With house guests, being busy with the house project, and having to deal with insane jackhammer noise in our temp quarters, I haven’t been much of a blogger lately. Lots of clean-up to do.
A funny thing happened at the dry cleaners (or The Ark by Margot Benary Isbert)
Some of you may recall me blogging about this book in 2011. It was a favorite from my childhood. It’s about a WWII-era refugee family in Europe who make their home in an old railroad car and includes a pet goat named Rachel. I love this book. The other day I was in our neighborhood dry cleaners and I saw three books on the window ledge that looked like they were some sort of lost and found pile. It just so happened that this hard to find book, one of my favorites, was sitting right there and free for the taking. The dry cleaner was more than happy to let me have it.
A happy story for sure, but it turns a little bittersweet. The book is a discard from the Chevy Chase Library just across the street from the cleaners. I wondered if maybe it was the same one I checked out in 2011. When I went back and looked at my post from that re-read, I realized that the copy that I now have in my possession was the same exact copy I checked out in 2011. It was the only one in the DCPL system, and now, sadly, it has been discarded. Never to be read by another young mind. Big sad face. On the other hand, the book found its way to me, one of its biggest fans.
Treasure Island!!! by Sara Levine
Is an unreliable narrator the same thing as a crazy narrator? I think in the case of this novel the answer is probably yes. One of those situations where you find yourself rooting for the main character and then you begin to realize she may not be worth rooting for. A twenty-something woman who decides to start living her life boldly like the characters in Treasure Island which she has just read for the first time. Turns out she is a bit of a misguided, mixed-up, lazy, nutter. It’s funny and frustrating. Reminded be a tad bit of After Claude by Iris Owens.
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
I am a big fan of Patchett and there were moments in this collection of mostly previously published essays that I enjoyed. I particularly liked the essay about opening her bookstore. But overall I often find collections like these a tad boring because I feel like they aren’t quite as topical as when they were written. Many essays don’t age very well, or they seem less interesting or important because the heat of a particular issue has long since faded. This is really no knock on Patchett, there are many authors and essayists of grander stature who have bored me in this way. But I guess if this compilation gives her more time to work on her next novel I surely won’t complain.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
After I read and loved Americanah I went out and bought all of Adichie’s other books. Half of a Yellow Sun takes place in the years leading up to and during the Nigeran-Biafran civil war. It is a brilliant novel that definitely takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster. This is not melodrama, however, it is just really good writing about a really civil war where millions of civilians died. Adichie is good with plot, characterization, pacing, language, and believe-ability. She deserves to be a superstar.
I might be giving up on…
Joshua Ferris’ most recent novel, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour. His first novel Then We Came to the End is one of my favorites of all time. His second novel I found rather conventional but still enjoyed it very much. This one? I’m about half way through and I really am not very interested in going back to it. And I even bought it in hardcover.
Summer Read Along
Some listeners to the podcast The Readers were on Goodreads clamoring for a summer read along. Somehow Simon Savidge said yes, a consensus was formed, and I had to go find myself a copy of The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane. On page 56, I am glad I forced into reading this one. It is pretty fascinating and enjoyable. And it is nice to read something that takes place in Australia. If you want to join in pick up a copy and read it by August 20th. Then send any questions or comments for the discussion to me here or check out the topic on The Reader’s Goodreads message boards. Simon is going to be in DC at the end of August so we may end up recording it in the same room.
|The much more interesting UK edition of The Night Guest from Simon’s blog.|
Background to Danger by Eric Ambler
I could give you an outline of the plot, but if I haven’t convinced you yet to pick up the highly enjoyable Eric Ambler, I probably never will.