“Sweetbitter” by Stephanie Danler (2016)
If you ask me, there should be a genre called ‘city blues’. You know what i’m talking about.. when a book is saturated with strong feeling of nostalgia towards the specific place and time, when the CITY is a protagonist, when the CITY is the place to lose and rediscover oneself, reimagine the inner drive and get inspired, when the CITY is a teacher, seducer and savior. Well, Sweetbitter depicts the classic NYC blues.
Tess, a girl with no personality enters the social ‘scene’ of high end New York restaurant servers and starts learning how to develop her taste in food as much as in people. She slowly gets entangled with the intriguing and wiser (as she thinks) Simone and her childhood friend- ‘bad boy’ Jake. She starts obsessing over both of them and finds herself in a turmoil.
Tess as a protagonist is not an interesting one, but her perspective of a naive young girl works just fine as a blank canvas for the story. There are two main reasons why I liked this one and why I think you should read it (or at least watch an adaptation on STARZ ; Season 2 is coming in July):
- I love to observe people being experts in whatever they do. Simone, the most enigmatic character of the book, is not just a server. She opened up the whole new world of enjoying food and serving it properly for Tess and for us, readers.
- I enjoy the fact that a ‘bad boy with a heart of gold’ type of a guy is realistically represented as a fuck-up. You probably met Jake, well maybe not a doctoral candidate-perfect lover-insanely book smart kind of Jake, but you met him. You met a boy you thought was a deep thinker, intelligent, enigmatic, unreachable with hot body and dramatic character… But he just wasn’t whatever you thought or simply wasn’t willing to share anything with you. People like to fuck with us just because they can, it’s our responsibility to refuse to play with them or lose the game without regrets.
“Watchmen (#1-12)” by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons (2005)
Hey, I know i’m a beginner in the world of graphic novels but really, what is the big deal with Watchmen?! As I know how much appreciated this novel is, I find myself scared to pick up some new bestseller graphic novel.
To summarize the plot , in the post vigilante world someone starts murdering ex-superheros. And we’re on the quest of finding out why!
It starts off amazing… sensitive political atmosphere of the 80s, ideological war with socialism blah blah blah but besides the context , the story itself was deadly boring, dialogues chaotic and confusing. By the end of it I was just skipping dialogues and scrolling through images to find out, what the hell is happening. Even the revealing of the antagonist was underwhelming.
“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman (2013)
Neil Gaiman is an amazing storyteller, I don’t think anyone could argue. He’s a true humanitarian who doesn’t choose between good or evil, he writes about the shades of gray. Depicting reality with fantastical allegories usually brought optimism to the reader, but The Ocean at the End of the Lane has a taste of a new kind of darkness, hard to handle and analyze.
It’s a story told from the grown man’s perspective, who returns to his childhood home and remembers the dark and mysterious experience he had when he was a boy.
I loved the fact that as a reader you have no idea if the story is true or traumatic memories are altered in his mind. Every horror that he remembers would be so much more painful if not accompanied with supernatural forces. So this raises a question, how much of what we remember is an actual fact and what is merely a fantasy?!