Friday, August 17, 2007

Vacation roundup:

My first day there I finished up Love And Other Four Letter Words by Carolyn Mackler. It's about a teenager named Sammie who, when her parents separate, has to move to New York City with her emotionally unstable mother. I enjoyed it, but it was a little reminiscent of Sarah Dessen, only slighter and without her more rounded characters.

Coincidentally my cousin was reading River Secrets by Shannon Hale which I'd been waiting for at the library, so I borrowed it after she finished. It's the third of the Goose Girl books and takes Enna and Razo to a hostile neighboring country as part of a diplomatic mission almost undone by factions within the country who want to restart the war. I liked it better than Enna Burning, but I still think Goose Girl is my favorite.

I spent the next couple of days immersed in Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov. He was always one of those writers who intimidated me, but after reading and loving Icelander (which was described as a cross between Pale Fire and the Amelia Peabody mysteries) I decided to give him a try. The novel is structured as the forward to a long poem, then the poem itself, followed by a lengthy commentary on the poem written by Charles Kinbote, a friend and neighbor of the poet, who is one seriously unreliable narrator. I was initially surprised at how funny it was and then marveled at how the tone steadily grew more uneasy and serious as the inevitable tragedy approached. It was absolutely brilliant and I can't wait to read all his other books.

While everyone else went on a hike, I stayed home to recover my sanity in peace and read Love Is A Mixtape by Rob Sheffield. I believe I first encountered Sheffield through Rolling Stone and have enjoyed his writing over the years, so I grabbed this one as soon as I saw it downstairs. It's a beautiful elegy for his wife who died suddenly at a very young age after only a few years of marriage. He begins each chapter with the track list of a mixtape and uses the songs as a jumping off point to talk about his wife, their life together, and his grief at her death.

I finished up by reading Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade Of Curious People And Dangerous Ideas by Chuck Klosterman. I'd read a bunch of these interviews and essays before and enjoyed revisiting the best of them. There are plenty of unmemorable ones though and the short story at the end wasn't very good. But I can forgive him a lot simply based on the fact that he conducted the single best interview with Radiohead I've ever read.

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