August 5 - Pace-driven(or just driven)

This is the place to report on a fast-paced and slow-paced book of your choice.

Please format your annotations like this:

Your Name
1 —
Author's name. Title of book. Year of publication. Number of pages.

Plot Summary: approx. 3-line plot summary.

Appeals: pacing, characterization, story line, frame
2 —
Author's name. Title of book. Year of publication. Number of pages.

Plot Summary: approx. 3-line plot summary.

Appeals: pacing, characterization, story line, frame

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Danica Sheridan
1 —
Fosythe-Haily, Elizabeth. A Woman of Independant Means. New York: Avon Books, 1978. 276 pages.

Plot Summary: Told entirely in letters spanning the life of Bess Steed from 1899 to 1968, the reader gets an intimate look at the trials and triumphs of a loving, bright, and determined woman. Flawed yet resilient, Bess prooves to be more than just financially independent, but independant in spirit as well.

Appeals: Leisurely paced. Unconventionally, letters, ranging from a paragraph to a page, replace chapters. Large cast of characters as seen through the eyes of the protangonist. Gentle read with just a bit of intrigue. Domestic drama. Historical setting - primarilty Dallas, TX (and environs) in the early 20th century.

2 —
Mezrich, Ben. Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. 257 pages.

Plot Summary: True life tale of Kevin Lewis, a twenty-something math wiz who gets involved with the MIT “blackjack club”. Thinking he's beating Las Vegas at its own game, Kevin begins to lead a double life - realizing almost too late that he’s in way over his head.

Appeals: Reads at a breakneck speed. Alternates between the not-too-distant past and the present. Specific detail about blackjack play & card counting technique. Dips a toe into the dark side of Vegas. Urban setting.

Michael Habata
1 —
Leonard, Elmore. Get Shorty. 1990. 359 pages (Dell paperback edition, 1991).


Plot Summary: Loan shark Chili Palmer comes to Los Angeles to collect on a loan, but decides that he wants to get involved in the movie business. He agrees to help horror producer Harry Zimm obtain financing for a movie, who needs the help of his ex-wife Karen Flores to get movie star Martin Weir, the Shorty of the title, to commit to his movie. There are complications with Colombian drug money and a limousine executive who also wants to be a movie producer.

• Simple, immediately recognizable characters (the tough Miami mobster, the horror movie producer, the Hollywood star with the big ego).
• Straightforward plot emphasizing situations and events, lots of dialogue and action.
• Characters mostly react to events, minimal internal dialogue or introspection, characterization is mostly about motivation.
• Frame of Miami mobsters, Las Vegas casinos, Colombian drug lords, and Hollywood film business.
• Slightly complex narrative, with chapters told from point of view of different characters and some overlap of events from chapter to chapter.
• Most important aspects are plot and frame.

2 —
Nguyen, Bich Minh. Stealing Buddha's Dinner: A Memoir. 2007. 257 pages.


Plot Summary: The author recalls growing up outside Grand Rapids, Michigan after she and her family escaped Vietnam in 1975, with a Latina stepmother and stepsister and younger half-brother. She fights against the alienation of being Asian and Buddhist in a white Christian neighborhood, and finds refuge in her books, her bond with her grandmother, and her desire for American foods.

• Characters and plot slowly revealed over course of the book. Characters are narrator and her family members. Book is divided into chapters, which are roughly chronological but focus on one theme or point the narrator is trying to make.
• Mostly conversational style, but passages of introspection. More description than dialogue. Mostly shorter sentences and paragraphs. Open-ended structure, without total resolution of plot elements. Pacing is leisurely and relaxed.
• Most important aspects are character and frame. Describing how her world growing up in a Vietnamese/Latino household was different than most of her classmates and friends. The blending of mainstream American cultural influences and how her culture saw parenting, gender roles, family living arrangements, religion. Large emphasis on food, and what American food represented to a child trying to assimilate to American culture.

Elizabeth Guth
1 —
Kingsolver, Barbara. The Poisonwood Bible. 1998. 543 pages.

Plot Summary: In 1959 the Price family leave Bethlehem Georgia for the Congo on mission to bring Christianity to the Africans, but it is the Price women, Orleanna and her four daughters, who end up having a change of faith. Each woman tells her story in the first person in alternating chapters, as the novel follows their lives and the scars their father and the Congo left on them for three decades.

Appeals: : Deliberately paced due to an abundance of details on the daily life, nature and politics of the Congo and alternating first person point of view. Strong women characters, coming of age story for the daughters, some political intrigue, strong, at times beautiful, writing
2 —
Borchert, Don. Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library. 2007. 210 pages.

Plot Summary: After working as a short-order cook, door-to-door salesman, and telemarketer (among other things) Dan Borchert decided he needed a “real job” and ended up working at a California library. In this witty fast paced memoir, Borchert writes of all the highs and lows that come with working in a public library.
Appeals: Funny, sarcastic (but gently so) and self-deprecating tone, quirky “oddball” characters – the patrons, short chapters, about working in a library

Marita Klements
1 —
Susan Seligson. Stacked: A 32DDD Reports from the Front. 2007. 228.

A cultural commentary on breast obsession. The author, a naturally voluptuous woman of middle age, explores many aspects of the western world's outlook on breasts including augmentation, reduction, pornography, lingerie, and transvestites. Seligson does an admirable job of treading the line between lighthearted humor and taking seriously the body issues that can often lead to tragedy.

Appeals: quick paced with a primarily light hearted tone. Popular examination of scientific issues, and a fun topic. While never deliberated gross, there are some brief descriptions of surgery that might turn off squeamish readers.
2 —
Margaret Atwood. The Blind Assassin. 2000. 521.

Plot Summary: A complex novel narrating the life of Iris Chase Griffin and her sister, renowned novelist, Laura Chase. Interspersed with the science fiction novel that Laura published posthumously, it is told primarily from the point of view of an elderly Iris, looking back over her life and the many dark secrets that dwelt in the private lives of the prosperous industrialists who were her family.

Appeals: winner of the Booker Prize for fiction. Leisurely paced, intricate multi-generational plot, strong sense of place in Toronto and small town Canada, science fiction interspersed with historical and contemporary realism.

Oleg Kagan
1 —
Pratchett, Terry. The Colour of Magic. 1983. 205 pages.
Plot Summary: The drop-out wizard Rincewind, a tourist named Twoflower, his legged luggage, and a "hero" named Hrun journey through discworld encountering the motliest characters, oh and there's magic.

Appeals: The pace of Terry Pratchett's inaugural discworld novel is fast if you can keep up with barrage of difficult names, and whimsical scenarios. Pratchett doesn't skip a chance to make quirky jokes. The characters are an amusing send-up of the fantasy stalwarts. The narrative is rather jumpy. Altogether good-natured. More where this book came from.

2 —
Campbell, Joseph. Hero with a Thousand Faces. 1949. 464 pages.
Plot Summary: An explanation of how the different stories in world mythology coincide in a series of tropes collectively seen as a hero's journey.

Appeals: First off, this is not a narrative book - though the wonderful myths Campbell mentions throughout are very much stories. Being that this is a very dense (semi-?)scholarly book, the pacing is dead slow. Could appeal to new agers with an attention span, lovers of mythology, storytellers, artists, etc. Campbell also has a series of audiobooks which are much more accessible than those tome, and could serve as a jump-off point for those interested in tackling Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Cathy McGowan
Kingsolver,Barbara. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. 2007. 352 pages.

Plot Summary: Barbara Kingsolve moves her family to a Virgina farm with the goal of living off the land, or at least eating local food. The year in their lives follows the seasons of vegetables, fruits and animals they are growing and raising. Interjected with some of their family recipes, and scientific articles by Steven Hopp, the author's husband.

Appeals: evenly paced with a pleasant, homey feeling, true story, written in 1st person by a very engaging author, at times humourous, well-researched scientific information

2 —
Kinsella, Sophie. The Undomestic Goddess. 2005. 371 pages.

Plot Summary: High-powered attorney Samantha Sweeting must leave her career due to a serious mistake. She leaves London in a panic and ends up in the Cotswalds where she must re-invent herself while she buys time to figure out what to do. Before a month has passed, she has learned to do things she never thought she would, and has had time to fall in love.

Appeals: quick pace, endearing characters, story of falling in love, exciting plot twist, recognizable problems of over-scheduled time, shared appreciation of simple things in life

Sheila Purcell
1 —
Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood. 1993. 343 pages.

Plot Summary: Truman Capote reconstructs the events to the smallest detail surrounding the 1959 murder of a family in a small town in Kansas.

Appeals: Realistically covers a sensational topic, multiple perspectives, detailed and deliberate, rural setting

2 —
Crichton, Michael. Sphere. 1997. 371 pages.

Plot Summary: A team of scientists investigates an American spaceship that crash landed into the ocean from the future. On board the ship is a sphere that gives the team the power to manifest their subconscious. Underwater havoc ensues.

Appeals: 3rd person, fast paced suspense, shallow characters, psychological, philosophical, scientific details in layman’s terms

Glenda Gamboa
1 —
Zirin, Dave. What's My Name, Fool?: Sports and Resistance in the United States. 2005. 293 pages.

Plot Summary: Dave Zirin is a progressive sports writer. This book follows how athletes resisted injustice in sports in the United States from Jackie Robinson to Esera Tuaolo.

Appeals: The book is quick paced through short chapters and short sections. The writing style is familiar. The atheletes and situations are compelling.

2 —
Kostova, Elizabeth. The Historian. 2005. 642 pages.

Plot Summary: The story starts where the narrator at about sixteen years of age finds an ancient book in her father's study along with enigmatic letters. In her curiosity, she asks her father about them only to find that there is a very deep and sinister story behind it all that includes the disappearance of her father's graduate school advisor and the search for Vlad Tepes AKA DRACULA.

Appeals: This story is along the lines of Bram Stoker's Dracula in its deliberate pace and structure. It is told in three first-person storylines which lends to its detail and intricacy.

Simon Lee
1 —
Angelou, Maya. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. 1969. 289 pages.

Plot Summary: An autobiographical account of a young black woman’s coming of age in the U.S. early 1900s. The power of education, religion, and perseverance is contributive to her success against the struggle with self-identity, family, and personal trauma.

Appeals: Evenly-paced writing with a conversational style.
2 —
Ephron, Amy. A Cup of Tea: A Novel of 1917. 1997. 200 pages.

Plot Summary: With a single act of kindness, the well-structured life of Rosemary Fell — a young privileged woman with wealth, close friends, and a husband-to-be (Philip) — is flipped upside down. A penniless woman’s plea for a cup of tea would grant her (Eleanor) a renewed life, a lover, and a life reminiscent of what Rosemary had.

Appeals: Fast-paced and compelling as readers are pulled into the story from the start, short chapters cut back and forth between the small cast of characters, and multiple points of view from Rosemary, Eleanor, and Philip. Unhurried pace in the mid-section to develop and connect each individual character.

Rachel Longaker
1 —
Edith Wharton. The Age of Innocence. 1920. 361 pages.

Plot Summary: This extraordinary novel takes place in late nineteenth century America and has a straightforward plot: Newland Archer, a member of the upper echelon of New York society, is engaged to be married to a suitable woman from his own class. He has the misfortune of falling in love with another woman during his engagement and the decisions he makes during this crucial time change his life forever.

Appeals: The pacing is very leisurely. This is the kind of book where you enter the world created by Wharton and are preoccupied and haunted by it for a long time. The plot is in the background in a way. The characters are complex, and their motivations and inner lives are slowly revealed. There is more description than dialogue, and the book is filled with sections that devote much time to Archer's personal dilemmas. The frame is bittersweet and psychological.
2 —
Nigel Slater. Toast. 2003. 235 pages.

Plot Summary: The autobiographical story of a famous chef's difficult childhood. Slater tells his coming-of-age story in the form of brief chapters about memorable foods from his boyhood in England.

Appeals: The pacing is brisk because the chapters are short and Slater's writing is conversational, while revealing fascinating tidbits about his life growing up. The characterization is rich because Slater is able to bring his dysfunctional family to life with humor and pathos. The story line is character centered and somewhat edgy. The style is candid and the frame and tone are nostalgic and wise.

Kim Tocco
1 —
Asha Miro. Daughter of the Ganges. 2003. 274 pages.

Plot Summary: This slow-paced memoir follows Asha's journey to India in hope of finding members of her biological family, as she was adopted by a couple in Spain when she was seven. Interspersed with journal pages written by her adoptive mother from Asha's childhood days, this introspective book has reflections on self-identity, adoption, and the meaning of heritage and culture.

Appeals: Deliberate pacing, interesting characters, sense of place, and cultural interest.
2 —
James Patterson & Michael Ledwider. The Quickie. 2008 (Paperback ed.). 384 pages.

Plot Summary: Another wild wide by Patterson and one of his many co-writers, this novel follows NYPD Detective Lauren Stillwell as she has a "quickie" with a fellow cop, Scott Thayer, who is killed by her husband Paul after the fact. Identities and events are not what they seem as Lauren struggles to "investigate" the murder of this man as part of her job, while her marriage and her life unravel rapidly in a series of events that will leave you breathless.

Appeals: Intense, quick pacing with many cliffhangers, plot twists, and revelations.

Sarah Clark
1 —Slow-Paced, Fiction
Hammett, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. 1929. 217 pages.
Plot Summary: Detective Sam Spade must unravel the case of two murders connected with a precious statue, a grifter named Joel Cairo, an obese man named Gutman, and a mysterious, beautiful woman named Brigid O'Shaughnessy.

Appeals: Gritty and stark atmosphere, hard-boiled detective story, a few steamy scenes, witty banter between characters, very masculine.
2 —Fast-Paced, Non-Fiction
McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics, the Invisible Art. 1993. 215 pages.
Plot Summary: A meta-comic, this graphic novel provides a thoughtful, visually-stimulating history of comics as a form of artistic expression and communication.

Appeals: Fast-paced, will appeal not only to comic fans but also to anyone interested in visual communication. Provides an effective overview of the medium.

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