Tag Archives: macmillan publishing

Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden

Screen Shot 2019-03-30 at 7.14.15 PMIn this memoir-esque book by former U.S. vice president Joe Biden, Promise Me, Dad mostly revolves around details of Biden’s second term as vice president. Pieces of his earlier experiences and previous political movements are woven through his the story of his vice presidency and his struggle to determine if he should enter the 2016 presidential race. Whilst all of these major professional decisions are being made, Biden is also dealing with the failing health of his eldest son, Beau, which strongly influences which direction Biden chooses to pursue. Throughout the book, Biden sprinkles in many family-held truths of what makes you a good person and how the family depends on and lifts each other up. It left me yearning for the opportunity to have grown close to and been influenced by a family like the Bidens during my early years.

Publication Date: 14 November 2017 by Flatiron BooksFormat: Hardcover.

Author: Joe Biden facebook/@instagram/@twitter

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

image1 (12)This is my third shot trying to board the Rainbow Rowell train and I’m finally ready to admit that I will not be buying a ticket to future trains. Despite knowing that I didn’t really jive with Rowell’s stories, I decided to give Fangirl a try after several people recommended that I read it. And I did like it! But only for the first half of the book.

Fangirl follows Cath as she stumbles into her first year of college and is figuring out what life looks like for herself as she is physically separated from her father, who she is very close to and sometimes feels emotionally responsibility for, and emotionally separated from her identical twin, Wren, who attends the same university but wants to instill some distance between them. Cath spends a lot of her time distracting herself from her own life by writing a wildly popular fanfiction for a franchise that is a thinly disguised Harry Potter knockoff.

I liked the stable of characters introduced here far more than I’ve liked those in Rowell’s other books, but I grew tired of everyone about halfway through the book when I became disengaged with the subsequent storylines. I also grew annoyed by the dabbles into the actual fanfiction text (but clearly I’m in the minority because Rowell has written a book based solely off this that has done very well). Of Rowell’s book, this is probably the one that I have liked the most, but I still didn’t like it enough to listen to my peers when they tell me in the future that I really must read Rowell’s works. That said, I will keep reading Rowell’s tweets because they are damn delightful!

Publication Date: 10 September 2013 by St. Martin’s PressFormat: ebook.

Author: Rainbow Rowell web/@twitter/@instagram/facebook

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

IMG_8187I received Scaachi Koul’s debut in my great Christmas book haul of 2017 and I adored it! Koul is a news reporter at Buzzfeed and wrote an excellent essay about A Series of Unfortunate Events that put her on my radar (please read it here or this magnificent piece about Sufjan Stevens that I only found today if you want to get a taste of her style and the things that interest her). The point of view that shines through in her Buzzfeed essays is cranked up to 1000 in One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, a memoir of personal essays about the experiences she’s had so far. She sprinkles in some stories about growing up in Canada with Indian parents, going back to India and being othered because she’s “western”, but also not exactly fitting in within all western contexts either, a few college stories, and a gloss over adulthood and relationships. It was a quick read and gives a reader a glimpse into lots of different territories without wading in any of them too long. My favorite essay is titled “Aus-piss-ee-ous” and covers attending a cousin’s wedding ceremony in India and feeling out of place with the traditions and realizing that even her Indian relatives aren’t quite comfortable with the traditions either, but go along with it anyway. Koul’s book is excellent, very entertaining, and tonally felt like catching up with a friend over beers. I recommend!

Publication Date: 7 March 2017 by Picador. Format: Paperback.

Author: Scaachi Koul @twitter/@instagram/facebook

the marriage plot by jeffrey eugenides

The Marriage PlotAs a huge fan of both of Jeffrey Eugenides’s other published novels (The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex), I’m a little surprised it took me as long as it did to get to reading The Marriage Plot. Eugenides has such a brilliant way with stringing words together and slipping in poignant statements when you aren’t expecting to stumble across them. I was a bit nervous to listen to his latest story in audiobook format because I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to visualize how beautifully his words flow together in the same way that I was able to when electronically or physically reading his works.

While I didn’t love The Marriage Plot as much as his other works, it was my favorite work of fiction that I’ve read so far in 2015. That’s not to say that it’s the best fiction work I’ve read this year — that would be The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (review coming soon!), but it’s definitely the fiction read that I’ve most enjoyed.

A lot of other reviewers have been annoyed by this book because the main characters are all a bunch of pretentious college students, which they definitely are, but the novel highlights the pretentiousness without casting it in an admiring light. Frankly, most of the characters in the novel reminded me of people I stumbled across in my own college experience that were pretty pretentious in similar ways (the philosophy spouting Leonard, one of the three main characters, reminded me very specifically of one of my dearest friends, while also lampooning all of his faults that can irk me).

The main characters, Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell, are all college students together at Brown University in the 1980s and each of their story lines reek of their privilege and their desire to be someone greater than an ordinary individual. They all want to be central characters in stories instead of the minor characters that we all are to everyone else in real life. The following quote illustrates this perfectly — Madeleine became delighted with herself when she adorned her walls with illustrations from the children’s book series Madeline because it augmented

“the sense she had of herself, then and now, as being the one in a troop of girls a writer might write a book about”

which I feel like perfectly sums up Madeleine as a character. Of all the characters, Madeleine falls the flattest, but I feel like that’s intentionally done and is more of a purposeful statement than a fault of the writer.

The novel is entitled The Marriage Plot because that is essentially the plot of the novel, something that Eugenides felt was missing in current literature when compared to the great Victorian novels, such as Pride and Prejudice. That said, I feel like the title is a bit misleading and could be discouraging to readers who don’t want to read about “marriage.” Yes, a marriage occurs within the pages of the books, but it’s more a story of how these three characters have interweaving lives than about any specific plot line.

And finally, because I’ve stressed so much how Eugenides is incredibly gifted with his words, here’s a quote from The Marriage Plot that nearly made me shed a tear on the subway.

“If you grew up in a house where you weren’t loved, you didn’t know there was an alternative. If you grew up with emotionally stunted parents, who were unhappy in their marriage and prone to visit that unhappiness on their children, you didn’t know they were doing this. It was just your life. If you had an accident, at the age of four, when you were supposed to be a big boy, and were later served a plate of feces at the dinner table – if you were told to eat it because you liked it, didn’t you, you must like it or you wouldn’t have so many accidents – you didn’t know that this wasn’t happening in the other houses in your neighborhood. If your father left your family, and disappeared, never to return, and your mother seemed to resent you, as you grew older, for being the same sex as your father, you had no one to turn to. In all these cases, the damage was done before you knew you were damaged. The worst part was that, as the years passed, these memories became, in the way you kept them in a secret box in your head, taking them out every so often to turn them over and over, something like dear possessions. They were the key to your unhappiness. The were the evidence that life wasn’t fair. If you weren’t a lucky child, you didn’t know you weren’t lucky until you got older. And then it was all you ever thought about.”

Publication Date: October 2011 by Macmillan. Format: Digital Audiobook from Macmillan Audio.

Author: Jeffrey Eugenides Facebook/Publisher Profile

Narrator: David Pittu Facebook