Me Talk Pretty One Day – David Sedaris

Let me preface this by saying I freaking love David Sedaris. He’s one of those authors whose books I have to buy when I see ones I don’t have. His stories are so relevant that you find yourself wondering if he’s written his essay about you.

With that being said, Me Talk Pretty One Day was not one of my favorites. The first part of the book had me literally cry-laughing, but the second half was meh. I loved reading about his stories from childhood, and he kind of lost me as he went into his meth-addicted phase of one-man stage shows. It’s probably just too close to home for me as I grew up around people with a meth addiction, so others may enjoy the rest of the book more than I did.

This review is pretty short as I don’t have much else to say about the book. It was okay, and I’m just glad this isn’t the first Sedaris that I ever read.

The Revenant – Michael Punke

The Revenant – (noun) One who has returned, as if from the dead.

The Revenant is a book that I did not expect to like, but after about the first chapter, I was hooked. I, like many other people, saw the movie before realizing it was a book. I jumped up and down when I saw that Leo DiCaprio won his first Oscar. And I was excited when I was browsing in my local bookstore and found my recent favorite movie in book form on their shelves. I’m not normally the type to watch the movie before I read the book because I don’t like my imagination to be skewed by graphics and actors, but this time I couldn’t help it.

First things first, that bear attack. (This isn’t a spoiler, if you didn’t know about the bear attack, then you’ve been living under a rock). I remember turning to my husband after like 10 pages and saying, “Holy $h!t the bear attack already happened!” On second thought, let me back up…

Hugh Glass is the protagonist of the story (that’s Leo). After a short career on a boat, he sees an ad in the paper to work for a fur trapping company. He decides to pack up, join a group of men, and walk through the wilderness in search of beaver pelts. After getting attacked by the grizzly, the leader of the group delegates the job of a proper burial after Glass’ imminent death to two of the men. Fitzgerald (that’s Tom Hardy, for those familiar with the movie) and a kid named Bridger are the ones left behind. Fitzgerald had ONE freaking job, and that was to take care of Glass and make nearly half a year’s salary for doing it, but instead he decides to bail and steal everything Glass owns in the process. Glass was slipping in and out of consciousness, but he was aware enough to know what had been done to him. This excited a need for revenge that kept him alive.

This is where the story gets weird. I had a feeling that I wouldn’t like it because it’s in the “Western” genre (which is a big no no for me) but Punke does such a fantastic job at telling the story. He’s a master at showing the reader instead of telling them what to feel. It’s the difference between: “His foot hurt really bad every time he took a step” and “His worn down moccasins left no barrier between his foot and a prickly cactus, and he winced with each step down on his festering toe”. See what I mean? This is honestly what kept my hooked toward the end once the bulk of the action was over. After that, the plot just became too convenient. I mean, Glass narrowly escaped death 6 or 7 times while the rest of the men around him died. It became trite.

One last thing…I’m not going to spoil it, but the ending is nothing like the movie. I’ll just say this: if you want some intense, revenge-fueled, fist-to-fist battle, Leo-draped-over-a-horse-playing-dead death match, then you’ll be just as disappointed as I was. I’d still recommend it, though.


Ethan Frome – Edith Warton

Happy new year, everyone! Ethan Frome is my first read of 2018, and it is also my re-read for the 2018 Back to the Classics challenge. I first read this book when I was a junior in high school. It was one I remember liking, but it wasn’t one of my favorites. Rather than re-reading one of my favorites such as The Great Gatsby or Catcher in the Rye, I decided to give this one another chance as I wasn’t sure I had fully understood the story at 15 years old.

I’m really glad this is the one I chose.

This is a book that requires some life experience to truly understand the themes. Ethan Frome is a poor man who lives in Starkfield, MA. If you’ve ever experienced a New England winter, you understand the brutality of it. The snow gets so tall that you can quite literally step from the roof of your house onto a mound of snow. Now, imagine being stuck in that in 1911 with no power, no transportation other than a horse and buggy, and a hypochondriac wife.

To be honest, I didn’t remember much of the book from the first time I read it. I don’t know if that’s because it’s been so many years or because it just didn’t leave an impression on my adolescent brain. There are a few twists in the book that I won’t spoil here, but my initial reaction toward Frome during my re-read was that he was, quite frankly, an asshole. How could he think ill thoughts of his sick wife while he takes her cousin as a mistress?

As I got to the end of the book, I realized he’s a victim of circumstance. He’d taken care of his sick mother during his teenage years and, despite the help of his wife, Zeena, his mother had died during a brutal winter only to join the headstones in the Frome graveyard that seemed to taunt Ethan. He never wanted to end up as just another headstone with an engraving that detailed his many years stuck with his wife in that house. He wanted to move to a big city to become an engineer, but poverty and desperation caused him to act on emotional impulses. Now he’s just a man with a limp stuck in the cold winters of Starkfield, MA.

If you haven’t read this classic, I highly recommend it. Edith Warton put together such a volatile story in a short amount of pages. It only took me a couple hours to re-read, and I’m sure it will now have a lasting impression on me. I’m thankful for the back to the classics challenge for inspiring me to read this, and I’m excited to dive into more classics as the year goes on.