Archive | Thursday , May 22 , 2008

Book Review: Choose Me

Choose Me, is Chinese Canadian writer, Evelyn’s Lau’s second short story collection. The stories in this collection are beautifully written. The stories are very depressing, sad, miserable, but also very realistic. The women in Choose Me aren’t impulsive women, they are simply women that  are desperate and want to be loved. The question remains, do these women love themselves enough to understand why they chase men that are unattainable?

My only criticism of Choose Me is, that I think the women in the book needed more “agency” and “control” over their own lives. I wanted to see more independence from the female characters. I was hoping the women in Choose Me would eventually “stand up” for themselves instead of allowing themselves to be taken advantage by men.

The young women in Choose Me are chasing older men that have financial resources but realize its just a mask.

The women in this book seem to be blinded by the devotion or attention from men. For instance, why did Zoe in the story “Family”, chase after Douglas the married father with two kids? Why was the prostitute Sybil, in the story “The Outing”, upset at her John for taking her to a common bawdy house?

The only story in Choose Me that shows some female agency is “A Summer Place”. Catherine isn’t in love with Barry, although he invites her to Max’s summer place. Although Catherine, the photographer, has feelings for Max he is unattainable. Max is a good man, he’s in love with Claire. Yet Catherine can’t help having feelings for Max. Max is wealthy he owns property and he’s a tall fit man.

It is clear Catherine is sexually attracted to Max for all the wrong reasons. Catherine is content though, she understands that Max is in love with Claire and she doesn’t attempt to cause problems to their relationship. Catherine realizes she will have to find someone else, that loves her and the emotional connection is mutual. Although Barry attempts to make a move on Catherine,she rejects Barry because she doesn’t love him.

One argument is, Lau has created characters that appear as though they are “victims” of their  own circumstances. The women are in love with men that are within their grasp yet never reaching them.

The strongest points of Choose Me is Lau plunges into the minds of these women and exposes their faults. The anger, the frustration, the  depression, the passionate words Lau writes  are wonderful. Lau explores the fierce and frantic state of heterosexual relationships. Although Lau’s work can also definitely relate to gays and lesbians as well.

The bridge between women and men is wide according to Lau. The men in Choose Me are alluring, attractive, powerful, but also pernicious. The men in Choose Me are evil, vindictive, they know the women love them by also love ” playing with their emotions”. These men “play mind games” “pretending to be interested” in the women yet they are just just stringing them along.

The men simply want the “attention” of the women it boosts their ego these men don’t “love” the women. The men in Choose Me are all about raising their own self esteem while hurting women in the process. Yet the men in “Choose Me” are all about “holding hands” or giving “soft kisses” or ” affectionate words” with the women until the women realize its too late.

On the one hand, you can say the women could be misinterpreting the actions of these men. However, Lau suggests the men in Choose Me know exactly what they are doing. The women believe that when the men shower them with “attention” that they are interested in them. Sadly, the women soon realize these men are all about themselves. The feelings the men have for the women are ephemeral not eternal. The men also have other women on the side such as wives or girlfriends yet also want more attention.

The males in Choose Me gain strength from taking advantage of women not just for sex but just attention. Some men just like it when women are around them that are “into them” but they are not “into the women”. The way these men “keep” the women around is by making the women “think” something might happen but it never does.

The women in Choose Me realize they have to break it off and abandon these men so they can get their lives back on track. I kind of wish the stories in Choose Me were a bit longer. I was dying to  to learn more about the female characters. I wonder if Evelyn will write another short story collection?

I wish Lau had explored a bit more about the aftermath of these relationships. How did Zoe get over Douglas? Did Sybili stop prostituting? Did Catherine find true love? Evelyn Lau’s writes so eloquently with clarity about the battle field in relation to the affairs of the heart. Choose Me is a wonderful book and Lau’s writing is crisp, clear, descriptive and fantastic.

Is The French Open Going To Be Boring this year?

I have to ask is the French Open going to be a complete bore this year? Should we just hand Rafael Nadal the men’s trophy? I am so sick and tired of Rafael Nadal winning the French Open? Did you know this decade the Spanish men have dominated the clay courts? Already this decade Spanish men have won the French Open five times. You have to wonder is this the French Open or the Spanish Open? I am so tired of the Spaniards dictating on the clay. Gustavo Kuerten from Brazil managed to win the French Open twice in 2000 and 2001 for Brazil. Also, Gaston Gaudio from Argentina won the men’s French Open title in 2004. Where is Gaudio now?

For the past three years Justine Henin and Rafael Nadal have won the French Open and to be honest the French Open hasn’t been interesting for a long time. The only sure thing is on the women’s side there will be a new champion. The clay court surface is a tough surface to play on because if it is hot the courts are fast like a hard court but it is damp and cloudy the courts can be heavy and slow. Also, clay courts are the only surface that matches can be played on if it is raining.

Some people hate the French Open because this is the grand slam with the most one slam wonders. The French Open doesn’t have the prestige of Wimbledon or the excitement of the US OPEN. Also, the French crowds can be absolutely obnoxious some of the French fans will even hiss and boo their own players!

Yes Rafael Nadal is sexy he’s got big muscles and all that but he also has no competition on the clay courts. Nadal just blasts the competition and most of the men don’t believe they can beat him. Rafael Nadal appears to me to be invincible on clay. Rafael did lose to Juan Carlos Ferraro in the second round of the Italian Open this year in straight sets though.

It is obvious Roger Federer has the game to defeat Nadal on the clay yet Roger always chokes. I don’t know if I can handle watching another Roger and Rafael match up because Rafael has an 8-1 winning record against Roger on clay. I cannot believe last week in the finals of Hamburg Roger had a 5-1 lead in the first set and a 5-2 in the second set against Nadal in Hamburg last week yet lost the match! I love Roger Federer but I am really worried about these mental collapses.

I think perhaps David Nalbandian or Juan Carlos Ferraro are the only players that can beat Nadal. Nalbandian has an incredible two handed backhand he can create a lot of angles with the ball. Nadal beats Roger because he consistently breaks down Roger’s one handed backhand. Nalbandian has a two handed backhand and he can withstand the powerful topspin forehands of Nadal.

Also, Nalbandian has the speed, stamina, and the game to really hurt Rafael Nadal. The question is does Nalbandian have the mind to win? Nalbandian is a serious talent but he has failed to win a grand slam and live up to his potential.

Juan Carlos Ferraro and David Nalbandian are inconsistent. Also, Nadal always seems to get a very easy draw at the French Open as well.

I wonder, should I bother watching the men’s French Open or just focus on the WTA? It seems to me with Justine Henin out of the way Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and the Serbs Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic are the clear favorites along with Svetlana Kuznetsova. Svetlana reached the French Open women’s final two years ago only to lose to Justine Henin. Justine Henin was a road block for the rest of the WTA Tour so that she has “retired” the road is clear.

I don’t think the other women will really “care” that Henin has retired to be honest. Yes some people will say that the field is weaker on the women’s side because Justine Henin has “retired”. However, every single woman on the WTA tour now knows she has a better shot at actually winning the French Open because Justine is gone. It is sad though that the most dominant female clay court tennis player this decade has decided to quit.

I think Jelena Jankovic has an excellent chance to win her first slam she moves very well, she is extremely quick, has amazing defensive skills. Maria Sharapova has improved tremendously on clay but I still believe there are some clay courters on the WTA tour that can beat her. Serena Williams has already won the French Open but I was shocked she lost to Dinara Safina in Berlin a few weeks ago.

Svetlana Kuznetsova is a tremendous talent but she always loses in the semifinals or finals! Yes it is true Svetlana has a losing record in WTA tour finals and this is her Achilles Heel. Svetlana can get to the finals but she tends to lose. Can Svetlana reverse the trend well we will have to see? Venus Williams I don’t know about her clay is Venus worst surface. The truth about Venus Williams is you just don’t know she can lose first round or win the entire event.

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