Saturday, June 30, 2007

What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

I waited a long time for my turn to take What the Dead Know out of the library (I'm trying to curb my book spending and read library books this summer) so I assumed it would be a good read. I was not disappointed. I do not read many mysteries, so I probably missed the clues that would have prepared me for the ending, but I was turning pages quickly to find out what happened. The book opens with a car accident involving a woman claiming to be Heather Bethany, one of the famous Bethany sisters who disappeared some 30 years ago from a shopping mall. The book alternates between the present and the case history. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan's Atonement is on our summer reading list for AP English students this year, so naturally when I found out he had a new novel, I had to read it. This one won't be discussed with the students. On Chesil Beach takes place on the wedding night of Edward Mayhew and Florence Ponting, both virgins. They flashback to earlier scenes of their lives throughout this slim novel, but most of the novel is just build-up to the consumation of their love. To say more would be anti-climactic. McEwan's prose is lovely.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Flight by Sherman Alexie

Our book club met at the cottage on the lovely shores of Lake Erie to discuss Sherman Alexie's Flight. The book begins with a very appropriate epigraph from Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five. Alexie's hero is a teenage orphan named Zits who time-travels to key moments in history after becoming involved in a fatal bank shooting. I was initially turned off by Alexie's obviousness, but our book discussion left me thinking this would be a great book to read with high school students - especially because it is a very quick read.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Our Summer Trip

David and I have just returned from a fun and educational trip through Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. Check out the new travel blog - Blues and Literature

Sunday, June 24, 2007

And My Shoes Kept Walking Back to You by Kathi Kamen Goldmark

This was the perfect book to take on a trip to the music capitals of Memphis and Nashville. After walking Beale Street and listening to rockabilly I went back to the motel and read this gem by Kathi Kamen Goldmark. The author is a singer/songwriter from San Francisco who described this as her love song to honky tonk roots music. The book tells the story of Sara Jean Pixlie as she navigates the path to stardom in Nashville. Goldmark is a founding member of the mostly-author band "The Rock Bottom Remainders". This is her first novel.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Later, at the Bar by Rebecca Barry

This interrelated series of short stories were described by a reviewer as a Rust Belt Cheers. Lucy's Bar is the nightly meeting place of a motley cast of characters. The writing is spare and the characters are genuine.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander

The main character in this novel is a Jewish man who earns a living defacing gravestones of people with questionable reputations in the towns so that their names can be saved. He takes his son along on a midnight mission that leads to disaster. The novel is both sad and witty.

A Thousand Spendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I loved this book as much as The Kite Runner for entirely different reasons. It is predominantly a woman's story. Mariam is the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy man who is forced to bring her into his home when Mariam's mother dies. Instead of being absorbed into his family, she is married off to a much older shoemaker and forced into a life that she stuggles many years to make her own. Hosseini has proven his talent with this second compelling novel of life in Afghanistan.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Evening by Susan Minot

I read this book after looking at the huge displays in the bookstores and reading about the upcoming movie which is being called the summer's "must see". The novel tells the story of Ann Lord who is on her deathbed. Surrounded by her children, drifting in and out of the present, she recalls the one true love of her past - a secret from those who love her now. The book reminded me of "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall" by Katherine Ann Porter - a stream-of-consciousness memory piece that reinforces that theme that we never fully know one another.