Home again! I drove straight through from Salt Lake to Spokane on Monday listening to the end of The Sword of the Templars by Paul Christopher which was pretty bad but made the miles pass easily. I also listened to almost half of The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro and I am trying to decide if it is worth finishing. I found it to be a little repetitive and I am not sure what else can happen in the narrative. This one may end up in the DNF category. I spent my week recovering from the trip, cuddling with the cat, watching TV with eldest, and spending time with Himself. We are in the process of turning an old bed frame into a bench for the front patio. A straight forward project for the most part but our bed frame consists of multiple turned pieces so fitting them together is not an easy task. We are also interviewing paint for the upstairs loft. So what did I actually read? I finished The Hamilton Case by Michelle de Kretser and a anthology of mystery stories, The Mystery Box edited by Brad Meltzer. And I have started Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan which has been deliciously fun so far.
Here is what caught my interest this week:
I am more familiar with Ruth Prawer Jhabvala as a screenwriter than an author although I did read her collection of short stories Out of India many years ago. Jhabvala wrote the screenplay to one of my favorite movies A Room with a View (for which she won her second Oscar). It turns out that she is the only person to win both an Oscar and a Booker Prize; she also won a MacArthur Fellowship. Danielle of a Work in Progress reviews Jhabvala’s Booker winner Heat and Dust. Similar to Forester’s work, Heat and Dust explores propriety, social mores, and the need for some individuals to break through the societal constraints that hold them to a dull existence. She does so while also looking at pre- and post- independent India through the eyes of two women. It is definitely going on the reading list.
If you are in the mood for short stories, The Capricious Reader has a mini review of The Last Girlfriend on Earth by Simon Rich. The stories all evolve around love and appear in one of three sections: Boy Meets Girl, Boy Gets Girl, and Boy Loses Girl. Reader writes, “…I adored every single one of them. They are by turns quirky, witty, stunningly hilarious, yet still manage to make you think.” I, myself, want to read When Alec Trebek’s Ex-Wife Appeared on Jeopardy! In Center of the Universe, God has to balance the demands of his job with the demands of his girlfriend. Most of these stories are short, perfect for that last read before bedtime.
I read Robert Goolrick’s A Reliable Wife when it first came out and enjoyed it. It was also a good book group read generating lots of discussion. Ti, of Book Chatter reviews his newest novel, Heading Out to Wonderful. Set in a small southern town just after WWII, the novel features a stranger in town, a love triangle, a woman of dubious character, and a farmer who is too quick to abuse. This novel also sounds like it may be a good book group choice.
In one of those serendipitous literary moments – two very different books have caught my interest not only because they sound very interesting but because the same philosopher is found in both books . I have never heard of Martin Heidegger, a German philosopher who, according to Wikipedia, was primarily interested in the “question of Being” and the author of Being and Time “…considered one of the most important philosophical works of the 20th century”
Stefanie of So Many Books reviews an obscure book by geographer E. Relph called Place and Placelessness which includes the following quote:
The basic meaning of place, its essence, does not therefore come from locations, nor from the trivial functions places serve, nor from the community that occupies it, nor from superficial and mundane experiences — these are all common and perhaps necessary aspects of places. The essence of place lies largely in the unselfconscious intentionality that defines places as profound centres of human existence.
The book explores the question of place and the elements of place making ranging from communities to the objects that people value. Relph knows of Heidegger and quotes from his work – for me the tie between being and place is an obvious one so I am interested in getting this from the university library to read it for myself. This is a book that will be very hard to find – your best chance is a university library or to friend a city planner to see if you can borrow a copy from them.
The second book in this serendipitous duo is a novel, Heidegger’s Glasses by Thaisa Frank and reviewed by The Indextrious Reader. Set in WWII, in Germany, the novel is about a group of multilingual prisoners in an underground bunker tasked with answering “letters from prisoners to loved ones in their original language.” This is due to the Nazi’s preoccupation with the occult and their wish to keep the spirits of the dead happy so they do not communicate with psychics . It sounds both far fetched and totally possible given what we know of the Nazi’s and both their eccentricities and their desire to keep the Final Solution a secret. A wrench is thrown into the works when the group has to answer a letter that promises to be very difficult, a letter between Heidegger philosopher Martin Heidegger “to his optometrist and fellow philosopher Asher Englehardt, who is in Auschwitz.” Obviously I have to read both these books – serendipity demands it.
Finally, if anybody is looking for a children’s story, Diane of Bibliophile by the Sea recommends A Year with Marmalade by Alison Reynolds and Heath McKenzie (illustrator) – it sounds like a charming story although I may be somewhat biased as the owner of a very orange cat.
And for your viewing pleasure, Chrisbookarama linked up to a wonderful series of pictures of turn-of-the century bookstores – the previous turn of the century rather than the most recent one.
Last, Stefanie of So Many Books links to Book Riot’s meta-list of the Top 100 Books lists. I think I will have to save pursuing this for another day but it will be interesting to see just which list contains which books.