A spent a wonderful week with a friend in Santa Barbara, CA but I read nothing but weird and unusual books. Take a look.
Normal by Graeme Cameron – Who’s to say what is normal? Certainly a serial killers’ normal is not the same as mine – and I hope not – the same as yours. But none the less his/her life is normal and a bit humdrum to him/her until they fall in love with someone whom they do not want to kill. This a totally different read and I loved it. I had to read the ending twice to be sure I “got it”. *****
Fun House by Alison Bechdel – my first graphic novel. This is an interesting medium that I’m not certain I enjoy but Bechdel’s memoir is an appropriate story to present to the reader in this format. The poignant coming out detailed literary allusion etc. *****
Why I Don’t Write Children’s Literature by Gary Soto – picked this up off the newest books table at the Coronado library based simply on it’s title. Every so often I like to read a book of essays and this was, like most, a good sampling of Soto’s work. Some were good, some were okay and a couple were great. If you like this type of book give it a try. ****
The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora – Excellent book of dark short stories. Even those of you who say you don’t like short stores might like these. They are all linked together and the book reads almost like a disturbing novel. *****
Trans-sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian – The story of a trans-gendered M2F (male to female) and the woman who loves him before the transition. Also the story of a great mother-daughter relationship and the story of a divorce. The book is written around an NPR (Nation Public Radio) broadcast featuring the story of the relationship and the towns’ reaction to the relationship – a clever idea that actually works. I learned a lot about the struggles of transsexual persons and although, I admit, sometimes the graphic sexual details made me uncomfortable it was a very engaging read. *****
The hot weather made it a great week for reading and I lucked out. Both the The Care and Management of Lies and Mudbound were excellent and are likely to become Book Club favorites. As always I don’t give you a synopsis of the book here, just my opinion of the book and my rating of 1 to 5 stars. Click on the link and you can read the full description on Amazon.
This Is Your Life Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison – This is the story many women who grew up in the 50’s and married in the 60’s tell one another – but not until after their spouse has died. Marrying was the expected thing and not all marriages were perfect and not all pregnancies were blessed events but women were taught to endure and “put a good face on it” and they did. Harriet Chance is 78 – the book would have been more believable if she’d been older – at least in her 90’s but then the timeline would have been off. So despite the age thing – I’d recommend this book. ****
The Dream Box by Glen Vecchione – I like science fiction and this was a nice read. The sensual cyborgs Omoo and Amaa have interesting, believable personalities which is something I like. The world created by Vecchione is interesting, and well drawn. He has a created a society of sinister technologies where the future is threatened by the rising of the “savages”. ****
The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear – written by the author of the Maisie Dobbs series this was my favorite book in this bunch. It is a beautiful love story set against the damaged world of World War One. Winspear uses family and friendship, the women’s suffrage movement, the horrors of life in the trenches and a book on household management to create unforgettable characters. I can truly say that as I turned the last page I was sad to not have another whole book to read – I want to know what happens next. *****
About Grace by Anthony Doerr – This is the first novel by the author of the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning #1 New York Times bestseller All the Light We Cannot See. It was sad to watch David Winkler destroy is life. The writing is beautiful but it drags a bit. ***
Mudbound by Hilary Jordan – A prize-winning debut, about the many forms of prejudice, both subtle and brutal. The story is placed in the Mississippi Delta in 1946 and the writing is authentic and thought-provoking. It’s a story we’ve read before but it’s told in a great new voice and I think you’ll like it. *****