The Arrangement

I finished The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn today.  It tells the story of Lucy and Owen, an ordinary couple who decide to have a trial open marriage for six months.  This immediately struck me as a horrible idea, but I zoomed through the book wanting to know if my initial thoughts would be proven right.

The husband, Owen immediately finds a new partner and is initially thrilled, but of course, she ends up being crazy and he wants to end the experiment early.  Lucy falls in love with her new partner and becomes torn between the thrill of a new guy and the family to whom she feels loyal.  The epilogue ties up all of the storylines neatly, maybe a little too neatly.  Even though the story is interesting and a quick read, it’s hard to recommend because of the subject matter.

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Lincoln in the Bardo

I finished Lincoln in the Bardo a few days ago and I am still thinking about it.  It is written by George Saunders and came out earlier this year.  Saunders is mostly known for his short stories and this is his first novel.

President Lincoln’s young son, Willie has died and is stick in an in-between state between life and crossing over.  There are numerous characters stuck there with him and the voice of the narrator switches between all of these people, almost in a stream of consciousness screenplay format.  Some of the characters are easier to understand than others, which can make for dense reading at times.

I really enjoyed the historical portions of the story that seem to come from genuine first person accounts from the time period with respect to Lincoln’s actions around Willie’s death.  The idea of seeing the President as a grieving father is very compelling.  The most frustrating part of the book were the characters that couldn’t understand the place they were in and their refusal to move on, but maybe that was the whole point of them being there.

The After Party

I just finished The After Party by Anton DiSclafani, which came out last year and follows the friendship of two wealthy girls growing up in Houston in the 1950s, Joan and CeCe.  Joan is the leader of the two and CeCe spends the whole book trying to please and really know Joan, which was frustrating.  She can never truly get what she wants from Joan and even when CeCe finally learns Joan’s big secret toward the end, she doesn’t get the closer she wants.

This book was only marginal and I would skip it.

The Incredible Hulk

We watched The Incredible Hulk this afternoon, which is the second film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The kids have been into Iron Man recently after having watched the first film and I thought it was time to move onto the second one.  I had remembered seeing this around the time it came out in theaters in 2008, but had not watched it since then.

The Incredible Hulk tells the story of Bruce Banner, played by Edward Norton, in hiding after having been turned into the Hulk after a failed Gamma Ray experiment.  He is trying to find a cure for himself and is tracked down by the government who wants to use him to create additional weapons like him.  Bruce meets up with his old girlfriend, Betty Ross, played by Liv Tyler and is pulled back into the government scheme to fight the Abomination.  Bruce eventually defeats him and escapes.  The final scene shows Tony Stark meeting with the general about putting together a team.

I thought the movie was entertaining enough, although it did not hold the kids’ interest.  They disappeared about 40 minutes into it.  My daughter said she much preferred Iron Man.  Iron Man 2 is up next on the list, so we will see how that goes.

The Animators

I finished The Animators on an airplane recently.  It was released earlier this year and is by Kayla Rae Whitaker.  The Animators follows two young women animators, Sharon and Mel, from their meeting in college throughout the release of their first movie success and the process of developing their followup.  When Sharon suffers a stroke, they travel back to her hometown to uncover certain aspects of Sharon’s past that Mel thinks would make a good movie.

While the book does touch on some romantic relationships, the primary relationship of the book is between Sharon and Mel.  Theirs is a sort of co-dependency that veers into the unhealthy.  They are so entwined in each other’s lives that it is difficult for them to focus on anything else, especially when they are creatively working.

The book is certainly interesting and the storyline keeps the read engaged.  Ultimately, however, the characters were a little too damaged for me to identify with them and really become invested.