We are finally having a beautiful sunny day in Oregon after much rain and clouds. I have been having a nice time with my mother. She is in the midst of reading Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose novels. I finished The Lake of Dreams and started in on A.S. Byatt’s Ragnarok. We went to my mom’s book group and had a nice discussion on Lake of Dreams which most people were enthused about.
Here is what caught my interest this week:
Sometimes you pick a book up on a whim and find a jewel – Penelope Lively’s novel, The Photograph was such a book for me. A husband, after the death of his wife, discovers a compromising photograph of his wife holding hands with another man. The husband’s search for the truth surrounding the photograph uncovering secrets and causing others to take a hard look at their own lives and relationships. When I clicked on to read The Boston Bibliophile’s blog, she reviews a book in which an Israeli-Arab finds a love letter from his wife in a used book store. The letter is not written to him and he goes on to a search for the truth. The novel is called Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua. There is a second plot about a paralyzed young Israeli being taken care of by a Palestinian social worker. The novel explores Arab-Israelis in Israel from two different economic levels. I am looking forward to reading this one.
The Mookse and the Gripes tells me that Stone Upon Stone written by Wieslaw Mysliwski and translated by Bill Johnston has won the 2012 Best Translated Book Award. Trevor thought the book was “superb, and I do (and will) highly recommend it”. Often called a “masterpiece”, Stone Upon Stone, is set in the Polish countryside as Szymek Pietruszka recalls his life as a youth in the village, fighting as a guerrilla soldier, taking care his invalid brother. My mom and I both like novels that have a firm sense of place, where the setting is almost a character and an good epic is always a nice thing to have waiting for you on the shelf.
Mary Whipple of Seeing the World Through Books writes a thorough and thoughtful review of a debut novel called Malena. The author, Edgardo David Holzman, grew up in Argentina and worked for the Organization of American States. He also was involved in investigating human rights abuses in South America where he heard stories of atrocities. Holzman uses his background to paint a dark picture of the Military Junta. Set in 1979, Holzman uses a variety of characters to show a complete picture of the events after the Peron regime. Mary writes, ” Ranking among the best debut novels I have read in years, this novel is an incredible achievement, not only because of the subject matter, but because the pace and the plotting keep the reader on tenterhooks from beginning to end.”
Caroline of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat has found a novel written by a poet (and novelist) which is one of my favorite things. Coventry by Helen Humphrey is described as “lyrical” and “poetic” as she uses random connections and the bombing of Coventry in WWII to highlight the effect of loss and change on individual lives. Caroline writes, “Coventry is a lyrical novel, written by a poet, telling the story of a poet who is trying to make sense.” Trying to make sense of senseless destruction, Caroline adds, “Coventry is a beautifully written book, the novel of a stylist but some rough edges would have given it a whole other dimension that would have been more appropriate for the subject. Still, and this may seem paradoxical, it is a book I would like to read again, if only for its language. Maybe I’m not doing it justice, maybe I’m just not used to someone describing war in such a lyrHappy ical way and depicting people who are so caught in their inner lives that they seem ultimately untouched by the collective experience of destruction.”