Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Vacation roundup.

First up was Hypocrite In A Pouffy White Dress by Susan Jane Gilman, which has been sitting unread on my shelf for ages. I was very pleased to find I hadn't wasted my money by buying it. It is most definitely not, as Daisy supposed, a chick lit title, but rather an extremely funny memoir of growing up in New York City as the staunch feminist daughter of hippies. I'd quote some favorite passages, but my sister asked to read it so I don't have it with me.

Then I read Give Us A Kiss by Daniel Woodrell on Christmas Eve. It's not that easy to concentrate on a book about Southerners growing pot when the stereo is blaring one Christmas song after another, but I managed. I could see where it was going, but I enjoyed the journey there despite that. As with his others, Woodrell's prose sings, drawing beauty out of the harshest lives and reiterating his recurring theme of poverty and want in the rural Ozark communities. "These wild kids are reared on baloney and navy beans, corn mush and Kool-Aid, and quick, terrible rough stuff. Their lips are circled by orange or red or green juice stains and their knees and elbows generally have scabs on them from two or three scraps at recess. All they ever know is that they want, and someday they'll learn you got, and after that the rest is sirens and statistics and nods from the wall of dead."

Christmas morning was spent with Mountain Man Dance Moves: The McSweeney's Book Of Lists. I gave a copy to my brother and he gave one to me and we took turns reading each other and the family our favorites. A good time was had by all. And we even got my mom to laugh, which is not an easy feat.

Christmas afternoon was spent with Disordered Minds by Minette Walters, another book I've had sitting on the shelf for years. Like The Shape Of Snakes, this one includes emails, transcripts of interviews, letters, etc. to fill in the story of a thirty year old murder and the possible wrongful conviction of a young man who committed suicide after being put in prison. This isn't her best book - the events of both the murder and a rape committed shortly before it are gone over and talked about so many times and with so many variations posed that it got a little tedious. I still enjoyed the format and the process of discovering what possibly happened and wasn't bothered at all by the lack of a firm ending because it fit the book completely.

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