Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"It's too darn hot, it's too darn hot." - Cole Porter

A Disorder Peculiar to the Country – Ken Kalfus. If the two main characters were not the most self-absorbed narcissists I have run across in fiction (right up there with Claire Messud’s Emperor’s Children whingers), I might be able to stick out this book. Parts of it are affecting – the scene where Marshall escapes from the South Tower is downright harrowing – but OH. MY. GOD. how I hated horrible Marshall and his equally horrible wife. And felt so sorry for their poor, sad, damaged children. Although NOT for the stupidly-named Snuffles.

Aftermath, Inc. – Gil Reavill. Most definitely not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Crime writer Reavill learns the ins and outs of the bioremediation business – cleaning up crime scenes, suicides, and non-biological hazmat sites like meth labs. I personally found it fascinating, but then I am weird and we knew that.

Tracks – Robyn Davidson. Gina asked me why anyone would want feral camels. I am fifty pages into this book and am still not sure. Are camels the only way to cross the Australian desert? I like the parts where Davidson talks about her trip and its preparations; less so her navel-gazing about her solitude and anti-socialist tendencies.

Circle of Quilters – Jennifer Chiaverini. I really enjoy Chiaverini’s books but they must be read in installments, as if they were published monthly in some magazine. Otherwise, they just get too precious and too ‘then-she-did-this, -and-then-she-did-that, -and-then-this-happened.’ Plod, plod, plod.

A Place of Execution – Val McDermid. You know, I liked this book. I am very sorry that McDermid did not really leave the door open for a sequel, as her detective George Bennett was a truly likeable guy and I’d love to see more of him.
Was it scary, as claimed? No. It was disturbing in that one of the main characters was an unchecked pedophile, but it wasn’t very scary. Of course, I have never been terrified by Shirley Jackson either, to whose work this story bears glancing and uneasy resemblances.

Pardonable Lies – Jacqueline Winspear. I am thoroughly stalled on number three of the Maisie Dobbs series. As thoroughly stalled as I am in the Laurie King books.

The Great Stink – Clare Clark. Uncle.

This Organic Life – Joan Dye Gussow. I cannot get into this, mostly because the author annoys me dreadfully. Oh, poor pitiful you, struggling to live in a gorgeous restored Victorian, the house “everyone else seems to want,” whose idea of downsizing for retirement is buying a historic if decrepit house on the Hudson River and then being forced – forced, I tell you! – to demolish it and rebuild.

Bloodletting and other miraculous cures: Stories - Vincent Lam. The main characters in this collection of stories are just fucking grating. Ming is a self-absorbed frigid little tease with delusions of grandeur, and Fitz is a pathetic sad sack excuse of a man. I WANTED to like this; after all, it took our ILL department some serious effort to track it down for me. I felt obliged to like it. But all I keep hoping for is a tidy little murder-suicide and a quick end to Ming, Fitz, and their sad little lives. Unfortunately, that course of action - hell, any action - woud require gumption, which our characters are horribly lacking.

On my bedside table: Miracle in the Andes: I am fairly certain Nando Parrado didn't do any whining, and if anyone deserves to, God knows he does. And Baker Towers, because Gina liked it. But I want to finish Tracks first. I need to understand this love affair with the camel.


lazy cow said...

Pardonable Lies was enjoyable. Forgettable, but enjoyable. Haven't heard of ANY of the other books. It's hard to concentrate on anything much in hot weather. Am loving reading in winter though!

Suse said...

Well the only one I've heard of is the RD one.

Personally I have crossed the Australian desert by car and train. Camels are too smelly and have no dining car.

nutmeg said...

I sat down in Borders yesterday and read the first chapter of the Kalfus book and was rather angered by the wife smiling when she saw the first tower come done thinking her husband had died. I know it's only fiction but I hated her instantly! I am glad you posted about it nd I read that chapter because I don't think I will pursue this book further.

And I read Tracks for bookclub about 9 years ago and can't really remember a thing about it (but that's not unusual for me as I have a crap long term memory) but looking at my list of bookclub picks and scores I gave it 7.5 - good but not great?

And Val McDermid's best were definitely the Wire in the Blood series (though I've recently given most all my crime books to charity - scare the hell out of a poor person - so noble!)

Gina said...

I liked Pardonable Lies, and if you read far enough to see what THE SECRET is (and why the lies may be considered pardonable), you'll see why.

darkorpheus said...

I've heard so much about Val McDermid I really want to start reading her books. But I'm still juggling too many books. *sigh* Is A Place of Execution the first McDermid or have you read others?

I am a fan of Laurie R. King, even her stand-alones. Maybe not a BIG fan, but I would read everything she writes.