Saturday, July 5, 2008

Summer Book Report

I know from my last two posts it seems I've wandered from my intent to write about my reading. Never fear! I certainly haven't stopped reading. In fact, I've been on overload the last couple of weeks, actually succeeding in balancing my car audiobook, my bedside book, and my ebook (for travel and treadmill).

I had a copy of Tony Earley's Blue Star, the sequel to Jim the Boy, but the local library had it on CD, so I filled a recent car trip to Raleigh listening. Both books are deceptively simple. This one dealt with the class conflicts between the farm boys in town, the mill town kids, and the mountain people, particularly those with Cherokee blood. He still manages to give such insight into the characters. I particularly love Uncle Zeno.

I also found Joshilyn Jackson's new novel Between, Georgia on CD. We'd read Gods in Alabama for book club a good while ago. In addition to a story that sucked me in, she offers some insight into Usher's syndrome and American Sign Language.

I just finished reading an advanced reader copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, writtten by a pair of authors, (Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows). I've seen few book collaborations that really worked, but this one did. Told through letters, the story is set just after World War II. The protagonist is touring with a book of columns she wrote under a pseudonym during the war. Her correspondence with a member of the society on Guernsey (one of the Channel Islands) develops into a keener interest and results in her visiting to learn more about the people who have just survived German occupation. Even though the title is almost cutesie enough to bring up images of Sweet Potato Queens, the story is more serious, though with plenty of good humor. I'll be reviewing it for the Observer for some time in August.

I also read Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles, also a novel in letters--or one long, angry letter written in the airport by a man whose delayed flight is causing him to miss the wedding of his estranged daughter. Meanwhile he is translating a novel from Polish and telling his life story. It's quirky, sometimes angry, and--having sat in O'Hare waiting on rain to stop somewhere too many times--I couldn't resist the book.

Meanwhile, I've finished listening to Anne Tyler's Digging to America and David Sedaris' When You Are Engulfed in Flames and William P. Young's The Shack. This book has gotten a lot of word-of-mouth attention and for good reason. It's a hard book to label, Christian fiction, perhaps almost an allegory. It certainly helps one get past the picture of God as looking like Gandalf, since the Trinity appear as a black woman, an Asian woman, and (of course) a Middle Eastern carpenter. The book desperately needed a good editor, or at the very least, a proofreader.

Anne Patchett's little book What Now is certainly my recommendation for graduate gifts. There are several out there, but I enjoyed hers, developed from a commencement address she delivered at her alma mater Sarah Lawrence.

And to borrow her question: What Now for me? I'm starting The Story of Edgar Sawtelle because everywhere I turn, it is mentioned. I am also reading So Young, So Brave, So Handsome, a Lemuria First Editions Club selection by Leif Enger. I loved his first novel Peace Like a River. Unfortunately, I let a friend borrow my signed first edition, and it is lost. I'll report back soon. What's on your stack?


1 comment:

Amber O said...

You know David Sedaris is appearing in Nashville October 17? I am so there.