Saturday, June 30, 2012

Brooklyn Zoo by Darcy Lockman

This is the second ER book I have been asked to review written about a NYC mental hospital.  I think I rolled my eyes a bit when I got it in the mail.  This one took place in a less toni hospital in Brooklyn that was over taxed, under staffed, and generally scruffy.  The writer, a psychology intern, tries to make sense of her year of experiences: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Darcy Lockman seems largely unlikable to me. Her peers apparently agree as she shares the horrifying moment when her supervisor tells her that while she is an adequate therapist, no one particularly likes her.  That section of the book endeared me to her.   Can you imagine, building up a sort of hatred for a memoirist, wondering why she got into this field of work because she clearly has disdain for everyone and everything and then having her confess that everyone feels the same way?  I kind of loved that angle.  You are redeemable Darcy Lockwood.  Really!

Ms Lockwood profiles many encounters with patients, the ups and down of working in the most notorious mental hospital in NYC, the supervisory struggles she has, the definite conflict between psychologists and psychiatrists (Guess which group of people looks down their noses at the other?), and the often backwards approaches to therapy many well meaning professionals take when the setting is less then ideal.

I both loved and hated this book.  It did get a little dull at times, but she did have some interesting observations and insights into psychology and mental hospitals.  Her own story was the most compelling and had sort of a sweet ending. The year she learned to love and now loves to learn from.  I recommend this if you are at all interested in a career in therapy or the ins and outs of a mental health professional.  It is more personal that the first one I reviewed.

I'd love to loan it to anyone.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Red House by Mark Haddon

I was thoroughly excited when I saw this book on the ER list two months ago and very bummed that I did not get chosen to review it.  I put my self on the library list immediately.

Mark Haddon wrote one of my favorite novels: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.  This was his first novel, and it was an instant hit. I adore this novel told from the point of view of an autistic boy who must solve a family mystery. (Read it, if you haven't.  It is beautiful.)

Unfortunately, this second novel falls very far from the brilliance and sweetness of the first.  I really had to work to get through it, and I really never fell in love with any character. In fact, I really had a hard time understanding a lot of it.

Eight characters come together for a family vacation.  Two families spend a week together in The Red House and negotiate complicated relationships, ruminate on loss and love, parent, have small adventures, and eat.  Each of the 8 characters has a point of view and each point of view is used interchangeably with the others in a fast and very confusing manner.  I was constantly stopping to remind myself who each person was and who they were related to and what their story was.  There are many snippets which were unclear about who was speaking and what the paragraph was about.  I finally got a little interest and rhythm into reading this book about 180 pages in.  There were a few compelling scenes, and I spent a few minutes caring, but then, not so much.

I can appreciate the Haddon likes to play with point of view and he clearly marks it as his strength but this time he tried to hard and played too much with the concept to make it anything but awkward and confusing.

I know there is a long list for this at the library.  I am returning my copy today.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Most Talkative by Andy Cohen

This early review book that I got chosen to read seemed to be written solely to gossip about the Read Housewives series of shows produced and aired by Bravo Network.  Andy Cohen is the executive producer of many of these shows and has some sort of staring role in part of the shows.  Although I have seen teasers for them on Bravo (probably while watching re-runs of the West Wing) I have never watched any of them or been interested in any of them.

The first 3/4 of the book is about Andy's coming of age in real life and in the television industry.  Most of the book is funny and heartwarming.  He came of age in the 80's, about the same time I did, and he also came out at that time. His memoir concerning these early years and his rise through the ranks and his coming to understand his sexuality was really quite moving and powerful.  I have a close friend from this time who I imagine was also thinking and going through some of the same things as he came out.  I loved it.  I laughed aloud many times. I really felt a kinship with Mr Cohen.  

Of course, as you might imagine, the last couple of chapters, all about shows that I have never seen (nor do I want to after reading this) was not very interesting to me at all.  It might be to you if you watch them yourself or have seen Mr Cohen on a late night show he emcees.  I do recommend it, mostly for the for first parts of the book in which he grapples with his own life and how he plans to live it.