Can you change my mind?

Do you want to know something really sad?  I read this book months ago, I salivated over the cover for months before I got my grubby mitts on it, and now, just as I inserted the jpg in this post, was the first time I noticed that the shadow looked like a person.  I am so sad.  So very, very sad.

No one is less observant than me.

Anyhoodle.

Awhile back I reviewed the book The Particular Sweetness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.  At the time, I said that I liked the book, but barely.  There were parts I didn’t get, mainly the whole Joseph thing, and well, there was something wrong that I just wasn’t able to put my finger on.  A problem, of sorts; I had a problem with it, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. It was one of those problems that… well, I just knew if I could figure it out, it would make or break the book for me.

Well, thanks to a comment from a reader this week, I have figured it out.  And suddenly, I like the book a whole lot more than I did.  The comment?

I actually really liked this book-but it broke my heart. I think that what was wrong with Joseph was that he could feel everything that everyone else was feeling. Rose felt it in food, her grandfather in smell, but I think Joseph felt it with no parameters. Imagine how it would feel to know the misery of his parents, every second of every day. That is for me what drove him into a kind of insanity. I think he found a way to disappear into something-picking a factory chair because he wouldn’t have to feel the feelings of who made the chair. Obviously Bender’s use of magical thinking is sometimes hard to wrap your head around. But the themes are still very reachable for me. Do we really ever know anyone? Would we want to know another’s pain-truly? Very interesting book, and unlike anything I have ever read.

Thank you Jennifer for your insightful comment!  Ever though of starting a book blog?  I would read it!

Has that ever happened to you?  Have you ever hated/despised/been confused by a book only to have someone explain it to you and make you like/love it?  It’s like, now that I understand it, now that I “Get. It.,” I really, really like the book.  It may not be true love yet; I need to digest it a little more, but I definitely appreciate what Aimee Bender was trying to do now.  I’m still not completely convinced she pulled it OFF, but I’m closer to convinced than I was.  Clear as mud, ain’t it?  It’s okay, I confuse myself ALL THE TIME>

Has anyone changed your mind about a book?  Which book was it?  Oh, and while were are clearing up books,  can anyone change my mind about Like Water for Chocolate??? Because dude, I hate that book.

15 thoughts on “Can you change my mind?

  1. I'm very unobservant as well. I often need someone else to notice something (a smell, a new haircut, etc.) before I realize it. AS far as book covers, I often couldn't tell you what's on them beyond the color unless it's something bold and obvious.

    1. I usually pay pretty good attention to covers. I am very bad at picking books FOR their covers. Very bad. I picked this one based on the cover and the title! I'm so very bad.

  2. I loved Josh Emmons's first novel, THE LOSS OF LEON MEED, for how much it moved me emotionally while still being clever. I thought it was a brave book, especially for a first novel, and couldn't wait for his next one.

    I read PRESCRIPTION FOR A SUPERIOR EXISTENCE, his second novel, came out, I felt kind of disappointed at first. While I liked the writing, the narrator was hard for me to empathize with, and the pacing seemed oddly slow at first. When I finished it, I couldn't say I disliked it, but didn't love it either.

    But here's the thing: I couldn't stop thinking about it. And the more I thought about certain parts of it that were funny, the funnier they seemed. Honestly, it was like that book forced me to keep thinking about it, and the more I did, the more I understood what Emmons was doing.

    I don't want to give away much about the plot because I hate spoilers myself, but it's about a man who falls in with a sort of cult. What I didn't realize for a while was how clever it was to have an unlikeable character become likeable *only* after he is brainwashed by baddies. The book, for me, ended up saying a lot about our culture of emptiness and how desperate and ridiculous and funny and heartbreakingly sad our attempts to fill that void can end up being.

    But honestly, it took me a few weeks after reading it to see it that way. 🙂 And to appreciate the subtle ways Emmons conveys both empathy and humor.

    1. Oh Tanya, thanks for the great comment! That happened to me one time; recently too! When I read BEAUTIFUL by Amy Reid, I knew it was good, but the subject was so painful to me. I just knew I was going to wind up hating it! But as I was writing my review, it became clear to me what a powerful, moving and important book it was, which was the main reason why I picked it for the Nerds Heart YA tournament. And honestly, I love it when that sort of thing happens.

      Now I must go look up Emmons. His work sounds fascinating!

  3. I haven't changed my mind about a book so far. Though I have to say that I continue to toy with the idea of attempting to read Incarceron again. It's my only DNF book that I couldn't get past page 100 pages but everyone (and I mean everyone) I've ever spoken to loves it. Can't believe I couldn't get into it. That makes me wonder if it was the timing of my read more than the read itself. So I toy with the idea….

    1. OMG Incarceron, a scourge upon my back. I bought the hardcover and couldn't get into it. Then I downloaded the audio (from the library, free!) and couldn't get much further. I am beginning to think that book isn't for me. I will probably give it one more chance, maybe, and then that's it!

  4. I don't think I've ever totally changed my mind about a book, but I have come to appreciate it more (or less, if I'm going to be honest). It sounds like Lemon Cake would be a perfect book club read.

    1. I think you are absolutely right Kathy! There is so much to discuss about Lemon Cake. It would be perfect for a book club.

      … I wish I had one of those. 🙁

  5. Awesome! I'm glad this one is working for you better now. I'm still 20 something on the holds list, so maybe I'll get to try it one day!

  6. Hmmm, she brings up an excellent point…I never thought about Joseph in that way. In fact, I pictured him as more like someone with Aspergers who doesn't relate to emotions. I'll have to give this some more thought.

    And I'm even less observant than you…I didn't know there was a shadow of a person either!

  7. First, I never noticed that shadow either!

    Second, a very similar thing happened to me with GK Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday. The book confused me so much and I wasn't sure I liked it. Then a month after I read it, a commenter told me his thoughts on the book and suddenly it made a million times more sense! Very exciting for me. I now want to reread the book and I think I will like it much better.

  8. I was meh on LEMON CAKE as well, but that explanation was very, very interesting. I'm not sure it completely changed my opinion on the book because I had other issues with it as well, but it certainly helps me understand things much better!

  9. This kind of thing happens to me frequently with book club, particularly when we talk to the authors. It doesn't always mean that I will then decide I love the book but it often means that I like something I didn't to begin with. Understanding what the author might have been saying makes such a difference.

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