Showing posts with label charles dubow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label charles dubow. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (31)



Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorite new-to-me words from Indiscretion by Charles Dubow.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. amanuensis. "And what of the third person in this drama? (Naturally I don't include myself.  I am merely the amanuensis.)"   

noun
a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another; secretary.

As in weeks past, I am just SO impressed by Dubow's vocabulary in this novel!!

2. puerile. "One night we go to a Broadway show.  Something puerile and entertaining."  

adjective
1. of or pertaining to a child or to childhood.
2. childishly foolish; immature or trivial: a puerile piece of writing.

I've heard this word spoken in conversation before, but was never totally sure of the meaning.

3. riposte. "'We always have had, darling,' she ripostes." 
noun
1. a quick, sharp return in speech or action; counterstroke: a brilliant riposte to an insult.
2. in fencing: a quick thrust given after parrying a lunge.
verb
3. to make a riposte.
4. to reply or retaliate.

I really like the use of this as a verb here.  Never seen it used that way.

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (27)



Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorite new-to-me words from Indiscretion by Charles Dubow.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. funicular. "At the bottom of Montmartre, they take the funicular to the top of the hill."   

adjective
1. of or pertaining to a rope or cord, or its tension.
2. worked by a rope or the like.
noun
3. funicular railway.

I'm picturing this almost like a ski lift of some sort...does that sound about right?

2. simulacrum. "The room is peaceful.  A simulacrum of domesticity."  

noun
1. a slight, unreal, or superficial likeness or semblance.
2. an effigy, image, or representation: a simulacrum of Aphrodite.

I think this is my favorite word for this week.  I love the sound of it.

3. raiment. "We make up our own excuses, justifying the betrayal, clothing it in nobler raiment." 
noun
clothing; apparel; attire.

Straightforward definition, though I've never heard this word before.

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (26)



Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorite new-to-me words from my recent reads.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. baize. "Then a match was struck, and I saw the caretaker, with the green baize of his apron torn down the middle..."  (from How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

noun
1. a soft, usually green, woolen or cotton fabric resembling felt, used chiefly for the tops of billiard tables.
2. an article of this fabric or of a fabric resembling it.
verb
3. to line or cover with baize.

Now all I can picture is a guy wearing the top of a pool table.

2. burnoose. "Then a burnoose my father used to wear that made him look like Rudolph Valentino."  (from Indiscretion by Charles Dubow)

noun
1. a hooded mantle or cloak, as that worn by Arabs.
2. a similar garment worn by women at various periods in Europe and the United States.

The visual in my head would probably be clearer if I had any idea who Rudolph Valentino is/was...

3. roustabout. "Unlike most of them, he worked during the summer, one year as a roustabout on the Oklahoma oil fields, another on an Alaskan fishing boat."  (from Indiscretion by Charles Dubow)
noun
1. a wharf laborer or deck hand, as on the Mississippi River.
2. an unskilled laborer who lives by odd jobs.
3. a circus laborer who helps in setting up and taking down the tents and in caring for the animals, equipment, and grounds.
4. any unskilled laborer working in an oil field.

Definition #4: ding ding ding.  This word also reminds me of John Locke in Lost (though I know the word I'm thinking of there is "walkabout"...haha).

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (23)



Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorite new-to-me words from my recent reads.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. caesura. "...although she talks openly and easily about being a child and about her life with my grandfather, there is a caesura in the time line of her life, a break of years, a derailment."  (from The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult)  

noun
1. (in poetry) a break, especially a sense pause, usually near the middle of a verse, and marked in scansion by a double vertical line, as in know then thyself presume not God to scan.
2. (in poetry) a division made by the ending of a word within a foot, or sometimes at the end of a foot, especially in certain recognized places near the middle of a verse.
3. any break, pause, or interruption.

Oooh I like this one.  Pretty word and it's cool that it's not being used in the usual way.

2. etiolated. "He looked so small and etiolated."  (from Indiscretion by Charles Dubow)

verb (etiolate)
1. to cause (a plant) to whiten or grow pale by excluding light: to etiolate celery.
2. to cause to become weakened or sickly; drain of color or vigor.
3. (of plants) to whiten or grow pale through lack of light.

I have been really impressed by Dubow's creative use of words.  This highlights that yet again.

3. august. "We looked at the venerable stream not in the vivid flush of a short day that comes and departs for ever, but in the august light of abiding memories."  (from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad)
adjective
1. inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic: an august performance of a religious drama.
2. venerable; eminent: an august personage.

And I here thought August was just a month!

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (22)



Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorite new-to-me words from my recent reads.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. diaspora. "Ending the diaspora requires people with a variety of skills and the motivation to use them." (from God Grew Tired of Us by John Bul Dau)  

noun
1. (with initial capital letter) the scattering of the Jews to countries outside of Palestine after the Babylonian captivity.
2. (with initial capital letter) the body of Jews living in countries outside Israel.
3. (with initial capital letter) such countries collectively: the return of the Jews from the Diaspora.
4. any group migration or flight from a country or region.
5. any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland, especially involuntarily, as Africans during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Certainly an appropriate word for the many Sudanese who fleed the country throughout the war.

2. caliphate. "(Spoiler) was the apex of a holy pyramid that had begun when Osama bin Laden initiated a call for victory in the name of Islam and the Wahhabi caliphate." (from The Intercept by Dick Wolf)

noun
The rank, jurisdiction, or government of a caliph.

And a caliph is (after I looked it up) a spiritual leader of Islam.

3. vertiginous. "It is vertiginous following her."  (from Indiscretion by Charles Dubow)
adjective
1. whirling; spinning; rotary: vertiginous currents of air.
2. affected with vertigodizzy.
3. liable or threatening to cause vertigoa vertiginous climb.
4. apt to change quickly; unstable: a vertiginous economy.

I guess I should have been able to figure this one out from the root (vertigo)...didn't realize it until I saw the definition!

What are your new words this week?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Don't Let The Door Hit Ya, February: Month in Review

UGH.  February.  What a craptastic month.
Likeness of me in February
I didn't THINK it was going to go that way, but it did.  I got slammed with a pretty awful personal situation in the middle of the month, something that really knocked me for a loop.  I am not ready to post about it here yet, but I think I will in the future.  For now, suffice to say that it just made last month into a very difficult one.

As such, I apologize for my relative absence.  I know my posts have been kind of "blah" lately, and that I've been Twitter MIA, but the calendar has flipped to March and I am going IN LIKE A LION!!  Watch out, world.  Rawr.

(I guess I should say that there was ONE good thing about February, and that was the creation of the Harlem Shake.  I could sit on YouTube for HOURS and watch this crap.  Amazing.)

Anyway, let's talk about books!

The February 2013 Fave/Least Fave honors go to:

February 2013 Favorite: Indiscretion by Charles Dubow
February 2013 Least Favorite: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

In total, I read/reviewed 6 books:
White Dog Fell From The Sky by Eleanor Morse
Indiscretion by Charles Dubow
Political Suicide by Michael Palmer
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
God Grew Tired of Us by John Bul Dau
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

I also posted one new Small Fry Saturday Review of the Good Night Our World books.

In other book talk, we discussed cover snobbery, I was spotlighted by Christine, I had another fun giveaway, and I MET JODI PICOULT.  Total highlight of my book month!

So, here's hoping for a much better March.  Peace out, February.  Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (18)



Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorites new-to-me words, from Indiscretion by Charles Dubow. All definitions from Dictionary.com.


1. postlapsarian. "No one looks at anyone as we hurriedly pull our clothes over our wet bodies.  Our mood is postlapsarian."

adjective
occurring or being after the Fall.

This word perfectly describes the somber, post-revelry mood at this point in the book.

2. pareo (pareu). "Maddy says nothing but smiles and removes her old green cotton pareo, the one she bought years ago in Spain."

noun
a length of cloth, especially of brightly colored print, wrapped on the body like a lavalava and worn by women as a cover-up, skirt, dress, or the like.

Apparently this is a Tahitian word, as a lavalava is the primary item of dress for people living in Samoa.

3. escritoire. "Matching bureaus, a dressing table with my great-grandmother's silver-backed Tiffany hairbrushes still on it, a fireplace, an escritoire, a pair of Louis XV armchairs."

noun
writing desk.

I kind of guessed this one (ecrire is the French verb for "write") but I'd never seen this word used before.

What are your new words this week?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Book Review: Indiscretion by Charles Dubow


Title: Indiscretion
Author: Charles Dubow
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Source: e-ARC received from publisher for an honest review

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

We’ve all been around a couple who can engulf the attention of an entire room merely by occupying it. Harry and Madeleine Winslow are that set; the natural ease between them is palpable and their chemistry is almost tangible. He is a recent National Book Award winner with a promising career ahead of him, and she is blessed with family money, but radiates beauty, elegance, and humility. Whether they are abroad in Italy after he receives the Rome Prize, in their ambrosial East Hampton home, or in gritty Manhattan, they are always surrounded by close friends and those who wish to penetrate their inner circle. During a summer spent at the beach, they meet 26 year-old Claire and, as the summer blazes on, she is slowly inducted into their world. Claire can’t help but fall in love with Harry and Maddy and at the end of the summer, it is no longer enough to just be one of their hangers-on. Told through the omniscient eyes of Maddy’s childhood friend Walter, Indiscretion is a juicy, page turning novel with writing that is sophisticated and lyrical. Deeply textured, full of light and darkness, and overwhelmingly sensual, this book will be the sexiest, most intimate story you read all year.

My Review:

"We make so many right decisions in life, but it is the wrong ones that can never be forgiven."

Ooooh, what an intriguing journey I went on with this novel.  I'm not going to give you much plot detail beyond the description, because I think it's just enough.  The basic premise of the novel is not surprising (ummm...it involves infidelity?), but even so, I was never quite sure where it was going to go next.  Its subject is seemingly simple (a marriage, a friendship, and...an indiscretion), but I never felt like I knew the true nature of the book's four main characters--and that air of mystery left the plot in a state of constant change.

You see, Dubow leaves enough of each character in shadow so that you never get a good grip on them, and thus you constantly question their desires and motives.  Given that this is a book focusing primarily on relationships--their origins, their flaws, what makes them important to us--you don't want everything neatly explained anyway.  Half the fun of this novel is figuring out what makes each protagonist tick, and how they will react in the face of despair.

Beyond the somber and shifty nature of the book as a whole, I was also enamored with the way it was narrated.  When the story begins, you can't quite get a read on Walter (lifelong friend of the primary couple, Harry and Maddy Winslow).  His background is vague, and his feelings for Harry and Maddy (especially Maddy) leave you wondering what his true place is in the novel.  At first, I thought he was the chosen narrator because of his distance from Harry and Maddy's relationship--but that later proves not to be true, as Walter takes an increasingly large role in their lives.  I love stories that do interesting things with perspective, and Indiscretion certainly manages that.  Walter's role in the book gradually changes as the pages turn, and as a result, your perception of the entire debacle must change as well.

The ending deserves its own paragraph, because the last 20% of this book is phenomenal.  I thought I had an idea of what might happen, but then something totally different occurred.  I got comfortable with that reality, settled in for a nicely-wrapped ending, and then...GAME CHANGE.  Well played, Mr. Dubow.
And then after that lovely twist, there was YET ANOTHER ONE.  After a fairly evenly-paced novel, I was surprised to see so many change-ups in the ending, but I loved it nonetheless.

Were there any downsides to Indiscretion?  I will say that when I started to realize that the book was truly filled with regular, not-crazy people (and not at least one crazy-stalker, like I had originally thought), I was a little disappointed and for part of the book after that, I felt like things got a little slow.  However, after I got over that realization and reworked my idea of the book (as I had to do so many times anyway), I moved on and ended up loving the direction it took. 

Also, I don't know if this is a downside, but some of the sex scenes are quite explicit.  If you're averse to that (where my reading prudes at??), they can be a bit shocking, but they only occur in a relatively small part of the novel and do have a descriptive purpose in the plot.

Overall, I found this book to be rather fantastic.  Human relationships are so often ambiguous, and Dubow nails that both in his choice of narrator and in the ever-shifting direction of the character's lives.  You probably won't get a good read on Harry, Maddy, Claire, and Walter until the last page--and even then, you'll still be left with a few "whys" to ponder.  This is a thought-provoking book that gets to the heart of the fluidity of our relationships--and how one wrong decision can have implications that last a lifetime.

Check out some other reviews of Indiscretion:
Nomad Reader
I Read A Book Once...
Confessions of a Book Addict
 
Imagination Designs