Sunday, January 20, 2008

"It sometimes happens, even in the best of families, that a baby is born." *

I finished The Virgin of Small Plains in less than 24 hours. It was a good, if ultimately throwaway, mystery/suspense novel. I have read all of Nancy Pickard’s Jenny Cain mysteries and enjoyed them for what they were – straightforward mysteries with likeable characters and always a twist at the end. I am really glad I did not buy this as I am trying to cut back on my book-accumulating (haha!), but I am glad I read it. It was just what I needed to take my mind off the gross goings-on in my household. (Rebecca – I liked it, but depending on the subject matter of your new book, you may not need to change your title. Virgin’s getting a lot of word-of-mouth press, but it’s not like it’s a new Atwood or Byatt; it’s a serviceable, enjoyable mystery novel.)

I am about halfway through Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and while I must say to Lazy Cow that you are seriously smoking crack if you think these are better than the Northern Lights trilogy (not that I adore you any less…), I am enjoying them. Shades of Mary Russell, shades of Nancy Drew – Fun. Predictable. I am looking forward to the next one. Which is waiting for me downstairs as I requested all of them at once from the library.

I also picked up Loving Frank on the recommendation of a bookseller at B&N whose taste I trust, and The Friday Night Knitting Club (Amy, I’ll be sure to let you know what I think. Do I EVER hesitate to do that? : )). My Favorite Librarian left me a note on my stack of holds advising me to get Gods Behaving Badly, so I requested that. I do love that woman. Quid pro quo, I told her to read Haven Kimmel’s The Used World. I am clearly thrilled to death about my “discovery” of Kimmel and wish to spread the gospel to all the world.

Josh Swiller’s The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa started out whinier than I cared for, but quickly ramped up into a fine read. I appreciated his honest take on life as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa – he tried to romanticize the experience but eventually saw that he couldn’t and was very straightforward about his disillusionment. And I really found interesting his assertion that being a white man in Africa essentially removed his handicap, and he could then experience life as a hearing person. Since language was a barrier anyway, and the Africans were careful to speak slowly, simply, and straight at him, he could experience what it was like to just be a normal hearing person, to a certain extent. Fascinating observation. Because H was a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa in the eighties, I find these sort of memoirs interesting, but this is the first one I have actually enjoyed. Not that I have the faintest desire to visit Africa.


In other exciting news, my little brother and his wife had their second baby this weekend, a little girl. Everybody’s doing great, although my brother *sounds* like he’s been run over by a truck. Is my husband the only new father who goes home, has a nice dinner, showers, and sleeps – while he can?


"...This is not necessarily cause for alarm. The important thing is to keep your wits about you and borrow some money."
- Elinor Goulding Smith


Miz S said...

If it's not lice, I'm guessing pinworms. Although that seems like more of a summertime affliction.

Sarah Louise said...

baby, baby, (she skims, looking for, oh, your brother had a baby.) You are such a tease!! Congrats to your brother and kin.

Amy A. said...

Sorry about whatever nastiness is going on over there.

Just finished The Knitting Circle. Really liked it. Teared up a couple times.

Trying some Kimmel next. :)

KPB said...

You see, this is where I'm at a complete loss. I mean HOW HOW HOW do you get to read these books and then have the mind and fortitude to pass such informed commentary on them? I bought a book the other day as my BIL had given me a gift voucher for Christmas, but I haven't even got it out of the bag yet, let alone tried to trick myself into thinking I'd have time to read it.

TLB said...

Hmm, good to know, but I still think my title ("The Virgins of Belle Plaine") might be WAAAAAY too close, alas. Especially since it's getting a lot of press.

AS Byatt is going to be at AWP next week. I am PSYCHED!

Hope the grossness is over.

delta said...

I am halfway through "Loving Frank" and am absolutely loving it. It is an incredibly well written book - and by a first-time novelist!

lazy cow said...

I'm smoking crack ;-)
Actually, I just have real problems with the final book in the trilogy. The rest is fine, but I still prefer the Sally Lockhart books for a good, straightforward story.