Sep 30, 2016

BOOKS




      I love to read.

The opportunity for the intimate immersion of the mind, the imagination and the heart, it’s a joy.  And there are so many great books.  Endless possibilities.

Then there’s the participation with the characters, what I learn, what I consider, the history, the settings; AND when the author is gifted not simply in the story and the research, but gifted in writing, in the descriptions, in the language, the cadence of dialogue, the poetry of perspective and reflection, those books are gifts.

Recently I’ve read several books, some with similar plots, characters trying to solve murders.  The first one, Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn.  The story is dark, disturbing, possible.  And at the same time her writing is the balance of a practical detective and a delicate poet, taking turns unfolding the details, the science of investigation, the emotions of those impacted, the web of truth and lies that engulf the entire story.



I borrowed the book from a friend; I was not able to underline passages, there were many I would’ve. The author finds ways to describe and interpret the ugliness humans are capable of in ways that made words jump off the page.  A sentence in the book sums up the story, 
“A child weaned on poison considers harm a comfort.”  

Characters in the story have interesting names: Adora, Amma, Gayla, Cubby, Camille, James Capisi.  The backdrop of Sharp Objects, small town USA, with what appears to be regular people going about their daily lives, not so.

If I’d known the detailed subject of the book ahead of reading it, I probably would have passed, it’s dark, yet I read and continued to read.   The story details the capacity of mental illness and how much harm can come when such an illness has reckless abandon.  Sharp Objects is the author’s first book, she also wrote Gone Girl, a New York Times best-seller, adapted into a movie two or three years ago.

Last year I read Donna Tart’s, The Secret History, a detailed and very involved story about a murder. That story is fascinating because the author gets into the minds of the characters who commit the murder, the reader has a front row seat to how its possible for people to rationalize why the want to take someone’s life.  And how they go on about their lives as if nothing bad had happened. 

The power of the human psyche to collaborate and construct a horrific reality that is acceptable, certainly it’s intriguing. And Donna Tart wraps all of this into a thick story. And always I’m amazed how an author can create and imagine and produce such a detailed story.  Donna Tart is the author of The Goldfinch, an amazing book. She is a great writer, she writes long detailed successful sentences, and describes the world, people, places, nature, in ways that are fresh, different, surprising.  I found many of her descriptors, the actual adjectives that she uses to be so different and thought provoking. This book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2014. 





Another quick read this week, These Things Hidden, by Heather Gudenkauf. This book was different, the story told by several characters, each one advancing the story from their viewpoint or participation. So there is a Brynn chapter, a Claire chapter, an Allison chapter and Charm chapter.  The author takes you back and forth between these characters and builds a story of intrigue and mystery regarding the death of a child. It was a fast read.  Once I got started I was curious to know how the story really unfolded and who was responsible, the writing style did not have the poetry and lyrical quality that I love.  The idea of each character building the story, interesting.

And then I read a wonderful, refreshing, funny, whimsical WHO DONE IT, from the perspective of the life and times of a centenarian. The book is The 100 Yeard Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window andDisappeared.  I certainly came late to this book, it was published in 2009, over 5 million copies have been sold. It was recommended by my dear friend, Billie Lange a few weeks ago.




The author is Jonas Jonasson, he dedicated the book to his Grandpa. Perhaps the main character, Allan Karlsson, has a bit of his Grandpa in him. The story builds on situations that you can’t imagine could happen, but they do. The characters and the circumstances and the historical events included in the story are crazy, you want to keep on reading to figure out how the story culminates.  It’s a great book, light, fun, with the right cast, this story would make a great movie.  And I love the idea of a centenarian escaping from the “old folks home” !  Bravo !

Two books I read in May that I enjoyed 150% - The Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. She is one of my favorite authors !  And The Signature of all Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. If you like to read and have not read these books, check them out.

Right now I’m on page 253 of a 929 page, Ken Follet book, World Without End. I wasn’t sure I would like this book, it’s set in 1327 in England. I gave it a chance and now I feel I am part of the gang. 

There are kings, queens, earls, knights, bishops, archbishops, priors, monks, nuns, and then the regular people, the peasants. There is a cast of children that are so real: Caris, Gwenda, Philemon & Merthin.  They are mischievous and smart, in those days you had to be to survive.  The story is centered around the town of Kingsbridge, the same town that was part of his prior and better known novel, The Pillars of the Earth.  I’m not sure all the things that can happen over the next 600 pages, I will continue reading till the end. 

If you have any reading recommendations, send them my way. I will add them to my list. 

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and on and on.