Saturday, May 01, 2004

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen.

This book deals with the way we cause ourselves pain and imprison ourselves in our own beliefs about our lives. It was the subject of massive media attention because of Franzen's refusal to participate in Oprah's Book Club. Whoopee.

The story itself is not as important as the characters. Usually I don't care a whole lot about this kind of book, but the characters are drawn neither sympathetically nor unsympathetically. They have shape and dimension but it's not all thrust on you in the first twenty pages. Each character is drawn in detail, in sort of an "over the shoulder of the character" view which explains but does not apologize for the character's thoughts, actions, and feelings.

I suspect the way that Franzen wrote it is sort of encapsulated in the story of one of the characters, Chip, who writes a screenplay which strikes everyone, even eventually Chip himself, as obsessive and stupid. He finally realizes that he should make it a farce, not a tragedy. It reminds me of an observation about the difference between a bleak story and a "life-affirming" story. The difference isn't in what happens; it's in how the characters react. In a bleak story, people end up alone. In a "life-affirming" story, people turn to each other, and end up hugging or holding hands, or sitting side by side.

In this story, you end up laughing, which frees you to do anything you want.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

This is another book I am listening to on tape. It's unabridged, so it's 14 tapes, but well worth the time.

The book is read by Kristoffer Tabori, who does a really good job. I couldn't find much about this reader except he did a few movie roles and there's a picture of his butt on the internet.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott.

Ostensibly a book about writing, it's also a book about the life of one writer.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott

I got this as a book on tape and listened to it in the car while doing errands and driving back and forth from work. I had a few of those "driveway moments" as they call them on NPR, where you don't want to get out of the car because you're caught up with the story you're listening to.

Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott

Just started reading this, but it's pretty good so far.

Update: finished it and enjoyed it. It's interesting to read after having read the nonfiction Traveling Mercies because a lot of autobiographical material seeps into the novel. You wonder how much of the remaining material is autobiographical even though it's not in TM or the earlier Bird By Bird.

Ride the Pink Horse by Dorothy B. Hughes

Actually, I haven't read this book. I saw the 1937 movie, which is really quite good. According to imdb, the movie is based on this book which is the best of a very good noir writer's output. I guess I'll look for it.

It's about a man who goes to Mexico to take care of some unfinished business, and the people who get in his way.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Introducing...Ruben Gonzalez by Ruben Gonzalez

I'm listening to this now.
My favorite cut on this album is Mandinga which has such great energy which rolls and rolls along. I always end up bouncing in my chair when I listen to it at work.
Melodia del Rio is a close second. It's so incredibly classy sounding! Close your eyes and you will see tuxedos and evening-gowns, dining and dancing, crystal chandeliers, white-coated waiters.
There are samples from these and other cuts on the album on the web page if you click on the title after clicking on the link above. Not only is the music good, but the recording is beautifully done -- faithful and spare, realistic and rich.

The Atlantic Monthly magazine.

This is the magazine my husband and I both fight over when it arrives. Great, in-depth articles and reviews.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Really really funny.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
A Sherlock Holmes story set in the middle ages.

An Anthropologist On Mars by Oliver Sacks

Vignettes of life with various "brain problems," the effects on the lives of those who have them and how those effects touch on what we consider to be essentially "human" traits.
There's somewhat of a concentration on autism and Asperger's, though not all the chapters are about those particular difficulties. Sacks also profiles a surgeon who "tics" uncontrollably until he's got a scalpel in his hand, and an artist who loses his color vision.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sacks

Perceptual anomalies, visions, Tourette's Syndrome and more discussed by the very humanistic Oliver Sacks. This is his "breakout" bestseller.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?