Tuesday, May 30, 2006

For a while now Claire has been telling me I should read some Sarah Dessen books, so I finally gave in this weekend. I read Someone Like You first because I found out it was part of the source for the movie How To Deal that I think no one but me actually liked. It's been a long time since I saw the movie though, so it was pretty much all new to me. I liked it okay, but Claire told me the later books were better, so I kept going. Next up was Keeping The Moon which was, indeed, better. I liked the message of moving beyond worrying about what others think of you and that the advice on how to manage that was basically fake it till you make it. Isn't that the truth. I also finished The Truth About Forever which I bumped up because there are a bunch of holds on it. This one was excellent too, involving a girl dealing with the recent death of her father.

Reading all three so close together (plus I'm in the middle of another) it was apparent that Sarah Dessen has a certain main character that she consistently writes, just varying the particulars slightly from book to book. It's an appealing character type though, and watching these girls grow and gain confidence is very satisfying and hasn't grown old yet.


Monday, May 22, 2006

I bought soooo many books this weekend. Seriously, I was in a crazy, berserker, book-buying frenzy. I don't even know where to put them all! If we have an earthquake during the night I am in serious danger of being buried alive under a ginormous pile of books. ANYWAY. I also read Between The Bridge And The River by TV's Craig Ferguson this weekend. Craig Ferguson is the funniest host of any of the late night network shows (and the only one I TiVo), and his slightly surreal humor carries over onto the printed page. I almost don't even know where to start in summarizing this book. It's basically about two childhood friends from Scotland and two half brothers from the South and the various connections that tie them together, with a good portion of the action taking place in the collective unconscious and in that space near death. Ferguson is a talented writer who never feels like he's trying too hard. It didn't quite all come together in the end, but it didn't bother me too much because I'd enjoyed the journey so much.


Friday, May 19, 2006

It was a foregone conclusion that I would read The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. I was a little obsessed with Greek myths when I was a kid and the Margaret Atwood books I've read I've loved. Here she takes on the story of Odysseus, but narrated after her death by his wife, Penelope, with her twelve maids providing the chorus. It's a feminist retelling, Atwood's attempt to provide some answers about Penelope and her motivation that Homer didn't concern himself with. It's definitely more of a novella and not a fully fleshed out reimagining, but I did enjoy it. And it made me want to pull out The Odyssey to reread.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Over at Bookshelves of Doom So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld was mentioned as being similar to Feed, which of course meant I had to read it. It was reminiscent of Feed a little and I also caught echoes of Pattern Recognition, Bellwether, and even a bit of Jennifer Government. It's about Hunter, a Trendsetter and cool-hunter, and his new friend Jen, an Innovator, who are looking for Hunter's missing boss while uncovering a conspiracy to upset the way cultural trends evolve and trickle down to the mainstream consumers. It's a fun addition to the Down With Corporate Culture Conformity genre, even if it isn't quite as strong or original as some of the others I mentioned. I did enjoy it a lot though and I will be checking out some of Westerfeld's other books.


Monday, May 15, 2006

I appreciated God's Country by Percival Everett more than I actually enjoyed it. On the surface it's the story of a white rancher named Curt whose wife is carried off by outlaws. He hires a black tracker named Bubba to help him get her back and along the way they encounter Indians, General Custer, a Bible salesman, and other colorful old west characters. I understood that keeping the readers in Curt's head forced us to see things through his eyes and served to highlight his racism and sexism and of the people he encounters, but it was frustrating to have Bubba, the most interesting character in the book, remain an enigma. Which was obviously the point.

Anyway. Yesterday I read The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez, a nice twisty little murder mystery involving mathematicians and logic series. By the end I was kicking myself for not listening to my instincts about the murders and instead getting caught up in trying to solve the series, much like the main character.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

The lovely Claire gave me her ARC of Lulu Dark And The Summer Of The Fox by Bennett Madison, which I quickly devoured. It picks up not too long after the first book with Lulu now back in possession of her lost purse, up one boyfriend, and determined to have the most boring summer ever. Her plan is soon foiled by the news that her mother, a B-movie actress, is in town shooting a movie with a Lindsay Lohan-ish teen sensation. The set has been plagued with pranks committed by someone calling themself "The Fox", but Lulu tries to resist getting involved until her mother's disappearance draws her in. There is a real core of sweetness in the Lulu Dark books that I love and they are just so much fun to read. They aren't all fluff though, which I appreciate, and Lulu herself is a great character - smart, funny, and brave, with a killer offbeat fashion sense. Write faster, Bennett! I need to know what happens with Lulu and Charlie!


Monday, May 08, 2006

I was very glad that I read the last half of Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg at the beach in the bright sunlight, because it got seriously gross and disturbing at the end. I find I'm better able to deal with gory murders and spooky happenings when I'm slightly distracted by sand in my toes and whether or not I put enough sunscreen on my nose (yes). I picked it up because it was mentioned as a unjustly forgotten noir-ish supernatural mystery, which it definitely was. It's about a private detective hired to find a famous singer who disappeared over fifteen years ago, but it quickly delved into voodoo and black magic and the occult and started freaking me out. The ending wasn't quite as shocking as it could have been because I guessed one major plot twist right at the beginning, but there were a couple of revelations I hadn't anticipated that kept things interesting up until the end.


Friday, May 05, 2006

I finished the last half of Come Closer by Sara Gran just now at lunch. Wow, this was creepy as hell. It's about a woman who slowly finds herself possessed by a demon. At first she tries to rationalize away her behavior, but is soon convinced of what's happening and tries to resist the takeover. Her relationship with her husband deteriorates and she becomes more and more violent and self-destructive, and all the while the demon grows stronger. It's a short but enthralling book that reminded me somewhat of Rosemary's Baby, and I enjoyed it even more than I did Dope.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Weekend roundup:

Friday I finished The Silicon Valley Diet and other stories by Richard Grayson. These stories mostly concerned gay men making their way in society after the first shock of AIDS. The title story was the one that really stuck out for me, partly because it was set right where I live (hey, I go to the Pruneridge and the Saratoga 14!), and partly because of the sense of resignation to a life of reduced possibilities. "If you think fat-free frozen yogurt of ice cream doesn't taste as good as the regular kind, remember: you will never eat the regular kind again. In a few months you will forget about regular ice cream and the fat-free stuff will taste just fine." That's a diet specific quote, but it reflects the general theme. I just found that unbearably sad.

Saturday I read Glyph by Percival Everett which confounded me, mostly. It's about a genius baby who gets kidnapped by various people wanting to use him for their own ends, while he silently ruminates on the nature of language and philosophy and other stuff like that. I'm not well-versed in literary theory and the one philosophy class I accidentally wound up in was a trial (actually there was a brilliant bit that describes my views of philosophy in general: "Locke might have claimed all day that there was no material world, but still he would have stepped out of the way of an oncoming carriage that evening." Heh). It was not my favorite of his, but I enjoyed it enough to finish it.

Sunday I flipped through the much maligned Junior by Macaulay Culkin. It's a little known fact that I am fascinated by the Culkin kids. I even have a Tivo "Culkin" keyword wishlist. So I, of course, had to read the book. And yes, it's as much of a mess as everyone says it is. It's like channel surfing through the same twelve stations over and over again and never following what you see or understanding how any of it fits together. Which is frustrating because there are bits and pieces that are really promising, most of which involve the character's father. You can't help but read those passages as autobiographical (well, if you've seen the E!THS like I have). There is a fantastic memoir hinted at in here and I hope one day he decides to write it.


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