As part of reblogbookclub, I was sent a copy of California by Edan Lepucki which is a book about betrayal and forgiveness. Also, it deals with the apocalypse, etc. etc.

I loved this book. The characters were so complex and interesting, as were their relationships with each other. It was hard for me to determine whether or not Cal and Frida were together because they needed each other or because they loved each other, which I think was the maybe the point. I don’t think the characters themselves knew definitively why they were together. There were moments between them where I could see that they felt so much affection for each other, but there are also moments where it seemed like they didn’t want to speak to each other at all and kept secrets out of spite. Their relationship felt very real to me, and I loved seeing them try to prepare for parenthood.

Originally, I thought this book would be about rebirth, and I guess it is? Except instead of the cleansing connotation that “rebirth” usually carries, the characters are reborn into a worse situation every time. I felt so bad for the Cal and Frida as they learned more about the community they tried to join. Without giving away the ending completely, I thought it was inevitable and sad and perfect. You can see hints of where they might end up as you read, and while they may be victims of circumstance at some points in the story, I thought there was no other way to leave these two characters. They’ve earned this ending.

I think this book works on a lot of different levels. It’s just a great story. It’s entertaining, and all of the characters are drawn so well. But I think the book also has a lot to say about power structures and ethics. Lit theory nerds will love how Lepucki explores semiotics all the way through the text, but I think the jokes and metaphors work even for readers who aren’t familiar with the theory behind it. (Honestly, I think this is maybe one of the best and most engaging books that could be used to help teach lit theory? Lit theory is dry, it could use some help staying relevant, tbh.)

Idk, I loved it. I’m gonna look for Edan’s novella, and then after that I guess I’ll just sit here and wait impatiently for her next project.

Okay but what about the lesbian communes?

zinccadmium:

dusktreadereats:

Things are bleak in Edna Lepucki’s California, what with the ever-present threat of rape and mutilation from the Pirates* and everyone accepting that survival means reverting back to a more traditional gendered division of labour.** Do you think any feminist/lesbian…

I’m about halfway through with the second chunk, and the heteronormative divisions of labor and political power are making me SO ANGRY.  It is a very strong, capable, female author who can write this way.  Thinking about this now, if California had been written by a man (I might argue that it couldn’t have been, but that’s another post.) I would have rolled my eyes and thought, “Of course it’s kind of a boy’s club making the leadership decisions.”  But when a woman does it, you want to know, “Why? And how?  And do the women on The Land have any kind of opinion about it?”

There’s something there about how The Group was set up, but like I said, I’m only on Chapter 12 or so.

But this is such an arresting read.  I can’t breeze through it like I did with Fangirl.  Every page calls for such deep thought.  I love it!

I don’t think the text is making the argument that men are better leaders though? I’ve already finished the book, so I’m not sure how much the end of the story is influencing my opinion, but just because a book contains something doesn’t mean it’s advocating for it. Even though that’s how the division of labor is set up, I don’t think the story supports the idea that it’s better for men to lead and women to clean or bake or whatever.

(via reblogbookclub)

ohmywalkers said: I know some authors like to write in coffee shops, others listen to music, and some prefer to write when it's quiet. What was your writing process with CALIFORNIA?

reblogbookclub:

Hi!
I started California while at an artists’ residency in Wyoming called Ucross. I had an enormous writing studio there, and I didn’t have anything to do but create art. Seriously: deer pranced by my window, birds called out, and my lunches and dinners were prepared for me.  I wrote the first 40 pages of the book there, and mostly did so in complete silence. This is different from my usual process;  at home I listen to music on my headphones as I write.  Much of California was written to the creepy electronic music of Fever Ray; the songs scared and moved me, and allowed me to enter Frida and Cal’s world.
 After I left Ucross, I wrote the book either from my desk in my living room, or from my neighbor’s kitchen table—by then I’d had my baby and was using their apartment as a kind of office whenever I had a sitter. Sometimes I would work at a nearby cafe called Paper or Plastik; in fact, there’s a line in the book about a barista checking her lipstick in the reflection of the espresso machine, which happened right in front of me as I was writing!
I always write on my laptop but I do a lot of free writing and problem solving in my journal as well. I love to read the work aloud, too, to get the prose rhythm right. My best writing happens between 9:30 am to noon. I turn off the Internet and go…
- Edan
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neal didn’t take georgie’s breath away. maybe the opposite. but that was okay—that was really good, actually, to be near someone who filled your lungs with air (x)

neal didn’t take georgie’s breath away. maybe the opposite. but that was okay—that was really good, actually, to be near someone who filled your lungs with air (x)

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St. Martin’s Press sent me a review copy of Landline a few weeks ago (probably because they know I’m OBSESSED with Rainbow’s books), which was so nice of them, I can’t even believe it, so THANK YOU AGAIN, stmartinspress! (You can find buy links here!)

Landline is about a MARRIAGE IN JEOPARDY, but it’s also about motherhood and womanhood and young love and family and a teeny tiny bit of magic, kind of.

I try not to know too much about books before I read them, so I was THRILLED to see that Georgie McCool, the main character of Landline, was a sitcom writer because I feel like that’s probably one of the best jobs in the whole world. Based on the hundreds of hours I’ve spent watching roundtables and listening to podcasts about writers rooms, I feel like Rowell does a great job of expressing how rare it is to get the opportunity to run your own show, but also how stressful and overwhelming that can be. I also really appreciated that Georgie was a comedic writer BECAUSE I LOVE FUNNY LADIES.

I know some of Rainbow’s fans might be wary of an adult fiction book, but my experience of the book didn’t alienate me as a single post-grad at all. Georgie spends a lot of time trying to juggle both a family and her career, which is very difficult to do and inevitably something will suffer due to lack of attention. However, I feel like this is something I, and many other young women, think about a lot. Do I want kids? When do I want kids? Will I still have a career if I choose to be a mother? I really liked seeing the perspective of a successful working mother, especially in light of Cath and Wren’s mother in Fangirl. The mother in that book decides to leave the family she never really wanted; however, Landline shows a woman who very much loves her children and would like to spend more time with them, but finds her career to be fulfilling and necessary to her life too. The guilt associated with choosing to be a little bit removed from her children’s life is probably the aspect of the book that I found most compelling.

If you loved the tender romance aspect of any of Rowell’s other works, you will definitely find more of that here. I originally thought that the book would be a little painful to read (because sometimes family and marriage angst can get really ugly), but I was pleasantly surprised to see so much of Georgie and Neal’s relationship when they first started dating. I really felt how much Georgie was pining for him and how happy they made each other. I also thought Neal was the dreamiest guy, good lord. A quiet competent artist man who’s just covered in children? Yes, please.

It’s just a very good book, and I think EVERYONE should read it.

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*I read an early copy through Penguin’s First to Read program.

I thought this book was so beautiful. I loved the tension between the characters: the romantic tension between Jaxon and Devorah, Devorah and her family and their traditions, and Jaxon and how he interacts with the world. There’s a lot of discussion about race and cultural issues that I thought was handled really well. I’m glad to see Penguin publishing a book that honestly represents the diversity in real life. The romance here felt honest, and both Jaxon and Devorah were complex and intelligent characters. I loved the book from a plot and characterization standpoint, but also down to individual sentences. Some of them were so beautiful, and I can’t wait to see them circulate on Tumblr. (And I’m sure that they will!)

BN / IndieBound

(Source: ohmywalkers, via youngadultescent)

rivercityreading:

Okay, #reblogbookclub-ers. How do you feel about not knowing the specific cause of society’s downfall a post-apocalyptic novel?

How much do you need to know for a book to work? Can you think of specific titles that have revealed/hidden information to the book’s benefit/detriment? 

Is the amount of background information shared working in California?

I love the amount of back story we’re given! It feels like all of the Important Issues (but especially economic inequality and environmental factors) got so heavy, that everything crashed inwards? Like, it wasn’t a war between countries or a virus or anything that required outside intervention or a specific catalyst. And I don’t think the book hints that there’s anything larger at work either, which is nice, because sometimes dystopias or post-apocalyptic books spend so much time teasing a big reveal that it ends up falling flat once readers get more information.

It’s a different age bracket and style of writing completely, but I think The Maze Runner series suffers from the lack of meaningful back story. Those books were so frustrating that even the reveal in the third book isn’t satisfying to read. Every time new information is given, it feels like there’s a tiny asterisk next to it that says BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE, and it doesn’t feel organically earned at all.

I think books stop working when information is concealed just for the sake of keeping the reader in the dark. If something major happened and most of the characters are aware of what that thing is, I want to know and I don’t want to spend hundreds of pages trying to figure it out. Books just work better when the writing style undersells what the surprises are going to be. I’d rather see characters figure things out in their own time than have an exposition dump or an explanation drawn out for no reason.


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once the bell is rung, you can’t unring it [x]

reblogbookclub:

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I just described California to my sister as “Red Dawn meets Little House on the Prairie.” That might not be very accurate, but it did the job of getting her to want to read it!

This book is quite unique & I find it hard to describe. How are you guys describing it to people?

#pregnantapocalypse*

No, really though. That’s all I needed. There’s a couple, and the wife is pregnant, and they have to figure out what to do about this baby situation when their whole life situation is already pretty awful because nothing exists anymore. This is exactly how I pitched it to my best buddy, like, actual months ago, and we were both in immediately. We thought there would be more domesticity than there actually is, but luckily we love lady problems and dark stuff that makes us sad.

(*I’m always stealing finchermara's ideas. This is her hashtag, etc etc.)