Archive for May, 2009

Books Read in April

“No One You Know” a novel by Michelle Richmond
When I found him at last, I had long ago given up the search.

This reminded me a lot of her other novel, “A Year of Fog”. Both focus on a woman involved in some mysterious crime that goes unsolved for years. The previous novel involved a missing child, this one revolves around a sibling’s death. I noticed similarities in the structure as well. The way relevant scenes from the past inform the current mystery. Also, the way several interesting subjects are woven into the story. This story includes the beauty of mathematics, the role of story in our lives, the art of being a cupola. It’s made me think about certain subjects I am passionate about and/or curious about that I can weave into my own stories.

I particularly enjoyed this passage:

“We live our lives by way of story. Over time we connect thousands upon thousands of small narratives by which to process and remember our days, and those mini-narratives add up to the bigger story, the way we see ourselves in the world.”

“Time of My Life” a novel by Allison Winn Scotch
Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.

I am always intrigued by stories about the road not taken. I love the movie “Sliding Doors.” Carol Anshaw’s novel “Aquamarine” explores a similar theme. In “Time of My Life” Jillian Westerfield  can’t stop asking herself “What if” even though she as a seemingly lovely life, home, husband and daughter. She wakes up one morning, seven years in the past. She looks as she did then but has the memories and knowledge of who she is now. Determined to create the life she had been wishing for she soon begins making choices that have unforeseen consequences causing a ripple affect in both her past and present lives. A very enjoyable and thought-provoking read.

“The Echo Maker”
a novel by Richard Powers
Cranes keep landing as night falls. Ribbons of them roll down, slack against the sky. They float in from all compass points, in kettles of a dozen, dropping with the dusk. Scores of Grus canadensis settle on the thawing river. They gather on the island flats, grazing, beating their wings, trumpeting the advance wave of a mass evacuation. More birds land by the minute, the air red with calls.

Don’t you love that last phrase? The air red with calls. It’s perfect. I know exactly what he means. There is much to admire in this book: the beautiful descriptions, the fascinating research on the brain and all the ways it can go wrong, the mysterious nature of Mark’s disease in which he recognizes his sister but does not believe that she actually is his sister. This happens after a mysterious car accident on a deserted road. His sister comes to care for him, giving up basically her entire life. I had high hopes for this book. The back flap copy sounded promising. That first paragraph took my breath away. It’s a National Book Award winner. I even recommended it for my book club. And because I did I managed to finish it. But it took me the entire month to read. I made the mistake of thinking I could read it during our long car ride back east and this book required deep concentration and that wasn’t gonna happen in the car with my family. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was. It felt like there were so many characters and situations going on that I didn’t know which one to care about most and therefore really didn’t care about any of them very much. There wasn’t an urgent question I found myself dying to know. Still, much to admire. The way the cranes are used as a motif throughout is beautiful. And some of the descriptive passages are exquisite.


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