I am sitting at my mother’s kitchen table – I drove down yesterday through wonderful fall light. The gorge was beautiful from beginning to end. Generally the upper gorge is a little bleak looking but the light was shinning just right on the bluffs and the Columbia river was calm and shimmering. My brother came out from the east coast to visit so I thought I would tag along the last part of his visit.
This week I finished The Department of Last Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen and I am so hooked. I can’t wait to begin the second one in the series. Last Saturday I had picked up two books from the new book shelf: The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey and A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash. I had an insane idea that I would be able to finish them before my trip. I did get a third of the way through the Carey but could only dip into the other. I will have to reorder them when I am back. I brought along The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng to read while I am here and so far it has proven to be a good choice.
Here is what caught my interest this week:
Stopping by the library is always a dangerous thing even if you are only picking up books on hold. Cat from Tell Me a Story, picked up what sounds like a good debut novel, Beyond the Ties of Blood, by Florencia Mallon. The author is Chilean- American and her novel is about the reign of terror by the Pinochet regime. Nearly twenty years after the death of her lover, her torture, and eventual exile, Eugenia Aldunate returns to Chili to testify in the case of her lover’s death. I don’t read nearly enough fiction about this part of the world and this time in history so this one is going on the list.
Tom from A Common Reader posts about a new travel book called Walking the Hexagon: An Escape Around France on Foot. The author, Terry Cudbird, wanted to explore France utilizing the Grand Randonées (the network of long-distance footpaths that cross the country in all directions)”. Shortly after he retired he set off taking a year to walk around France. Himself and I are planning our December trip to see Youngest and Northern France is one of our main destinations. Even though we are not walking, I would love to read this book to find out more about the areas we will be visiting especially from someone who is seeing the country from the mindful perspective that walking requires.
The BookSnob posted about a book that may be hard to find but worth it – Guard Your Daughters by Diana Tutton. Simon from Stuck in a Book also raved about the novel. I found a copy in the University Library system available for inter-library loan. Other copies might be available in used book stores or libraries with strong catalogs.
Simon says the book is “so warm, so funny, so lively and delightful. It’s a warm blanket of a novel, but never cloying or sentimental.” And the Booksnob writes:
This is the sort of book that is pure pleasure from start to finish, with hordes of wonderfully engaging characters, a slightly bonkers but still totally absorbing plot that is littered with references to Pride and Prejudice and a conversational, conspiratorial tone that draws you in and makes you feel completely involved in the goings on of the world that has been created inside the covers.
Guard Your Daughters is about the Harvey Family: the father is a reclusive author holed up in his home office; the mother is fragile and stays in her bedroom; and then there are the five sisters (the eldest married and living away from home for the first time. The daughters have been raised in the family home in the country with haphazard schooling (again at home). The eldest daughter is coming to see how this may not be in her sister’s best interests. While the reviews all say it is amusing and clever, they also say the novel has depth and deals with control versus independence, parents’ needs versus children’s needs.
Mo Yan, from China, won the Noble Prize in Literature with the committee stating:
Through a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives, Mo Yan has created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition.
There are several of his novels available on Amazon and the one that interests me the most is his debut novel Red Sorghum. The novel covers three generations of a Chinese family including the Japanese invasion of China. A word of warning to readers – the novel is non-chronological and is, at times, brutally graphic in describing the violence some characters are subjected to. I found two articles if you are interesting in learning more about this author. The Washington Post describes Yan’s novel they have reviewed (with a link to an article about his winning the prize) and Xinhaunet.com has a news analysis of why Yan won.
Finally, Stuck in a Book has another wonderful list of books about the theater that is worth checking out.