It is Friday!! Can I tell you how excited I am?! After today's classes I will have two more weeks of school (total of 6 days of classes), one week of finals (total of 2 days of finals), one day of grading (which I will need to grade all the finals and end-of-year papers), one night of graduation and......summer vacation will be here! I love teaching --- I really do. But at this time of year I am always ready for a break in routine. I see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Friday Finds. I received my newest edition of Bookmarks magazine this week, and while I have not had time to read it from cover to cover (that will come this weekend), I have already found two books to add to the TBR list:
The Ask by Sam Lipsyte.
Description from Bookmarks: For Gen Xer Milo Burke, life can best be described as mediocre. His dreams of an artistic career have long since vanished; he now plods his way through a job as a fund-raising officer for a third-rate New York university. When Milo is fired after insulting a wealthy donor's daughter, he finds potential salvation in Purdy Stuart, an old classmate. Now a wealthy businessman, Purdy is prepared to donate a large sum of money to the university as long as Milo handles the account. But Purdy's offer comes with a catch that will test Milo's self-respect.
Critical Summary from Bookmarks: In the vastly entertaining - but dark - social satire, Lipsyte exposes the plight of the highly educated and discontented. Critics particularly enjoyed protagonist Milo Burke who, unlike most people, is keenly aware of his own mediocrity. They also enjoyed Lipsyte's well-rounded secondary characters: the embittered war amputee, the indifferent wife, the vaguely dissatisfied entrepreneur... Overall, reviewers hailed The Ask as a worthy, amusing read, and a "witty paean to white-collar loserdom" (New York Times Book Review). Did we mention it was dark? The Cleveland Plain Dealer called it an "exercise in dread." Since we're throwing around words like "amusing," "witty," and "entertaining," we had to warn you.
Model Home by Eric Puchner
Description from Bookmarks: In this dark tale, Warren Ziller moves his wife and three children from their comfortable Wisconsin neighborhood to a gated community in Southern California. Warren has invested every cent he has into a desert subdivision; it's just a matter of time before the money rolls in. But he realizes - only too late - that the development is right next to a toxic waste dump. Now Warren is broke, and he can't seem to halt the slow but devastating implosion of his family life.
Critical Summary from Bookmarks: Although set in the mid-1980s, the Ziller's story will certainly resonate with today's readers. Critics found Model Home an enjoyable read that skillfully balances (some) humor, (a lot of) heartbreak, and a keen understanding of disintegrating family relationships. Critics were particularly impressed with Puchner's three-dimensional depiction of individual family members, as well as his precise rendering of the Southern California landscape. The novel stumbles a bit in the second half, however, with the introduction of bizarre, underdeveloped characters. But as a whole, Model Home is an impressive debut, a highly believable family portrait, and a compelling look into the failed American Dream.
I am sure to add more books to the ever-growing TBR pile after I finish reading the magazine this weekend, but that's ok --- variety is truly the spice of life.