MS by Kyle Jepson, finished March 12, 2012
022) The Complete Peanuts 1981-1982 by Charles M. Schulz, finished March 4
021) The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, finished March 3

Read the reviews of 14-20.
020) Billy Hazelnuts by Tony Millionaire, finished February 25
019) Good-bye, Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson, finished February 26
018) Madman 20th Anniversary Monster HC by [everybody], finished February 25
017) Billy Hazelnuts and Crazy Bird by Tony Millionaire, finished February 25
016) Billy Hazelnuts by Tony Millionaire, finished February 25
015) Habibi by Craig Thompson, finished February 20
014) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 1910 by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, finished February 15

Read the reviews of 12-13.
013) Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, finished February 12
012) Black Hole by Charles Burns, finished February 11

Read the reviews of 6-11.
011) The Complete Peanuts: 1979-1980 by Charles M. Schulz, finished February 4
010) Blankets by Craig Thompson, finished February 4
009) Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, finished February 2
008) The Millstone Necklace (forthcoming) by S.P. Bailey, finished January 31
007) American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, finished January 27
006) Across a Harvested Field by Robert Goble, finished January 23

Read the reviews of 1-5.
005) Hark! a Vagrant! by Kate Beaton, finished January 21
004) The Death of a Disco Dancer by David Clark, finished January 12
003) Bucketfoot Al: The Baseball Life of Al Simmons by Clifton Blue Parker, finished January 9
002) Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestly, finished January 9
001) What of the Night? by Stephen Carter, finished January 5


  1. Remind me, have you read Ella Minnow Pea?

  2. .

    I have, yes. And quite like it, though it's a bit too gimmicky to hold up to repeat readings.

    Incidentally, I've been thinking about Perks today and I realized I, in fact, do not like the book as much as I thought. In the final analysis, this book, like so many others, suggests one cannot present wallflowerlike characteristics without it being symbolic of something wrong with you. Desperately, horribly wrong.

  3. For the record, I try to force Guernsey on people as often as humanly possible.

    My copy has been much-loved by man.

  4. Blast. That should have said many. Although though those many did include at least one man.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. .

    Thank you for the clarification. I thought you were trying to be disgusting.