Monday, November 27, 2006

Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood

This is a library book that I am going to have to own. After hearing Margaret Atwood speak at the Cleveland Public Library this month, I decided to read this book of autobiographic stories. I love Atwood's fiction and this collection reminds me of all that I enjoy about Atwood. My favorite chapter is titled "My Last Duchess" and is a reflection on reading Browning's poem in an English class. Having taught the poem many times, I loved this chapter.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Truth and Beauth by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett's Bel Canto is a novel I really enjoyed a few summers back, so when I read about her tender memoir of her friendship with fellow writer Lucy Grealy, I assumed it would be a very good book. Patchett and Grealy were friends at Iowa Writer's Workshop, and much of Truth and Beauty is about the writing life. Grealey, who wrote her own memoir about the agonies of living with a face disfigured by childhood illness (Autobiography of a Face), suffered through thirty-some surgical procedures, always confiding her pain in letters and phone calls to Patchett. Grealy's life and eventual death are the centerpiece of this examination of all-consuming love between friends. I am planning to read Grealy's book next.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

How the Light Gets In by M.J Hyland

I seldom buy a book just because the cover makes it look appealing, and I was actually turned off by the comment on the back of the book that compared the main character to Holden Caufield, but I'm glad I read How the Light Gets In. Protagonist Louise (Lou) is an Australian foreign exchange student, lured away from her harsh and impoverished family by the promise of a suburban, white-bread American high school experience. She initially loves the comfort and closeness of her host family, the Hardings. But things rapidly deteriorate when her insecurities and reckless desires get the best of her. I couldn't put this one down.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen

After reading this book of personal essays, I can see where Franzen's The Corrections came from. These essays give Franzen's readers a glimpse of his own family life, complete with the family vacation to Disneyworld. I particulary enjoyed the sections about church youth group that reminded me of my own teen years.