Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Dog of the Marriage by Amy Hempel

I have been teaching contemporary short fiction to my AP students to get them ready for anything on the upcoming AP test. I read on Chuck Palaniuk's web site that his writing was inflluenced by the work of Amy Hempel, so I added her to my syllabus. Then I read a review of this new collection of short stories in the New York Times Book Review last weekend and bought it (Borders Teacher's Appreciation Sale - YEA!) and read it in one sitting. These stories are moving and tricky. She is a master of minimalism and tends to play with her readers a bit. And the cover photo of her with her dog was taken by William Wegman.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Paula by Isabel Allende

This is perhaps one of the most moving books I have ever read, so when the retired Spanish teacher in our book club chose it, I was happy to reread it. It is a memoir that Allende wrote as her daughter, Paula, lay in a coma for many days. She wanted to tell the stories of Paula's life so she would have a roadmap of memory when she regained consciousness. I think I have read everything Isabel Allende has written to date and she remains one of my favorite story tellers. I have the awesome chance to hear her speak at the Cleveland Public Library last fall and she was fabulous and VERY short.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

What a refreshing find. This book is pure fun. I read it while waiting for a delayed flight at the Chicago airport and Amy Rosenthal's humorous look at her own life made me remember a lot of moments from my own. I especially like when I got to the page in the middle of the book full of white space and the one word - intermission.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

I had been putting off reading this book for a long time. Now that Foer's name is everywhere with review of his new novel, I decided to take it along on our vacation to San Antonio. It was almost too demanding for a vacation book, but I really enjoyed it. I finished it on the plane on the way home and immediately wanted to find someone else who had read it so that I could help myself understand the ending. The various narrators are hard to follow - especially the one who is supposedly translating for the character named Safran. It reminded me of A Clockwork Orange and even seemed a bit like the magic realism of Marquez.