Monday, February 21, 2005

Apprentice to the Flower Poet Z by Debra Weinstein

I thoroughly enjoyed this book but I wonder whether it would be very appealing to someone who had not read much poetry. There are numerous references to Emily Dickinson, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and others. The characters read more like caricatures of writers and literary wannabes. I would recommend this book to English majors and would-be poets.

Monday, February 14, 2005

More Thoughts on Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress

I have had three female students read this book in the last two weeks since I began recommending it. They each read the book in a few days and have already asked for recommendations of more books of this type. I think there is something in this book that speaks to fiesty young women. I really enjoy seeing a book ignite conversation the way that this one seems to be doing.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek

Oh my - oh my. This book was disturbing in a Lolita-sort of way. I thought I ought to read something by the latest Nobel Prize winner and since I had seen the cover of the video several times in the aisle at Blockbuster, I knew I should read the book before I rented the movie. I began reading the book on Friday night and finished it in almost a single sitting on Saturday, then watched the movie Saturday night. It is a very compelling, yet disturbing story about a sexually repressed piano teacher who lives alone with her stern mother. When a young male student falls in love with her, she places sadistic and unusual demands on him as a lover until their romance careens out of control in the end. I felt slimy after a day of this, but I have to say the writing was lovely. Metaphor upon metaphor upon metaphor.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

I had read Atkinson's first novel a summer or two ago and really enjoyed reading a contemporary British novel with all of the vernacular. I looked forward to this one because it had been getting such favorable reviews. It reads almost like a detective story - three separate cases presented in the first three chapters with unrelated characters - so you have to keep track of each separate story line until they all come together through the private investigator who handles all of the cases. I enjoyed the mystery, which kept me interested until the very end.