Tuesday, January 09, 2007

So, my tivo remote has been broken the last few days (luckily after I'd finished my Friday Night Lights viewing marathon) which means I've got a few books to post about.

Saturday I finished Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which was excellent. It's about the civil war in Nigeria in the 1960s and its devastating effects on three main characters and their families and friends, both poor and rich. Because it is told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of those three characters, we experience their confusion and uncertainty about events, and naturally their focus is on their own lives and survival. In this way, the war is personalized and all the more powerful for it. It really is a heartbreaking read, but beautifully written.

Sunday I read The Interpretation Of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld, which wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be. Like The Alienist or The Dante Club, it involves historical figures (in this case Freud and Jung, among others) caught up in a fictional murder case. It kept me interested and I enjoyed all the psychology discussions, but I guess I was hoping for more.

And then yesterday I read Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner because I needed something lighter after all the civil war and murder of the last few days. This one involves a murder too, but it was funny enough to suit my mood. It reminded me a little of Little Children and the best parts of Ayelet Waldman's Mommy Track mysteries. When it stuck to the satire of the upper class suburbs it hit its targets, but it was less successful as a mystery. In order for the main character to stand in contrast to the other mothers, they are presented as a unified, perfect front and only given certain superficial quirks to tell them apart. We don't really get to know them as individual characters, which becomes a problem later on in the book when the mystery picks up. Of course, if they had been fully realized characters, the satire wouldn't have worked as well. It's a fine line to walk and Weiner doesn't quite manage it. It was definitely funny and entertaining though, and hey, who doesn't love a nice takedown of a thinly veiled Caitlin Flanagan character?

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