Saturday, April 29, 2006

Seeing and Sunstoke

Jesse Kellerman, son of mystery author's Fay and Jonathan Kellerman, has written an interesting mystery novel. One reviewer said that this novel is "too literary" to be a mystery. Sunstroke is enjoyable but not on my top ten list.

Seeing by Jose Saramago will require a bit of a time investment, not because of the length of the book but because of the attention you will need to get through this book. This novel focuses on the effect on elected officials that occurs when a large percentage of the ballots turned in are blank. None of the characters have names and considering the similar personalities of the different officials it is difficult to keep them all straight. Added to that is the fact that it is difficult to relate to any of the characters (unless you happen to be a politician).

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

White Ghost Girls and The Memory Artists

White Ghost Girls by Alice Greenaway is a haunting story about two sisters growing up in Hong Kong. This is another book that I am still thinking about. The younger sister is the narrator and so we see the older sister's actions through a bit of a filter. It has me thinking about the details that were left out that would explain why the older sister acted the way she did. In addition, this author has a poetic way with words. Every once in a while I would stop and reread a sentence or paragraph not for content but because of the way the words flowed on the page.

The Memory Artists by Jeffrey Moore is one of those books that has been growing on me the longer I read it. Noel Burun has a condition called synaesthesia which causes him to attach colors to events from his past and part of the story is told from his point of view. (By the way, I looked up this condition and it does exist.) His mother has Alzheimers and part of the story is told from her point of view not to mention the points of view of other "unusual" characters that are also represented. This is another book for the more experimental reader.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Updated Reading List

Here is the newly updated reading list for my Notable Book Council project. Let me know what you like or didn't like.

Abel, Jessica La Perdida
Anaya, Rudolfo The Man Who Could Fly and Other Stories
Auster, Paul The Brooklyn Follies
Baker, Kevin Striver's Row
Barich, Bill A Fine Place to Daydream
Barnes, Julian Arthur & George
Barry, Max Company
Barton, Emily Brookland
Bechdel, Alison Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
Ben Jelloun, Tahar The Last Friend
Bennett, Alan Tales Untold
Berkowitz, Edward Something Happened
Berthon, Simon Warlords
Branch, Taylor At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68
Broad, William The Oracle: The Lost Secrets And Hidden Messages Of Ancient Delphi
Brown, Frederick Flaubert: A Biography
Bruinius, Harry Better for All the World: The Secret History of Forced Sterilization and America's Quest for Racial Purity
Burt, Stephen Parallel Play
Carey, Peter Theft: A Love Story
Carr, Cynthia Our Town
Cartwright, Justin The Promise of Happiness
Century, Douglas Barney Ross
Chatterjee, English, August
Cheney, Annie Body Brokers: Inside America's Underground Trade in Human Remains
Chu, Miyoko Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons in the Lives of Migratory Birds
Cohen Rich Sweet and Low: A Family Story
Cuoto, Mia A Sleepwalking Land
Davis, Kathryn The Thin Place
Davis-Gardner, Angela Plum Wine
De Los Santos, Marisa Love Walked In
Dean, Debra The Madonnas of Leningrad
Desai, Kiran Inheritance of Loss
Doig, Ivan The Whistling Season
Donoghue, Emma Touchy Subjects: Stories
D'Orso, Michael Eagle Blue
D'Souza, Tony Whiteman
Dunant, Sarah In The Company Of The Courtesan
Eberstadt, Fernanda Little Money Street: In Search of Gypsies
Egan, Timothy Worst Hard Time
Eisenberg, Deborah The Twilight of the Superheroes
Ferguson, Craig Between the Bridge and the River
Flannery, Tim The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing
Fried, Daisy My Brother is Getting Arrested Again
Fugard, Lisa Skinner's Drift
Gaddis, John Lewis The Cold War: A New History
Ghosh, Amitav Incendiary Circumstances: A Chronicle of the Turmoil of Our Time
Gibbons, Ann The First Human
Gifford, Barry The Stars Above Verazcruz
Gilbert, Elizabeth Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search For Everything Across Italy
Glass, Julia The Whole World Over
Gluck, Louise Averno: Poems
Godwin, Gail Queen of the Underworld
Godwin, Gail The Making Of A Writer: The Journals Of Gail Godwin 1961 - 1963
Goodman, Allegra Intuition
Gordimer, Nadine Get a Life
Gorenberg, Gershom The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977
Greenaway, Alice White Ghost Girls
Grunwald, Michael The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida and the Politics of Paradise
Grushin, Olga The Dream Life of Sukhanov
Hammad, Suheir Zataar Diva
Handler, Daniel Adverbs
Henderson, William Haywood Augusta Locke
Henriquez, Cristina Come Together, Fall Apart
Hirshfield, Jane After
Homes, A. M. This Book Will Save Your Life
Horn, Dara The World to Come
Hyland, M. J. Carry Me Down
Junger, Sebastian A Death in Belmont
Kanipe, Jeff Chasing Hubble's Shadows
Karr, Mary Sinners Welcome
Kellerman, Jesse Sunstroke
Kindred, Dave Sound and Fury
King, Ross The Judgment of Paris
Kinzer, Stephen Overthrow:America's Century of Regime Change
Klinkenborg, Verlyn Timothy or Notes of an Abject Reptile
Kurlansky, Mark The Big Oyster
Laird, Nick Utterly Monkey
Lansens, Lori Girls’
Leavitt, David The Man Who Knew Too Much
Lindquist, Ulla-Carin Rowing Without Oars
Liss, David The Ethical Assassin
Lloyd, Seth Programming the Universe
Makine, Andrei The Woman Who Waited
Mariniss, David Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero
Masters, Alexander Stuart: A Life Backwards
McInerney, Jay The Good Life
McMahon, Darrin Happiness: A History
McPhee, Martha L'America
Mda, Zakes The Whale Caller
Meek, James The People's Act of Love
Migol, Agi Look There: Selected Poems
Mitchell, David Black Swan Green
Moore, Jeffrey The Memory Artists
Morgan, Ted My Battle Against Algiers
Mullane, Mike Riding Rockets
Nazario, Sonia Enrique's Journey
Nemirovsky, Irene Suite Francaise
Nielsen, Francis Witness Of St. Ansgar's
Nielsen, John Condor
Nunez, Elizabeth Prospero's Daughter
Nunez, Sigrid The Last of Her Kind
Owen, Maureen Erosion's Pull
Parry, Richard In the Time of Madness
Pearce, Fred When the Rivers Run Dry: Water the Defining Crisis of the 21st Century
Perlman, Eliot The Reasons I Won't Be Coming
Philbrick, Nathaniel Mayflower
Pierre, D.B.C. Ludmila's Broken English
Pollan, Michael The Omnivore's Dilemma
Puchner, Eric Music Through the Floor
Rust, Elissa Minor The Prisoner Pear: Stories …
Saramago, Jose Seeing
Saunders, George In Persuasion Nation
Sawyer, Kathy The Rock from Mars
Schama,Simon Rough Crossings: Britain the Slaves, and the American Revolution
Seife, Charles Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, from our Brains to Black Holes
Shah, Tahir The Caliph's House
Slavitt, David William Henry Harrison and Other Poems
Smith, Ali The Accidental
Smith, Janna Malamud My Father is a Book
Soyinka, Wole You Must Set Forth at Dawn: A Memoir
Spiotta, Dana Eat the Document
Stargardt, Nicholas Witnesses Of War: Children's Lives Under The Nazis
Stewart, Matthew The Courtier and the Heretic: Leibniz, Spinoza, and the Fate of God in the Modern World
Tallis, Frank A Death in Vienna
Tayman, John The Colony: The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai
Thane, Pat The Long History of Old Age
Tiffany, Carrie Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living
Toure Never Drank the Kool-Aid: Essays
Trussoni, Danielle Falling Through The Earth
Tussing, Justin The Best People in the World
Tyler, Anne Digging to America
Umrigar, Thirty The Space Between Us
Updike, John Terrorist
Vincent, Norah Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey Into Manhood and Back Again
Vitebsky, Piers The Reindeer People: Living with Animals and Spirits in Siberia
Waters, Sarah Night Watch
White, Richard D. Kingfish: The Reign of Huey P. Long
Whitehead, Colson Apex Hides the Hurt
Winter, Michael The Big Why
Wolitzer, Hilma Doctor's Daughter

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Family Daughter and The Weather Makers

This week I read A Family Daughter : A Novel by Maile Meloy and The Weather Makers : How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth by Tim Flannery. While I appreciated the spare clean storytelling style of Maile Meloy I wasn't wowed by the novel. After I put it down I didn't think about it again but that could have been because of the next book I picked up.

I ended up getting so worked up about The Weather Makers that I ran around telling co-workers, fellow commuters and complete strangers that we are bad bad people who are killing the planet with CO2 emissions. I ended up going to websites to do check out the latest research and looked up ways that I could make my house more environmentally friendly. This was a clearly written and easy to read (although alarming) book and I wish that everyone would read it and become advocates for the environment not to mention agents of change.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Utterly Monkey, Apex Hides The Hurt and Sound and Fury

Utterly Monkey by Nick Laird is a Irish import . A dark comedic crime novel that was entertaining and quirky but didn't have the impact on me that some of my other novels have. I enjoyed it immensely but it is not one that will stay on my final list.

Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead is a book that had a clever idea but didn't quite pull it off. Featuring a town with an identity crisis a consultant is brought in to rebrand it could have been an interesting commentary on modern society but instead drifted along aimlessly. It failed to keep my attention and took me far longer to read than it should have because I kept putting it down and wandering off.

Sound and Fury: Two Powerful Lives, One Fateful Friendship by Dave Kindred is an engrossing look at the friendship between Mohammad Ali and Howard Cossell. This work follows the highs and inevitable lows of both careers and beautifully highlights the biographer's affection for each of these remarkable and difficult personalities. It also illustrated how each interaction benefited their careers creating a symbiotic relationship. I really enjoyed this a great deal.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Brooklyn Follies and Brookland

In the post I promised for last week I had meant to talk about Brookland by Emily Barton and The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster. It is a little late and I now have four more to talk about but I will give quick impressions of each of these and hopefully before next week I will have time to talk about the newest reads.

Brookland is a historical novel set in 18th-century Brooklyn. The Winship family raises a trio of unusual daughters who take over the gin mill and control their destinies in a way that was unique for the times. The eldest gambles the family business in order to build a bridge between New York and Brooklyn. Her vision causes stresses within the family. This was one of those quiet, epic novels that ends with a dramatic conclusion.

The Brooklyn Follies is by Auster. While not my favorite author I can appreciate his writing skills but I find his characters pretentious and wordy.