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With Ditch and Weeb
Synopsis: New York City, 1976. Meet Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, estranged heirs to one of the city৲eat fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by downtownవnk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighborthe detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park on New YearŶe. The mystery, as it reverberates through families, friendships, and the corridors of power, will open up even the loneliest-seeming corners of the crowded city. And when the blackout of July 13, 1977, plunges this world into darkness, each of these lives will be changed forever.

Between the Sheets is a unique form of book review. Ditch and Weeb read the same book, at the same time, and then critique it via email as they read it. These thoughts and comments are raw and unedited.

DITCH:  Well I started the book a couple days ago. I am worried about having enough time before it is due back to the library and it is a MONSTER!! This is probably the heaviest book I have ever read. The stock of the paper and the number of pages...whew! Takes dedication to start a book like this! Slow reading at first because I am paying great attention to the characters... want to remember who they are so I don't struggle through the whole book to remember who is who. On page 125. Don't mean to pressure you... just let me know when you start.

WEEB:  I started a few days ago too... and am on page 175. It is a big book, with nice thick pages. I don't know about you, but I am loving it so far. It is very detailed, and there are times when the author uses words or a sentence structure that seems odd but still loving it. Something about the characters and how they are all connected is really intriguing me. Also, love reading about the City during the 70's! I know this is going to be a killer. This seems to me like a book that needs savored and enjoyed  LOL

DITCH:  Didn't think it was the book for me at the beginning. Now I am savoring every word. Beautifully written even though it feels like Hallberg is trying a little too hard to be super intelligent with words I have never read before. Maybe it's just that I'm not that intelligent. I don't want to feel pressured and have that ruin it for me as a reader. The connections between the characters is another reason I am taking it slow. Don't want to miss a thing and struggle through the whole book.

WEEB:  Ok, went on a little reading journey yesterday and reached the 300 mark. 1/3 of the way through this book. Now, my thoughts - where the hell is it going to go for the next 600 pages??? Really, I am enjoying the book but, after reaching the 300 mark and with most of the main characters backstories revealed, I am wondering what is going to fill the rest of the book. Sure, they have to solve the attempted murder of Sam, but 600 pages to do that? Anyway, like I said, I am enjoying this book. Only a few minor complaints so far?I agree with you concerning some of the wording choices. Hello world, let me show off my unnatural use of vocabulary in the most unusual of places. Man, some of those words I actually think he had to of made up  LOL  Also, even though I like the writing, there are times that it feels like his word choice - I am trying to show off on how to make a beautiful sentence even more beautiful. Will see how this holds up for the next 600 pages. Loving the characters though?and the City info.

DITCH:  I received the book yesterday. Thanks so much! I don't feel the pressure now to complete it in 2 weeks time. The characters are really starting to come alive for me...until Richard came along. Did we really need another fucked up character!! Hoping that his character is needed for the story line... hoping for him to be important and necessary. I'm on page 200 and still feel there is a lot of story to tell. Only smidgens of each person has been given in my opinion. Keith may be the attempted murder suspect, but then he would be the obvious choice, so I hope it's not him. I have a long weekend off and hope I have lots of reading time, but probably not.

WEEB:  I agree with you on Richard though. I haven't really figured out his role in everything so far. Just a character that was suddenly dropped into the story without any real preamble - just, characters we have gotten to know and BAM, new character. There is even an Interlude concerning Fireworkers (or something like that) that just really stuck out for me. Didn't seem to fit with the story at all. The only thing I can figure is that he's going to start reporting on Sam's attack and create a human interest story out of it. I know that sounds stupid - even writing it made me feel a little stupid - but that's the only thing I can come up with. When you get to around page 300 you will see what I was trying to say about all the characters past. To me it seems like all of their backstories were given out and don't really know what more could be said?Well, there are some things that could be built on, but for 600 pages ?????

DITCH:  Haven't made it to 300 pages yet, but close. I'm with you. Another 600 pages...not sure what can happen to warrant it?! I feel Garth, the author, is trying way too hard and it's make me crazy!! All the references to writing styles makes it feel like an college text book instead of fiction. While the characters are likable, I am not loving them. Garth hasn't done a great job and making me feel like I know them well, which is important to me when I commit to such a gigantic book. Haven't given up hope, but I'm running out of patience. Honestly, if we weren't reviewing this book I might have given up on it already. I don't do this often, but with a book this huge I hate to waste this much time when I have such a huge to be read list. Big books are the love of my life when I love the book! Will not give up yet my friend!!

(couple of days later)

Okay, I made it to the 300 page mark. The fireworks led to his connecting with Sam, but it seemed like a weak way to make that connection. Watching a fireworks display led him to wanting to get back into the reporting business. I feel like we must be missing something, but I read that part several times and just couldn't make sense of it. Anyway, I find myself really getting into the story and then starting to lose interest, so maybe it is me. How I am feeling physically and mentally can really affect how I feel about a book, especially if I am already struggling with it. The Fireworkers report he wrote...yawn yawn yawn.

Since there are about 600 pages left I will not give up hope!! Looking forward to my reading time, so it can't be that bad. Right?!

WEEB:  To be 100% honest I am starting to feel like you. I actually set it down for a couple of days to read some on another book and it was actually kind of a chore to pick up again. The funny thing is that once I did pick it up and read a couple of chapters, I was right back to loving it. I got the whole connect with Sam bit but it really was a stretch to get there. Like, really, out of everything or anything that could have happened, her father was the guy who set off the fireworks for the city. Please! Other than that, I really do like all the characters - even the asshole ones. Today I am diving back into it?Really want to find out what happens to Sam!!!!!

DITCH:  Back to loving it! At the 400 page mark. I am also loving the characters! It has been slow character building, which I appreciate as a way to fill all these pages. With so many main characters I guess there is not a better way to do it without leaving too many pages between characters. It seems the chapters are getting shorter the farther we get into the book.

It better not be a random person who shot Sam!! It has to be someone involved in the story!!

WEEBHere ends part 1 of our Between the Sheets review. We have never done a 2 part review, but thought since this book is over 900 pages it would take us a while to read (both of us usually read more than one book at a time... yeah, we have a problem).

Read the end of this review in February
By Richard McGuire
Pantheon Books, 304 pages

Reviewed by Brian Burmeister
Brian Burmeister is Program Chair of English and Communication at Ashford University. He co-wrote the nonfiction play, Farmscape: The Changing Rural Environment, published by Ice Cube Press, and his writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Cleaver Magazine, The Feminist Wire, and Wilderness House Literary Review. He can be followed @bdburmeister.

     Standing on the steps of the Washington Monument, exactly where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech was, for me, a surreal moment. Time loosened its reigns on my reality: the significance of that space, of what has rolex replica happened there some fifty years before my standing there gave me chills. It gave me an overwhelming sense of wonder, of appreciation. Not just for the man and what he did, but for that place.
     Allowing one to transcend time, to recognize that all times are in their own way connected, is very much at the forefront of artist/writer artist/writer Richard McGuire's objectives with his graphic novel, Here.
     Fifteen years in the making, Here is an incredibly ambitious, inventive work of literature. With this sprawling graphic novel, McGuire tells a unique story that is far more about place than it is about people.
     Set primarily within the physical space of one room in a house, the graphic novel shows the reader a series of moments from replica watches uk different times, all existing in the same location, all shown from the same fixed viewpoint, each revealing truths about humanity. On each page, McGuire takes his reader on a journey through time: fragments of conversations and actions from past, present, and future. While the majority of the story takes place during the past century, Here also ventures well beyond, exploring times as early as 3 billion BCE and imagining times as distant as two hundred years into our future.
     The pages themselves are quite innovative, typically featuring windows over small sections which allow glimpses into various moments in time simultaneously. The effect of this is fascinating. Throughout several moments in the graphic novel we see that while times may change, people (and the things that people experience) stay very much the same.
     As for the visual style, McGuire masterfully plays around with colors and textures, to elicit different moods and the feeling of existing in different time eras. The art itself, particularly the rendering of people and furniture, could arguably be labeled simplistic, but at 304 pages, the volume of art in Here is staggering. There is nothing simple about what McGuire has done with swiss replica watches this graphic novel.
     While I greatly enjoyed Here and, in particular, its experimentation with storytelling, I would be well advised to also issue a warning of sorts: Here will ultimately not be for everyone. While there were dozens of individual story-lines in the book, none of them bear more fruit than a couple, quick dialogue exchanges or some simple actions. These moments have little, if any, narrative pull in and of themselves. As such, these fragments of individual stories will most certainly not satisfy the cravings of readers who want a traditional narrative complete with character development.
     For me, and I suspect for many, Here's originality, its experimentation with what constitutes a story makes it a work to be admired. What makes Here so special is the very thing that will make it off-putting to some readers. I just hope you choose to give it a chance. You might just walk away with a new appreciation for the places you find yourself.

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