#863 The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret AtwoodThe Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Charmaine and Stan live in their car. Stan used to have a job, but he lost it. Charmaine works in a bar. Lots of people don’t have jobs. People live in their cars. Gangs roam the streets rampant and intent on victimizing anybody to make their lives just a little easier.

There’s something going on, an experiment. It’s an experimental community. The community provides jobs and a place to live, the only catch is that every other month you have to go to prison. Husbands and wives are separated. Another couple lives in the house when the first couple is in prison. They’re called alternates.

Life goes ok for a while. Stan works with chickens and Charmaine does something in medication administration. Things start to get a little weird though. A friend had told the couple not to go into the community because it was dangerous. Everything is bugged. People are expected to behave a certain way. Charmaine soon meets the alternate man who lives in her house when she’s not there. The two start an affair, always meeting in abandoned houses, without bugs, or so Charmaine thinks.

This is just the beginning though. It turns out the alternates in Stan and Charmaine’s house are activists and Charmaine and Stan are getting dragged right along with them. Soon the couple is learning about strange sex robots and bran surgery that makes a person imprint on another person. There are sex robots that look like Elvis and they’re a big hit. There’s something even more nefarious going on in the community that involves human beings. Charmaine and Stan are going to play a part in putting a stop to it.

What I liked

I do tend to like most things that Margaret writes and this was no exception, although it’s a little strange. There was definitely humor in this book. Who would think that sex robots that looked like Elvis would be a huge hit? It certainly doesn’t float my boat.

Margaret is looking at a financially depressed society in this book. It’s not now and it may not be ever, but it could be. It’s actually quite plausible. If we had a more significant economic collapse where would people live? It’s very possible that many people would end up out in their cars and on the streets. Is there the potential for humanity to be taken advantage of during this time period? Could humans be placed in facilities to live and work? Yes and yes. If you listen to conspiracy theorists out there, the government has something called FEMA camps, which is where we’re supposedly going to go after we’re rounded up by the government for whatever reason. Is it true? I have no clue.

In this book’s case, the community is run by a private organization, no doubt with backing from various politicians. It’s for profit. There’s nothing magnanimous about this. It’s too good to be true and everyone there should be worried about it.

What I didn’t like

It’s a bit of an awful thing when one part of humanity thinks it can take advantage of another part of humanity for whatever flimsy reasons it gives. In this case, some people were so poor they couldn’t make it on their own, so it’s ok to prey upon them and essentially herd them up like cattle. Not cool.

The thing is, I think there would be some people who would take advantage of others in these situations. Would it be on the nightly news? Maybe not, but I think it would happen.

Overall

If they say they’re going to give you a job and pay your rent, there’s probably a catch so big it could fill Rhode Island.

Weigh In

If you were broke, would you take your chances in a community like the one in this book?

Do you think some people just wait for unfortunate societal circumstances to take advantage of others?

#863 The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood was originally published on One-elevenbooks

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#861 The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley

The Man in My Basement by Walter MosleyThe Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley

Charles can’t get a job and he’s late on the mortgage payments. The house has been in the family for years, but he risks losing it. He asks about a job, but is turned down. Come to find out when Charles was a teller at the bank he stole some money and everyone knows about it. No one will hire him.

A white man offers Charles lots of money to rent his basement. Charles forgets about this for a while so he can drink, womanize, and masturbate; this is pretty much all he does. When he realizes that he’s not going to get a job, he takes the white man up on his offer. The man turns the basement into a prison cell. He wants to be treated as a prisoner. He’s committed some awful crimes in his past, which Charles is just dying to know about.

While the man is in the basement, Charles continues to drink, womanize, and masturbate. He does have some philosophical conversations with his prisoner, who gets some sort of self-torturing kick out of having a black man as a jailer. Charles also finds that some of his family heirlooms are worth a heck of a lot of money, but he doesn’t know how to handle the situation.

What I liked

I liked that Ernie Hudson read this book for the audio book.

What I didn’t like

Look, I know people have a lot of great things to say about this book philosophically. There’s a man who made himself a prisoner to atone for some awful wrong-doings he committed because society didn’t punish him and God hadn’t gotten around to it yet, at least this guy developed a sense of morality. That’s more than I can say for the basically alcoholic, serial womanizer, and chronic masturbator that Charles is. I’m not impressed with Charles. I bet he went right on back to drinking and womanizing the minute all of this was over, despite his supposed great philosophical awakening.

How in the heck do you write a book that talks about masturbating so much? This isn’t The Joy of Sex or She Comes First. This is a novel, but, I mean, I guess it’s ultimately up to the author whether or not they want to write a book punctuated with the word masturbate instead of semicolons.

I don’t particularly like Charles; he’s a loser and he’s always going to be a loser. He’s one of those people who are content to sit on the couch all day watching TV rather than being a productive member of society. Those kind of people irritate me.

Why the ever-loving #!$* would a woman, any woman, be interested in Charles? Sure, maybe he has a big penis, but that’s not enough of a reason to sleep with someone, but maybe my standards are much higher than everyone else’s.

Overall

This was a strange book, but at least Winston from Ghostbusters read it to me.

Weigh In

Do people who have no motivation irritate you?

What do you think about Charles?

#861 The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#856 Zom B by Darren Shan

 Zom B by Darren Shan Zom B by Darren Shan

Becky goes to school, but she’s not a model student nor a model human being. Her father is a violent racist who often hits her mother. There have been news reports of zombies in Ireland and no one knows where the zombies came from. Everyone is scared the zombies might end up in their town. Becky was supposed to stay inside one evening, but she went out with her trouble-making friends, all with various “thug” names. Unfortunately, the zombies were out as well.

The kids try to get away from the zombies by going into the school, but the zombies are there too. There’s even some mutant zombies, that seem to actually use their brains. No one knows what the deal is. Becky’s racist dad shows up with a gun, but someone is preventing the living from getting away by measures that zombies are usually too stupid for.

What I liked

“Zom B” is kind of a cute name, I guess.

What I didn’t like

I am not a fan of zombies in the first place. They’re a stupid monster and I’m tired of the zombie craze that we’re having right now. Get another monster.

Becky is awful. Her dad is awful. Becky is old enough and smart enough to know the things her dad says are wrong. Becky knows the things her dad says are hurtful and not at all politically correct. One might thing Becky would take a hint from this and act completely different. Nope. Becky is racist. In this generation, it’s just silly to be racist. We know people who are different colors aren’t really any different from us. The only differences are created artificially by how society treats people who aren’t white. It’s so annoying that Becky knows this is wrong, but she goes along with it anyway.

She’s also a brat, who is irresponsible and headed for a bad end.

Overall

Maybe some people deserve to get eaten by zombies, but if a stupid person turns into a zombie, don’t you just get a really stupid zombie?

Weigh In

If your parents had undesirable and wrong opinions about things, did you adopt those opinions, or use them as a lesson not to act that way?

Do wild teenagers like Becky ever make the status quo in life?

#856 Zom B by Darren Shan was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#853 Tiger Heart by Katrell Christie

Tiger Heart by Katrell ChristieTiger Heart by Katrell Christie

Katrell grew up in Atlanta and she opened a tea shop. It had a strange name, Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party. She soon got a few loyal customers. One day, she decided to go to India. While in India, she discovered an orphanage run by monks. When the girls there turned seventeen, they were put out on the street. Katrell thought this was awful and decided to do something about it.

She rented an apartment and set three girls up there. They were enrolled in school and given money for clothes and food. Katrell said she would come back in six months, which she did. Soon Katrell’s program expanded. She found more girls to take care of. She started selling tea in her tea shop to help fund her project.

People became interested in Katrell’s project and she started taking people to India. There was an unfortunate incident with a toilet in a hotel, but other than that, Katrell has had many positive experiences and has helped many young women go to college when they wouldn’t have been able to before.

What I liked

Katrell is a very admirable person. I kind of want to meet her. She sounds awesome. She named a tea shop Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party. How neat is that? She just kicks butt. Not only does she have her own business, but she has also done a ton of charity work. She has given lives to young women who wouldn’t have been able to have those lives before. She cares about them and their well-being. Hurrah for Katrell.

Katrell is the kind of person that people want to be. She’s got guts and she has determination. She has the know-how, or at the very least, the persistence, to get things done and make the world a better place.

She’s also hilarious. The bathroom incident was unfortunate, but also kind of fated.

Maybe the next time I’m in Atlanta I’ll see if I can check out Katrell’s tea shop.

What I didn’t like

I liked this book. I didn’t expect it to be that impressive, but it really is.

Overall

Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Shop just sounds like an awesome party.

The Learning Tea webpage

Weigh In

Would you go to India and start a charity?

What do you think of people like Katrell?

#853 Tiger Heart by Katrell Christie was originally published on One-elevenbooks

#846 The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall

The Ultimate Gift by Jim StovallThe Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall

Jason Steven’s uncle has died, which wouldn’t be remarkable except for the fact that his uncle owned huge companies and was worth lots of money. Jason goes to the reading of the will. To this person is bequeathed this obscene amount of money. To this person, the company. To this person, this thing and to that person, that thing, but Jason doesn’t get anything.

There is a catch though. Jason was the only one that his uncle considered worth anything. Jason has a chance to inherit something, but he must do what his dead uncle says for an entire year. Jason will be given various gifts throughout the year. If Jason completes everything, he gets something big.

Each month brings Jason a different challenge. He learns to put up a fence with his own two hands. He learns to be a house parent to a group of foster boys. He learns to give back to his community. At the end of the year, Jason is much more enriched as a person, but when he finds out what his uncle is actually giving him, he is astounded and highly grateful.

What I liked

This book was sweet. Not all gifts are tangible. I really liked that Jason spent a year learning how to be a better person. If we could all do that, we’d be living in a better place.

I am not the best person, but I spent three years working as a nurse aide in a nursing home while going to college. It was tough, but I learned a lot about how to treat other people, a whole lot. I think I learned it the hard way. Being a nurse aide is not easy in the least. I think once you do learn how to treat others, it’s not something you forget easily, or at least, I hope not.

A large part of our lives is how we affect other people. What can we do that will bring whatever to other people? Sometimes we lose track of that and are very much for ourselves.

I also liked that this book wasn’t really religious. There might have been something in there, but it wasn’t enough for me to notice it. It’s about being a decent human being, which you don’t necessarily need religion for, but if it helps you, by all means, go to church.

What I didn’t like

It smacked of that saccharine self-help talk you get with some books, but not enough to detract it from being a great book.

Overall

Don’t be a jerk to other people and you’ll be happier.

Weigh In

Do you think we lose sight of helping others?

Would you put yourself at the mercy of someone else for a year?

#846 The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall was originally published on One-elevenbooks