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Archive for August, 2013

Words for Wednesday

From The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy

Martin sees his sister once a week. Sometimes they walk around the block, or sit down and eat something. He always leaves with a cake, which he lays on the backseat of his station wagon.

His drive home is a long boulevard with many lights. Sometimes people next to him glanced over. When he smiles, they mostly look away. But Martin likes to think they carry his smile for a few blocks – that even the smallest gesture is something grand.

For a long time now, he has been aware that anyone in the world could be his mother, or his father, or his brother, or sister.

He realized this early on, and realized too that what people think are their lives are merely its conditions. The truth is closer than thought and lies buried in what we already know. (pages 11-12)

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book clubI hadn’t really allowed myself time for sadness. I’d been keeping busy with my job and also the bills and the dry cleaning and the emails, all mundane tasks that fill my life. So I tried to just be still and sad – but I couldn’t. I could be still. And I knew I was sad. But waiting for the dawn to come up, I found myself unable to focus on my sadness for more than a minute or two at a time, as much as I thought I’s wanted to. I’d cried over David Halberstam’s death than I had over my mother’s terminal illness. I’d cried more over the Hugh Grant romantic comedy Love Actually. I’d cried more over the death of a beloved character in an Alistair MacLean thriller.

To pass the time until morning, until I heard the familiar thump of The New York Times being chucked against our apartment door by our local news carrier, until David would rouse and we would put on coffee. I turned on a solitary light and went searching for my copy of The Hobbit. I wanted to see if it still entranced me – if I could get lost in it again.

Soon I found my copy – and started reading at random. It had been nearly forty years since I’d more than glanced at it, but it all sprang magically back to life: hobbit houses, silver spoons, runes, orcs, dwarfs, spiders. After twenty minutes or so, I stumbled across the part of the book, about halfway through, where our hobbit hero Bilbo and his dwarf companions suddenly find themselves, scattered and separated from one another, in a dark wood.

Bilbo races around in circles, frantically calling his friends’ names. He can feel and hear them doing the same. “But the cries of the others got steadily further and fainter, and though after a while it seemed to him they changed to yells and cries for help in the far distance, all noise at last died right away, and he was left alone in complete silence and darkness.”

Tolkien continues, “That was one of his most miserable moments. But he soon made up his mind that it was no good trying do to anything till day came with some little light.” (pages 81-82)

As I have mentioned in my Sunday posts, this is the year of cancer. Not only my father as well as my good friend but more family friends than I can shake a stick at. I have been to doctors appointments, radiology appointments, and the emergency room. I have read research papers, learned terminology, and kept copious notes in a notebook that is rapidly running out of room. It hasn’t been all bad – I am stronger than I would have thought I was; I have become more mindful; and even buried a few demons. And I am extremely grateful that aside from my father, my family is well. But there have been nights when I think of cancer before I go to bed, I dream of cancer, and I think about it when I wake up.

So why did I pick up a copy of Will Schwalbe’s memoir The End of Your Life Book Club? Well there wasn’t much else at the library that day and I do like reading about books so I thought I would give it a try. And yes, parts were difficult to read and I shed a tear or two or three, but in the end it turned out to be a good read for me.

Mary Anne Schwalbe is busy with her life, her humanitarian work with refugees, her husband, children, and grandchildren, traveling, and reading when she is diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer – a diagnosis with a very short and fatal prognosis with patients generally only having a few months to live. Soon her life is rounds of chemotherapy and side effects and during this time, her son Will accompanies her to some of her appointments. Will works in the publishing industry and one of their ways of connecting is to talk about books.The memior outlines the two years between the diagnosis and Mary Anne’s death.

Obviously books are very important to the Schwalbe family and Mary Anne Schwalbe was a remarkable woman. She cared deeply for her family and for the greater world. I don’t think that Mary Anne had any concept of a stranger as it seems that she saw every person she came across as having the potential to enhance her life in some way. And in the book she often talks of the importance of acknowledging the humanity in people. Both those aspects of her life came across well in the book and represent the some of the best parts. I really enjoyed hearing about Mary Anne’s life as an Admissions Director at Harvard as well as all the international work she did in very difficult and sometimes dangerous situation. I equally enjoyed hearing about the different books they read and discussed particularly when I had also read them. In fact when Will talks of Gilead by Marilynne Robinson I had the urge to reread the novel. However, to some readers, it may seem like a list of books rather that a recounting of the discussion of a book group.

Despite the title, this is not the story of a book club and the books that club reads. Instead it is the story about a son coming to grips with the fact that his mother is dying. This wasn’t very clear to me at the beginning and I spent some amount of time trying to determine the author’s purpose in writing the book. It took me a while to see the swirling emotions circling round and round with individual books serving as catalysts for a thought the author wanted to convey or as abstractions from greater issues.

Schwalbe talks about the difficulties of knowing what to talk about concerning the hard stuff – the leap between asking someone how are you feeling to talking to that person about their death – how he struggles with this in his conversations with his mother. But we are not always privy to those personal conversations between mother and son. Questions are posed in the abstract with the author stating, “and there is a world of difference between knowing you could die in the next two years and knowing that you almost certainly will.” (103) and then not exploring what that statement means for his mother. I found there to be a distance between what was happening to mother and son and how I as a reader perceived what was happening. The books drew me in and made me feel as if I was there and at the same time, they seemed to serve as a barrier preventing me from experiencing the intimacy between the author and his mother. At times this was disconcerting to me, again, because it left me unsure of the author’s intention.

However, I ultimately found these to be minor points as I appreciated the book for its honest look at someone going through one of the worst illness one can have and the helplessness a loved one can have in watching this process, so much a part of the experience and yet so much outside of it as well. I have found out this year that cancer is complicated, not only as an illness, but also in how people respond to it. So I appreciated it when Mary Anne tells Will at one point, “The world is complicated….You don’t have to have one emotion at a time.” (page 88) The book speaks of the importance of the new normal – the changing routines, the fitting life around one’s physical capabilities given the debilitating effects of cancer treatment and how difficult it can be to embrace that new normal whether you are the patient or someone close to the patient. The book eloquently speaks of the loss to come not only of what was, but what will be, for those continuing to go in the future without the presence of the dying person.

And the book talks about the importance of reading in our lives and also the importance of speaking about the books we read to other people. The discussion of what we read may have just as much significance as the act of reading itself. Books are connectors; they bring insight and comfort, solace and escape. This book reminded me of why I read and if that was the authors intention – he definitely succeeded.

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Sunday Caught My Interest

Just as I was getting ready to post this last night – the computer blinked and the post was gone. I was unable to access clean copies of the saved drafts (I save frequently) so it took a while to get things all figured out.

Happy muggy Sunday to you. Four bands of rainstorms passed by last night leading to a slightly muggy morning – unusual for the fairly dry Hinterland. The week seemed to fly by – not sure where all the time went. We had some good news on Thursday; my friend’s last day of radiation will be Monday and then she will transition to the wait, scan, wait part of the journey. It is nice to see her with some energy again. The other big event this week was the Watermelon Races put on by one of the local Kiwanis Clubs. Himself and a colleague built a watermelon racer to represent their university in the Corporate Cup race. It was truly a lot of fun with a good amount of fun trash talk between the various entities racing. My favorite watermelon was done by the local library complete with a library card for “Mr. Watermelon”.

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I did finish The End of Life Book Club which was painful (Will Schwalbe’s mother is dying of cancer) but also fun in a way, especially when they were reading a book I have also read. I also read The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy in one sitting as it was so delicious. I have since picked it up and randomly re-read different sections. I had checked this out of the library but will be purchasing a copy to keep on my shelves. I also started My Fathers’ Ghost ifs Climbing in the Rain by Patricio Pron (reviewed here by Winston’s Dad) and the third Department Q mystery, A Conspiracy of Faith by Jussi Adler-Olsen.

Here is what caught my interest this week:

Lyn of I Prefer Reading has a lovely post on Walt Whitman’s poetry sparked in part by one of her favorite movies, Now, Voyager. I don’t believe I have seen this film (it doesn’t sound familiar at all) which is listed as #23 of AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions as well as being deemed by The Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Based on Olive Higgins Prouty’s 1941 novel, Now, Voyager is the story of a spinster with an abusive mother. After spending time in a sanitarium, the woman is transformed and goes on a cruise where she meets a married man. They agree to separate after the cruise. Lyn ends her synopsis there and there must be more to the story – guess I will have to read it to find out.

Fleur Fisher (Fleur in Her World) has been reading her way through Margaret Kennedy’s work. Kennedy, best known for her novel The Constant Nymph, wrote her first novel in 1923 and her last in 1966. I was very interested in Fleur’s review of The Feast and added it to my list of books to look for. Now I have to add another Kennedy to the list after reading Fleur’s review of Lucy Carmichael. The novel is set in the 1950’s and Lucy is soon to marry the love of her life. Unfortunately, Lucy is jilted and then finds her way through the world, first at one job and then at another. She eventually has another chance at love but at what price. It was a very different world back then and Lucy may have to choose. I love the description of Lucy that Fleur includes, in the words of her very best friend:

She is incautious and intrepid. She will go to several wrong places and arrive at the right one, while I am still making up my mind to cross the road. She is cheerful and confident and expects to be happy. She taught me how to enjoy myself … Lucy forced me to believe that I might be happy. I don’t expect I’d have had the courage to marry you, to marry anybody, if it hadn’t been for Lucy.

Labor Day Himself and I are leaving for a vacation – driving to visit relatives and visit some national parks. So I have been compiling a list of books to take. Matthew from A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook also travels and I like seeing what he takes on his trips. He has a recent post talking about Robert Goddard and the possibility of reading his work during a weekend getaway or a plane ride. The books sounded interesting as it seems that Goddard is the master of the plot twist. Goddard’s novels feature historical backgrounds, a mystery, possible conspiracies – the best a vacation book can offer. The library has a few available and the one that looks the most interesting is Long Time Coming which features a collection of lost Picassos, WW II, supposedly dead relatives reappearing… Sounds good.

Another good-sounding travel read is The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag and reviewed by Bibliophile by the Sea. In this novel there is an unusual house at 11 Hope Street in Cambridge which has served women for generations – specifically women who need refuge; women who have lost hope. Alba is walking the streets trying to figure out how to deal with her stalled academic career (among other issues) when she is invited to stay at the house for ninety-nine days. Previous residents include Agatha Christie, Virginia Woolf, and an actress named Greer and many of these past residents are there to help the current women through talking portraits (which was is one of my favorite elements in the Harry Potter World.)

Finally, courtesy of The Literary Omnivore, we can look at lots of Bookshelf Porn.

Happy Reading

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art forger

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

A  blackballed artists now working for Reproductions.com, a long-ago real life art heist, a charismatic  gallery owner, artists with angst,  and three different time periods along with lies, deceptions, and moral conundrums all sounds like a good book – and many people thought so as well – it is a best seller, award winner, and received rave reviews including from people whose opinion I respect (The Literate Housewife). Unfortunately I did not care for this book. I thought it was a little repetitive, predictable, and I did not care about the characters; usually this doesn’t stop me from liking a book – but in this case it did. Note: I listen to 60% of this book and read the remaining 40%.

view penthouse

The View Fromm Penthouse B by Elinor Lipman

This was my first Elinor Lipman and I am hooked. The novel centers around two sisters -one divorced with her felon ex-husband living in the same building and the other a middle-aged recent widow. The divorcee loses all her money in the Madoff (he who must not be named) Ponzi scheme and has her sister and a gay guy living with her to save on expenses. Will they be able to co-exist, will they find love, will they find employment? This book is a quick read with snappy dialogue and easy with some heft so that it has a decent amount of body to it, good characters and a decent plot. In other words a good read for the porch on a summer day with a chilled glass of wine – a perfect palate cleanser after a difficult or unsatisfactory read. I have already picked up my second Lipman from the library.

24 hours

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

This debut novel is hard to describe without giving away the plot but here goes: Graphic/Web designer Clay Jannon is out of a job in the great recession when he finds employment as the night clerk in a 24 bookstore. There are few customers, stranger books, and odd happenings. Clay puts his mind into figuring out what is going on and things get curiouser and curiouser. This novel is set in San Francisco (with a fun trip to New York), and features the technology that is changing our world with Google (and one of its employees) playing a major role in figuring out what is going on. I found it a charming read, delightful, and hard to put down. It will be a Christmas gift to more than one person I know.

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My house seems to be in total disarray. We have the bench coming together in the workshop in the basement, new storage in the office, and we are painting the loft upstairs. So all the office stuff is in the dining room and all the loft stuff is in Youngest’s room. Thankfully I have escaped all this – once to the movies and other times reading fun stuff. I saw The Butler Friday and it was a very good movie and from the trailers I saw, this is going to be a great Oscar season. As for books, I did end up finishing The Art Forger by going to the library and reading it there which was a waste of time.However, I wanted to see if I was right about certain things and I was. Then it was onto fun reads. I finished Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and The View From Penthouse B by Elinor Lipman both very enjoyable. And I also found time to start The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe which, while not as light as my other reads, is managing to keep me engaged.

Here is what caught my interest this week:

I have often thought of reading Canadian author Margaret Laurence and reading Kevin from Canada’s review of The Diviners has only reinforced that thought. Laurence wrote a series of novels that were semi-autobiographical with The Stone Angel (1964) being the first and The Diviners (1974) being the last. After watching The Butler, my friends and I discussed the need for succeeding generations to know what happened to previous generations and this series, particularly The Diviners, seems to fit that bill describing the life of a woman who came into her own in an era where doing so wasn’t so easy. And the fact that the main character in The Diviners is an author just reinforces this notion for me personally as my grandmother was an author as well. The Diviners is a long book, but it does sound worth it.

One of the other themes in The Butler is the dissonance that can exist between generations. If one generation copes with life in a certain way, having their children cope in a different way can be very disconcerting and the children can often not understand why their parents do not see things from their point of view. Between the Covers reviews a book published this past March with a similar theme saying that In the Land of the Living by Austin Ratner is “a story highlighting the differences and misunderstandings between generations.” This novel is a coming of age story of two people, a father and then his son. There are “mythic” fathers, tragedy as well as how do you live up to your father’s expectations. And there is a road trip also thrown in there in the last part of the novel.

One reason I think The Butler was such a good movie is that I keep seeing parts of it in the books that have caught my interest this week. The movie opens in the 1920’s on a cotton plantation in the south with black sharecroppers and white landowners. Obviously there is a distinct difference between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. So then I am reading Mary Whipple (Seeing the World Through Books) review of Harvest by Jim Crace and come across the following:

Guilt vs. innocence, the use of raw power to control outcomes, the callous manipulation of resources (such as land) at the expense of human beings who are dependent upon it for their very survival, the question of one’s responsibility to a small community as opposed to one’s responsibility to uphold the truth, the question of vengeance, and ultimately, the question of how it is possible to define “right” in a community which has no religion and no legal system are all important themes represented in this largely allegorical novel.

Harvest has been longlisted for the 2013 Booker Prize and is set in rural pre-industrial England . It is the story of farm workers struggling to make a living, strangers who come into the mix, and a landowner who represents everything in the remote area in a time with change simmering in the air. This doesn’t sound like an easy read but it sounds like an important read.

Finally, Danielle of A Work in Progress has a list of thirteen novels with an academic setting to celebrate Back to School and The Capricious Reader has a list of favorite dystopian  novels.

Happy Reading

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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.

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Hello from beautiful Utah. Sunday Caught My Interest did not get published last weekend as I was traveling, first to Salem to pick up my mom and then to Salt Lake. My father is undergoing his final 6 days of radiation for Oral Mouth Cancer and I am the designated driver for the week. My brother had the duty last week and now it is my turn. My mom came along for the ride to keep my company and help out although she flew home on Friday. . Last week was a flurry of preparation and this week is lots of commuting to the treatment center and drives for my father. My mom and I already made one trip to King’s English Bookstore and I went again when I was on my own. I listened to part of The Sword of the Templars by Paul Christopher which is a good travel “read” engaging enough but not too literary (f it is too literary, I want to take notes which is not conducive to mindful driving). And I finished The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson while not a light read, it is very good – haunting. I find myself walking up at night and thinking about it. I have also started The Hamilton Case by Michelle De Kretser.

Here is what caught my interest this week:

While I am away, I miss my cat. Himself misses me, in part, because the cat spends the majority of his time telling Himself he is the wrong person. Cats are such individuals – with personality, philosophies, conversations, and thoughts on the world – which if you are lucky, they will freely express to you. My cat was dumped in the country as a kitten and it took a long time for him to even venture  into the backyard. He had been in the big, wide world and it was not all it is cracked up to be. When I was reading Diane’s (Bibliophile by the Sea) review of Henri, le Chat Noir: The Existential Musings of an Angst-filled Cat by William Braden, and I came across this line, “In general, Henri does not trust the out side world…” I knew I had to read this book. Each musing is accompanied by a different picture of Henri. I think this one will go on my Christmas list.

Sometimes it is the opening line of a review that grabs my attention. In this case, it is Kimbofo’s review of The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Kahadra:

This is the third novel by Yasmina Khadra that I have read: the first, The Attack, was set in war-torn Israel; the second, The Sirens of Baghdad, was set in war-torn Iraq; and this, Swallows of Kabul, was set in war-torn Afghanistan.

All three books explore long-established cultures being torn apart at the seams, usually from within — and while considered and intelligent, all are unbearably bleak with little joy in the narratives.

Perhaps it is because I am in Utah which has a distinct, long established culture; perhaps it is because I finished The Orphanmaster’s Son and in reading the review, I see a parallel between the two books. The Orphanmaster’s Son was- also a grim book but well worth the effort. My interest is further piqued when I read about Khadra, a former Algerian army officer who wrote under a pseudonym to escape censorship regulations. Algeria is a country that fascinates me and I wonder how much of the author’s experiences influence his work. The Swallows of Kabul tells the story of two couples living in Kabul under the Taliban. One of the men, wondering the streets in angst, comes across a public execution of a prisoner guarded by the husband of the second couple. This all sounds very depressing but Kimbofo says the writing and the narrative tension make it a worthwhile read.

On the search for something lighter, Guy Savage of His Futile Preoccupations… introduces me to a new detective in his review of Fred Vargas’s mystery The Ghost Riders of Ordebec. There are eight Commissaire Adamsberg mysteries, all translated into English, with The Ghost Riders being the latest and the first being The Chalk Circle Man. Adamsberg is from the Pyrenees and, in the first novel, he is a recent transfer to Paris when a mysterious series of blue chalk circles are drawn in different parts of the city. Not socially adapt, but a genius in solving crimes, Adamsberg and his associate (who has more conventional methods of crime solving) work the case. The last book in the series sounds very interesting with lines like this, “Perhaps there’s an ancient cloud around here, some mist, a disturbance, a memory still hanging in the air.” This seems like a detective I should get to know.

Sometimes I am in the mood for something different and The Indextrious Reader provides just the thing with a review of a modern take on the epistolary novel. The Antagonist by Lynn Coady consists of a series of e-mails by Gordon Rankin Jr. to a former classmate, the author of a novel that contains a character drawn from events from Rankin’s own life. Rankin is furious and in the subsequent e-mails we learn of his version of his life. The emails range from funny to heartbreaking and cover themes such as male friendship, father-son dynamics, and the angst of living with a black cloud over your head for Rankin is described as a “King Midas in reverse”.

This next book is available on E-Readers only but it seems particularly apt as the Booker Long List was recently announced. Winston’s Dad reviews Flippo Bologna’s novel The Parrot (translated by Howard Curtis). Three authors, rivals, are fighting to receive a major literary prize. The writers remain unnamed throughout the novel known only as The Beginner, The Writer, and The Master. Each are at different moments in their career and each has a very different motivation for winning the prize. If you are in the mood for a satire about writing and culture – this one may be for you.

Finally, JoAnn of Lakeside Musing has a wonderful post about the Modern Library Food Series – worth checking out if you like both food and reading. And both Kevin From Canada and Farmlane Books have posts on The Booker Long List

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