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Profile for Susan J. Bybee > Reviews

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Susan J. Bybee's Profile

Customer Reviews: 45
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Susan J. Bybee RSS Feed (Asan, South Korea)

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Farewell, Dorothy Parker
Farewell, Dorothy Parker
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Viva Mrs. Parker, March 1, 2015
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I'm so glad Ellen Meister listened to her gut when it told her to write a novel featuring Dorothy Parker. Fun stuff. I can't wait to read the follow-up, Dorothy Parker Drank Here. There can never be too much of Mrs. Parker!

I'm so glad Ellen Meister listened to her gut when it told her to write a novel featuring Dorothy Parker. Fun stuff. I can't wait to read the follow-up, Dorothy Parker Drank Here. There can never be too much of Mrs. Parker!

I'm so glad that Ellen Meister listened to her gut when it told her to write a novel/homage to Dorothy Parker. There can never be too much of Mrs. Parker in the world. Looking forward to reading Dorothy Parker Drank Here.


Tips and Tricks For Living Small
Tips and Tricks For Living Small
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Brewer has a solution steeped in good old-fashioned common sense, March 1, 2015
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Annie Brewer is right; you don't need a lot of house to live a satisfying life. However, she is honest about problems that may crop up with close living. For each pitfall, Brewer has a solution steeped in good old-fashioned common sense.


Minimize to Maximize: Minimize Your Stuff to Maximize Your Life
Minimize to Maximize: Minimize Your Stuff to Maximize Your Life
Price: $3.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm an Annie Brewer fan, January 7, 2015
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I really enjoyed Annie Brewer's "Shoestring" books, especially "The Shoestring Girl", which I've reread 3-4 times.

"Minimize to Maximize..." has a great premise, but it's not at the level of those other books. However, for readers new to the concept of minimalism, it's a nice introduction. Brewer has a clear, concise writing style.


Euphoria
Euphoria
Price: $8.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this story of three anthropologists and the overlapping of their personal and professional lives is a brilliant read. I can't re, December 30, 2014
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This review is from: Euphoria (Kindle Edition)
Set in the early 1930s in New Guinea, this story of three anthropologists and the overlapping of their personal and professional lives is a brilliant read. I can't recommend this novel highly enough.


What's Living in My Knickers?: A collection of medical mishap stories from expats in Asia!
What's Living in My Knickers?: A collection of medical mishap stories from expats in Asia!
Price: $3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Jaw-dropping, December 28, 2014
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I've lived in Asia (South Korea) for a decade, so I've heard a lot about strange and sketchy medical and dental care, but What's Living in My Knickers? had the power to make even this jaded expat gasp. Valerie Hamer has a real feel for the art of anecdote. Well-written, educational, humorous and horrifying.


Highway with Green Apples (A Short Story)
Highway with Green Apples (A Short Story)
Price: $1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Green Apples and Rebellion, June 11, 2014
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Perhaps the two most defining aspects of South Korea in the 1980s, when this story takes place, were the student protestors fighting for democracy and the country's change from a poor country to one of the wealthiest in the world was starting to go into warp speed.

Bae Suah's short story "Highway with Green Apples" reflects both of these elements in her unnamed narrator, a young college dropout in her early 20s who seems to be staging a one-woman protest against the narrow confines of what society expects from her as well as the kaleidoscopic jumble of how she sees her world and the people in it. Her family and friends express confusion about her choices and actions, but don't seem to be able to offer anything but platitudes and judgments.

Strangely, for this is a society with its roots in Confucianism, the older generation has almost no voice and is seen peripherally. Their single contribution is a snippet of accidentally overheard dialogue by an actor in a scene from hackneyed TV drama in which a father justifies his drinking to his young daughter by insisting that he's had a hard life and, it is implied, a bad marriage.

The only actual older person present -- albeit briefly -- in the story is the woman on the highway who offers no criticism, no advice - just a bag of green apples. Fulfilling the archetype of the wise crone, but also representing an idealized past, the apple-seller is the sole person who has any impact on the narrator. Immediately, "the person inside [her]" wants to draw the apples, eat the apples, and although she instinctively fears her to some degree, wants to become the woman on the highway selling apples. Each time the narrator returns in her mind to this desire, it makes her feel happy. It the ultimate act of subversion.

As the narrator is sucked back into the vortex of city life, fog and the smoke from countless cigarettes are metaphors for her drifting through life directionless while becoming more fully obscured in meaningless jobs, forgettable affairs, and hazy flirtations with other identities. Is she an unreliable narrator? No doubt. But her anger, masked as depression feels excruciatingly real. Given the time and place she represents, the narrative can't help but be confusing, jerky, disjointed and a hell of a challenge for her to construct.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 12, 2014 7:48 AM PDT


View From The Cellar: A Critical Analysis of Laird Koenig's The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
View From The Cellar: A Critical Analysis of Laird Koenig's The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
Price: $2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rynn Thing, October 17, 2013
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One thing about coming of age in the years before the internet is that you never quite lose that feeling that you're the only one who loves something. You think you're the only rabid fan. There are other devotees out there, but you can't get to them, so you might as well be as alone as, well, Rynn Jacobs in The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane.

When I discovered R.W. Watkins' View From The Cellar, a critical analysis of Laird Koenig's 1974 novel and the 1976 movie version starring Jodie Foster as Rynn (perfect casting) and Martin Sheen as creepy Frank Hallet, I was extremely pleased. Like him, I have bought several copies of the book. (One was on the "discard" table in my hometown library. I had to stifle a gasp.) I really don't want to give a synopsis of the book for fear of saying too much. I want people to read The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane themselves. It's my favorite kind of horror novel -- more psychological than gory or ghosty. Shirley Jackson would have thoroughly approved of this book.

View From The Cellar begins with some of Watkins' writings from his fanzine of the same name. I really miss the enthusiasm that went into producing zines. I love blogging, but I've never lost that feeling that it's so much more sterile. There's a long essay in which Watkins provides painstaking evidence that the film version used more than one house while filming. I love his obsessiveness, and yes, I ran to Youtube to re-watch some of the scenes where he pointed out continuity errors. This essay about the movie is interspersed with original haiku based on the storyline. The main thing that stuck out for me in watching the movie (for which Laird Koenig did the screenplay) is that Jodie Foster's Rynn was more of a victim of circumstances, while Rynn in the novel was decidedly more calculating.

I cared very little for Watkins' comparison of Rynn and Ayn Rand (mostly because I've got a huge mental block against Rand), but was riveted by his examination of the novel as a 'Jewish/Christian Symbolist Tale'. I knew that Rynn was probably Jewish, and remembered the scene in which she was studying Hebrew from a record, but all I thought about it was that she might head for Israel when she was old enough to travel alone without comment. Watkins finds religious symbolism on nearly every page.

In 1997, a stage version of The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane was published. It doesn't sound very good according to Watkins, but I'm so obsessive I would gladly watch a production.

Like all good novels, The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane ends leaving the reader with questions and wondering about the characters long after the book has been shelved. I've always wondered how things turned out for Rynn, but I don't really feel the need for a sequel. As Watkins points out, Laird Koenig is in his 80s now and unlikely to revisit his most brilliant creation. Of course, if there had been a sequel, I'd have been all over it. Perhaps R.W. Watkins might decide to try his hand at some point.

I know I wrote this earlier, but I am so pleased that I discovered View From The Cellar. It feels like a gift.


Kindle Paperwhite 3G, 6" High Resolution Display with Built-in Light, Free 3G + Wi-Fi [Previous Generation]
Kindle Paperwhite 3G, 6" High Resolution Display with Built-in Light, Free 3G + Wi-Fi [Previous Generation]

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My New Paperwhite, June 18, 2013
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I really liked my Kindle Keyboard and miss some of the features on that, but the Kindle Paperwhite is very nice, easy to use and I particularly enjoy the light that allows me to read in the dark without having to turn on a light when others are sleeping. Great size, too. Very light.


The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too
The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too
Price: $2.99

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Shoestring Girl, May 19, 2013
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Ever since The Complete Tightwad Gazette came into my life, I've been a sucker for books like this. Annie Jean Brewer is the rawboned, cast-iron skillet of a gal version of Amy Dacyczyn. She doesn't seem interested in the 19th century farmhouse with an attached barn. Just the necessities, ma'am. It's a crash course in successful hardscrabble living in the 21st century. Many of her tips concerning technology are extremely helpful, not to mention up-to-date. You may not agree with everything Brewer suggests, but she provides plenty of food for thought. I admire her guts and gumption.


A Land More Kind Than Home
A Land More Kind Than Home

4.0 out of 5 stars A Land More Kind Than Home, May 19, 2013
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In this horrific tale of religion gone terribly wrong, I imagined the crazy and controlling Pastor Carson Chambliss as a combination of two of Mitchum's characters: Harry Powell from The Night of the Hunter and Max Cady from Cape Fear. This is a damn scary story, and I admire Wiley Cash so much for his choice of narrators. It would have been more fun to have written from Chambliss' point-of-view, or the misguided young mother of Jess and Stump, or even poor, autistic Stump himself. Those choices would have been understandable, but it would have been too much heat and too much beating readers over their heads. I thought I was done with southern fiction, but Wiley Cash proved to me that I'm not.


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