Friday, June 23, 2006

Morning, Noon and Night by Spalding Gray
Life Interrupted by Spalding Gray

Spalding Gray committed suicide in 2004 by jumping off the Staten Island ferry. I still remember being stunned by the news, being a casual admirer of his work and having no knowledge of the car accident in Ireland that left him in so much pain. Reading Morning, Noon and Night with the specter of his death was odd—because it’s ostensibly a celebration of family life at a point when Spalding was welcoming the arrival of his second son, Theo. Spalding never thought he’d have kids or become a family man, and he says at one point in the book that he thought that if he did have children it would be late in life so that he would die before they became teenagers. Sadly, he got his wish. But Spalding brought great wit, thought and energy to his life while he lived and was clearly a great father. Reading Life Interrupted afterwards just made me cry copiously—it includes the last monologues he was working on and the eulogies that were read at the services in New York and Rhode Island.

I need to go re-watch “Swimming to Cambodia” and “Monster in a Box” very
The Whole World Over by Julia Glass

I am soooooooooo behind on writing for this blog and sharing what I’m reading that I am going to force myself to be brief. Julia Glass writes character so well and I was utterly absorbed from the first chapter. It’s a novel about love, marriage, and how past decisions and choices have to be reckoned with in ways we perhaps never imagined. People’s paths intersect in mysterious and portentous ways in Glass’ books, which she explores with tender possibility. While it ties up a bit too nicely in the end, you just can’t help but accept it because you really want the best for the characters you have grown to love.
Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson

If you’ve ever had a love-hate relationship with your neighbor, if you ever thought that Frances Mayes’ vision of expatriate Italy was a little too precious, if you enjoy novels with unusual recipes, and you enjoy Odd Couple comedies then this is the book for you! Gerald Sampson, who buys a villa in Tuscany, is a snobby Brit who ghostwrites books for sports stars and fancies himself an experimental cook—and he does experiment—with cat, otter and like the title says, lots of the herbal spirit, fernet branca! He even whips up a concoction called Alien Pie—but you’ll just have to discover that for yourself! His neighbor Marta is from the fictitious ex-Soviet country of Voynovia where her father is a Mob boss and is in Italy to work on a film score. Gerald and Marta get on each other’s nerves from day one—but the real comedy is in the fact that you get the story from both of them, and they each have a different version to tell! This is an oddball comedy that is a real send-up of running off the Italy for the good life!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue

This is a ghost story that takes a while to unfold. It’s also a love story—in the past and the present. Raziela Nolan died in the 1920’s in New Orleans—a vivacious, opinionated woman ahead of her time, dedicated to women’s reproductive rights, and in love with a promising young man, Andrew. Seventy years later, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Razi haunts a young couple who are experiencing some martial troubles. But why is Razi haunting them? The truth comes out late in the book, but what really makes this book worth reading are the scenes of Razi’s youth and the relationship between Andrew and Razi. You just can’t believe that these vibrant, three-dimensional characters don’t still exist, and that their love was interrupted