Monthly Archives: November 2008

Literacy and Longing in L.A – Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman

I read about this book here and bought it from here (I’m not sure if it is even available in Australia).

Here is the synopsis from the Literacy and Longing website.

Some women shop. Some eat.

Dora  cures the blues by bingeing on books reading one after another, from Flaubert to bodice rippers, for hours and days on end. In this wickedly funny and sexy literary debut, we meet the beguiling, beautiful Dora, whose unique voice combines a wry wit and vulnerability as she navigates the road between reality and fiction.

Dora, named after Eudora Welty, is an indiscriminate book junkie whose life has fallen apart — her career, her marriage, and finally her self-esteem. All she has left is her love of literature, and the book benders she relied on as a child. Ever since her larger-than-life father wandered away and her book-loving, alcoholic mother was left with two young daughters, Dora and her sister, Virginia, have clung to each other, enduring a childhood filled with literary pilgrimages instead of summer vacations. Somewhere along the way Virginia made the leap into the real world. But Dora isn’t quite there yet. Now she’s coping with a painful separation from her husband, scraping the bottom of a dwindling inheritance, and attracted to a seductive book-seller who seems to embody all that literature has to offer –intelligent ideas, romance, and an escape from her problems.

Joining Dora in her odyssey is an elderly society hair-brusher, a heartbroken young girl, a hilarious off-the-wall female teamster, and Dora’s mother, now on the wagon, trying to make amends…

I haven’t quite made my mind up about this book. There are bits like this (which make me think of trashy romance novels)

I’ve never been able to figure out my looks. I’ve been told I’m striking.

and then there are bits like this (which seem a bit more insightful)

I collect new books the way my girlfriends buy designer handbags. Sometimes I just like to know I have them and actually reading them is beside the point.

and

Now when I read, I think I might open to any page and find the truth. I just can’t stand the fog of not knowing. Whether you love someone or not, what you are willing to do to make it last, how you come to terms with the people who leave you or disappoint you, or how you deal with people with whom you feel a deep connection, but who ultimately may not have anything to do with your life. I don’t know. The answers are there. Somewhere. Each author has their own vision, whether it be transforming, unnverving, inspiring or devastating. It’s comforting in a pleasant sort of way and I have wallowed in this comfort most of my life.

I wonder if it is because there are two authors?

I do like a first person narrative and I liked Dora and I wanted to find out what would happen to her, which man would she end up with? (Because it is a romance…). The book talk was lovely, but the plot was disappointing (although it might make a good movie), Sara was an interesting character (but seemed a bit pointless – I think she was just in it so the authors could include literary converstations).

I did like this book, but I doubt I would read it again.

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