Hello from the Hinterland. Himself and I spent some really nice days at Arches and Zion National Parks, went to SLC to take my father to a doctor’s appointment and then headed home after reading the weather reports for Yellowstone – we had enough rain in Utah and were not interested in continued camping in wet circumstances. We were very grateful that our Colorado part of the vacation was before the floods but feel for all those effected by the devastation. Dog, cat, and Eldest were glad to see us – it is nice to be missed even if it involves being sworn at by a displeased kitty.
One of the perks of a driving vacation is that I got a lot of great reading in during the past two weeks: The Family Man by Elinor Lippman; The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag; The Quiet Twin by Dan Vyleta; The Passport by Herta Mullere; and Days in the History of Silence by Merethe Lindstrom. I am also about a third of the way through Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier. I have to fly back to Salt Lake for a two day trip this week so I am hoping for even more reading time.
Here is what caught my interest this week:
I am always on the lookout for a short-story collection and who could resist Safe as Houses by Marie-Helene Bertino after reading The Insatiable Book Slut’s review. It is not just the theme of hearts/homes, or female characters, or even magical-realism done the right way. No, I wanted to read it solely because of this line from the review, “…prose so juicily poetic you’re stippled with it when you lift your head from the pages.” The rest was icing on the cake. And then I went to the Cassie’s review (Books and Bowel Movements) and read this:
Safe as Houses. Little makeshift, cardboard creations at the intersection of floor repair and reverie. Not homes, houses. Safe as Houses. These are not the places we grew up, but the memoirs of our life. The tiny bits, the sequences, the chapters, houses.
Definitely going to look for this one.
Reading Guy’s review (His Futile Preoccupations) of Others of my Kind by James Sallis (which sounds very interesting), I also looked at his review of Days in the History of Silence by Merethe Lindstrøm (which I purchased at The Tattered Cover and read on my trip. A comment on that post led me to Philippe Grimbert and his novel Memory. I like stories about family secrets and their impact on members of the family. Days in the History of Silence is about negative effects of not telling the family history and Memory – an autobiographical novel is the same. Grimbert is the child of Holocaust survivors and the subject was never mentioned. After a discovery in the attic of the family home leads him to realize the truth of his family story. The first paragraph is haunting – so I imagine the rest of the book is excellent as well.
With Fall weather approaching and Halloween coming nearer, Danielle of a Work in Progress recommends a novella by Susan Hill. Hill is better known for her Simon Serailler mysteries but she also has a reputation as having a deft hand at the old-fashioned ghost story. The Man in the Picture features an elderly professor, his former student, a storm rattling the house, claret and stories, and a mysterious painting of the Carnival in Venice. Reviews say that while the story may not be the scariest, Hill does a good job at conveying the scene and subsequent chills.
Another ghost story that caught my eye is The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James and reviewed by The Indextrious Reader. Set in the 1920’s down-on-her-luck Sarah Piper gets a temporary assignment from her agency to assist a well-to-so ghost hunter. Maddy, the ghost, has a hatred of men and will only talk to women – hence the need for Sarah. Unfortunately Maddy is real and she is angry. This sounds like pure fun.
Or perhaps the autumn weather puts you in the mood for a mystery. I haven’t read much Ngaio Marsh. I think I did read one of her Roderick Alleyn mysteries many years ago but I can’t remember it. I do know she is considered one of the Queens of Crime. Fleur in Her World reviews on of the Alleyn novels, Clutch of Constables which features Alleyn’s wife Troy on a cruise in the English countryside. Constables refers to the artist John Constable and the mystery revolves around a painting and a murder. I may have to have this one on hand for a rainy day read.
And the 2013 Booker Prize short list has been announced.