Monday, August 16, 2010

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

Gary Shteyngart is the new American satirist. I plan to use sections of this crazy, funny, cautionary novel opposite Brave New World in AP English this winter. It is a super entertaining and pretty spot-on depiction of modern relationships, politics, economic disaster and obsession with technology.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman

A wedding night tragedy opens this novel which follows the lives of the family members of the bride and groom through the next four summers. For some reason, none of the characters really won my sincere support. Waldman is the wife of novelist Michael Chabon.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Strangers at the Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes

Wow! This one may win the prize for the book that kept me up the latest on a summer night turning pages to find out how Vanderbes' Thanksgiving day tragedy would finally end. The Olson family has plenty of issues - unmarried daughter Ginny's recently adopted, mute Indian child, son Douglas's strained relationship with his wife Denise, and the unspoken wounds in the marriage of the parents, Eleanor (the perfectionist) and Gavin (the Vietnam war-scarred quiet man). Mix in a malfunctioning oven, two angry teenager burglars, and a heavy serving of mayhem with dessert and you have a shockingly violent novel that somehow also had me snickering.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The New England Vacation Blog

Our Vacation Blog
Just back from 2 weeks and 2,700 miles of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, including visits to several Robert Frost sites and a search through Cornish, New Hampshire for evidence of the late great J.D. Salinger.

The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman

I wanted this novel to have more connection to cookbooks and less concern with dot-com-computer-tech-post-9/11. Half of the storyline is about one of two sisters - Emily who is the CEO of a start up silicon valley company and Jess who works for an eccentric used book collector. Goodman tries to do too much and I would much rather have had the book focus on Jess's storyline - especially with the lovely cover which is what initially caught my eye.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls

Our August book club selection was this fictionalization of the biography of Jeanette Walls' maternal grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. I am a big fan of Walls' memoir The Glass Castle, and for readers who wondered, as I did, how her parents could have ever become such risk-takers, this novel, at least, fills in the details on her mother's side. Rose Mary, Jeanette's mother, was raised by a renegade horse-breaker, school teacher, no-nonsense ranch wife. We listened to this book on audio tape driving home from Vermont and Jeanette Wall's own reading made it even more enjoyable. I'm looking forward to talking about the book with my daughter who is about to finish The Glass Castle as part of her summer reading for Honor English 11.