Tag Archives: Vintage

Review: Please Look After Mom

Please Look After Mom

Please Look After Mom
By Kyung-Sook Shin
Vintage, Paperback, 9780307739513, April 2012, 272pp.

The Short of It:

The sacrifices that a mother makes for her children and husband are not fully realized until she goes missing.

The Rest of It:

Sometimes you read a book and it stays with you for a very long time. Please Look After Mom is one such book.

Sixty-nine year old So-nyo is with her husband at a Seoul rail station when they become separated from each other. Suddenly, days have passed and she has not been found. As the family gathers to post flyers, each of them find themselves questioning the life she’s lived and the sacrifices she’s made. As their search continues and the days pass without any news, they discover things about their mother that they never knew and it dawns on them that the severe headaches she complained of and the lapses in memory were perhaps more serious than she let on.

This book hit me hard. As a daughter, I just kept thinking of my own mom who passed away late last year and how so many things were left unsaid between us. Mental illness and addiction took center stage and I was left to dream about a mother I could never have. But then you look at this book from a mother’s perspective and you can certainly see why she did the things that she did. I’m telling you, this book grabbed me from all directions and it nearly caused me to “ugly cry” and that’s saying a lot.

Parts of the story are told using a second person point of view which always throws me off. Once I got used to it and how it was used to tell the story, it just felt right for the author to share the story that way. There’s an intimacy to it that leaves you feeling a little uncomfortable, which in this case wasn’t necessarily a bad feeling. It just really got me thinking about mothers, children, marriage and everything in between.

I can’t even adequately tell you how this book made me feel because it affected me on so many levels but it was a really good read and very different from what I’ve been reading lately. I’m so glad my book club chose it for our May meeting. Looking forward to the discussion.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Ulysses

Ulysses

Ulysses
By James Joyce
Published 2013 by Vintage (first published February 2nd 1922), 816pp

The Short of It:

A fantastical romp of failures and missed opportunities but a real treat for the imagination.

The Rest of It:

Oh! How people dread this one! Long ago I tried to read it but never got past the beginning. Mostly it was a timing issue. I made a mental note to come back to it and so I did, with a few others who joined me for a read-along.

Let me tell you, the first half vexed me. It was gibberish. No matter how many times I read a sentence, it made no sense! I even resorted to reading it out loud. My dog thought I was yelling at her though so I had to stop. But somewhere in the second half, Joyce’s writing became understandable and from there, there was no turning back.

The story takes place on June 16. A day so celebrated by fans that it’s called Bloomsday. Leopold Bloom’s day is spent having lunch, spending time with friends, visiting brothels and bailing his friends out of trouble. The chapters (episodes) vary in format and the narration shifts back and forth between characters.

Much of it makes no sense. You just have to know that going in. There are plenty of reading guides available but most of them just tell you to read it for yourself. It’s a book that begs you to hate it but if you appreciate a good imagination and don’t mind dealing with hallucinations and fantastical elements, then perhaps you’ll love it.

Do I love it? Maybe. It’s been a few days since I finished it and my thoughts are still percolating. I can see myself re-reading it at some point.

Did I mention that it was banned for pornographic content? The ban was lifted in 1934 when it was noted as an emetic, but certainly not an aphrodisiac. Can you believe that? An emetic?? I will admit, it’s a bit smutty. If you are sensitive to lascivious talk then this probably isn’t a book for you.

Did you know that Ulysses is the Latinised name of Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s epic poem Odyssey, and the novel establishes a series of parallels between the poem and the novel? (Wikipedia) I went into this book not knowing this piece of information but somewhere in the beginning I figured this out.

Did you know that it was originally published as a serial publication in the magazine The Little Review? My copy of the book did not include the episode titles so every time I saw a particular episode mentioned somewhere, I had a really hard time finding it in my copy. I was aware of the serial publication but I wish I had purchased a book that contained those titles. My copy only separated Parts I, II and III. There were no breaks between episodes so I could not tell when a new one had started.

Even with all the obstacles noted, this is a book that will stay with me for a long, long time. While reading it at work I was surprised at how many people showed an interest in it. My copy has already been loaned out to a colleague. I can’t wait to hear her thoughts.

Here are the read-along breakdowns in case you’re interested:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

This article from The Economist is rather interesting and might encourage you to give it a go.

What other BEAST might I want to tackle? Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.