Monday, June 7, 2010

The Book Report:

I spent more time at the airport than I really intended on my way to Istanbul this month. Missing about five connecting flights, including three different international flights, I had lots of time for reading. I had intended to report on my reading during my travels, but our hotel (the Lady Diana in Sultanahmet) had three computers, all of which were different and I had the most challenging time finding my punctuation marks. I eventually found most. In fact, my closing my eyes and using my tenth grade touch typing skills (Thank you, Mrs. Aldridge!) I found the comma and period right where they belonged, hidden under symbols I didn't normally use. I eventually had to use cut and paste for the @ symbol--just to check my email--and I never found the apostrophe. I actually considered typing without it and using a little note in the header, but my English teacher in me just couldn't do it. I have a hard enough time typing titles on Facebook without italics. Now without further ado (oh, maybe just a little), here is the first installation in my travel reading report.

On the way to the airport, I finished listening to my current audio book (due back at the library before I return), Anita Shreve's new novel A Change in Altitude. I had read a couple of her novels before and found that what keeps me reading is not her characters but the research. I had read her book A Wedding in December, her attempt at a Big Chill experience, set not at a funeral but at a wedding, and I kept reading for the back story, a historical account of a ship explosion in Halifax, that had me googling for more details. This book had whiny, inconsistent main characters centered around two attempts to climb Mt. Kenya.

On the flight I began reading Anna Quindlen's latest novel, Every Last One, my current book club choice. I have always enjoyed Quindlen's writing, both fiction and nonfiction. I was immediately drawn to the protagonist, a mother just a little younger than me, with children almost ready to leave the nest. The first half was a gentle, engaging story line, but without giving a spoiler, I will say that midway through the book, Quindlen threw a major curve and I couldn't stop reading. Now I am so eager for our book club meeting because I have a genuine need to talk about this book.

My next book on the trip was Joanne Proulx's Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet, a book with an "I couldn't put it down recommendation from one of the younger members of my book club. As the novel opens, the protagonist is in the basement of his best friend's house with several of his stoner buddies when--out of the blue--he predicts, quite accurately, the accidental death the next day of one of the boys in the room. While it might be more natural for me to identify with Quindlen's middle-aged wife and mother, this kid had me. As he deals with his bizarre unwanted gift, he also must wrestle with feelings for his dead friend's charming girlfriend. This is an eerier, less humorous I Love You, Beth Cooper novel. The same actor could play either leading part--an awkward, out-of-the-mainstream teenage boy. Sara was right: I couldn't put it down.

I'll pick up next with more of my wide variety of reading experiences on the road and in the air. Stay tuned.


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