I was trying to remember what all I’ve read in January and February,
and I know I’m coming up short by two or five books.
But here’s what I’ve got so far,
with blurbs on the books that needed blurbing:
Faithful Place, Tana French
A continuation of her Irish detective series (In the Woods, The Likeness),
French delves into the history of a secondary character–Frank Mackey–
from those novels.
Her prose is, per usual, well-crafted, but I found myself wishing for the authenticity of the female narrator in The Likeness instead.
We’ll Always Have Paris, Ray Bradbury
The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas
Best American Short Stories, 2007, ed. Stephen King
A fantastic collection. King knows how to pick compelling stories.
His introduction, which is actually a defense of the short story
as a lasting literary form, is pure genius.
Savvy, Ingrid Law
YA fiction, and quite enjoyable. The characters are true and sympathetic,
and the small romances that blossom in the narrative completely avoid schlock,
which is refreshing from a YA author.
Dust of 100 Dogs, A.S. King
Meh. A great initial idea–a young female pirate is cursed to live the life of
100 dogs before returning to her human form–
but the idea gets lost in repetition and tired, quasi-feminist rants.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender
So very lovely. And so very sad. The essential concept is that a young girl can detect emotions through food–
whatever the cook was feeling, she can sense it.
Which makes for awkward high-school lunches.
The Writing on my Forehead, Nafisa Haji
Unexpected Magic, Diana Wynne Jones
Her short stories were a bit of a letdown
after the magnificence that is Howl’s Moving Castle.
Best American Short Stories, 2002, ed. Sue Miller
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Safran Foer
Man, I dislike this genre.
It’s this dreadful combination of confessional, solipsistic over-sharing that sometimes feels like the author just slapped his LiveJournal into a bound book.
That said, there are moments of greatness. Foer has two parallel narratives running in this novel, and all the best bits are from the story of the protagonist’s grandparents. Through their marriage, they begin dividing up their home into sections of existence and nothing–their unwillingness to be open with each other is what leads eventually to their grandson wandering off on a ridiculous quest throughout New York, looking for an answer to why his father died in the WTC towers on 9/11.
The protagonist himself, a nine-year-old flea named Oskar, is a pompous twit,
and frankly, everything he does is boring.
That’s really all I can say about him.
Foer also thinks it’s clever to have pages and pages of numbers instead of text, as seen when the grandfather loses his ability to speak.
(that may have been interesting when Coupland did it in 1995’s Microserfs.
It’s just laziness now. )
Foer is liberal, elitist, Jewish-when-it’s-convenient, and boy, does it show;
the story is not about poor Oskar Schell and poor ignorant Americans
and how innocence is lost and we are all insignificant, alas!
It’s about Foer and his desire to be an Important Writer of Important Writings.
Raised by Manhattan Progressives, indeed.
The Mermaid Chair, Sue Monk Kidd
Magic for Marigold, LM Montgomery
Montgomery is my go-to for days when everything is bleak.
Boy, Roald Dahl
Remind me to never send my children to a British boarding school.
Horns, Joe Hill
Man, he has style.
Hill is always a compelling read, and like his dad, Stephen King, he manages to touch on philosophical/theological debates without preaching.
I don’t agree with the particular philosophy he presents (that good and evil are the two halves of a coin, or in this case, a person),
but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a good novel.
Julian, Gore Vidal
Interesting history. Floppy prose.
Seriously, if it takes me more than a month to read your 400 page novel,
you are doing something wrong.
Atonement, Ian McEwan
So far, not terribly impressed.
Master & Commander, Patrick O’Brian
I need a naval dictionary.