Saturday, August 09, 2008

Girl Days are Always About Books

It's been a great couple of days. Elise* is visiting from Arizona (she's doing her PhD at U of A), and we've had a blast so far. Thursday we had lunch at the India Garden restaurant. They have a daily buffet with curries that make me weep with joy. And since there are no Half-Price Books stores near Elise in AZ, we had to hit up the BIG ONE (Mecca, motherland) in Dallas. I picked up the following yummies from the massive clearance section:

I had never heard of it, but Elise recommended We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin. Apparently it's the first dystopian novel, a forefather to favorites of mine like Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451. Now that I've read the blurb and I have a copy in my greedy little paws, I can't wait to read it!

Blurb from Powell's (search for a book via the Powell's search box at the top of my blog and a portion of your purchase goes to Estella's Revenge - the 'zine):

"First published in the Soviet 1920s, Zamyatin's dystopic novel left an indelible watermark on 20th-century culture, from Orwell's 1984 to Terry Gilliam's movie Brazil. Randall's exciting new translation strips away the Cold War connotations and makes us conscious of Zamyatin's other influences, from Dostoyevski to German expressionism. D-503 is a loyal 'cipher' of the totalitarian One State, literally walled in by glass; he is a mathematician happily building the world's first rocket, but his life is changed by meeting I-330, a woman with 'sharp teeth' who keeps emerging out of a sudden vampirish dusk to smile wickedly on the poor narrator and drive him wild with desire. In becoming a slave to love, D-503 becomes, briefly, a free man.

Yum, right?? I love vampiric women that drive people wild. Good times.

And I feel certain I'm almost the last person on earth to pick up Diane Setterfield's gothic goody, The Thirteenth Tale. I allllmost bought this one up the last time I was in an airport, and I've never once seen it in the Half-Price clearance section. Looks like I lucked out! Hardcover, too. Very pretty even if I prefer the comfort of trade paperbacks.

Blurb from Powell's:

"Former academic Setterfield pays tribute in her debut to Brontë and du Maurier heroines: a plain girl gets wrapped up in a dark, haunted ruin of a house, which guards family secrets that are not hers and that she must discover at her peril. Margaret Lea, a London bookseller's daughter, has written an obscure biography that suggests deep understanding of siblings. She is contacted by renowned aging author Vida Winter, who finally wishes to tell her own, long-hidden, life story. Margaret travels to Yorkshire, where she interviews the dying writer, walks the remains of her estate at Angelfield and tries to verify the old woman's tale of a governess, a ghost and more than one abandoned baby. With the aid of colorful Aurelius Love, Margaret puzzles out generations of Angelfield: destructive Uncle Charlie; his elusive sister, Isabelle; their unhappy parents; Isabelle's twin daughters, Adeline and Emmeline; and the children's caretakers. Contending with ghosts and with a (mostly) scary bunch of living people, Setterfield's sensible heroine is, like Jane Eyre, full of repressed feeling — and is unprepared for both heartache and romance. And like Jane, she's a real reader and makes a terrific narrator. That's where the comparisons end, but Setterfield, who lives in Yorkshire, offers graceful storytelling that has its own pleasures.

And the crowning jewel! I've been after a copy of Camille Deangelis's Mary Modern for months! I first heard about it on NPR, and the premise was too darn good to pass up. And from what I remember having heard a blurb read aloud, the writing was pretty good, too! This will probably be my next read after I wrap up Exposure or What is the What.

Blurb from Powell's:

Lucy Morrigan, a young genetic researcher, lives with her boyfriend, Gray, and an odd collection of tenants in her crumbling family mansion. Surrounded by four generations of clothes, photographs, furniture, and other remnants of past lives, Lucy and Gray’s home life is strangely out of touch with the modern world—except for Lucy’s high-tech lab in the basement.

Frustrated by her unsuccessful attempts to attain motherhood or tenure, Lucy takes drastic measures to achieve both. Using a bloodstained scrap of an apron found in the attic, Lucy successfully clones her grandmother Mary. But rather than conjuring a new baby, Lucy brings to life a twenty-two-year-old Mary, who is confused and disoriented when she finds herself trapped in the strangest sort of déjà vu: alive in a home that is no longer her own, surrounded by reminders of a life she has already lived but doesn’t remember.

We finished our eating and book shopping up on Thursday with gelato (wedding cake and wild berry for me). Yesterday was another girls day, this time lunch at Chili's with Susan and an afternoon of Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss beer, snacks, and much gossipping. And we watched Mr. Brooks. I often have issues with Kevin Costner's acting (and he was a tad stilted at times), but overall it was sexy and creepy and twisty and fun. A great girls night movie for the excitement and ogle factor. Wooo!

Today is a lazy day for the most part. I've finished revising next week's Bibliobuffet piece, and I have a day of free reading time. I think I'll try to knock off a chunk of Exposure before I saddle up for a graduation party tonight. Must get my camera juiced up and ready to go!

Happy Saturday!

*Elise would be the dark hair, mine the bottle job blonde. This was a pic of my 26th b-day party (2006). We had the BEST TIME! The great pic is courtesy of Michael Presley, my friend's hubby and a fabulous photographer who was along to document the madness. I think I cut off his copyright when I cropped the pic. Oops!


  1. We is really good! I hadn't heard of it, but I saw it in the English section of this really big bookstore in St. Petersburg, and it was only a dollar (most of the English books were twenty), so I figured why not? I ended up staying up way too late on the overnight train between St. Pete and Moscow to finish it. :)

  2. Isn't it great to have reading friends?? It sounds like you're having a marvelous time.

    Mary Modern sounds like an amazing story. I'll look forward to your review.

    I was a bit disappointed in The 13th Tale - a bit too much hype, perhaps. I'll be interested to see what you think.

  3. Sounds like a great time!!! I got a copy of Mary Modern from my "Secret Santa" this year. That Carl is the man! One of these days I may actually get to read it!

  4. It's always nice to run into old friends, particularly when said friends provide an excuse for book buying.

  5. I loved The Thirteenth Tale!! I bet you'll like it too. I also have Mary Modern and I haven't read it yet. If you read it first, you'll have to let me know how it is!

  6. We is awesome! As are Indian buffets. I attend them as often as I can. :-) There is a fabulous one here in Minneapolis at a Southern Indian, all vegetarian restaurant that we go to once a month at the very least.


  7. I really enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale when I read it as well. It was very hyped though, a bit like The Gargoyle is now. Hopefully that one will live up to the hype.

  8. I loved The Thirteenth Tale. Very Gothic and atmospheric.

    I'm wishlisting Mary Modern right now. It sounds yummy.

  9. I'm interested to hear how you're liking Exposure. Way back when, when I first read that book, I loved Kathryn Harrison. (The Kiss is also great.) I studied photography back in the old days of darkrooms, so I was really taken with the story. I haven't read it in forever. I wonder what I'd think of it now.

    Looking forward to hearing your take...

  10. Eva, I'm glad to see your endorsement! I can't wait to give it a try.

    Becca, it is WONDERFUL to have reading friends. For so many years I didn't, and now I'm overrun with them. It's joyful! And I'm sorry to hear you were disappointed with The Thirteenth Tale, although I can understand that it would be difficult for it to live up to all the hype. That's part of the reason I've put off reading it this long.

    Maybe sooner than later, Stephanie! I hope so anyway. I have about a zillion books I want to read RIGHT NOW, and it's becoming a problem. lol

    Amen, Stu!

    Will do, Kristina! I know sooo many people have loved The Thirteenth Tale...I can't wait to see where I fit in.

    Yum, Lezlie! The Indian place closest to me has a buffet every day and brunch on the weekends, and there's a contemporary Indian cuisine place in Dallas that has a weekend buffet. So much good vegetarian!

    Marg, the irony is that I haven't heard of The Gargoyle! How sad of me. lol I need to go look it up now.

    Thanks, Tammy! And I hope you like Mary Modern when you get hold of it.

    Yes it was, Kristen! Now I have to enjoy my remaining days until school starts. Lots of napping and fun reading is on the menu. :)

    Nova, have you read other Harrison stuff since Exposure and The Kiss that you didn't care for? Just curious. So far I'm really enjoying it (if enjoy could be the right word). The subject matter sort of reminds me of something Siri Hustvedt would write, but edgier and with fewer references to philosophy. lol

  11. The last two books are on my list. Actually, I have a copy of The Thirteenth Tale in my tbr pile, I just need to get to it at last.

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  13. It sounds like a perfect way to spend a weekend--hanging out with a friend you don't often see, eating Indian food and buying books!! I want to read We, too!

  14. Yep, I think you are the last person to get their hands on Setterfield's book!

    That Mary Modern book sounds awesome - I can't wait to hear what you think of it. And yay! my library has a copy of it - I'm going to add it to my pile of books I've placed on hold - eep.

  15. I'm jealous. You need to come to Austin and have a girl day with me. We have Half Price... and BookPeople! And BookWoman! ;)

    Maybe I should drive to Dallas. Never been except for the airport.

  16. Zamyatin's "We" is great, you'll love it!! :-)

  17. Just like old times huh? First of all say hello to Elise for me, and second, I am so glad yall had to fun together.

    That book "We" (actually the author) comes up a lot in my SF studies.

    Hey, now that you are back in Tejas and Elise is in town, why don't you send the little Buggers back with her to Arizona.

  18. We is a classic- it's like the great granddaddy of dystopian fiction. it's also a fairly quick read, and devastating! I reviewed it awhile ago on my blog if you're interested.

  19. Cute pic of you girls! You got some great finds - I've been wanting that Mary Modern book since it came out!
    And, did you notice that the clearance section is huge now? What a dream. I have to visit it next time I'm around.

  20. Trust me--we had lots of fun. And I'm really, really, really, really, . . . glad to have Andi back in Texas.

  21. You are in for some fantastic reading! I read We early this year and did a review...actually did it for another site and just linked to it from the post on my site. I darn near read the whole thing in one sitting.

    Absolutely loved and raved about Thirteenth Tale back when it came out.

    And thoroughly enjoyed Mary Modern. I had a few extremely minor problems with it but those didn't spoil the overall experience which was great...such a fantastic read.

    Can't wait to hear your thoughts on all three.

  22. I will also be one of the last people on earth to read The Thirteenth Tale. I plan on picking it up for the RIP challenge.

    I hadn't heard of We before either, and it sounds awesome.


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