Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I suppose I've been putting off talking about the next book because I'm not quite sure what to say about it. The Water Cure by Percival Everett struck me as similar in structure to Glyph, but the subject matter is much darker and angrier. It's kind of a stream-of-consciousness meditation on the development of Western thought and how it either justifies or repudiates the nature of torture as filtered through the grief-stricken mind of a romance novelist who kidnapped the man he believes responsible for the rape and murder of his young daughter. It's not an easy read, but it is a compelling one.

For some crazy reason, I then decided to follow up that bright ray of happiness with Woe To Live On by Daniel Woodrell, which brought me to the brink of tears before the first chapter ended. There's nothing like trying to hide an emotional response to a book when you're squished up against the window of a very crowded city bus. I quickly learned my lesson though, and saved this one as a home read only. It was a brutal depiction of the vigilante action between Kansas and Missouri during the Civil War as seen through the eyes of one of the young soldiers, Jake Roedel, who matures during the conflict. As always, Woodrell writes about such horrible things so beautifully and Jake's gradual awakening provides a welcome bit of hope amid the violence.

And then, instead of retreating to some YA goodness as I usually would after a one-two punch like that, I soldiered on with The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, which tells the story of a first generation Dominican-American and his family's struggle under the dictatorial reign of Trujillo. Oscar is a fat, socially awkward, sci-fi loving nerd who unfortunately doesn't have the ladies-man gene the rest of the Dominican men seem to, which causes him no end of pain and suffering. There was enough humor in there to keep things from getting too dark, and the mix of styles and languages and voices nicely reflected the multiple influences in Oscar's life.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm bound and determined to actually get up to date here.

Because I loved The Dud Avocado so much, I grabbed Elaine Dundy's The Old Man And Me. While not as funny as The Dud Avocado, it still had its moments. Watching Honey/Betty slowly become unhinged as she tries desperately to receive her inheritance she feels she's been cheated out of wasn't always pleasant, but it was never boring. And there was a Proust reference to boot when Betty takes her inspiration from Odette in trying to keep C. D.'s interest: "It was like following some childishly simple recipe and ending up with a perfect souffle. And it wasn't only myself I was disappointed in. I was disappointed in C. D. as well. More, I was furious with him. Didn't he know a Literary Allusion when it hit him in the face? Served him right then. He'd have to take what he got." Hee! I've been running into random Proust references again, which are reminding me it's high time I got back to him.

Recently my brother gave me back one of my copies of Perfect Circle by Sean Stewart and I couldn't resist rereading it. I think I love it a little more each time I read it and I swear there are at least three things on each page I could point to as justification.

Next up was The Naming Of The Dead by Ian Rankin, which is supposedly his character of Rebus' last outing. This one was set in and around Edinburgh during the G8 convention. And if you think a serial killer and the apparent suicide of a low level diplomat have nothing to do with each other, then you've never read a Rebus book before.

My friend loaned me Shannon Hale's new Book Of A Thousand Days and I quickly gulped it down. It's narrated by the lady-in-waiting to a princess who is walled up in a tower for refusing to marry the ruler of a neighboring kingdom. I enjoyed it a lot, especially once they escaped from the tower, although it had a lot of similarities to The Goose Girl.

When Claire asked me if I had read Beige by Cecil Castellucci yet (no) and then told me that it was great and had a playlist, I had to grab it right away. It's about a straight-laced Canadian girl named Katy forced to stay with her dad, a famous punk rock drummer, in Los Angeles for the summer. Although I was just about as baffled by Katy's indifference to music as the characters in the book were, I did sympathize with her need for normalcy and quiet amid the chaos. And while I saw the ending coming a mile away, I still let out a little cheer when I got there.

I'm three books away from being current, but they're pretty involved, so I'll save them for next time.


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