The Dubious Salvation of Jack V. by Jacques Strauss
I think I picked this book up off a remainder shelf in Gaylord, Michigan last September when Simon Savidge and I were on our road trip to Booktopia. I didn’t know anything about novel or author, just thought I would take a chance on an inexpensive book. It paid off well. It turned out to be a charming, funny, gay coming-of-age story in 1990s South Africa.
Something Light by Margery Sharp
I fell in love with Sharp’s Cluny Brown and find myself buying up her books whenever I find them. However, I think this is only the second one of hers that I have read. She goes through a series of men hoping to find one to marry. There were parts of it that were charming and funny but overall it was kind of tedious.
The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing
The dead body of Mary Turner opens the pages of this 1940s tale of life on a farm in southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). The timeline flips back to just before Mary married Dick Turner. Mary’s bad attitude (and racist outlook) goes from bad to worse as she realizes she made a big mistake marrying Turner and going to live with him on his remote farm. Their lives are bleak, bleak, bleak, punctuated only by arguments. A fascinating and depressing novel.
The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland
I read this back in August and know this short comment will not do it justice. Lena Respass is a transcriptionist at a New York Times-like newspaper. Her job is to put on a headset and type out what reporters have called in. I found Lena’s job and its setting delightfully old fashioned, a bit like the marketing firm in Calvin Trillin’s brilliant Tepper isn’t Going Out. The story pivots on the news that a blind woman is mauled by a lion after swimming the moat at the zoo. Turns out Lena had had a conversation with the woman on a bus just that week. She becomes obsessed with the blind woman’s story and plight and goes about finding out more. I found the book funny and enlightening and sad. Although I really liked it when I read it, I find I am liking it, perhaps even loving it, the more that I think back on it. Thanks to Leslie at This is the Refrain who recommended it to me during a book blogger meet-up at Capitol Hill Books.
Death’s Dark Abyss by Massimo Carlotto
I enjoy Massimo Carlotto’s Italian hard-boiled detective fiction, but I feel there are misogynistic scenes that are worse than they need to be to convey the fact that his characters are misogynistic. One begins to feel like it’s indicative of Carlotto’s view as well as his characters’. Despite that, I find these books quick, enjoyable, if disturbing, reads.
Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Another hilarious memoir from a very funny, quirky blogger with lots of issues. I’m not sure what I would think if I read print versions of Lawson’s books, but she does an amazing job with her audiobooks. They had me laughing like crazy in the car. Just don’t listen to with kids around.
The Blue Guitar by John Banville
I enjoyed this book so much more than I expected–my prior experience with Banville was just okay. This time around I was captivated and amused by washed-up painter Oliver O. Orme. He is a philandering kleptomaniac who is dealing with the fallout of stealing his friend’s wife. Banville has an interesting style that suits this quirky character well.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
This kind of comedian memoir book is almost always an audio book for me. They work really well in the car, making the time fly by. That was true of this book, and I love Schumer’s stand-up and sketch comedy, but I feel like she was really tired when she recorded most of this. Lots of funny stuff and plenty of serious stuff, but she just sounded somewhat sleepy and bored. It was still funny, but I can’t help but feel that if she had put as much energy into it as say Rachel Dratch did with her audiobook or Jenny Lawson with hers, it would have been a lot better.