Super bowl Sunday and himself and I will watch all by our lonesomes – he will be grading and I will be reading and the dog and the cat will each be helping in their own special way. I saw two movies this week – eldest tagged along with my friend and I to see Hitchcock. We all thought it was a fun, quirky movie and very evocative of Hitchcock’s style. We wondered why it wasn’t nominated for more awards – in particular Anthony Hopkin’s performance. Then on Friday we steeled ourselves to go see The Impossible which was a heart-wringer of a movie – not a quiet weeper at all but outright sobs and I really liked it. I liked its message of how the impossible is possible and how it showed the humanity of man in the midst of terrible tragedy.
As for reading I finished Lynn Shepard’s Murder at Mansfield Park and really enjoyed it – it was a fun read. Tom from a Common Reader introduced me to this author and I look forward to reading more. I have started The Lantern by Deborah Lawreson and I am not sure I will finish it as it is not capturing my attention. I find myself putting it down and forgetting where it is which is not a good sign. I have also started Freud’s Sister by Goce Smilevski and that is going much better.
Here is what caught my interest this week:
I adored Jon Clinch’s book Kings of the Earth (my review can be found here) but I never managed to pick-up his first book Finn (which is about Huckleberry’ Finn’s father) and now, through Bibliosue, I find that he has a third book with a listed publication date of November 2011 and a second date in January 2013. I wonder if it was electronically available at first and now out in paperback. I tend to hold newly published books for my special posts but will make an exception for Jon Clinch. The novel, The Thief of Auschwitz, is about an artist named Max and is a dual narrative following Max in the camp and when he is an old man just prior to a retrospective about his work to be held in Washington DC. While I understand that this is yet one more Holocaust book, I am looking forward to reading it. My experience with Kings of the Earth showed me Clinch has a way of bringing a simple humanity to his characters and he writes with a great subtlety so I will definitely be reading his new novel.
Diane of Bibliophile by the Sea posted the first paragraph of Walter’s Muse by Jean Davies Okimoto and I had to look the book up. Okimoto is a local author and this is a local setting for me – to be honest, on the other side of the state from the Hinterland but I still consider it local. Maggie Lewis is a retired school librarian living on Vashon Island in Puget Sound. Her summer is interrupted first by a storm, then her sister descends on her with a Siamese cat, and her neighbor Walter, with whom she shares a history, unexpectedly needs her help. The summer Maggie was going to spend figuring out her next step in life is now filled with accoutrements which, like many things, both hinder and help. The book sounds charming and sometimes charming is just what I need.
Many of us have heard of the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey. What I didn’t know was there once was a group of Kurdish Jews living in harmony with their fellow Christian and Muslim neighbors in the mountains and so isolated they still spoke the Aramaic language from the days of Jesus Christ. Yona Sabar was once one of these Jews living in Iraq until the group was expelled from the country to Israel. He eventually immigrated to the United States, became a professor, and is instrumental in saving both his language and the stories of his people. His son Ariel Sabar did not understand this preoccupation until he himself became a father and he took a journey to investigate his father, the family he came from, and the rich language and culture of Kurdish Jews. The result is a memoir, My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Family’s Past. This book is favorable reviewed by The Estella Society and won the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. When I read the review I immediately thought of Rabih Alameddine’s novel The Hakawati (reviewed here) which also features the storytelling of the Middle East.
If you are in the mood for a forgotten classic, Heaven Ali reviews Ann Bridge’s debut novel Peking Picnic (first published in 1932). Ann Bridge is the pseudonym for Lady Mary Dolling Sanders O’Malley and her husband wasa diplomat in the British Foreign Service. Ann Bridge had a prolifc writing career spaning many years. Peking Picnic is set in Peking and the heroine is the ambassador’s wife, Laura Leroy. The arrival of a visiting professor from Cambridge reminds her of her yearning for both her children and England. The professor’s visit is also the impetus for the picnic of the title which is really a camping trip to see a shrine in the country. In addition we have romance, a connection between the professor and Laura, and marauding bandits who take the party hostage. Ali writes:
This is exactly the kind of novel I love. A quiet intelligent novel, peopled with memorable and interesting characters. I have already said that the writing is beautiful – and it is – and good writing cannot be beaten. However there were even some moments which are also very funny…This wonderful novel really will live in my mind for a while.
Finally, Danielle of A Work in Progress has another wonderful list. This one focuses on novels featuring letter writing as well as collections of actual letters. Several of these look very intriguing and I am having a hard time deciding which one I want to try.