Monday, June 20, 2011
Call me a philistine, but Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels, which I have finally read, escapes me. Why that bit at the end about a whole new character and his girlfriend(s)? And how did Jakob and Michaela die? Aside from those mysteries, the book confirms for me my bias against poetic novels. I like poetry, I like novels, I don’t like poetic novels.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The third Penderwick story, in which they exeunt somewhat severally for vacation (the bulk of them in Maine, where Jeffrey, released into Penderwick custody reluctantly, makes a Discovery), prompted a realization: why, these are the Little Women! Skye is Jo, Rosalind is Meg, Batty is Beth (with her stuffies but a more life-giving mystery, embodied now in her musical talent) and Jane is Amy (what is Sabrina Starr, her alter ego, but a romantic heroine?) They even have a Laurie—Jeffrey, of course.
Also read since last post: My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time by Liz Jensen, a romp worth of children’s literature, but with sex. Not so very much of it, dear reader. Time travel and plucky clever whores and a hero who is a loving father. It was a bargain book at Megastore and is an example of why I love the bargain table. First Light by Rebecca Stead: interesting premise, a race of people who have been living under (literally under, as in within) a glacier for generations, and the discovery of same by a boy whose ice scientist father and periodic depression-suffering mother who is a geneticist have unspoken reasons for their family research trip to Greenland. Liked it. Finally, Still Alice by Lisa Genova: much better than Left Neglected. Still somewhat casual fiction but more emotionally engaging. In the end, husband can’t take it and effectively leaves, but daughters step in to care for mother in the last way possible: by physically and emotionally being there for her. And that reminded me of the one thing I engaged with in Left, which was the relationship between the protag and her mother.
That’s all, must return to the caribou! She said cryptically.
Friday, June 10, 2011
I went on to Something Rising (Light and Swift) and it went down better than the other Haven; but if I read a reference to Hillman or “The White Heron” again I’m going to scream. I think a novelist should only be allowed to use her university course material once, no matter how resonant and mythopoeic; at least, not this obviously. And now I recall something from a NYorker piece I read this morning: “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.”
Monday, June 06, 2011
I picked up Practical Jean by Trevor Cole on the recommendation of friend Tara Harte (check out her blog for detailed comments on the book); what a funny and satisfying story! The book cover alone was enough to make you want to read it. I commend the author on his nailing of certain kinds of females and female relationships (in a somewhat exaggerated way, but that was just fine in the context); also true was the relationships of Jean and her brothers. The comedy was right on.
Not so successful an experience was Iodine by Haven Kimmel. The structure of the book was spacey, bouncing between first and third person narration, with the main character having one name to herself and another to others, and sometimes and inexplicably breaking off mid sentence. This was a fine way to bring to the page someone who, it turns out, suffers from frequent dissociative/fugue states (owing to childhood horrors); the reader is put firmly on her side, so that it comes as a surprise (though you can backtrack and see the trail) when a period that added up to four months for the narrating character was actually over four years. What I’m saying is that there was nothing wrong with the book; I just wasn’t in a place to enjoy it. This was my first foray into the author’s fiction and I haven’t stopped, as you will see next post.