Showing posts with label peter gelfan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label peter gelfan. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (29)

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 Found Objects by Peter Gelfan.  
All definitions from

1. roué. "Harl thinks he and I have a lot in common; he sees me as a fellow roué, a man who lives as he wants to and f*ck 'em if they can't take a joke."

a dissolute and licentious man; rake.

What a fancy word for a distinctly non-fancy meaning!

2. misanthrope. "The chances of getting caught prohibited searching his room or his car, so I opted for the favorite tactic of the armchair misanthrope and hit the Web."  

a hater of humankind.

Harsh!  I think the narrator meant it with a bit of cheek here though.

3. verisimilitude. "I'm suspicious of such searches, not only because memory more and more seems like imagination brushed with a patina of verisimilitude, but also because at the time these moments happen, we can't see their consequences and only much later look back upon them as defining."
1. the appearance or semblance of truth; likelihood; probability: The play lacked verisimilitude.
2. something, as an assertion, having merely the appearance of truth.

Once I saw the definition, I realized I could have figured it out from the "veri" root.  Good word.

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (28)

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 Found Objects by Peter Gelfan.  
All definitions from

1. thymus. "Making friends is a natural imperative for children, like eating and sleeping, but one which disappears, thymus-like, with adulthood."  

a ductless, butterfly-shaped gland lying at the base of the neck, formed mostly of lymphatic tissue and aiding in the production of T cells of the immune system: after puberty, the lymphatic tissue gradually degenerates.

Here's my biology lesson for the week.  Cool use of the word in the text!

2. atelier. "Jonah's guided tour arrived at my studio...'Your atelier,' he said."  

a workshop or studio, especially of an artist, artisan, or designer. .

Guess that one was pretty self-explanatory in the context it was used, but it was a word I didn't recognize.

3. semiotics. "I've never been able to decipher the semiotics of Erica's assemblages."
1. the study of signs and symbols as elements of communicative behavior; the analysis of systems of communication, as language, gestures, or clothing.
2. a general theory of signs and symbolism, usually divided in to the branches of pragmatics, semantics, and syntactics.

Erica's character has a tendency to leave random clusters of "found objects" around the house.  Here, the narrator is attempting to figure out what relationship the objects have to one another.

What are your new words this week?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

April Showers Bring May Awesomes. (April 2013 in Review)

So April was a pretty awesome month.  Mostly because of the weather.  My pasty-pale self is now becoming pasty-pale with a scattering of freckles, which must mean the sun has arrived in Upstate New York.  If only all my freckles would meld together, I would be blessed with the most luscious tan.  Ah, the life of a ginger.

Also, my lil (not so lil anymore) brother got engaged this month!  I am wicked excited for him and his fiancee (who has received the Big Sister Seal of Approval).  Let the wedding plans begin!

As per usual in my monthly recaps, I will also grace you with a photo of Sir Small Fry.  He was very serious about his outdoor play time this month:
Obviously Mother has done something for which she should feel ashamed.
Now, enough about me, onward to the book-related goodness!  Apparently the warm weather led to less reading and more outdoor time, because my reading/posting pace was a little slower.

The April 2013 Fave/Least Fave choices were difficult, and honestly, my "least" fave shouldn't be read as being a "bad"'s just the one I gave the lowest rating to on Goodreads (a 3-star, by the way).

March 2013 Favorite:  How Green Was My Valley  by Richard Llewellyn
March 2013 Least Favorite:  The Sex Lives of Cannibals  by J Maarten Troost

In total, I read/reviewed 6 books:
How Green Was My Valley  by Richard Llewellyn
Found Objects  by Peter Gelfan
Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson
The World's Strongest Librarian  by Josh Hanagarne
Weelicious  by Catherine McCord
The Sex Lives of Cannibals  by J Maarten Troost

I also posted one new Small Fry Saturday Review of  Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury.

In other book talk, I was one of the first features on Book Bloggers International, we took a trip down my college-era memory lane, and I told you all the topics that, if melted together, would create my ultimate read.

May is going to be a busy month around here--we're getting a new roof put on today, and Small Fry is getting ear tubes inserted tomorrow, so already we're off with a bang.  But May is also my engagement anniversary (awww).  And, let's not forget that Mother's Day is coming up.  YOU'RE ON NOTICE, HUSBAND.  Fine jewels and massages as far as the eye can see!  (Or at least the ability to sleep past 6am.)

Have a great month!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Book Review: Found Objects by Peter Gelfan

Title: Found Objects
Author: Peter Gelfan
Publisher: Nortia Press
Publication Date: May 21, 2013*
Source: e-ARC received from publisher for an honest review

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

Aldo Zoria is a successful commercial photographer who lives in a happy menage-a-trois with his wife and their lover along with the lover's two young children. Domestic bliss shatters when an unexpected guest arrives. 

Found Objects tells a story of struggle between values and instincts, ideals and reality, whom we strive to become and whom we are born to be.

My Review:

When I accepted this ARC for review, I knew I was stepping out of my comfort zone.  The above description obviously tells you that the characters in the novel are involved in an odd domestic/sexual situation, and I was afraid that the content would border on erotica (not a genre I read/review).  However, I got the sense that this book was more about the dynamic between the characters, rather than their sexual escapades, so I went for it.

Thankfully, I was correct.  This novel is an intriguing study of human relationships, how we choose to form them, and the fragile balance that must be stricken in order for them to be successful.  There is still sexual content, but it is not overly explicit, and it's present more to illustrate the evolution of each character rather than to titillate the reader.

When you dive into this book, get ready to stand your 'normal' ideas of love and domestic bliss on their heads.  The story is told by Aldo Zoria, a photographer living in rural Vermont with Erica (his wife), Marie (their lover), and Dominic and Jasmine (Marie's kids from her now-defunct marriage).  At the beginning of this tale, they are a happily-functioning (though very nontraditional) family of five.  However, early on, an unexpected guest arrives at their house, causing the delicate balance of their family unit to be shaken.  As the novel progresses (and the guest's presence persists), Aldo, Erica, and Marie are forced to consider what drove them together in the first place, and whether their future together is still plausible.

The thing I found most captivating about this novel was how each character was so inherently selfish, even though they were all professing a need to keep everyone else happy throughout this situation.  This selfishness was best illustrated, for me, in how the adults interacted with Dom and Jas, the two kids.

"In our society now, with birth control, abortion, the acceptance of premarital sex among adults, and the distant approach of gender equality in the workplace, what do women need husbands for?  With kitchen gadgets, microwave ovens, fast-food joints, and the sexual availability of single women, what do men need wives for?  With women finding fulfillment at work, what do they need children for?  Of course, all this heady freedom doesn't do a whole lot for kids, who still need two parents just as much as they ever did.  If not three."

I think the structure of this passage exemplifies the way that Dom and Jas are approached throughout the novel.  Aldo et al are so wrapped up in thinking through their own living arrangements and raisons d'etre that the collateral damage to the kids tends to occur to them later, if at all.  Aldo constantly worries about whether his sexual escapades can be heard by Erica/Marie through the walls, but never worries about whether the kids can hear.  They all show concern for the trouble that Dom and Jas have in school, but they never consider changing their way of life to address it.

But that leads us to the next question: should they have to change their lives in order to make life easier...for the kids, for their nosy neighbors, for themselves?  This is a point that every reader is going to struggle with as they delve into this novel.  If Aldo, Erica, and Marie are having such personal struggles because of their romantic relationship, and if it negatively impacts the children, why do they choose to continue it?  It's easy to ask this of a romantic situation that you disapprove of (menage-a-trois is not on my love life to-do list), but...would you ask these questions of a two-person, opposite-sex couple that was in strife?  A same-sex couple?  I still don't inherently "approve" of a three-way domestic situation, but as I was reading, part of me felt like I didn't have the right to judge the mode of their happiness (or sadness).  This is a complex issue for sure, and not one that is easy to bring to a conclusion.

I will tell you right now, don't go into Found Objects expecting an explosively dramatic plot.  And don't expect to love every person in it (in fact, I quite disliked Aldo).  Instead, expect this: a tightly-written, character-driven novel that shows a keen understanding of the intricacies of human relationships.  You will be left mulling over the notions of free will, love, and domesticity.  Any book that can make a reader ruminate on such lofty concepts is a winner in my eyes.

*Readers, I do apologize for bringing you this review so long before release date.  Normally I do not do that (as a blog reader myself, I find it frustrating when I read an interesting review but can't get the book for over a month), but the original release date for this novel was next week, and I didn't realize it was pushed back until I started writing this.  You can always pre-order if you're that determined! :)

Other reviews of Found Objects:
Good Book Fairy
4 The Love of Lit

What books have taken you out of your comfort zone lately?
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