June 25, 2011

There’s something reassuring about a text that fits neatly into a genre. Most of the time I’m interested in books that confound expectations in some way, but every once in a while a straightforward, fun story is required. And that’s where the new James Bond novel by Jeffery Deaver comes in:

It was a lot of fun. If you’ve read or seen more than a few Bond books or movies (which includes…everyone? almost?), you’ll know exactly where the twists and turns are coming, but hey, the 5th time around the roller coaster is no less fun just because you know how it goes.


Also, I got it from my local public library. Check this out.


June 21, 2011

“My ideal state as a reader when I’m reading other people is feeling I’m vaguely wasting my time when I’m not reading that novel.”        ~Ian McEwan.


June 20, 2011

Here’s something people should love about libraries. We just got in audiobook copies of An Inconvenient Truth and Newt Gingrich’s Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less, at the same time, and they’ll be right next to each other on the shelf.

Memoir and forgiveness

June 20, 2011

Fans of Augusten Burroughs’ memoirs would be well-served to pick up his mother’s newly-released memoir, The Long Journey Home.  I read their books, certainly, at the right times in my life: Running with Scissors while I was in my smartass early 20s, and Margaret Robison’s memoir now, while I’m happy for a bit more perspective.

This isn’t to criticize Burroughs’ work; it’s genius and his mother says so. And someone writing in her 70s almost by default has more perspective than someone younger. But where everyone in Running with Scissors is depicted as terrifyingly abnormal, Robison takes a longer view: there were many admittedly traumatic elements in Chris Robison/Augusten Burroughs’ childhood, but they weren’t brought on by malice towards him on anyone’s part. Margaret Robison makes this allowance for her own parents, so I hope someday Burroughs can, too.


June 12, 2011

“Readers are plentiful; thinkers are rare.”

~ Harriet Martineau


June 9, 2011

Just for reference, this is what I’ve been doing for the last few days:


June 2, 2011

I don’t know how I got so far along without having heard of (at least to my recollection) Jean Thompson. Called “an American Alice Munro”, I’m guessing because they’re both skilled woman short story authors, her latest book, The Year We Left Home, caught my attention.

David Sedaris has said, “if there are ‘Jean Thompson characters,’ they’re us, and never have we been as articulate and worthy of compassion.” The characters in The Year We Left Home certainly evoke compassion, but it’s Thompson’s treatment of them that is articulate…the characters are just 100% real.

The book starts in 1973 at a family wedding. One young man has just returned from Vietnam, and his cousin, Ryan Erickson, is working to figure out his place in the world (and if it’s in small-town Iowa) in that context. The novel explores the lives of men and women and children in 3 generations of the family, including their relation to their history.

The characters that might have been left as unevolved stereotypes are always revisited with some sort of complexity. My only complaint is that a major element of Ryan’s own story seems glossed over, while our attention is drawn to other characters. It’s a technique she uses throughout the book:  something happens; our attention is moved to another character; and when we return to the first we see the fallout of the event in their lives. But in the last case it seems more abrupt and incomplete than a feature of the book’s naturalism.

At any rate, I’ll certainly be looking out for more Thompson books. I’m a sucker for a short story.