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Archive for the ‘Sunday Interests’ Category

Hello from beautiful Oregon. I arrived on Saturday and on Sunday I drove youngest back to school and stopped at one of my favorite places (The Container Store). Last Thursday was Oldest’s 24th birthday. Himself and I made him a steampuck inspired shelving unit for his wall to hold beer bottles and books. The perfect combination for a guy who likes steampunk, fiction, and craft beer. The shelves are painted to look like galvanized metal so most of my week was spent doing layer after layer of primer, base coat, and faux painting. In the past two weeks I did have some good reading time…The week before last I finished the Patrico Pron novel and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – both based on true events and one labeled Fiction, the other non-fiction. In fact, my book group had a really good discussion on what is fiction and what is non-fiction. I have also finished Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole, The Seance by John Harwood, and To Love and be Wise by Josephine Tey. I did not finish The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay. While I enjoyed the bookish atmosphere, I did not like it enough to renew it. I am also in the middle of three books: The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud; Heading to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick; and Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.

Here is what caught my interest this week:

If you have ever wanted to crash a party in a novel you have read, you have your chance with A Curious Invitation: The Forty Greatest Parties in Fiction by Suzette Field (reviewed by Bloggers Recommend) which features parties as different as Pooh’s Party to the prom in Carrie. There is a party from Thackeray, Defoe, Proust, Fitzgerald, and even the party my friends and I tried to replicate in high school – Bilbo Baggin’s Birthday party. This sounds like a wonderful read, easy to pick up and put down – a great nightstand book.

I listened to the Semple novel on the drive down and it has me thinking of what other books might be good listens. And then I read Matthew’s (A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook) review of Past Caring by Robbert Goddard. In the 1970’s an unemployed historian is asked by a wealthy South African to investigate the life of a disgraced politician who after WWI, lived out the rest of his career on the Island of Madeira. Was Edward Stafford’s fall due to an failed love affair with a suffergette or was there foul play involved? Using Stafford’s memoir as a base, the historian becomes involved in a mystery that spans three generations. Matthew writes, “The characters are well drawn and all have hidden motives. Not only are they bound by an entanglement of intrigue, misunderstanding and betrayal, they are all colored in shades of grey. They only come into full focus and shading at the end of the story.”

Happy Reading!

 

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Since I have had a slight academic focus lately (The Small Room and Old School) I think I need to bump All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost, by Samantha Chang, higher on the TBR list.  The novel is about three students of poetry and their professor and reflects on what it means to accomplish something and why to we want to do so.  S. Krishna reviews the book here.

I have not read The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty which won the Pulitzer in 1973.  The slim novel describes a young widowed woman who travels back home to the south when her father falls ill.  As Rachel of Book Snob describes, “This whisper-light, brief beauty of a novel is astounding when considering the true weight of the messages it carries.” – who could resist after a description like that.

This week my book group had an interesting discussion on looking back to the past and making some sort of acknowledgment of what occurred and some reflection on where we are now.  And then I read a review of Safe from the Sea on Page 247 – a tragic accident at sea, the impact on the sole survivor and his family and a looking back so we can go forward. This one looks like it may be a good one.

Last Sunday, I mentioned The Wrong Blood by Manuel de Lope and this week it is reviewed by the New York Times here.

The Times also reviews God on the Rocks, a 1978 novel just now available in the United States by Jane Gradam, an English author.  A coming of age story, a part-time preacher for a father, a secular nursemaid, and exploring the world – it all sounds like a hodgepodge but it also sounds somewhat fascinating.

My musings have been interrupted a lot today so I cannot remember where I saw mention of this next book: Origins: A Novel by Diane Abu-Jaber which is described as a literary mystery.  Lena is a fingerprint specialist investigating a series of baby deaths but the novel is also about Lena’s past.  I am in the mood for a mystery with a little more bite so I have placed a hold on this and will let you know when I finish.

Enjoy the fall leaves while they last and happy reading.

 

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Our beautiful fall weather has turned to rain here but the drippy stuff held off so we could watch the GSL JV/Frosh Cross Country Championships yesterday.  It is so good to see the hard work these young people put into this sport come to fruition.  Youngest didn’t run – he will run next Saturday at Regionals. Eldest came home to celebrate his 21st birthday, eat some home cooking, and recharge his batteries.  And my library stack is dwindling – I am starting to get that slight, oh my what will I read next feeling which is silly as I have plenty to read and adding to the list each Sunday.

Let’s Take the Long Way Home, by Gail Caldwell, sounds like a great memoir to read and after reading S. Krisna’s review I went to check availability at the library.  Their copy is an MP3 CD and seeing as I am technologically challenged I will have to figure out just how to use it before ordering.  Darn!  A well written book about two writers who become friends and then one of them dies – a book of friendship and loss – sounds so good.

Jen at Devourer of Books discusses the debut novel of Christina Henriquez, The World in Half, about a young woman who slowly losing her mother to early onset Alzheimer’s disease.  While tending her, she discovers a secret about her father, a Panamanian man who supposedly abandoned her mother.  Miraflores travels to Panama in order to find out more about her father and her heritage.

I love the randomness of the internet.  I was reading an interview with Publisher Judith Gurewich of The Other Press which led me to their website and the description of The Wrong Blood which takes place in Northern Spain just before, during, and after the civil war.  The war’s impact on two women and a local doctor are revealed slowly when a grandson of one of the woman spends a summer in the area. Unfortunately it is not yet in the library system so it has to go on the TBR list.

For short story lovers, comes Reasons For and Advantages  of Breathing by Lydia Peele and mentioned by Beth Fish Reads. These eight stories, which include three prize winners, are focused on the conflict of the more simpler past and the more technologically complex present.  Beth writes “he southern setting, the exploration of how technology can change our lives, the lingering days of the innocence of childhood . . . these factors alone would make this a must-read book.”  In reviews, Peele is mentioned alongside of such greats as Flannory O’Connor and Alice Munro- auspicious company to be among.  Large Hearted Boy also has a brief interview with Peele as well as a playlist here.

Finally, I am trying to not even look at Giller short list reviews until I have finished the Booker Prize list but I am unsuccessful.  Kevin from Canada writes a wonderful view of Joan Thomas’ Curiosity an historical novel based on the real life of Mary Anning, a curiosity seller and self-taught paleontologist in the 1820’s.  It is not yet available in the United States but Kevin is an excellent reviewer and his comments on the book were enjoyable to read.

Happy reading.

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It is a beautiful fall day here in the hinterland with crisp air and falling leaves.  Eldest is visiting for his 21st birthday and got up just before noon after celebrating with some Satori friends at a dive bar on Trent.  Youngest is head deep in  Calculus, college aps, and other homework but took time for a hike in the county park with the camera and the dogs.  I finished The Singer’s Gun by Emily St. John Mandel (having earlier finished Last Night in Montreal) and wishing I could write half as well as she does. And, as always, the list of things to read grows ever longer…

The National Book Award Finalists have been posted here.  I have Krauss’ Great House on my hold list and I may have to add I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamshita.  Featuring 10 novellas each covering a single year, this novel covers both the personal and global experience centered around an international hotel in San Francisco – At 600 odd pages, this may have to be a travel book.

From Reading on a Rainy Day, I find Hiroshima in the Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto.  Rizzuto leaves her family in the United States to explore her war heritage and interview the last remaining survivors of the Hiroshima bombing.  The book covers both her investigative work and the impact of the work on her personal life.  A quote from the product description: “Woven into the story of her own awakening are the stories of Hiroshima in the survivors’ own words. The parallel narratives explore the role of memory in our lives and show how memory is not history but a story we tell ourselves to explain who we are.”

Book Snob reviews The Girls from Winnetka which follows five girls from their teenage years in the 1950’s to the present.  Rachel writes “None have had extraordinary lives, but in their ordinariness, they encompass the changing times of the 20th and 21st centuries, the shift in women’s roles, and the challenges each of us face as we grow from childhood to adulthood, and work out what we want from our lives.”  It is books like these that make for great winter reading.

Juxtabook reviews Tales of Protection by Norwegian Erik Fosnes Hansen and it sounded so interesting and complex that I searched and found The Guardian review which led me to Wikipedia’s entry on Paul Kammerer, a biologist who developed “The Law of Series” about the connectedness of events.  Kammerer’s work was cited by Carl Jung in his essay on Synchronicity.  So right there I am hooked because I am fascinated by the times in your life when the sums are more than the parts and there is a feeling of reverberations.  Often during these periods, I encounter many coincidences.   Unfortunately this one has to go on the Christmas list as it isn’t in the library system nor is it out at EWU.  Sigh.

Finally, in the Guardian review mentioned above I came across a new word: Quiddities – the “whatness” or the inherent nature or essence of something.” Cool!

Enjoy your Sunday.

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Caught My Interest

The New Yorker reviews Israeli novelist David Grossman in a fascinating article. I have never heard of this author and the book, To the End of The Land, is very long (592 pages); however the article was intriguing so this one goes on the maybe list.  My mom also read the article and is thinking about it so if the book appears in Salem, perhaps I will pick it up.

Kim of Reading Matters along with Simon of Savidge Reads have finally convinced me to put Purge by Estonian author Soifi Oksanen on the list.  And since it is in paperback, I may consider it for one of my book groups although they will not be happy about the 400 pages.

If Chicago interests you in any way – Jen at Devourer of Books is devoting the month of October to Chicago authors.

The Incurable Logophilia mentions that The Paris Review now has all their author interviews on line and they can be found here.  Warning, the site can be a time-sucker.  It is fun to poke around the different decades and there are a number of interviews I have in mind to read.

The National Book Foundation has selected its 5 Under 35 selections, recognizing five young fiction writers chosen by National Book Award Winners and Finalists.  I have only heard of any of one of these books and I enjoyed exploring.  I have seen a few mentions of  The Tiger’s Wife (release date March 8, 2011) and it is already on my list.  I will be adding The Sweet Release of Missing Children (release date February 28, 2011) and  How to Escape From a Leper Colony .

I am waiting to get a hold of Nicole Krauss’s Great House and Teresa’s review makes me want to read it even more.

Finally, a book for my niece Jessica (and all others interested in women in the world today),  I came across this book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity For Women Worldwide based on the premise that “the best way to fight poverty and extremism is to educate and empower women and girls.”

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After Eva Peron died, what happened to her body?  Nonsuch reviews a 1997 book by Tomas Eloy Martinez called Santa Evita that asks just that.  How could I resist a book that has a quote like this “As you said, it’s a novel,” I explained. “In novels, what is true is also false.  Authors rebuild at night the same myths they’ve destroyed in the morning.” This one isn’t at the library so I am hoping Eastern has a copy.  Sounds like a good curl up on a cold day read.

Nonsuch also posts about a new Ford Maddox Ford website called Page99Test quoting from his piece in the Guardian:

“Ford Madox Ford recommended instead that readers “open the book to page ninety-nine and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you”. A new website, page99test.com, launches next month to test that premise. It will offer (courageous) authors and aspiring authors the chance to upload the 99th pages of their works and invite readers to comment on whether they would buy, or like to read, the rest.”

The Washington Post reviews Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter saying “If you’re looking for a smart, thoughtful novel that sinks deep into a Southern hamlet of the American psyche, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is your next book.”  I love southern fiction and this one sounds great.

S Krishna has found a debut novel by an Indian Poet named Tishani Doshi called The Pleasure Seekers – lyrical writing, exploring the idea of being away from the familiar, being lost all sounds like a great combination.

And here she reviews Red Hook Road which is already on my TBR list.  It is the story of a newly married couple who die going between their wedding and reception.  A depressing topic to say the least, but reviews of the book mention Ayelet Walsman’s lyrical writing and the tender care she takes of her characters in this exploration of loss and grief.

I was going to wait on thinking about the Giller List but Kevin from Canada speaks very highly about a short story collection Light Lifting by Alexander Macleod – it sounds so good it has gone on the TBR list.

Devourer of Books has come across an interesting read: The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley.  The novel is already going on her re-read list a sure sign of a good book.  It is a coming of age story with language, “Iceland history, culture and lore” and a family secret.  Luckily for me, the library has a copy.

Tom, from A Common Reader, has come across a book from an author I have never heard of – Lindsay Clarke’s The Water Theatre and he compares it to Susan Howatch’s Glittering Images.  I told my mom about this one – she liked Glittering Images and the Water Theatre sounds like a good read.

Kevin from Canada and The Mookse and the Gripes continue to discuss the Giller Prize long list (scroll through the posts to see the reviews.  The one that sounds the most intriguing to me is a short story collection, Light Lifting  by Alexander MacLeod.  I really enjoyed both the reviews I have read about this collection.

This past week has reinforced for me what a wonderful tool the internet is: from being able to goggle snippets of quotes and poetry, to reading such thoughtful reviews as are listed above.  Happy reading!

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Catching up between a cross country meet yesterday (absolutely beautiful day for in in Wenatchee) and the Symphony this afternoon.

The LA Times reviews Bitter in the Mouth by Monique Trong author of The Book of Salt: A Novel.  Bitter follows Linda Hammerick who has an unusual sensory disorder.  The themes of the book seem to include learning to live with who you are within and secrets within secrets.  Sounds delicious.

The September list from IndieBound is up with two books that are already on my list: The Gendarme By Mark Mustian which is called “a meditation on memory” by Publisher’s Weekly and for some reason I am fixated on books about memory.   Also on the list is Room by Emma Donoghue which is on order from the library.  They also listed a book I had heard about before Healer by Carol Cassella set in a small Eastern Washington town.

S. Krisna shares longlist for  The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. If you interested in literature from this area of the world, this list is a great starting place.  The only one I have read was Chef by Jaspareet Singh but many of the others look very interesting.

Kevin From Canada is discussing the long list for the Giller Prize (Literary prize for a Canadian author of a novel or short story collection) as well as posting tidbits from the first review of the “shadow jury”.  I really really liked The Disappeared by Kim Echlin which was short listed last year and have the winner The Bishop’s Man on my reading list.  I think I will wait to see what the shadow jury says about this year’s books before I add to my reading list.

Kerry from Hungry Like the Woolf reviews Orion You Came and Took All My Marbles by Kira Henehan describing it as a “absurdly original detective story”.  There seems to be questions of existence, wordplay, and absurd-ism all wrapped up in a delightful, intriguing debut.   My library doesn’t have a copy but this one may go on the Christmas list.

Finally, a book for my friend Carolyn who loves novels about women in other countries: The Calligrapher’s Daughter is reviewed by The Gutenberg Girls.  Set in Korea, the novel covers thirty years of Korean history through the story of Najin Han, a privileged daughter of a gifted calligrapher.

Enjoy your Sunday reading.

PB

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