Moopy Book Club (August): Tayari Jones - "An American Marriage"

Discussion in 'Lifestyle & Culture' started by Suedey, Jul 28, 2019.

  1. Suedey

    Suedey Bachelor No. 2

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    Recommended by @Beverley.

    [​IMG]

    From goodreads.com:

    Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. In this deft exploration of love, loyalty, race, justice, and both Black masculinity and Black womanhood in 21st century America, Jones achieves that most-elusive of all literary goals: the Great American Novel.
     
  2. Beverley

    Beverley I Don't Wanna Change A THI-ING

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    I hope we havent got book club fatigue already! Im going to buy this tomorrow. Im reading lots of great short stories, but I want to make some time for this.
     
  3. Mats

    Mats User

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    next year we need to read less current books because these newer releases are giving me hell at the library :D 14th in line. probably won't make it :o but hey! I'll be fine! awaiting your verdicts :disco:
     
  4. Dark Carnival

    Dark Carnival Missss Vaaaaaanjie

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    I need a book for my holiday next week! So I might just join in :disco:
     
  5. Dark Carnival

    Dark Carnival Missss Vaaaaaanjie

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    Though this better be good or else I’ll blame my failed vacation on you lot.
     
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  6. jyxz

    jyxz User

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    Have you got an e-reader? @Mats
     
  7. Beverley

    Beverley I Don't Wanna Change A THI-ING

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  8. Mats

    Mats User

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    WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY BEV
     
  9. Mats

    Mats User

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    I could do it on me iPad...
     
  10. Beverley

    Beverley I Don't Wanna Change A THI-ING

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    Poor me

    Embedded in that mess is the message: one of us csn send you a copy of the book.
     
  11. Mats

    Mats User

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    digital copy? thank you yes :)
     
  12. RaspberrySwirl

    RaspberrySwirl Leftover

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    Okay girls, I bought both An American Marriage and Overstory today so I’m ready.

    Will start reading this next week, need to finish my French gay prison drama book first.
     
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  13. Suedey

    Suedey Bachelor No. 2

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    I'm on it.. just need to finish the third book in the Millennium trilogy (hopefully this week) and then I'll start this..
     
  14. Beverley

    Beverley I Don't Wanna Change A THI-ING

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    I've got it too, might not read it straight away tho, cos I've promised to read something for the occasional Mr/Mrs Bev Book Club. :disco:
     
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  15. Cécile

    Cécile Shep's Classic 12"

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    Count me in gays. :disco:
     
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  16. Beverley

    Beverley I Don't Wanna Change A THI-ING

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    YAY CEC!!!!! :disco:
     
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  17. RaspberrySwirl

    RaspberrySwirl Leftover

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    Finished this. I liked the complex dilemmas that the main characters were battling and I loved the structure of the book but I found it hard to warm up to any of the three main characters, especially Celestial. Like last month’s book this was an honest portrayal of the human race at its worst when it comes to love, commitment och fidelity. Basically everyone is a an asshole. But unlike last month’s book (sorry for comparing) I found the writing a a bit thin and overall it gave me bordeline chic lit vibes. Still a solid 7.5-8/10
     
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  18. Sheena

    Sheena MAKE IT QUICK, LUCILLE!

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    Going in now from my Italian sunbed, loves
     
  19. Beverley

    Beverley I Don't Wanna Change A THI-ING

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    I'm just over two thirds of the way through. Hope to report back on Friday.
     
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  20. Beverley

    Beverley I Don't Wanna Change A THI-ING

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    Hi huns. Finished early.

    The book was not at all what I expected. I think the author made some really interesting choices; starting so 'late' in their relationship, giving us so little of their earlier happiness, a huge chunk of the first third consisting of merely letters between the two main characters. I think because of that, I find the book quite cold, and I found the characters quite cold too. But I really came round to it. The way she handled the build-up in and during the final confrontation was just brilliant, and I really loved/admired how messy it all was. So I had a totally different opinion to RS - I found the book quite powerful. I felt for the characters. Nobody was right. But everybody had been done wrong in some way. The two fathers were really great, as was the writing. I loved the subtle southernness of the language. It's getting a 9/10.
     
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  21. Cécile

    Cécile Shep's Classic 12"

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    This is so difficult to get through. I'm on a third now and I'm really unimpressed by the one dimensional characters - the Walter reveal in particular - and I'm bothered by the racist undertones. Celestial is such a nasty character. Her justification of the abortion, her view of the women who go to the prison to visit their husbands (do you want me to be like them? I'm a strong independent woman with my own dreams. No you're not. You're an entitled, manipulative piece of work who forces Roy to apologize for basically everything while she never does so. I was so glad he got rid of her in prison but I reckon they work things out and it'll be a happy end. Ugh.

    Rant over. I'll get back to it to finish the rest.
     
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  22. Beverley

    Beverley I Don't Wanna Change A THI-ING

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    CEC :disco:

    What I did find myself reacting to (in a negative way) was all the talk about the role of women in all this; to guide, to heal, to save men. All the references to 'a woman's work is never done'. I found it quite patriarchal, but then I had to remind myself that it isn't pretending to be a feminist novel. It's set in the south in a particular community and I know that those attitudes are real.
     
  23. RaspberrySwirl

    RaspberrySwirl Leftover

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    Maybe the mother (what’s with calling the parents by their first name? It kept confusing me) healed and saved Roy and her husband, but just like Cecil said, Celestial was nasty and selfish and did no such thing to neither of the guys.

    I mean the whole thing started with her being mad at Roy for him telling her about something special and very personal, but still not crucial for her to know before they got married. (You might have noticed that she hadn’t told him about her own parents’ business at the time she was born).
     
  24. Beverley

    Beverley I Don't Wanna Change A THI-ING

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    Being on a first name basis with the parents was very, very WEIRD
     
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  25. Suedey

    Suedey Bachelor No. 2

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    Just started this tonight GANG.

    Are we going for Toni Morrison in September? If so, which book? I can start a POLL..
     
  26. Beverley

    Beverley I Don't Wanna Change A THI-ING

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    Only if others want to! And same re: book. I've read the four most popular ones, but happy to defer to the people! poll is a good idea
     
  27. RaspberrySwirl

    RaspberrySwirl Leftover

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    I haven’t read anything by her so I’m up for it.

    But when are we doing Circe and Overstory?
     
  28. Suedey

    Suedey Bachelor No. 2

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    I think we can just roll everything down by a month as the rota only went up to November..
     
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  29. Suedey

    Suedey Bachelor No. 2

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    Back on topic: I am really enjoying An American Marriage so far. I should have it finished by the end of next week I think, and will post a review then.
     
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  30. Suedey

    Suedey Bachelor No. 2

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    So I finished this and... I didn't like it at all.

    The story was weak and the characters were unlikeable. Some of the writing was beautiful but it really wasn't enough.

    I didn't actually like any of them.

    2/5
     
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  31. Beverley

    Beverley I Don't Wanna Change A THI-ING

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    But why do they have to be likeable?
     
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  32. RaspberrySwirl

    RaspberrySwirl Leftover

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    :D

    So I guess by ”so far” you meant the first couple of pages?

    I agree that the begining was good.
     
  33. Beverley

    Beverley I Don't Wanna Change A THI-ING

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    I liked the beginning, but hated the prison letters.
     
  34. RaspberrySwirl

    RaspberrySwirl Leftover

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    I loved the prison letters. It’s what happened after the prison that really brought it down, mostly because whatshername got cuntier by every page.

    I mostly felt sorry for the tree. It’s the dreadful dolls that should have been destroyed.
     
  35. Beverley

    Beverley I Don't Wanna Change A THI-ING

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    lmao, i did NOT get the dolls. :D
     
  36. Suedey

    Suedey Bachelor No. 2

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    I liked it up until Roy got into prison
     
  37. Suedey

    Suedey Bachelor No. 2

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    Okay maybe what I meant was relatable rather than likeable. It’s a big problem in any work of fiction if you can’t relate to any of the characters and I felt she had major character flaws in this book.

    I suppose Roy would be the obvious person to empathise with or relate to but there was no complexity to his character I felt. Or at least it wasn’t as fleshed out as I thought it could be.

    Oh and don’t get me started on those stupid dolls...
     
  38. Cécile

    Cécile Shep's Classic 12"

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    Finally finshed this, here's my review.

    Tayara Jones' demonstrates a bleak view of the black community. A community in which the women are good cooks, moody and strong willed, the men are pathetic and weak and at the complete disposal of the women and all the white people are bad.

    If only she made Celestial an interesting character one could understand why Roy went to all this trouble. Jones tries to with the weird puppets arc - a 50 dollar puppet that makes the buyer uncomfortable - but Celestial never becomes more than a woman who wants it all but isn't prepared to make sacrifices. Throughout the novel, one one learns anything. A lot is going on but not one of the characters learns anything from it or changes their standpoint.

    The main characters make very odd choices and hold questionable views. For example, when Roy gets back with Celestial for a night and he is adamant on having unprotected sex because apparently condoms are out of line if you're married - most odd - but he simply forgets that just a week ago he had unprotected sex with the first woman he ran in to. Or when Celestial tells Roy's mother about Walter, which was completely out of line. She later gives a half arsed explanation about how his mother found peace then but that doesn't change the fact that it was rude and not hers to tell. It's one of the many many instances in the book when a character should have noticed his or her mistake and apologize for it but that never happens.

    The writing isn't very good. Jones uses every Cosmopolitan/US Weekly cliche about women and their (sexual) healing powers she knows. Her "wisdom" is pedestrian and as RS mentioned very chic lit. It's no wonder Oprah and her mumsnet brigade lap it up. Jones plays on the readers emotions and doesn't leave much room for interpretation. The using of first names for the parents was also very annoying.

    There is some very subtle black vs white racism going on if you read between the lines. Every white character is vilified - from the rape victim to the judge, everyone is bad - which at itself isn't a crime necessarily, but she fails to give a single explanation for that. Some more detail about the court proceedings would have been needed before basically stating that black people cannot get an honest trial. Also there's a complete story line about the rape victim that is lost that could have been fascinating, but no. We get predictable prison letters and an over the top fight with Andre who has just been written in the book to play the victim to Roy's dominance over Celestial instead.

    This was not a great novel. I struggled to finish it because there's nothing to take away from it. I would rate it 1.5/5.
     
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  39. Beverley

    Beverley I Don't Wanna Change A THI-ING

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    COMPREHENSIVE :disco:
     
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  40. Cécile

    Cécile Shep's Classic 12"

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    By the way I started with the Overstory last night and oh my that's how you write a novel! :disco: Hooked already.
     

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