All My Friends by Marie N’Diaye translated by Jordan Stump
Source: Publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Publisher: Two Lines Press
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In this brief yet poignant collection of short stories, author Marie N’Diaye takes us into the minds of the unstable and their fractured lives and relationships. From an aged professor haunted by a past student, to a former actress falling apart, or a mother abandoning her son. N’Diaye deftly examines the minds and thoughts of people who we’d rather brush under the carpet. This book will leave you unsettled, but it in incredibly well written (well translated) and gives the reader much to think about after each story.
In the first story, an aged professor falls in love with a former student, now his housekeeper. This is followed by a tale of a back and forth between a doctor and a patient over her dead husband. The third story, is remarkably sad, as it is about a young boy who wants to leave his impoverished life by becoming a sex slave, like his next door neighbor. Then Brulard’s Tale about a minor actress and her stream of consciousness thought patterns becoming more and more claustrophobic and paranoid. The last story is about a mentally challenged women who goes on a bus ride with her son, but knows that she will be returning without him.
The author has created five stories in which people lose their grip on reality, the most compelling of which was fourth story, Brulard’s Day. This story reminded me of Knut Hamsun’s Hunger. The inner workings of the mind of someone’s sanity slowly unraveling as bystanders watch, unaware or indifferent. At only 140 pages, this book is a quick read, but not a light read. It’s not exactly a beach read, with the gentle tide of waves in the background. It is more of a moody cafe book, with a few cups of coffee with some ambient music in the background.
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In addition to LibraryThing and Goodreads, BookLikes is another bookish website helping readers keep track of their collections on bookshelves, books to read and books liked and disliked along the way.
What makes this site so different from the other two already established and favorite options? BookLikes offers immediate recommendations based on books you “like.” For example, I liked Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and immediately two of her older books popped up in the recommendations box. The site is still in Beta form, so it has its flukes. I liked Petite Anglais by Catherine Sanderson and had the following books pop up on the recommendations shelf: Blog Marketing, RSS & Atom, Realty Blogging. I think the more authors liked the better the recommendations will be. At the moment, my recommendations are all technical blogging books, which are pretty wonky and not books I am looking for right now. You do have the option of hiding a recommendation, but another one will just pop up in its place. You can browse books by category or see the top recommendations from current users.
I didn’t see any space to join a community or chat in a forum, but you do have the option of starting a discussion thread, allowing other users to respond to a thought or question.
I see this primarily as a useful marketing tool for bloggers to link back to their reviews. Otherwise, I think non-bloggers would do better with LibraryThing and Goodreads. Librarians will be able to use this tool for more general readers advisory and booklist creations for various age groups and genres.
I’ve been using GoodReads for quite a while now to track the books I read and keep tabs on what my friends are reading. I’m not really sure how I came across this site, but I like it and most of my friends have a GoodReads account. I had signed up for LibraryThing, but never got around to updating it. It felt a little clumsy to me, when searching for titles. With Goodreads, you can type in the author, and see all the books associated with that author, then just go down the list and add books, (or just rate it) without having to re-enter the author’s name each time to go to another book (something that keeps happening to me on LibraryThing). I do like that LibraryThing lets you do half stars, I can’t do that with GoodReads.
Other than the ease of adding books to my list and organizing the lists, there really isn’t much of a difference between the two. When I signed up for GoodReads, LibraryThing still had a cap on the number of titles on the shelf, whereas GoodReads is unlimited and free. Its also easier to view other people’s bookshelves and be able to add titles to your own bookshelf when browsing.
My favorite part is being able to divide up lists into various categories. I have a “To-Read” list, a “Currently Reading” list, and various subject headings that I can stick titles under. There are thousands of groups for tons of topics, a section for authors that are GoodReads members, (I friended Paulo Coelho). I also joined the Rory Gilmore Book Club on GoodReads. The forum is always active and the posts are actually well thought out and insightful.
I have accounts on both sites, and I’ll most likely keep both accounts. Its always nice having more than 1 online resource for something like this. Used together, they kind of balance each other out. I like that LibraryThing is more library/librarian focused, but I think GoodReads is easier to use.