Saturday, January 21, 2006

Teacher Man by Frank McCourt

Of course I was waiting for this book to come out. I read both of McCourt's other installments of his memoir, and my husband, David, and I heard him speak at an NCTE conference a few years back, so I heard every page in his own voice. His stories of teaching are typical and yet so colorful because of his flair for storytelling. I thought the book became repetitve in the middle, but the end is just lovely. A true commentary on the blessings of the writing life. And the last page, like the las page of Angela's Ashes, brings a smile of joy.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Photograph by Penelope Lively

I have wanted to read a Penelope Lively novel for a while now. After picking up her new "anti-memoir" Making It Up and browsing it, I decided I should read one of her novels first. Since The Photograph has gotten so much popular praise I chose it and I read it in two evenings. What a great experiment in various points of view. The plot begins when a researcher finds an old photograph of his wife, now deceased, and her sister's husband. He suspects there was a relationship in the past and decides the research his wife's past. His investigation causes a chain reaction of hurt feelings and misunderstandings, each narrated by a different person involved in some portion of the story. I loved it.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Doctor's Wife by Elizabeth Brundage

I'll be honest. I am a sucker for books written by graduates of the Iowa Writer's Worshop - just to keep up with the new names. Brundage does not seem worthy of her connection to the workshop. This psychological thriller about an assassination attempt on an abortion clinic doctor seemed more like Stephen King's Misery than a literary novel. In the end, it is just another novel about adultery, crazy artists and college professors who have more time to meet in motel rooms than they seem to spend in the classroom. It is a thin novel - but I could see it being turned into a pretty exciting movie.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Family Tree by Carol Cadwalladr

What a great book! I did not know anything about this British novel when I saw displayed at Borders, but the blurb on the back that compared it to Zadie Smith and Bridget Jones got me interested. The book is very cleverly written and pretty informative, too. Rebecca, the main character, is married to a geneticist who gives her insight into the abnormalities in her family tree. The novel spans three generations - Rebecca's grandmother and mother's lives as well as her own. Each section of the novel opens with a dictionary definition that lends meaning to the section. In the end, it is about about redemption and roots. I loved it.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Town That Forgot How to Breathe by Kenneth Harvey

The reviewer that described this novel as the love child of Stephen King and Annie Proulx was right on. It is a creepy tale set in New Foundland. The central character is a man on the brink of divorce, who brings his daughter to summer in a remote fisthing town. Ghosts, spirits of those buried at sea, raving locals - all can be found in the town of Bareneed. I had read a review of this book back in the summer that made it sound intriguing. Although it is not the sort of fiction I normally read, it was a good book to get lost in over the holiday break. I liked how in the end, Harvey suggests that these characters are all alive in his imagination as a result of stories his grandmother told him as a child.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

This is what is playing in my ipod right now. We got a treadmill for Christmas, so I am hearing about great food and Bourdain's crazy experiences in the restaurant industry while I work off my Christmas cookie pounds. It is a very entertaining book and Bourdain's voice gives it the sound of authenticity